Saturday, October 22, 2016

Yellowstone's Haunted Love Story

By: Peggy L Henderson

Kite Hill Graveyard near Mammoth Hot Springs
Since it’s only a few weeks before Halloween, I thought it wouldn’t be too far out to write about ghosts and spirits. 
Several ghost stories float around about Yellowstone National Park. There is the headless bride that haunts the famous Old Faithful Inn. There is the story of the vanishing hitchhiker, several Crow and Bannock spirit legends; just to name a few. 
The one story that intrigued me was the one of Mattie’s spirit.  Not only is her story one of myth and mystery, but it is also a timeless love story.
There are two graveyards within Yellowstone National Park. One is the military yard at Fort Yellowstone, the other one is called Kite Hill near Mammoth Hot Springs, which holds fourteen civilian graves. Some of those graves are unidentified. Two of the graves are of people who committed suicide, one was murdered, and one died in an avalanche. 
There are also eight known graves scattered throughout Yellowstone. One of these graves has been of special interest to a lot of people. It is said to contain the spirit of Martha Jane Shipley Culver. She was born on September 18, 1856. She was known as Mattie all her life. 
Mattie grew up working in textile mills in Massachusetts, where tuberculosis was common. When she was seven years old, her father was killed in the Civil War, which forced her family to separate and live with various relatives. When her sister Millie married, Mattie went with them to Montana in search of a new life. The textile mills had already taken their toll on Mattie, and she might have already known that she had tuberculosis.
Mattie, her sister and brother-in-law homesteaded near Billings, Montana, and that was where she met Eugene Gillett in 1882. After a one-year marriage, Eugene died tragically of tuberculosis. 
For years, she lived alone at the Park Hotel in Billings, until she met the newly appointed manager, Ellery Culver. The two shared many of the same experiences from early childhood. Ellery served in the Civil War like Mattie’s father, and later worked for the Northern Pacific Railroad like her first husband. They married in 1886. A year later, Mattie gave birth to a daughter, Theda Culver. 
Firehole River
Ellery Culver accepted a job in Yellowstone National Park as Master of Transportation with the Yellowstone Association and set off for the park. Mattie joined him later, and the family resided at the Firehole Hotel, situated along the banks of that river.  In the fall, they returned to Billings to spend the winter there. By their second year, in 1888, Mattie knew she was dying. Her husband’s job required him to travel to nearby towns, but Mattie decided to stay in the park that she’d come to love, and she even spent the winter there rather than return to Billings. 
Mattie died on March 2, 1889. Her tombstone reads that she was thirty years old, but she was actually thirty-two. 
Nez Perce Creek Picnic Area along Firehole River. Near site of Mattie's grave
When she died, the ground was too frozen, and there was too much snow to dig a grave. Soldiers stationed in the park placed Mattie’s body in two barrels laid end to end, and covered them with snow. A week later, her husband and a friend prepared a real grave for his wife’s final resting place. They used a partition from the Firehole Hotel that had been her home, and a place that she loved, and fashioned a coffin. Ellery buried his wife along the banks of the Firehole River. 
Ellery took his one-year old daughter to live with Mattie’s sister Millie, who had moved west to Washington. Hearing  the spirit of his wife calling him back to Yellowstone, Ellery returned to work in and around the park, drawn to the Firehole area where Mattie lived and died. In 1891, the Firehole Hotel was burned down to make way for a new hotel some miles away. This left Mattie’s grave in solitude along the river.
Tragedy once again struck Ellery, when his daughter Theda became ill, and at nineteen years old, answered her mother’s call and died. 
Poor health forced Ellery to move to California, where he died in 1922. The park service would not allow his body to be buried alongside his wife in Yellowstone, and people who have visited his grave in California swear that he is not there, but has joined his beloved wife along the banks of the Firehole River. 
Many people who have visited Mattie’s grave are repeatedly drawn back to the area. It is said that her spirit walks along the riverbank, and if you listen closely, you can hear her humming to the birds and animals, and beckon you to return time and again.
 --from Yellowstone Ghost Stories

