This post contains an intro, the story and pictures of three places in Mineral Wells, TX; The Haunted Hill House, the Baker Hotel and photos of the Mineral Wells Community Haunted House. While not haunted, the Famous Crazy Mineral Water company and tourist center was an interesting visit. Waxahachie, TX is home to the Catfish Plantation. The story and photos are also included. Finally at the end of the photos is a Halloween story for your reading pleasure.
Have you ever seen a ghost? No, really, they are out there. Apparitions that you see out of the corner of your eye as you walk across the back yard at night. I’m certain you have gotten a chill down the back of your spine or a very chilling feeling or even a feeling of Deja Vu at one time or another. Maybe this ‘ghost’ resembled a dog you buried in the back of the yard. Not enough to keep you awake at night but enough to make you feel a little uneasy.
As I’m waking and still in a dream state I have played with a dog named ‘Blackie’ that was our pet when I was maybe 5 years old or so. These dreams are vivid. I see the chainlink fence and tractor tire filled with sand, the bamboo shoots in the corner, the trashcans in the alley, the swingset, the Honeysuckle bush at the bathroom window, and the double gate to the alley. This dog is real. This dog is all over me, licking and jumping and playing. Until I come awake. Was the dog real? Are these memories? Why then do I have these creepy feelings that make me look warily around, while I walk through the back yard in the dark? What is a ghost anyway? Someone or something that has left this physical world and is caught in transition to a spiritual world? Can a ghost hurt you? Can a ghost enter you and become part of you? Can a ghost talk? Are ghosts evil or do they have to be scary? Have you ever got this bad, creepy feeling from some people you meet? I have and I follow my intuition and get away from them as soon as possible. Do those folks have an evil spirit within them? So many unanswered questions
Ralf and I have always been transfixed with the concept of time travel or alteration and spiritual beings like ghosts. I don’t think there is a conflict in time as it associates with ghosts. When I dream I don’t seem to be restricted by the constraints of time. So it is Halloween weekend of 2020, one of the most horrific years this century. Ralf and I are going ghost hunting in Texas
A ghost town is described sometimes as a town that has been abandoned. Not necessarily because of ghosts running rampant around the streets but maybe because whatever industry, such as silver mining, petered out and the residents just moved on as there was no longer a means to support themselves. But there are ghost towns where deaths occurred horrifically; serial killers or mass killings or battlefield massacres or mine shaft cave-ins. Maybe the house or town just had a murder and the ghost hasn’t left just yet. Unfinished business.
An entry from the Texas State Historical Society Handbook of Texas provides an example.
LA LLORONA.The ghostly woman who wanders along canals and rivers crying for her missing children, called in Spanish La Llorona, “the Weeping Woman,” is found in many cultures and regions. Her story includes some strong similarities to that of Medea. She is perhaps the most widely known ghost in Texas. Her New World history goes back to the time of Hernán Cortés and links her with La Malinche, the mistress of the conquistador. As tradition has it, after having borne a child to Cortés, La Malinche, who aided in the conquest of Mexico as a translator for the Spanish, was replaced by a highborn Spanish wife. Her Aztec pride plus her jealousy drove her, according to the story, to acts of vengeance against the intruders from across the sea. Sometimes the story is told about a Spanish nobleman and a peasant girl. Some years ago, the story goes, a young hidalgo fell in love with a lowly girl, usually named María, who over a period of time bore him two or three children. She had a casita—a little house—where the young man visited and brought his friends, and in almost every way they shared a happy life together, except that their union was not blessed by the church. His parents, of course, knew nothing of the arrangement and would not have allowed him to marry beneath his station. They urged him to marry a suitable lady and give them grandchildren. Finally he gave in, and sadly he told María that he must marry another. But he would not desert her, he promised—he would still take care of her and the children and visit them as often as he could. Enraged, she drove him away, and when the wedding took place she stood veiled in her shawl at the back of the church. Once the ceremony was over she went home, and in a crazed state killed the children, threw them into a nearby body of water, and then drowned herself. But when her soul applied for admission to heaven, el Señor refused her entry. “Where are your children?” He asked her. Ashamed, she confessed she did not know. “Go and bring them here,” the Lord said. “You cannot rest until they are found.” And ever since, La Llorona wanders along streams at night, weeping and crying for her children—”Ay, mis hijos!” According to some, she has been known to take revenge on men she comes across in her journey. She usually dresses in black. Her face is sometimes that of a horse, but more often horribly blank, and her long fingernails gleam like polished tin in the moonlight.
