Hello ghost story lovers!

Is your DVR set to record every paranormal show cable has to offer? Do you spend your vacations on ghost tours? How about weekends camped out in secluded cemeteries waiting for lonely, hoarse sighs to register on your digital recorder?

Have you ever seen a ghost?

If you answered “yes” or maybe “no, but I sure would like to” to any or all of the above questions, this blog is for you. BumpInTheNightBlog is intended for those with a healthy and lighthearted curiosity about all things supernatural. Staying in a haunted hotel, only to awake in the middle of the night to an icy chill that sweeps into the room and settles next to you is admittedly not for everyone. But those of us who love a good ghost story – and perhaps even fancy ourselves as ghost hunters – welcome these experiences with just the mildest of shivers.

People love to experience haunted houses because they can be in the presence of something otherworldly, possibly even participate in a paranormal experience, and then return to the familiarity of home. One researcher described a visit to a haunted house as similar to visiting the zoo – you can see the tiger, but you know it won’t jump into your backseat and come home with you (although, I’ve come across a ghost or two in my travels known to do this…but, I’m getting ahead of myself…more about that later).

I’m fond of combining the three things I love most – ghosts, traveling, and writing – and often take trips to haunted destinations, hoping to experience something paranormal first hand, and write about it.

This first ghost story comes from my book, Haunted Texas Vacations: The Complete Ghostly Guide (Westcliffe Publishers, 2000). It takes place in what I consider to be the most haunted town in Texas – at least it’s the place where I’ve had the best luck not only hunting ghosts, but finding them. The town of Jefferson is located 15 minutes north of Marshall on County Road 390. The East Texas countryside surrounding Caddo Lake – with its moss-draped cypress trees that block out the sun and inky black waters that swallow anything unlucky enough to fall in – is as spooky as a horror-movie set. Locals claim the spirits of Caddo Indians who settled this land long ago haunt the dense forests. And there may be other lost specters roaming these woods. According to Kent Biffle’s “Texana” column in the Dallas Morning News, the lake has claimed boatloads of victims (more than 165 to date), including 68 passengers who went down with the Mittie Stevens, a steamboat out of Shreveport, Louisiana.The ill-fated steamer burned and sank on the night of February 11, 1869. Blanketed by rich silt, the wreck still eludes frustrated marine archeologists. In addition, several murders took place throughout the region, with the lake serving as the perfect dumping ground to cover every ghastly (turned ghostly) misdeed.

In the middle of this ghost-infested area lies the little town of Jefferson, the final destination of the Mittie Stevens never reached more than 130 years ago. Jefferson is a sleepy town with a gaudy past. Afternoons are spent lazily among the towering pines along the banks of the slow-moving Big Cypress Bayou. Jefferson’s history is so pervasive that it covers you like a shawl, greets you at every corner, and lures you into every immaculate historical B&B for a peek.

Located in the heart of Jefferson’s Riverfront District, the Jefferson Hotel http://historicjeffersonhotel.com/ is one of the oldest buildings in town. Originally constructed as a cotton warehouse in 1851, it was converted into a hotel in the 1870s (it’s housed a bordello upstairs and a Chinese laundry downstairs). I’ve stayed at the Jefferson a half dozen times and something strange has happened to me or to one of my traveling companions every time. But nothing compares to what happened to me in Room 21.

I was in town with journalist Melissa Revere and her mother, Dee, to interview witnesses of the paranormal for a magazine article on haunted Jefferson hotels and bed-and-breakfasts. Our first indication the Room 21 was unusual was returning to our locked room at sundown to find every light in the room ablaze. We had intentionally left only one light on. We ventured next door to the haunted Lamanche’s Restaurant for a delicious Italian dinner and returned to Room 21 stuffed, exhausted and ready for bed.

A good night’s sleep it was until 3:44 a.m., when I woke up abruptly and completely. I rolled over, looked at the clock, and glanced over at Melissa and her mom sleeping in the other bed. Suddenly, a loud rushing sound filled my ears. Seconds later, my body felt as though it had been plugged into an electrical socket – goosebumps covered my arms and legs and the hair on the back of my neck stood on end. I was unable to move or speak.

My discomfort escalated dramatically when I felt the other side of the bed depress as if someone – or something – sat down on the edge and rolled over behind me. I was being spooned by a ghost! I could feel chills racing up and down my back as I tried to calm down and regain my voice. Finally, I choked out, “Melissa!” and she responded to my terrified voice as I vaulted from my bed into hers, waking up her mom in the process. After several tense minutes, we settled down and Melissa and her mom went back to sleep. I lay awake the rest of the night, a lamp on to ward off things that go bump in the night.

Sleep tight.

The Haunted Cafe

Luling Ledger

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On a cold evening in October 1899, a young man walked into his uncle’s dry goods store in Luling, TX and fired four bullets at the Fire House Queen, Mami Jacobs, then turned the gun on himself. Ben Jacobs had fallen in love with his first-cousin, and was devastated when she turned down his marriage proposal, denouncing any romantic love for the man. The townsfolk of Luling, outraged by the murder of their local sweetheart, dismembered and burned his body.

The grim tale has been cemented in local folklore ever since as a mar on the otherwise sunny history of the old oil-boom town, but Carolyn Ehrig, owner of The Coffee Shop—located where Jacob’s Dry Goods once stood— believes Ben Jacob’s ghost haunts her café, and says she has befriended the specter.

“We’ve come to a mutual understanding,” Ehrig said.

The restaurant is located on historic Davis street, and in…

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Country Spirits at Country Spirit

Excerpt from “Haunted Texas Vacations: The Complete Ghostly Guide”

According to local psychic Gharith Pendragon, three ghosts haunt the Country Spirit Restaurant in Boerne, Texas. Pendragon has been communicating with these ghosts for several years. The oldest ghost and the ghost who has been in the house the longest is “Fred.” