Saturday, August 27, 2011


JEFFERSON, TEXAS - In East Texas near the Louisiana border is the historic town of Jefferson, named after the third U.S. President, Thomas Jefferson, when Allen Urquhart and Daniel Alley founded it in the early 1840s. There are 84 Texas Historical Commission medallions signifying historic locations within the Jefferson city limits. This community once resembled Louisiana and Missouri more than it did its own Texas neighbors to the west; instead of cowboys and ranchers, there were riverboat captains, dock-hands, and lumbermen. Marion County became part of the United States territories in the 1803 Louisiana Purchase, and the town of Jefferson received a great influx of early immigration because of the "Great Raft," a routed waterway into the Cypress Bayou that allowed the steamboats to reach Jefferson. The steamboat came up the Mississippi River into the Red River, through Caddo Lake, and up Big Cypress to what was known as the "Turning Basin." The first steamboat, the Llama, reached Jefferson in late 1843 or early 1844. Jefferson experienced its heyday after the Civil War ended, as people came in from the devastated southern states to seek new lives.

JEFFERSON HOTEL (May 31, 2008)

The building located at 124 West Austin Street began as a cotton warehouse in 1851. When the steamboat port closed in the 1870s, the building was transformed into a hotel. Over the years the hotel has gone by several names, including the Hotel Jefferson, the Grigsby Hotel, and the Austin Street Hotel.

Michael and Elise Lakey are the current proprietors of the beautiful 152-year-old hotel. While visiting Jefferson for a Big Foot conference, I stopped by to visit and found the staff very open about the paranormal activities at the hotel. They even told me about their personal experiences with the unknown while working in the building. When you visit, don't forget to ask the front desk clerk to let you read the hotel journal, where visitors write about their paranormal encounters while staying at the hotel. The following is taken from a brochure from the hotel lobby entitled "Ghostly Tales of The Jefferson Hotel":
Some of the most reported similar occurrences:
Whispers from nowhere, orchestra music from a closed dining hall, knocks on walls and Victorian head-boards, the smell of cigar smoke in the smoke-free building, faucets opening of their own accord and doors pulling back when pulled shut.

 Guests who have been the only people checked into the hotel reported footsteps walking the halls in the middle of the night. Even though the hall is carpeted, the sound is often the click-clack of a hardwood floor.
Children have been heard laughing and romping throughout the hotel in the middle of the night. A child calls for mama, a baby cries, but no children were staying in the hotel!

Jefferson Hotel Lobby

Years ago, a former desk clerk named Michael was ending his shift. It was in the middle of a slow week and there were no "paying" guests staying at the hotel overnight. Michael made his rounds upstairs, turning off lights and locking rooms before leaving for the night. He was closing the last door in the long, dark hallway when the doors started opening and slamming shut all at once!

Lights turned on and off as Michael dashed downstairs and phoned his friend Phyllis, a desk clerk at the Excelsior Hotel across the street. Phyllis reports that Michael was in a complete panic when he called, screaming that he was alone in the hotel but all "heck" was breaking loose upstairs! He could hear doors slamming and the sound of footsteps and someone dragging furniture. Michael locked up and waited in the street for his ride home that night.
While this writer visited the hotel, I sat in the lobby and spoke to the night desk clerk. She told me that on many nights, guests who experienced a paranormal event would come down and spend the rest of the night on the lobby chairs rather than spend another minute in their haunted rooms. Some have even checked out!

The desk clerk also mentioned that on quiet nights, she sometimes hears people walking down the stairs and waits to see if she can help them, but no one ever comes down to the lobby—at least no one who can be seen. Many guests have taken photos and shared some of them with the hotel. A folder is kept behind the front desk containing some of the photos showing ORBS and strange mist.
Jefferson Hotel stairs leading up to the second floor

So is the Jefferson Hotel the most haunted hotel in America? Maybe not, but it should be in the Top 20 at least. If you’re ever in East Texas and want to stay in a beautiful 152-year-old hotel, stop by 124 West Austin Street in Jefferson and spend a night in the Jefferson Hotel.

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