***Another entry from the Handbook of Texas ENCHANTED ROCK LEGENDS
Enchanted Rock, a granite dome in southwestern Llano County about twenty miles north of Fredericksburg, has long been the center of various legends. The local Comanche and Tonkawa Indians both feared and revered the rock, and were said to offer sacrifices at its base. One Indian tradition holds that a band of brave warriors, the last of their tribe, defended themselves on the rock from the attacks of other Indians. The warriors, however, were finally overcome and killed, and since then Enchanted Rock has been haunted by their ghosts. Another legend tells of an Indian princess who threw herself off the rock when she saw her people slaughtered by enemy Indians; now her spirit is said to haunt Enchanted Rock. Yet another tale tells of the spirit of an Indian chief who was doomed to walk the summit forever as punishment for sacrificing his daughter; the indentations on the rock’s summit are his footprints. Finally, there is the story of a White woman who was kidnapped by Indians but escaped and lived on Enchanted Rock, where her screams were said to be audible at night. The Indian legends of the haunting of Enchanted Rock were probably bolstered by the way the rock glitters on clear nights after rain, and by the creaking noises reported on cool nights after warm days. Scientists have since theorized that the glittering is caused either by water trapped in indentations in the rock’s surface or by the moon reflecting off wet feldspar, and the creaking noises by contraction of the rock’s outer surface as it cools. *** but what if it is something else?
A visit to the Haunted Hill House, Mineral Wells, Texas
We were diverted on our road trip by the shiny object of Texas Historical Markers. Near Mineral Wells we discovered Fort Wolters and took the time to look at the Medal of Honor memorial before hitting the road again. There was also the National Vietnam War Museum. Look for another post with photos of these two area.
This is what Ralf and I are looking for, an apparition calling out in anguish. It seems that Mineral Wells and Galveston Texas have ghosts. Heck, the house – it’s for sale – in Mineral Wells is said to have 9 ghosts haunting it and Galveston has many ghosts from the natural disasters that killed or trapped many people. So Ralf, Cheryl, and I decide that a road trip is just the thing to do. Go visit this wonderful haunted home on Halloween and see if we can visit with a ghost or two.
Ralf begins our journey by providing more information about the Haunted Hill House of Mineral Well, Texas. Nine spirits in total reside at the residence, according to paranormal experts. People have been scratched and bitten during the stays, but that doesn’t appear to be keeping anyone away from it. It was built in 1890 by a woman named Fanny Yeager Kyle who lived in it until she died in 1924. It later became a brothel. According to lore one of the prostitutes had a handicapped child named Joshua who died in the home, which his spirit hasn’t left. Another ghost is apparently a man who fell into a well behind the residence.
As we approached the town Cheryl points out the Baker Hotel standing tall above the other city structures. Just a block off from the Baker Hotel is the Hill House. Once at the house Ralf clings to me because on the first floor is a Shadow Man that likes to play with the touch lamp in one of the first-floor bedrooms. The light only flickered for us but the house is decorated with scary mannequins, and they are creep you out scary. Two girl mannequins dressed in nightgowns stare at us. Someone decorated this home for tour groups and the full effect of creepiness isn’t lost on us at all.
