SMALL TOWN WITH BIG HAUNTS
day Old Town Tomball,
28-miles northwest of Houston,
is filled with eclectic antique and specialty shops, award winning
mom-and-pop eateries, live entertainment, festivals, and a quality
of life that makes living in a small town very desirable.
But, late at night when the moon is high and the streets are empty,
is said to host a different sort of night life; a "spirited" night
life filled with unexplained incidences involving things that go bump
in the night. You see, Tomball
is said to be the small town with the big haunts.
Ghosts in Tomball
Alley Ghost of Elm Street
of Fannin Street
THE ALLEY GHOST
OF ELM STREET
the railroad tracks on North Elm Street is Tomball's
newest award winning spot for craft barbecue and handmade chocolate
to die for. Tejas Chocolate + Barbecue is set in what many
old-timers say is the oldest house in town . . . so, what better place
to find a resident spirit with a love of barbecue and sweets?
Recently named the #6 Barbecue Joint in Texas by Texas Monthly Magazine,
Tejas is one of the town's hot spots for "unexplained late
night groans, and the sound of footsteps in the attic and on the staircase,"
said co-owner Scott Moore, Jr. "When we moved into the building it
got my attention real fast!" he said.
Moore said that he had heard tales from neighboring shop owners about
a ghost named Travis who wanders the alley behind his shop at night.
"We were working late one evening and our back alley gate opened and
then slammed shut," he said. "There was no one in the alley and no
breeze whatsoever. It was unnerving."
Two years after opening the restaurant, Moore and his co-workers at
Tejas Chocolate + Barbecue still freely talk about hearing noises
upstairs after hours, pans and boxes falling from level shelves as
if pushed by an unseen visitor, and the light at the top of the narrow
stairway to the second floor that is switched off in the morning even
though they know it was left on when they locked up the night before.
Moore sees Travis as more of a prankster, but, "sometimes it gets
borderline uncomfortable being alone here," he said. "I've never experienced
the weird things that happen here anywhere else I've ever worked or
of Tejas Chocolate + Barbecue at the foot of the stairway leading
to the haunted attic/office.
Courtesy City of Tomball
stories were told by the developer during the renovation of the
old house on North Elm Street. Remodelers regularly heard the
sound of someone walking in the attic, tools left in one room would
later turn up in another, and then there was the constant uneasy feeling
of being watched when alone in the building. Even today, the original
air-conditioning contractor that did work in the attic during remodeling
refuses to go back into the space for follow-up projects.
Moore has jokingly accepted his wayward guest as possibly an impatient
railroad passenger who continues to miss the ghost train that sometimes
rolls down the nearby BNSF railroad tracks causing the crossing arms
to lower on Main Street for no apparent reason.
Travis isn't making mischief at Tejas he's making himself known next
door at Jane & John Dough Bakery. In an old house built in
1936, the eclectic coffee house is filled with energy said co-owner
Jane Wild. "You can feel it all around," she said. Co-owner John Blankemeyer
agrees adding that the energy is strongest in the hallway leading
from the kitchen to the main dining room. "When you pass through the
hallway you get the feeling you're being watched," he said. Like his
friends at Tejas Chocolate + Barbecue, Blankemeyer believes that Travis
is a joker. Things go missing only to show up elsewhere, there will
be knocking on the kitchen door as if someone wants to come in when
there is no one on the other side, and the occasional voices and shout-outs
are reminders that they are sharing space with an unseen guest, he
said. But, it was the first encounter with Travis that was the most
memorable recalls Blankemeyer.
"During construction we had a row of trash bags filled with debris
stacked against a wall. There was also a piece of wood, a wall stud,
leaning against the same wall behind the bags," he said. "As two of
us watched, the stud didn't just fall over the bags. It leaped over
them and landed flat on the floor. The two of us just looked at each
other, like 'what just happened?'. Now we realize that it must have
mischievous spirit at Granny's Korner across from the historic
has been named Gertie by shop owner Mary Harvey. For years the sprawling
antique and gift shop on Market Street has experienced unexplained
voices and activities both day and night.
"I'm sure that there's a ghost here. Customers have even commented
on it, too," said Harvey. "Gertie slams doors, causes things to
fall, makes all sorts of noises, and has even touched people as
they shop. We all know that when the festivals start happening there
at the old Depot, it disturbs Gertie and she shows her presence,"
A City of Tomball employee reported hearing a loud banging sound
coming from Granny's Korner one morning while setting up for a festival
before dawn. The erratic sound was as if someone was inside pounding
against the old shop windows facing Market Street in order to get
the employee's attention. As the employee walked away from the area
the sound immediately stopped.
Feeling a presence
is one thing, but actually coming face to face with Gertie in the
shop one day was all the proof Harvey would ever need to become
a believer. "I was in a hurry and walked around a wall and nearly
ran over her," she said. "Thinking it was a customer, I put my hand
up to keep from bumping into her. That's when she just disappeared."
Harvey says that she was so surprised to see the ghost that all
she can remember is that Gertie was about 5'3" tall and had long
hair. "We'd heard that there was possibly a cemetery here at one
time, and there was a jail nearby for many years," said Harvey.
"I've also been told that many years ago a woman was stabbed to
death in what's now the courtyard of our shop."
A summertime thunder storm in Tomball
earlier this year didn't sit well with Gertie, Harvey said. "The
thunder and lightning was incredible during the night," she said.
"When we opened the shop the next morning it was a mess. There were
picture frames and all sorts of things everywhere on the floor."