(all photos are my personal property) 

Peggy L Henderson
Western Historical and Time Travel Romance
“Where Adventure Awaits and Love is Timeless”

Author of:
Yellowstone Romance Series
Teton Romance Trilogy
Second Chances Time Travel Romance Series
Blemished Brides Western Historical Romance Series

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Bedlam in the Old West

Did you ever wonder what happened to mentally ill individuals in the Old West? Something made me start thinking about that, maybe because Halloween is coming and abandoned asylums are supposed to be among the most haunted places one can find. Or, maybe because my great grandfather, James Knox Polk Leggett, died in such a place.
General Henry Gray, 28th Regiment commander

J.K.P. as he was called, enlisted in the Confederate Army in 1862, in Bienville Parish, LA; 28th Regiment, Louisiana Infantry (Gray’s). He was captured and released by Union forces. After the war, he married my great grandmother, Mary Leggett. From ancestry research, I concluded they were first cousins. Such marriages were not uncommon in those days.
Bessie Mae Leggett Horner & William Daniel Horner; 50th Anniversary photo
The two had eleven children, my grandmother, Bessie Mae, among them. Her folks moved to Van Zandt County, Texas, where she was born in 1882. Sadly, her father had mental issues. According to information I received from a distant cousin, J.K.P. even threatened suicide. At some point, Mary or someone else, had him committed to the North Texas Hospital for the Insane, formerly named the North Texas Lunatic Asylum. Later, the name was changed again to the Terrell State Hospital, for the town where it is located.
Terrell State Hospital 1909
From the Texas State Historical Association, I learned the first State Lunatic Asylum (now Austin State Hospital) opened in 1861, when twelve patients were admitted. Before then, “individuals with a mental illness or mental retardation were kept at home, sent out of state for treatment or custodial care, or confined in almshouses or jails.” The second facility, in Terrell, opened in 1883. A third asylum, The Southwestern Lunatic Asylum, opened in San Antonio in 1892.

Did other western states open mental institutions in the 1800s? They sure did. In Gold Rush days, dangerous criminals and mentally ill individuals were imprisoned on a ship called the Euphemia, docked offshore from San Francisco. In 1850, 12 people judged to be "insane" were locked in the Euphemia's hold.

You can read the full story of the Euphemia here:'Euphemia'
Several other asylums opened in California over the next decades. One, the Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino, opened in 1893. Known simply as "The Insane Asylum" to the public, by 1898 the facility was so overcrowded that the staff could not properly care for patients. Between1893 and 1934, it is believed that over 2,000 patients died and were buried on the hospital grounds.
Colorado established the state's first public mental hospital, the Colorado Insane Asylum, in 1879 (now the Colorado Mental Health Institute Pueblo.) Eleven individuals were admitted. By 1923, the hospital housed 2,422 patients.

These are only a few examples proving that mental disease was just as big a problem in the “good old days” as it is today. The major difference lies in how the mentally ill were treated back then. They were often victims of neglect and downright cruelty. Many of the “treatments” they were subjected to, including lobotomies, electric shock and isolation in restraints, are consider brutally inhumane today. But back then, such things were standard operating procedure.
Lyn Horner is the award-winning author of western historical and romantic suspense novels packed with high adventure, sizzling romance and flashes of paranormal powers.