The doll room has Creepy dolls hanging from the ceiling. Clowns, babies, a Raggedy Ann, a moving ventriloquist doll, and others. The mouth of the ventriloquist doll moved to open and close. I kept waiting for him to say something, but I guess the ghost controlling him didn’t want to chat. There is a small haunted carousel that sits on a table that caused the hair on Ralf to stand on end. I definitely did NOT touch that carousel. Then there is a dumb waiter drop from the upstairs and a tunnel where alcohol would be hidden and transported for delivery during the prohibition era. The liquor and prostitutes brought notoriety to the Hill House and created a close association with the Baker Hotel’s staff.
We leave the bedroom and a music box near the staircase begins to play on its own, and then turns itself off as we approached. Seems we are not to be entertained today.
The scratcher room is called that because this is where people visiting have been bitten or scratched. This room has a female mannequin sitting on a wooden rocking horse that moves around the room but the horse must be tired today as there was no movement, at least while we were there. But each of these areas emitted strange noises once we walked through them. But, hey, the place was built in 1895. One reason that this home may be haunted is that it was used to house influenza patients at one point. In fact, there is a video showing many bodies packed in the closet. Regardless this room is very cold. It has a gaming table that has a rock on it that supposedly attracts evil. There is even a suit of armor in the room. There is a photo showing a demon named Toby that resides upstairs. At one point this house was used for Satanic rituals and two demons are chained to the wall by a Satanic Psychic. We didn’t hear any chains rattling or demonic screams or anything scary. However, Ralf hurried us along the corridor anyway. Joshua played with us though. He was a disfigured child whose mother was shot and killed on the stairs. The bloodstains are still there. As we were locking up and leaving the area where Joshua lived the door to Joshua’s room unlocks and opens twice. The lamp shakes as the door opens. Cheryl had a heavy, weighing you down feeling during the entire time we were on the property.
We left and drove around the Baker Hotel and then visited the Crazy tourist information center and purchased mineral water and sodas. I ordered the Cherry limeade soda and Cheryl had a Blueberry soda. So, in reality, as I sit here closing out this story, are these floaties or ghosts that I see out of the corner of my eyes? We make our own reality. Hopefully, we can live with the realities that we create for ourselves? Be positive, be creative, be adventurous, be kind.
Photos of the interior of the Baker Hotel can be seen here: http://www.texasescapes.com/Preservation/Haunting-Photos-of-the-Baker-Hotel.htm
An interesting article “Ghosts of the Baker Hotel”: http://www.texasescapes.com/TexasPanhandleTowns/MineralWellsTexas/BakerHotelGhosts.htm
The Mineral Wells Community Haunted House – In an old Hospital
The Famous Crazy Mineral Water Company
Welcome to the Catfish Plantation
The Most Haunted Restaurant in Texas!
By Rick Moran – Acclaimed Paranormal Investigator and Author
The term “Haunted,” as any respectable Ghost Hunter will tell you, is a relative term and often
misunderstood by the public; but one thing all paranormal investigators agree with is that the 1895 Victorian at 814 Water Street in Waxahachie is most definitely the residence of several earthbound spirits.
In 1984, Tom and Melissa Baker found the property, which had been empty for several years and while it was not the perfect location to start a restaurant, they both agreed that the house had a certain charm that could not be denied. Neither were big fans of the paranormal but shortly after purchasing the property, things began to happen that would make them true believers.
While only the couple had the keys to the building, Melissa began to find that she was obviously not the only one with access. One day, she came in to find a large tea urn, with neatly stacked coffee cups inside, which had somehow been transported to the middle of the floor, far away from where they belonged. On another morning, she came in to find fresh brewed coffee waiting for her!
Once opened, employees began to tell strange stories; a fry basket levitating in the kitchen, a glowing blue light illuminating a room that was otherwise empty and the ghostly figure of a bride standing by a front window. The sheer number of reports was overwhelming and paranormal investigators were invited to give their impressions of the old house. What they found was a list of characters from Waxahachie’s past, each with distinct personalities, each existing independent of one other at the restaurant.
