Haunted East Texas
I often enjoy writing of various local paranormal phenomenon. It seems that everywhere one goes they can find unique stories of the paranormal and spooky myths and legends, and one place that definitely is saturated with these is the region of East Texas, in the United States, a place with a long, often violent history that makes it a perfect breeding ground for paranormal activity and haunted places, and here are a few of the most haunted areas in the region. They say don’t mess with Texas, and you definitely don’t want to mess with these scary spots.
Among the many haunted places of East Texas are various spooky roads and remote areas that are suffused with scary myths and urban legends, possibly real ghosts. One of these is a stretch of rugged country road called Bragg Road, in Saratoga, southeast Texas. It is mostly an unremarkable road, just another dusty stretch like many other rural roads in the area, but this one has attracted attention due to its unexplained ghost light that prowls the lane. Motorists have told of being following by a hovering light or sometimes more than one, often seen to bob and weave unnaturally, definitely not a car’s headlights. The lore says that there was once a miner in the area who lost his head in a horrific accident, after which his specter took to carrying around a lantern to go looking for it, and this is what people are seeing. Whether this is just an urban legend or not is unknown, but the Bragg Road Ghost Light has become quite well-known among locals, and plenty of people have reported seeing it.
In Marshall, Texas, we have Stagecoach Road, known for its rather odd phenomena of an unseen force that enjoys pushing vehicles. People who have parked along the road say that it isn’t long before something begins to push the car along, even up inclines, and the sensation that someone is sitting on the roof or standing on the back bumper is not uncommon. Whatever the mysterious force is, it typically leaves behind handprints on the car, often mentioned as being child-sized. Adding to this all is the road’s namesake, a spectral phantom stagecoach drawn by pure black horses, which will go tearing down the road at full speed, passing right through anything in its way and completely silent.
Yet another road said to be intensely haunted is the one that goes over the bridge that spans Jack Creek, just outside of Lufkin. The story goes that a woman went careening off the bridge back in the 1970s, killing her and her baby. Since then, it is said that one can hear the disembodied cries of an infant, and if one is to try and follow the strange noise towards its source the crying will move away, or even more creepily, begin emanating from the direction you just came from or even circle about in the dim wilderness. This has earned the location the name Crybaby Creek, and this ghost seems to also like leaving handprints behind in the film of dust on cars.
Another road with a more sinister name is rather ominously commonly called Demon’s Road, located in Huntsville. The road’s real name is more innocuous, called Bowden Road, but hearing all of the lore attached to this place makes it clear that it has earned its spookier moniker. It is already rather unsettling enough that the rural road meanders through the gnarled trees towards a graveyard called Martha’s Chapel Cemetery, but things are made quite a bit eerier by the road’s resident spook. The specter of Demon’s Road is typically described as looking ostensibly like a little boy, but with twisted features, glowing eyes, and the disturbing habit of crawling and skittering about on all fours, sometimes in a reverse position, if you are envisioning the “spider walk” scene from The Exorcist you are on the right track. On rarer occasions the boy is seen riding a freaky little squeaky red tricycle that can go as fast as any car.
This entity seems to be far more than just the ghost of a little boy, displaying rather malevolent behavior towards those who encounter him. He is known to chase vehicles or even attack them, and rather than speaking he viciously growls, snarls, or barks like a rabid dog, or to unleash a bone chilling, unearthly wail. It is not uncommon for people who have parked here to come back to their vehicles with strange tiny handprints all over their cars or even scratches and punctured tires. Some stories are truly frightening, such as a paranormal investigator who went looking for the “boy” and when he found the entity he was hit with a mysterious bout of nausea, which made him vomit all over his camera, destroying it. Most locals think this is not the ghost of a little boy at all, but rather some demonic presence. Whatever it is, it is damn creepy.
Speaking of cemeteries, there are a few other haunted ones in East Texas as well. One of the more infamous of these is Parkland Cemetery, in Grapeland. The cemetery itself is rather menacing in appearance, un-kept, decrepit, and overgrown with weeds, with gnarled, twisted trees, some of which have grown over graves or had their roots come erupting from the ground through the plots or to even destroy headstones in a cascade of crumbled stone. Anyone brave enough to enter this place is apt to come across their share of paranormal activity, including being pushed or poked by unseen hands, hearing anomalous sounds such as laughter, crying, or oddly piano music, hearing strange lights, and feeling intense roving cold spots even in the middle of the sweltering summer. One ghost in particular is that of a woman buried here named Hattie Parker, who supposedly hates visitors and will actively chase people away.