Find Lyn’s books on her Amazon Author Page:  US     UK     CA     AU

Lyn’s social links:

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Come Visit The Old Faithful Inn, If You Dare by Sarah J. McNeal

Oh yeah, it looks like a lovely old inn located in the Yellowstone National Park with a grand view of Old Faithful, the famous geyser located in the lower Geyser Basin just off Highway 20, but beware—it’s haunted.
Before I tell you about how the old inn is haunted, allow me to tell you a bit about the inn. The inn is built from materials found in the local natural resources of lodge pole pine and rhyolite stone. With its dramatic touches of metalwork, it is not only beautiful, but the largest of its kind in the world. It is actually two hotels. The original lodge is known as “the old house”. The Old Faithful Inn was constructed from the winter of 1903 to 1904. Architect Robert Reamer designed the inn in a grand rustic style.  When the Old Faithful Inn with its original 120 rooms opened in 1904, it had both electric lights and steamed heat! Over the years the inn has undergone improvements and renovations to keep it up to date with current codes and to make it even more beautiful.

Several American Presidents have visited or stayed at The Old Faithful Inn: Theodore Roosevelt;(1903), Warren Harding;(1923), Calvin Coolidge;(1927) and Franklin D. Roosevelt;(fall of 1937).

Upon entering the 85 foot lobby with its massive stone fireplace, a person can also view two more open floors above the common area. There are staircases that go all the way up to the place called the Crow’s Nest which is situated above the floors where musicians often play for the guests. The stairs continue up to the roof where there is a platform from which the inn’s guests and tourists are able to view Old Faithful.
Old Faithful can be seen from the front porch and from the huge, third floor porch, but the best place to view Old Faithful is from the second floor porch.
A wing of guest rooms may be found off the common areas of each floor. The third floor is the quietest. The bathrooms on the first floor are available to guests and tourists alike. With both guests and tourists enjoying the inn, who would guess there were others who also enjoyed the inn.
The spirit people.
Perhaps you have seen the movie “Poltergeist” in which a housing development was built on top of a grave site. Well, you know then the kind of chaos and dangers that can ensue such a sacrilege.  The West Wing of the Old Faithful Inn was unintentionally built over some unmarked graves. Uh-oh, here comes trouble.
We know now that children and adults who die from accidents or illness like to hang out in places they knew and where they felt comfortable while they were alive. Well, it just so happens quite a few people drowned while boating and swimming in accidents in Yellowstone Lake.
If spirits bond with the land itself, they often decide to stay in any new buildings that are built on their land.
Women who have been murdered by someone they thought loved them, often can't get over this betrayal and remain restless in this world.

People who have died because of beheading, and are buried without their heads, sometimes are restless because of this, either still looking for their head, or carry it around with them.

Here are a couple “accidents” that have occurred around The Old Faithful Inn:
In 1927 a park ranger named Charles Phillips accidently ate poisonous hemlock believing it to be wild parsnip and died. You would think a park ranger would know the dang difference.
Another story tells the tale of the newly weds enjoying the sights of Yellowstone Park, and the Old Faithful Inn. When cleaning the room for the next guest, they found the bride's headless body on the bed. The head was found later in the crow's nest. The husband did flee, suggesting that he killed her.

Old newspaper records verify it is true that there was a murder, and the housekeeping staff did indeed find the headless body of the bride, and eventually her head was found up in the crow's nest as well. The husband did kill his new bride for ulterior motives, and he disappeared; never paying for his crime. Now we all know, if a person does something this awful, they WILL pay, one way or another.
Here are some of the ghostly sightings:
A male entity dressed as a Frontiersman. He may be one of the people whose unmarked grave was one that the West Wing was built upon. His presence is probably seen in the West Wing hallways and rooms, and perhaps the main lodge. A detailed description of this spirit means that guests and staff have seen him enjoying the lodge.

One of the unseen presence enjoys playing pranks by picking up and turning the fire extinguisher around in a 90 degree circle before putting it back in the holder. This particular incident happened right in front of an official inspector. Also, doors open and close by themselves as well on the West Wing.

A male entity, perhaps the spirit of L.R. Piper, was seen by a child, trying to climb out of a steam hole. His ghostly hand and arm was trying to pull the rest of the body up. He might have actually come all the way out, but the child ran away before he could do so.