Among the resident spirits is a man who likes to “flirt” with female guest by touching their knee or shoulder or playing with their long hair; a young female who seems confused by her surroundings and “Caroline,” a previous owner who sometimes becomes short tempered be-cause she sees herself as still being the head of the household.
In 2007 the Bakers sold the restaurant and its ghostly inhabitants to the Landis Family who invited the nationally acclaimed Association for the Study of Unexplained Phenomenon to reinvestigate the locale.
Using state of the art research equipment, the 40 year old ASUP con-firmed several spirits, who freely interacted with the field investigators. All of the spirits at the Catfish Plantation are categorized as “friendly and positive,” according the group’s chief investigator.
In a later TV segment filmed at the Catfish Plantation for the Travel Channel, one senior investigator was sitting in a side room talking about the history of the building, when he noted a shocked look on the faces of several of the folks in the room. A ghostly apparition had come to the doorway from the nearby restroom and hovered behind him for several minutes, only to dematerialize when one of the people interrupted him to say there was a ghost standing nearby. The ghost apparently was pleased to hear his story.
Today, the Catfish Plantation and the Landis Family is dedicated to offering the best in Cajun style cuisine, while keeping the ghostly traditions alive. The locale has been featured on a host of TV program on all the major networks, in newspaper and magazine articles worldwide and has welcomed those who want to learn more about their earth bound spirit residents while enjoying the best food and the warmest ambiance available anywhere!
A Halloween story.
Traveling the country with Ralf in my motorhome during this pandemic has proved challenging. The clubhouses in the RV parks are usually closed, eliminating meeting people. Many of the State and National Parks have also been closed. Now it is Halloween weekend and the number of reported COVID cases and associated deaths is increasing. This is concerning for me as a high-risk traveler with lung and respiration issues associated with Bronchiolitis Obliterans Organizing Pneumonia and a series of other autoimmune diagnoses like anti-synthetase syndrome and Myositis Interstitial Lung Disease. Anyway, the point is that I have been living a life of isolation and today is the day I break out.
Ralf and I fill up my camel backpack with water and stuff the backpack with some trail mix to walk down to the river and hike a couple of miles to the falls advertised on the clubhouse door. Today is one of those very bright and sunny upstate New York days that just take your breath away. The trail is lined with these very tall pine trees that appear to have been the reason Paul Bunyan became legend. There is a howling present as the wind blows through the boughs high up where I see them sway. I hear the roar of the waterfall in the distance. It’s easy to hear as there is nobody here. I mean the entire area is spookily absent of people or animals. I usually can see several bird species and small animals like squirrels or mice along the trails. Not a bird one, Edgar Alan Poe would be amazed. At least there are no snakes! Tonight is supposed to be a full blue moon. I hope so as during the last blue moon I was at a location where the cloud cover was so dense that I couldn’t see the moon. I’ll be back at the campground long before dark and I’m hoping to capture some photos of the night sky. Saturn and Jupiter are still visible and hopefully, I can get a great picture of them near the blue moon. As an early birthday present I gave myself a new iPhone 11PRO and I’m excited about using the night mode to capture the moon and planets.
The trail is getting narrow and the trees appear to be closing in on me. Maybe there are not that many people that take this trail to the waterfall or maybe I have made a wrong turn somewhere. Ralf is silent and not being helpful at all. I’m so totally out of breath though that I have to rest every 50 feet or so. I keep checking my oxygen level as depicted on my Garmin Venus smartwatch and I’m staying above 90% and that is where I need to be. But dang it’s hard to catch my breath. After a drink of water and a quick handful of trail mix, I close my eyes and to rest for a few moments. Oops, it is dark. I must’ve slipped off into a deep sleep instead of a few moments of rest. I try to orient myself by listening to the sound of the waterfall. It seems so far away. But I know that I have to return to camp and that is the opposite direction of the waterfall. So Ralf and I begin to scout out the return trail. Even with the blue moon shining ever so brightly above the canopy of trees it is difficult to walk the trail as the trees seem to be closing in on us. Somehow the sound of the waterfall is increasing. I don’t get it. We never made it to the waterfall and we’re now walking in the opposite direction. Wait, this doesn’t sound like the waterfall at all but an ATV. Who would be on these small trails riding on an ATV at night? No one knew I was coming out here so it’s probably not a rescue effort. I do have my Smith & Wesson BodyGuard 380 handgun with me in the event there is a problem. I know, if I bring a weapon to the fight then there is at least one weapon to be used against me. But a single traveler with health issues has to be prepared to protect herself against man or beast. Perhaps it is best if I just step off the trail and let this ATV pass me by.