Despite lights and ceiling fans that turn on and off by themselves,
the thermostat that won't stay put, the hotel style bell on the
front counter that "dings" when no one is there, and merchandise
that relocates on its own, the ladies who work at Granny's Korner
have accepted Gertie and hope that she will someday accept them.
"We've learned to deal with her," Harvey said. "We're not scared
of her and actually enjoy talking to her and having her around.
In fact, I had a ghost expert tell me that Gertie is my protector
and that she sometimes travels with me," said Harvey.
among the giant oaks on North Pine Street just off of Main
is the popular Tomball Museum Center with its collection of
historic homes, a one-room school house, church, farm museum and more.
One of the old homes there is the Griffin House, constructed
in the early 1860s by renowned builder Eugene Pillot. This beautifully
restored example of Civil War era architecture comes complete with
a bonus . . . its own apparition in the attic.
According to Museum Director, Charles Hall, stories of a female spirit
in the Griffin House have circulated for years. As the story goes
the figure of a woman dressed in period clothing has appeared in the
upper reaches of the home and been seen more than once rocking quietly
back and forth in her rocking chair in the parlor on the main floor.
The ghost is thought to be the 21-year-old daughter of the Faris family
who once lived in the home. The mysterious cause of the young woman's
death has never been determined.
house at the Tomball Museum Center
North Pine Street
Courtesy City of Tomball
| During the Civil
War a Confederate powder mill sat in what is now Spring Creek Park,
just a short drive from downtown Tomball.
It was there Texans loyal to the Confederacy worked around the clock
making cannon powder for the rebel army's artillery pieces.
In 1864 a horrific explosion destroyed the facility killing three
men working there. The force of the blast was so great that a huge
crater was created that over time filled with water and became a popular
swimming hole for locals.
Despite rumors of spirits at the pond and in the surrounding woods,
the lure of the cool dark water continued to draw swimmers to the
powder mill site willing to risk a ghostly encounter for a quick dip.
Unfortunately for some that decision ended in their death. After several
curious drownings the powder mill pond was fenced, but the rumors
remain even today.
A paranormal investigation was conducted at Spring Creek Park in 2008
with results showing evidence of unexplained responses, shadowy images
and psychic impressions. Could these have been the spirits of deceased
soldiers of the Confederacy, drowning victims or possibly both?
turreted two-story home at the corner of South Walnut Street and
Fannin doesn't fit the image of a Victorian style "haunted house",
but years of alleged paranormal activities inside have forced the
landlord to include a special clause in the lease agreement for renters.
"My lease reads that paranormal activity is not grounds for terminating
the lease contract," said current resident Rocky Pilgrim.
Pilgrim, a local attorney, had heard the stories of the house before
moving in but was skeptical; that is until things began to happen
that she couldn't logically explain. "As the story goes, two spinsters
lived in the house alone and for whatever reason one of them hanged
herself from a beam in the second floor loft," she said.
Former residents have told tales of children at play upstairs hearing
voices telling them to "get out" and "Leave . . . I don't like you".
On more than one occasion vases, stacks of paper and other inanimate
objects have been known to migrate from one space to another within
the house when no one was watching. A shower mysteriously turned itself
on full force, seconds after a resident exited to dry off, and glowing
orbs have been photographed around the property by the occasional
ghost tour, says Pilgrim.
A recent incident involved a young woman playing her piano alone in
the home as she does every evening. Through her peripheral vision
while playing, the woman thought she saw a shadow moving to her side,
but when she turned to look it was gone. Again she started to play,
and again she saw the shadowy figure moving to her side only to disappear
when she turned to face it. It happened a third time with the same
outcome. The pianist then closed her eyes and continued to play her
tune when suddenly she felt someone or something grip her shoulders
from behind in what was described as a light, unaggressive hold. She
stopped playing and the grip was released.
"I have never been creeped-out living here," Pilgrim said. "Maybe
it's because I'm still skeptical and few things have actually happened
to me . . . it usually just happens around me. I guess I prefer to
remain in ignorance, and it's worked pretty well so far."
| The Tomball
Emergency Assistance Ministries, or TEAM, sits quietly
on Main Street providing help to those in need throughout the
day. But, after dark this onetime doctor's office and grocery store
is known for "clients" of another kind. "I had been working here for
about a year before I was told about strange happenings after dark,"
said Becky Loving, Director of TEAM. "Strange things were experienced
by our volunteers, staff and even my husband."
"Every night before we lock up we straighten our resale area," she
said. "Books and toys in the children's area are put back onto the
shelfs. But, there have been times when we return in the morning to
find those same books and toys arranged in a perfect circle on the
floor that had been cleaned the night before."
There is one story from 2011 of a warehouse employee who saw the vision
of a small framed woman walking through the resale shop after dark
plainly dressed as if from the 1950s. The employee rushed into the
back of the building and returned with two co-workers who also saw
the vision. Within seconds the mysterious woman vanished as they looked
Loving's husband was working alone in the kitchen area of TEAM one
night when the kitchen faucet turned on by itself. Later that week
a faucet in a nearby restroom did the same as someone was answering
"There is a video of a plate flying off a shelf as if thrown just
as one of our customers passed by," Loving said, "and the same thing
has happened off camera involving volunteers." And, then there are
the stories of foot prints on freshly mopped floors when only the
custodian was present in the building, she added. From its haunted
homes, to spirited shops and shadow filled cemeteries, Tomball
is "Texan for Fun"® in this life and apparently in the next!
For more information
Texas, please call 281-351-5484, visit tomballtx.gov or "like"
Tomball on Facebook at "Tomball Texan for Fun." ®