A female entity in Room 2 appears in an 1890s' outfit, and seems to enjoy floating at the end of the bed, watching people sleep until startled guests wake up to see her.

Sadly, there is a little entity of an unhappy boy. He appears as a solid person, runs up to guests and staff in tears, and asks where his parents are before he disappears.

The spirit of the headless bride wears a white, frilly wedding dress. She has been seen coming down the widow's walk staircase, carrying her head, looking very forlorn. Perhaps she is still waiting and hoping that her husband will come back and be the person she thought he was. Maybe she even blames herself for arguing with him. She is probably full of regret, for not listening to her father's advice, and very sad that her family forgot about her. She also makes her presence felt in her old honeymoon room.

An older man dressed in a merchant marine uniform is thought to be the bride's killer husband. He is seen looking into windows, into rooms, trying to find his bride. He too visits the old honeymoon room, the crow's nest perhaps trying to find the woman that he so cruelly murdered.
There is a recent eye-witness account by a staff member who saw the bride dressed in a white, flowing bridal gown, coming down the stairway from the catwalk, with her head under her arm. She made her way down the hallway to her room in the early hours of the morning, most likely not wanting to disturb the other guests. She has also been spotted, looking down from the second floor common area over the railing to see the grand old lobby.

The National Paranormal Society lists the Old Faithful Inn as a haunted location, but hasn't made any public display of any of their findings as an investigation group, or linked any other hard evidence gathered by other groups. This is probably because the people who run this wonderful inn don't want to attract ghost hunters, and want their guests, both alive and in spirit form to not be scared or bothered.
The Old Faithful Inn is most likely haunted even though, despite the claims of some inn personnel that the Old Faithful Inn is not haunted, many guests and staff members have experienced sightings and other paranormal activity.


In my time travel western, HARMONICA JOE’S RELUCTANT BRIDE, I did include a ghost who plays a pivotal role in the story.
Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride

A haunted plantation…A mysterious trunk…And a date with destiny
When Lola Barton inherits a rundown plantation, she believes her life has finally taken a positive turn. But, when she finds a mysterious trunk in the attic, it takes her into the past and to a man with dark secrets—and she’s married to him. What comes next only time can tell.


Harmonica music floated down from the attic—the last place in this tumble down wreck of a house Lola Barton wanted to go.  Had someone or something taken up residence there?  Lola made her way up the darkened attic stairs measuring each step as the ancient boards creaked in protest under her feet.  Her flashlight beamed a narrow circle of light illuminating the cobweb-covered door at the top of the landing.  Her heart raced and pulsed in her ears.  Hands trembled with the surge of adrenaline as she pressed forward.  She ignored her inner voice that warned, “Don’t go!”
Her cynical mind told her the rumors that Misty Oaks Plantation had ghosts weren’t true.  The tales of murder and betrayal had to be the overactive imagination of the local townspeople.  A homeless vagrant had to be the most logical explanation for the disturbance. 
Once she gained the landing, she blew the cobwebs from the door and leaned her ear against it to listen for any movement on the other side.  Wisps of harmonica music lifted in the air.  Perhaps someone left a harmonica lying around and the wind blew hard enough through the cracks in the walls to make it sound as though someone played the instrument.  Just the wind.  No ghost.
With her courage bolstered by her logical conclusion, she grabbed the doorknob and turned it. 
Available as Kindle Unlimited 

Also included in a western collection of 5 novels by 5 western writers titled A COWBOY’S BRAND

Sarah J. McNeal is a multi-published author of several genres including time travel, paranormal, western and historical fiction. She is a retired ER and Critical Care nurse who lives in North Carolina with her four-legged children, Lily, the Golden Retriever and Liberty, the cat. Besides her devotion to writing, she also has a great love of music and plays several instruments including violin, bagpipes, guitar and harmonica. Her books and short stories may be found at Prairie Rose Publications and its imprints Painted Pony Books, and Fire Star Press. Some of her fantasy and paranormal books may also be found at Publishing by Rebecca Vickery and Victory Tales Press. She welcomes you to her website and social media:

Sunday, October 16, 2016

A Room without Books by Linda Hubalek

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.” ― Marcus Tullius Cicero

Each morning I look forward to the daily quote I automatically get from a website. Many times it doesn’t pertain to me or my life, but other times it “hits the spot” and makes my day.