Oh crap, as I left the trail I tripped over an exposed root and made a crashing sound, and let out a yelp from the pain of hitting the hard ground. After picking the pine needles out of arm I realize that I don’t hear the ATV anymore. But I do hear movement through the forest just ahead of me, toward the camp. I remain still hoping that whoever is there will leave and let me return to camp without a confrontation. Now I wish the place was crowded with pre-pandemic crowds and that I could mingle with them as we made our way down this beautiful tree-lined trail. In another time this would be romantic with the full blue moon peeking in through the dense canopy above. But now it is shadowy and just downright spooky and frightful. Tree limbs or twigs are snapping as my intruder walks closer to me. I pull my handgun out of my bag and ensure there is a round chambered. These are protection rounds or hollow point rounds that will help stop this person if they attack me. I’m prepared, sweating a little, but prepared for the worst-case scenario.
The imagination is a nasty thing sometimes. I think the howling I hear isn’t the wind in the trees as I thought. I now think there are several dogs or coyotes or maybe even wolves out in the forest calling to each other. They don’t seem to bother my pursuer though as I can still hear their progress through the forest. Isn’t New York the setting for Sleepy Hollow? I know Texas had the Chainsaw Massacre and Massachusetts has the witch burning. Coming back to reality I just need to get out of the woods and back to the campground where I know I’ll be safe. Ralf indicates that I should get out my cell phone and use the flashlight feature to see the trail and run like hell. OK, but I can barely breathe so maybe I’ll just walk as quickly as I can. I step out on the trail and see the ATV a few yards away. Ralf and I work our way around this toy and turn on the flashlight and march at a quick pace down the trail hoping that the rider of the ATV doesn’t spot us anytime soon.
It’s a miracle! We have arrived back at the campground. You know how everything looks different at night, well I’m trying to orient myself as nothing looks the same. Where I thought the clubhouse and pool were there is a fire pit surrounded by chairs. No one there though. The moon is exceptionally bright and I can see for quite a distance but I don’t see any RVs or cars or anything. Everything reminds me of an abandoned Drive-In Movie Theater. I recall going to the Drive-In with my brother in the late 1960’s and watching the original black and white version of the ‘Night of the Living Dead’. Oh boy, all I need now is to have some zombie come walking out of the dark toward me. So much for having a handgun to protect me!
“Paula, wake up. Paula, get up.” What the heck? Cheryl is at my door telling me to get up. It seems that I didn’t come for breakfast so she came to the motorhome to see if I was ok. Is this just another dream? Am I in Texas or New York? Did I walk on a trail to a waterfall with Ralf? I fully open my eyes and get out of bed. I raise the back window shade to see what I will see. Everything is dark. How can that be? I was just awakened by a voice telling me to wake up and assumed it was daytime. Where am I and what is going on? I get dressed and go to the front door of the motorhome and peek out the front window. It is as dark in the front as it is in the back. I try to open the side door but find it jammed on something. I try looking out of the windows but it is just too dark to see anything. I climb into the driver’s seat and try to open the door with no success. It appears that I’m trapped in a dark and forbidding place. Perhaps you’ve been here too? Locked into your own mind and unable to escape. Thoughts are things and this confinement is making for dark and foreboding thoughts. Happy Halloween
I’m not sure it was the best hamburger in Texas but it was a good burger and beer.