There is also a place called Largent Cemetery, in Angelina County. This place has the usual, including ghost lights, orbs, and various anomalous noises and voices, but it also has its own resident apparition. The ghost is said to be that of a man named Robert Faigen, said to be eternally looking for his lost children. This ghost is said to look very solid and real, and he has the unsettling habit of wandering past the cemetery boundaries to knock on the doors of houses, whereupon he asks if anyone has seen his children and promptly vanishes. Faigen also seems to enjoy playing pranks on the numerous paranormal teams that come investigating the site, such as causing camera malfunctions or draining batteries.
Besides haunted roads and cemeteries, East Texas has plenty of haunted buildings, and one very well-known place that is a wellspring of ghost stories is Stephen F. Austin State University, in Nacogdoches. This place is populated by an eclectic cast of spirits, each inhabiting a different place on campus. At the Turner Fine Arts Auditorium there is the entity called Chester, which besides causing moving objects, cold spots, and flickering lights is also said to appear in the stage curtains or even be sighted during plays. He also apparently likes to pace about on the catwalks above the stage, causing footsteps, creaking, and cascades of dust when no one is there. Students have reported so much paranormal activity at the auditorium that few are brave enough to be there alone after dark. It is hard to say who Chester is, but popular theories are that he is the ghost of the building’s architect or a former student.
There is also the university dormitory called Mays Hall 11, which has the unfortunate distinction of having once been a hospital with a morgue in the basement. Students who have gone poking around down there in the gloom say the whole basement is infused with a thick, overwhelming sense of dread, despondency, and negativity, to the point where it causes headaches, dizziness, nausea, and nosebleeds. Another haunted dormitory on the campus is Griffith Hall, which has a past stained with a mysterious death, when a resident committed suicide here by jumping from an upper window, allegedly after a session of playing with a Ouija board. The young woman’s ghost is frequently seen roaming the halls here, and it is said that every night at the time of her death there can be heard disembodied footsteps near where she died in the South Wing, and the lights will dim and flicker.
There are also straight up, good old fashioned haunted houses in East Texas. One of the most famous of these isn’t standing anymore, but in its day the Bonner Mansion, on Old Bonner Road in the town of Hudson was the epitome of everything you imagine when you hear “haunted house.” With its twisted trees and gothic, eerie atmosphere it looked every part the haunted house, and it didn’t disappoint. Originally built in the 1800s by the wealthy and prominent Bonner family, it was long said to be haunted by a lady dressed in a flowing white gown, said to be as incredibly beautiful as she was eerie. The house has been torn down, and one wonders what happened to its resident ghost.
In the city of Jefferson, we come to the elegant Excelsior House, now a hotel, which is known for harboring quite a few ghosts within its walls. The most well-known is perhaps the spirit of a woman named Diamond Bessie, who was murdered in 1877 and her killer never brought to justice, which may be why she sticks around tethered to this place. Bessie’s ghost is notorious for pulling blankets from beds, often while guests are sleeping in them, and she has a penchant for stealing jewelry, especially diamond rings. Some frightened guests have even told of having the ring pulled from their finger by an unseen force as they looked on in horror.
Other ghosts on the premises include a little boy who runs around the halls, an unseen presence that rocks back and forth in a rocking chair, a headless man because why not, and a woman carrying a crying baby. One of the most popular stories concerning The Excelsior House is that the acclaimed film director Stephen Spielberg once stayed here while making a movie and was so spooked by paranormal activity that he and his crew checked out without even staying the night.
Another hotel in Jefferson that is supposedly very haunted is the Jefferson Hotel, often mentioned in lists of the most haunted hotels in the United States. The spirits here tend to be of the very noisy variety, banging on walls or ceilings or screaming and shouting from empty rooms. They also reportedly like to throw things, and many guests have complained of having objects fly at them, sometimes hitting with great force, and being mysteriously locked out of rooms is a frequently reported occurrence. Lights, faucets, and showers also have a habit of turning on and off by themselves, and in general the whole place is crawling with paranormal activity. You would think that this would keep people away, but the hotel seems to be rather enjoying its reputation as a haunted place, and is very often completely booked, many of the guests being there hoping to see something supernatural.
These have been just a few of the more supposedly haunted places in East Texas, ranging from the curious to the downright terrifying. Most of these places you can visit or even stay at if you’re brave enough, just be sure to bring your courage, an extra flashlight, and maybe a clean pair of shorts. With places like this, East Texas has earned itself a healthy reputation as one of the most haunted places in the country, so if you are ever in the area, be sure to check these out.