Of course one of the reasons I like this quote is because I write books, but it is so true when you think of your home and where books are either stacked on shelves because you have read them, or plan to read them in the future.  Or you have a book by your bed or recliner that you pick up to read whenever you get a chance.

Looking around my office I have a collection of very old Swedish books that I’ve used for research when working on immigrant pioneer stories. It makes me wonder - who bought, read, and cherished them in the past century? 

How much did they cost? Were they a gift for a special occasion? What pioneer woman treasured this book in her homestead dugout?

I have an Engelsk-Svensk Ordbok (English-Swedish Dictionary) that was published in Stockholm in 1899. It measures 6” x 9” (with a three inch spine)… and weighs four pounds! 

Who packed this important book with them to use when they arrived in America?

And then I think of my Kindle. It’s so handy and holds so many, many books…but it will never have the “soul” of these antique books on my shelf…

Thanks for stopping by to enjoy today's Sweethearts of the West blog.

Linda Hubalek

Friday, October 14, 2016

I thought I'd post a little something different his month. I belong to Texas Mountain Trail Writers that meet monthly in the Alpine, Texas area. Each year in the spring they host a retreat, and if possible I  go. One of the activities is to write a short story to be shared around the campfire. The stories, along with monthly contributions from writing prompts are compiled and published in the yearly Chaos West of the Pecos.

Here is one of my contributions.

The Old Cowboy
Under Texas Skies

            Rex yawned, then stood and shook out his legs to ease the kinks from his aging hips. Sleeping on the ground left his old bones sore each morning. His cowboyin’ days were about over. Retirement would be welcome.
            Heck, he’d miss working on the range—the quiet at night but for the lowing of cattle, cowboys chewing the fat while drinking coffee and playin’ cards, and starring up at a million stars under the inky black Texas sky. Of course the days were filled with hours of running after steers eatin’ dust, and cutting animals out for shots, worming, or castration. Rex had been doing it for years and his body now protested.
            More than once he’d been kicked while herding cattle. Joe, the owner of the Circle C had taken him straight away to get patched up. Joe insisted Rex sleep in the house so he and the missus could check on him during the night. Joe wouldn’t let him go back to the bunk house until Rex stopped weaving when he walked. His boss was that kind of man. He took care of his crew.
            Cookie had the fire built. The smell of coffee and bacon filled the crisp, fall air and tickled his nostrils. His mouth watered. That Cookie was one fine trail cook. Rex wandered to the bushes to take care of his morning business.
He returned to find the men in line for victuals. Cookie heaped their plates with bacon, eggs, biscuits, and gravy and they crowded around the fire to eat. Some stood, a few squatted, and others sat on the ground. Rex sat down near where Joe usually sat and waited. Joe usually brought him a plate. Today was no different.
While they ate, Joe talked to him. “Rex, I hate to say this, but it’s time for you to retire. I’ll sure miss you. You’ve been a good hand.”
Just a minute before, Rex had been ready, but now he wasn’t so sure. He looked over at Joe hoping he’d change his mind.
“Now, don’t turn those soulful eyes on me. No doubt about it, you’re getting slow. I don’t want to see you get hurt badly.”
Well, darn, neither did he.
“Sam is ready to take your place.”
Hell yes, he was. Sam was his son, wasn’t he? His offspring were smart and Rex had trained the boy himself.
“Anyway, you can stay around the barn and entertain the ladies doc brings out for breeding. He thinks you produce quality whelps.”
Rex sat up straighter. Not a bad job for an old retired cowhand.
Joe laughed and slapped his knee. The other men chuckled.

