following tale came by way of Mr. Pete Kendall, one time sports writer for the
Cleburne Times Review newspaper in Cleburne,
Texas. Mr. Kendall relayed the story in 2003. It is a ghostly article he found
in a 99-year-old-newspaper. The author of the piece is unknown and long removed
from this life but gives us a Victorian insight of a poltergeist of certain demented
intent. The story is taken, word-for-word just as the author intended from a 1902
newspaper in Burleson,
A Good Ghost Story -|
A haunted house and
SPOOKED INHABITED COTTAGE
Mysterious noises disturb their
slumbers and search confirms
their ghostly visitants
first class and thoroughly confirmed ghost story is told by returned members of
the party, which for its realistic features and the previous record of the locality
served at the time to raise the hair of the campers as well as to remind the readers
that there are intangibilities in the observance of our human senses, ‘that’,
“There are more things in heaven and earth, Haratio, than are dreamt of in your
philosophy”. And the surveyors do “a take unfold whose highest word did “harrow
up” their very souls – but, to the story. |
Last Saturday night the surveyors
had reached a point about two and a half miles northwest of Burleson
and finding there a vacant house concluded to utilize its sheltering roof for
their night’s repose. This house is one far above the ordinary farmers’ residence;
being the most neat appearing and spacious modern cottage of several rooms and
an “upstairs”, the stairway leading from the front gallery to the upper story.
It was in apparent good repair and thought open to campers concluded to sleep
on the broad porch. Here they spread their bedding and at an early hour had gone
to sleep – all except Mr. Ransone.
Mr. Ransone relates that as he lay
in a semi-sleeping condition suddenly just at his head and in the front room of
the cottage there rang out two shots in quick concession, which aroused the whole
party and created momentary consternation in the minds of all. Each one jumped
out from their pallets and the strange occurrence was freely discussed among them.
Footsteps in the room were heard as if someone were leisurely walking about and
these coming out the door right among them turned up the stairway from the porch
and were distinctly audible as they ascended the steps. Then about through the
upper story went the footsteps echoing loudly through the building, finally approaching
the stairs and coming down again.
The party was composed of Mr. J.R.
Ransone, Mr. G.A. Human, Mr. Shaw, Berkley Collard, Elmer Collins, and Lucian
Wilson, all more or less well known here.
Mr. Collard was on his pallet
the nearest one to the stairway and as the disturber descended the steps he arose
armed with his own heavy shoes and attempted to close with the intruder, but in
the clinch he only embraced the empty air and though heavy pedal coverings were
hurried into the stairway with all the violence of intense excitement they smote
only the intangible air and bounded back down the staircase – but the steps proceeded
– tramp, tramp, tramp through their midst into the room and finally died away
into indistinctness into the further part of the house.
mystery of the visitation was discussed amongst the campers for some time and
they finally determined that their senses had been mysteriously deluded or that
mischievous practical jokers of the neighborhood had determined to have a lot
of enjoyment at their expense. In either case there was no danger, so they laid
down again to sleep, their hair standing stiffly outward forming a natural pillow
for their puzzled heads.
No sooner, however, than they had began to dose
off again than – bang! came some heavy object against the wall from the inside
and with such a force that the windows of the room which had been raised fell
with such a violence that the glass in the window shattered.
feature to this occurrence was that the party had tried ineffectively to close
the windows down and found that impossible because the rains had swollen the wood
and stuck the frame fast. This episode convinced them that some supernatural agency
was at work and they determined on a thorough search of the premises.
This they made by stationing guards at the front and rear to cover exits while
two of the party with lighted lanterns explored every room, closet, nook and cranny,
but without developing anything further than empty rooms and resounding walls.
They then searched the surrounding approaches, went “into” and thoroughly searched
the storm cellar in the rear of the house and found – nothing.
men they then returned to sleep convinced that no human agency had disturbed them
and all through the mysterious noises, rapping’s, and persistent plodding of the
footsteps continued throughout the night they slumbered at intervals and at intervals
sat up to listen intently to the nocturnal prowler.
When morning arrived
they again explored the whole house and surroundings, but absolutely nothing tangible
did they find as explanation of the nights experiences. Afterward, they inquired
of a gentleman living near and learned that he had also heard the apparent shots
as he sat up in the waiting on his family to return from church at Burleson.
This gentleman is Mr. Bristow and lives about 400 yards from the “haunted”
house. From him the party learned also the history of the record of the place,
which from his story bears the reputation of a dwelling place of spooks.
house is on a tract of land in the J.H. Catlett survey and now belongs to Mr.
Bristow. It was erected about ten or twelve years ago by a Mr. Bills, from whom
Bristow afterward purchased it. It has not been occupied for about three years,
Mr. Bristow’s brother and family being the last occupants they left allegedly
on account of the disturbances which were of nightly occurrence. No one was ever
known to have been murdered there or nearby, but two parties – a man and a woman
– have died in the building and it is certain from the narrative of those present
that some disembodied spirit returns on the shades of a friendly night to go again
over old scenes and to frighten trespassers upon the premises.
to their theory on the haunt these gentlemen have none to give but it has been
suggested that perhaps the place is the rendezvous for some lawless band – thieves
or counterfeiters – who have hidden doors or traps and an underground resort in
which they ply their nefarious trade or store their purloined property and have
some mechanical devices by which they produce the nocturnal noises and protect
their retreat from the encroachment of a too investigating public.
this be true or whether in fact the ghost of some departed inhabitant has taken
up its abode and resents intrusion from men of mortal mold is matter for speculation.
But one fact stands out boldly from mystery of the surrounding scenes and that
is Human and his party were so thoroughly cognizant of the conditions that all
tell the same story – all heard the same noises and all are credible to the extent
of the physical facts they relate.” The end. Aug 7, 1902
would be most interesting today to find exactly where the house once stood, given
the exact abstract locations by the author makes it possible. Was the haunting
real? Hauntings are as old as mankind. Most true hauntings are a plethora of strange
happenings and occurrences which create more questions than answers as they tend
to defy logic and the natural laws of physics while terrifying any unfortunate
witnesses. In late Victorian America it was not a custom to discuss such matters
openly as it is today. Modern America embraces everything about ghosts and ghostly
activities as scores of television shows have been spawned creating celebrities
out of geeky regular people who believe their seems to be a ghost in every house
or building older than 50 years. But, official documentation of such occurrences
prove that a real haunting is much less likely to happen and even less has actually
been officially documented.|
Some people are skeptical of ghosts
and should be while others think they see a ghost
behind every old house or building in town. True hauntings,
though rare, have terrified those who have experienced them and leave deep spiritual
and psychological scars. It would be best to leave ghost hunting up to the spiritual
experts as not to taunt things you can’t see. Like the surveyors of old Burleson,
you may get more than you bargained for as things around your home begin to go
bump in the night. Happy Halloween!
October 25, 2011 Column
Ghost Stories | Texas
Ghost Towns | Texas
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