hot and humid morning during the summer of 1855, a group of commissioned
Texas scouts, searching for a band of raiding Comanche rumored to
be in the territory, rode their horses along a creek bed in the northern
section of the district of Milam, later known as Erath County.
They stopped at a large water hole to rest and water their tired animals.
Suddenly, from the protection of the lazy creek, the men could see
black smoke rising over a hill about 300 yards to the southeast.
Quick to investigate, the men, found a young couple brutally murdered,
laying in the yard of their small burning cabin. Not far from the
couple lay the body of a small boy. All three had been savagely tortured,
killed, and scalped. The naked body of an infant was later discovered
about 50 yards from the house. Her small lifeless body, was found
full of thorns, with a rope tied around her feet. She had been drug
to death through the cactus.
Outraged, the patrol quickly found the trail of the fast moving raiders
and followed them to an area along the Leon River where a battle ensued.
The marauding Comanche were no match for the group of Tennessee woodsman.
Texas style justice was handed out as all nine Comanche warriors lost
The scouts rode back to the water hole on Green’s Creek and
buried the remains of the pioneer family who lost their lives in such
a cruel and senseless manner. However, the traumatic event would not
be the last to take place at what would become known as the “McDow
summer afternoon in 1921, Jewel and Dieletta Hickey, were gathering
water at Green’s Creek, located near their home. On their way back
to the house, nine-year-old Jewel dropped both buckets of water from
her hands. She began to run, looking down and behind her with an expression
After reaching the house in a state of terrified exhaustion, the child
explained, as she cried, that a dog had chased her. When her six-year-old
sister told her she never saw a dog as she ran behind her, the terrified
Jewel explained that she never saw it either, that’s what was so scary.
She said the “thing” was growling and snapping at her legs”. “I could
hear it snarl and gnash it’s teeth together”. “It was panting, loudly,
like it had been running”. “I kept walking faster and it kept striking
its teeth together, right at my heels”. I dropped the buckets and
The Hickey family would witness such strange events in and around
the McDow water hole on Green’s Creek, south of Dublin
in Erath County, for the next three decades. These and many more ghostly
happenings have been recorded over the last 135 years at McDow Hole,
the first being recorded after the murder of a young mother and her
baby about 1865.
her book “Hickey Pioneers, a partial history of the Captain Wesley
W. Hickey Family”, Dieletta Hickey Watson, recounts the days her
family lived near the spot of the old Papworth cabin on Green’s Creek,
from 1916 to 1940. She recorded several strange events and encounters,
by one family member or another, with the mysterious ghostly woman
who was seen several times on or near their property over the course
of her childhood.
water hole, located about three miles north of the ghost town of Alexander,
is basically a deep part of a creek bed lined with a natural bedrock
bottom. The hole is spring fed which assured local pioneers water
year around. The McDow Hole got its name from the Jim McDow family
who came to the area in January 1860 purchasing 189 acres. The McDows
built their cabin not far from the water hole. When pioneers began
to come to the region they would go down to the “McDow” place to get
water referring to the location on the creek as “McDow” Hole.
The story of the original McDow haunting has been written about by
several writers, magazines, and newspapers but was first documented
in 1900 by Stephenville
resident Joe Fitzgerald. Mr. Fitzgerald’s daughter, Mary Joe Clendenin
to whom most of this work is credited, has written several stories
about the murder of Jenny Papworth and her infant child at the McDow.
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