Joe scratched Rex’s ears. “I knew you were a smart dog. You’re a credit to your Australian dingo and English sheepdog ancestors.”

Thank you for stopping by. I'd be pleased for you to leave a comment.
Happy Reading and Writing!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Ghosts of Galveston

I’ve been distracted for the past week or so, and... well, as Ed would say, “I was bad.”

Ed, telling on himself.
I neglected to write a new post. So, I hope y’all will forgive me and enjoy this one a second time (assuming you enjoyed it the first time). It’s one of my favorites.

At only twenty-seven miles long and three miles across at the widest point, Galveston, Texas, is not a big place. Located about two miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico an hour south of Houston, the barrier island and tourist Mecca is home to 48,000 year-round residents.

At least, that’s the number of residents the most recent U.S. Census counted. Those who call Galveston home know the population is much larger. A goodly number of the island’s dearly departed…well, never departed.

Bettie Brown

1859 Ashton Villa, courtesy Galveston Historical Foundation
Built in 1859 by a wealthy hardware merchant, Ashton Villa is one of Galveston’s most striking museum houses. Miss Bettie Brown, the merchant’s eldest daughter, was quite the character during her lifetime. She never married, drove her own carriage, and smoked cigars in public, scandalizing the community. She lived to a ripe old age and died in 1920…but that doesn’t mean she left the property. Today, she reportedly scandalizes tour groups by appearing in the Gold Room and her private dayroom, roaming the grand staircase, locking and unlocking one of her lavish trunks, stopping clocks, and playing the piano.

Clara Menard

1838 Michel B. Menard House
courtesy Galveston Historical Foundation
Also called “the Mardi Gras ghost,” the spirit that inhabits Texas Declaration of Independence signatory Michel B. Menard’s 1838 mansion is thought to be that of his daughter Clara, who died in her teens. According to local lore, within the first few years after the house was built, it was the site of one of the first Mardi Gras balls in the country. During the festivities, Clara slipped on the staircase, fell, and broke her neck. Ever since, the hazy figure of a young woman dressed in party regalia of the era has been seen standing at the foot of the stairs during Mardi Gras season.

Daniel Brister

1877 Smith Brothers Hardware Store
In 1920, twenty-five-year-old police officer Daniel Brister attempted to stop a robbery outside the 1877 Smith Brothers Hardware Store. He had just handcuffed one of the perpetrators when the second one shot him in the chest. Though bleeding, Brister chased down and cuffed the second robber, too…only to die of his wound moments later. Brister seems to have become less upstanding in the afterlife. These days, he pinches women’s posteriors and breathes down their necks in the restaurant now located at the spot of his death. He also throws pots and pans in the kitchen.

Jean Lafitte

Jean Lafitte, artist unknown
courtesy Rosenberg Library, Galveston
The pirate Jean Lafitte built the first permanent structure on the island. All that remains of the 1816 smuggler’s refuge Maison Rouge, originally painted red and surrounded by a moat, is a crumbling foundation. The U.S. Navy chased the privateer off the island in May 1821, but Lafitte reportedly loved Galveston so much, he returned in 1823…after he was killed during a sea battle off the coast of Honduras. Legend holds the pirate buried a treasure beneath three oaks on the western end of the island. Treasure hunters never have found the loot, but several have reported encountering Lafitte—right about the time he chokes them.

Lovelorn Lady

1911 Hotel Galvez, courtesy Hotel Galvez
Because of its location overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, the 1911 Hotel Galvez once was a favorite getaway for Frank Sinatra and several U.S. Presidents. The most famous guest of the “Queen of the Gulf” never checked out of Room 501. According to generations of hotel staff members, the Lovelorn Lady awaited her fiancĂ© in the room. When his ship went down off the coast of Florida and he was not listed among the survivors, she hanged herself. Sadly, the fiancĂ© showed up about a week later. These days the Lovelorn lady doesn’t confine herself to Room 501, although that seems to be her favorite haunt. She has been seen or felt throughout the hotel, wandering the halls, breaking dishes, turning on water faucets, slamming doors, and blowing out candles.

