Sunday, October 26, 2014


By Bea Smith

Entrance to stockyards on Exchange Street

The Stockyards actually have a branch of the Trinity River flowing under Exchange, the main street. Many people believe that water holds spiritual activity and heightens paranormal activity.

Stockyards Hotel
The Stockyards Hotel was built in 1910 and was a crown jewel of a hotel, attracting rich oil tycoons. Bonnie and Clyde reportedly stayed in room 305. That room now overlooks Merrick Fine Western Wear, which was then a jewelry store, and the nearby bank.  Two stories are told about their stay. One is that they rented the room to stake out the two businesses, but they liked FW so much they decided not to rob there. The other tale is that they told the owners of the bank and the jewelry store that they weren’t there to rob them or cause any trouble; Bonnie and Clyde said they were just hiding out from the law until things cooled down a bit.

The Stockyards Hotel has a full-bodied apparition named Jesse. He’s a cowboy who couldn’t have afforded to stay in the hotel at the time. People speculate that he just wanted to stay there in the afterlife.  Visitors hear his spurs jingling as he walks through the hall or see him. Jesse never interacts with anyone.

Many have felt the presence of a former employee; Jake. He was a messenger from the 1900’s and he loved his job of 30-40 years. Visitors feel hot and cold spots and some of his physical duties are still taken care of. If guests leave their room unlocked, it will be locked when they return. For the last 30 years, the phone rings after hours. No one is there and the call cannot be traced, put on hold, or transferred. 

Stockyards Indoor Rodeo Arena

Exchange Building: Rodeo Arena has had a rodeo since 1908. This arena is a hotbed of paranormal activity. There is a phantom black horse that runs around the arena.

Apparitions are of deceased cowboys in old-time clothing.  The rodeo was very dangerous and many lost their lives during their performance.  EVP’s (electronic voice phenomenon; conversation not heard by the human ear) record hearing a voice saying, “Cow, cow, cow.” And “Pig, pig, pig.”
People have also recported seeing the spirit of Quanah Parker, who was the first Native American to ride in a rodeo.

Offices in the Livestock Exchange building
still conduct cattle sales nationwide
Exchange Building: A man’s small child followed him to work in the early 1900’s. He wasn’t sure what to do with her, so he let her wander around. She went to play in the vault and an employee inadvertently locked her in. She wasn’t discovered in the airtight building until the next morning, where she had suffocated.  Employees say they get an eerie feeling upstairs. They see a little girl running around playing and trying to get their attention. She looks out windows at dawn. One early morning, there were hand prints on the inside of the door. The paranormal team from the stockyards found two prints.

The body of a prostitute was found inside years ago when prostitution was a licensed profession. She was probably murdered offsite and then dumped there. Her rose-scented perfume, for which she was known, can still be smelled on tours.

Armour Swift Corporate Building: 1900’s-1970’s. Arson destroyed the building and, with all the residual animal fat, it took 1 month to put out completely. The Spaghetti Warehouse was there after the building was rebuilt, but they couldn’t keep staff. Silverware would fly, things would be moved, strange noises, and creepy feelings.  It’s a power company now. [My family and I ate there when it was the Spaghetti Warehouse. All I remember is service was slow. Hmm, no wonder.]

Riscky’s Steakhouse
A brothel was above this popular restaurant. This was a high class brothel that was more expensive than usual. The last member of the Riscky family is very embarrassed about the brothel and won’t let people go up there. She threw everything away—but a red rocker once owned by the Madame mysteriously reappeared in the building.  The bells that signaled the men that their time was up are still there and working. The windows where the women would stand to attract customers have been boarded up because people kept seeing apparitions of working women standing and posing in them.

Saunders Park just below the Stockyards

Saunders Park
When it was Hell’s Half Acre, people would take care of disputes by shooting at each other. Dead or dying were dumped into the river by the park. Sometimes the water was red with blood. Divers report that there are too many human bones to count remaining on the bottom of that part of the Trinity River.

Lead cow Molly and
the simulated cattle drive

Miss Molly’s B and B
Molly is actually the name of the lead cow in the simulated cattle drive and the mascot of FW.

The actual Madame was Miss Josie. It was a speakeasy until the 1930’s, then became a low end brother. The girls were actually 11-15 years old. Most of the girls were orphans or runaways.  Miss Josie was abusive. She didn’t take any guff from the male customers and was known to throw them out on the street. She was very obese and ill-tempered. The girls had huge quotas and, if they didn’t meet them or they talked back, Josie would lock them in the closet without food, water, or facilities as long as she felt the the discipline required. 

Girls were very competitive and would poison each other’s food and lotion, resulting in some violent illnesses and deaths.  Miss Josie had a daughter, father unknown, who she abused terribly. When the little girl was 8 years old, she disappeared.  Everyone thought Josie had killed her but it was never investigated.  One time a little girl on the ghost tour had her hair pulled and said that “Mary was messing with her.” No one had told the little girl that Josie’s daughter was named Mary. The owner keeps toys for Mary that no one else is allowed to play with, and the playthings move around.

Josie’s room and the Cowboy’s room are the most haunted. Men have their shoulders rubbed or their heads patted, but women report feeling very unwelcome and watched.

Longhorn Saloon:  Three cowboys stopped to drink, boys between 15 and 17. They got drunk and got back on what they thought were their horses. The men whose horses they stole confronted them and the boys were hanged in the saloon.  Now women in the Ladies bathroom report having their legs tugged and feeling like they are being watched.

Cowtown Winery entrance

Cowtown Winery:
Paranormal team that works the Stockyards swept the building and found just as much activity as Miss Molly’s.  It used to be a Chinese Laundry with the family living above.  People feel the presence of a young boy. A medium said he was killed by an abusive parent, who kept him in a cupboard behind the bar. There is an old-fashioned sock monkey doll no one admits to having brought in.  It will disappear for days, then reappear in odd places.

Another presence is also felt. Wine is spilled during the night, crackers are spilled, and cases topple over. The motion detector is never tripped.  People hear glass break and rush in, but nothing is broken.

While the guide was talking about the little boy, the street light in the alley was flickering. When she got to the story of the other presence, the light went out with a “Pop!” Everyone jumped, watched, and then laughed at themselves. As the tour dispersed and the guide went back in, one of the remaining tourists said, “Wouldn’t it be funny if the light came back on?”

And it did!

Photos  from Google Commons


  1. WOW these are interesting stories. I love hearing about the ghosts as we used to live near the haunted Placerville, California's gold rush town. The building I worked in was haunted and often the ghost moved things around at night and one of our wastebaskets disappeared and was never recovered. It was the pink one, the other three were gray. Hmmmmm

  2. Fascinating stuff, Bea! I didn't know Cowtown was so haunted. Much food for thought here, could make for some fun books.

  3. Wow, this was a very informative article. I'm beginning to think everything is haunted. Loved the pictures of all the different places.
    Great job!

  4. Awesome!! I was there for the light and it was eerie

  5. Sorry, I'm so late to the party. Fascinating post, Bea. I love reading about all the hauntings. The poor wait staff at that restaurant, no wonder it was so slow.


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