Capt. Marcus Fulton Mott

After serving in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, Marcus Fulton Mott became a prominent lawyer. He built a grand Victorian Mansion in Galveston’s East End in 1884. Although the existence of a cistern on the property has never been confirmed, Mott’s son may have murdered three women and thrown their bodies into the well—or at least that’s what Mott’s ghost has told people. Reports of supernatural activity at the house have died down in the past two decades, but prior to the mid-1990s, the ghost at the Witwer-Mott House reportedly ordered people out of the home, threatened them, and threw mattresses across the room…while people were on them.

Point Boliver Lighthouse Ghost

1872 Point Boliver Lighthouse, courtesy U.S. Coast Guard
The original Point Boliver lighthouse, built in 1850, was pulled down during the Civil War so the Yankees couldn’t capture the light and use it as a navigational aid. The new lighthouse, built in 1872, still stands, though it was decommissioned in 1933 and sold to a private individual in 1947. No one has been inside the 116-foot-tall structure for years, yet people—including Patty Duke and Al Freeman Jr., who filmed a movie there in 1970—have reported seeing a figure on the light deck at the very top. Some say the ghost may be that of a lighthouse keeper’s son who killed his parents at the scene. Others believe Harry C. Claiborne, who began a twenty-four-year, two-hurricane tenure as lighthouse keeper in 1894, was so devoted to duty that he still mans his post.

Samuel May Williams

1838 Samuel May Williams House
courtesy Galveston Historical Foundation
Samuel May Williams served as Stephen F. Austin’s secretary, became the first banker in Texas, and founded the Texas Navy. The home he built on Galveston in 1838 is the oldest standing residence on the island. Known as “the most hated man in Texas,” Williams had a habit of pinching pennies and ruthlessly foreclosing on mortgages. Few are surprised he apparently hung around to terrorize the living. Fires have been lit in fireplaces when no one was in or near the home, there’s a “cold spot” outside the children’s rooms on the second floor, and a misty figure appears in the windows of the cupola atop the roof.

Tremont House Ghosts

Tremont House, courtesy Wyndham Grand Hotels
The Tremont House opened with great fanfare on April 19, 1839, in commemoration of the Battle of San Jacinto. By the 1860s, the Tremont had fallen on hard times—in more ways than one. In 1862, the Union Army commandeered the hotel to quarter soldiers. In 1865, the Tremont burned to the ground. Seven years later, the phoenix rose from the ashes even bigger and grander than before. The Tremont hosted guests including Buffalo Bill Cody, Clara Barton, Stephen Crane, and five U.S. Presidents, including Ulysses S. Grant. More hard times and several hurricanes later, the Tremont was demolished in the 1920s…only to be rebuilt once more in the 1980s. Somewhere along the line, a whole passel of ghosts moved in. A Confederate soldier marches up and down the lobby, where a little boy the staff calls Jimmy plays with bottles and glasses at the bar. Jimmy is thought to be the child who was run over in front of the hotel in the late 1880s. “Sam” was murdered on the fourth floor by a thief who wanted the haul Sam had made at one of the city’s storied casinos. The spirit in Room 219, assumed to be a disgruntled former employee, scatters the contents of guests’ luggage.

Unknown Schoolteacher

1895 Hutchings-Sealy Building
courtesy Mitchell Historic Properties
Among the many acts of bravery and selflessness recorded during the Great Storm of 1900, one stands out as especially poignant: That of a young schoolteacher who had taken refuge on the third floor of the Hutchings-Sealy and Company Bank on the Strand. As the seventeen-foot-storm surge submerged the island, sweeping property and lives from the face of the earth, the schoolteacher climbed through a window, perched on a ledge, and dragged people out of the flood and inside the building. She cared for the living for several days, until she succumbed to a fatal fever. To this day, no one knows her name, but she has a familiar face. Ever since the disaster, residents and visitors alike have seen a young woman dressed in the fashion of the day in various parts of the historic bank building. Before the restaurant that occupied the building for many years closed in 2008, some employees reported hearing her call their names.

William Watson

(May disturb some readers.)
Galveston Railroad Museum, courtesy Nsaum75
Of all the ghost stories on Galveston, William Watson’s may be the most gruesome. A bit of a daredevil, the thirty-two-year-old engineer was standing on the cowcatcher of a locomotive as it left the Santa Fe Union Train Station September 1, 1900—one week before the Great Storm destroyed the city. According to reports at the time of his death, Watson frequently pulled the stunt. Something went horribly wrong that day, though. He slipped from his perch, went under the train, and immediately was decapitated. His body stayed put; his head ended up one-quarter mile down the track, where the engine stopped. Watson reportedly haunts the former station (now the Galveston Railroad Museum), though not usually in visual form, thank goodness. Most of the time he merely makes strange noises and redecorates.

A second spirit hangs out at the museum, as well. For a time, part of the building served as a residential psychiatric treatment facility. In the 1980s, a female patient jumped to her death from a fourth-floor window. Since then, the gauzy form of a woman has been seen sitting on windowsills, one leg outside, before disappearing.

These are only a handful of the non-corporeal residents of Galveston. Sometimes called “a cemetery with a beach attached,” the island is second only to New Orleans in the number of reported hauntings. In addition to the celebrity ghosts, other spirits with unknown names and less spectacular stories remain on the island, partly because of Galveston’s dramatic history.

The island switched back and forth between Union and Confederate hands several times early in the Civil War (the Rebs finally managed to hang onto it from January 1863 on), and both sides left bodies behind in buildings along the Strand. After the Great Storm, the surviving buildings along the Strand became temporary hospitals and morgues. The Strand fell into disrepair for a number of years until Galveston philanthropist George Mitchell stepped in to renew and revitalize the area. During renovations, a number of skeletons were discovered in the walls, left there by war or storm victims who literally “slipped through the cracks,” evidently. That may explain why Galvestonians and visitors frequently notice vague forms in uniforms or period clothing floating near ceilings in some of the historic buildings.

Other reported hauntings include:
  • Orphans who drowned during the Great Storm have been spotted at the Walmart built on the site of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word’s doomed orphanage.
  • The Flying Dutchman was reported in Galveston Bay twice in 1892.
  • Bishop’s Palace may be haunted by the spirit of a former owner, who checks the building’s structural integrity when hurricanes threaten.
  • An unknown man, possibly a Great Storm victim, sometimes runs along the sand at Stewart Beach.

Though Galveston plays no role in “Family Tradition,” ghosts do. The story is one of two about bank-robbing brothers in Robbing Banks, Stealing Hearts.

Family Tradition
Haunted by his kin’s tradition of spectacular failure, bank robber Tombstone Hawkins is honor-bound to prove his family tree produced at least one bad apple. When carnival fortuneteller Pansy Gilchrist tries to help, she accidentally summons a pair of dishonest-to-goodness ghosts. Getting into the spirit of a crime is one thing…but how do you get the spirits out?

A Texan to the bone, Kathleen Rice Adams spends her days chasing news stories and her nights and weekends shooting it out with Wild West desperadoes. Leave the upstanding, law-abiding heroes to other folks. In Kathleen’s stories, even the good guys wear black hats.

Her short story “The Second-Best Ranger in Texas” won the Peacemaker Award for Best Western Short Fiction. Her novel Prodigal Gun won the EPIC Award for Historical Romance and is the only western historical romance ever to final for a Peacemaker in a book-length category.

Visit her hideout on the web at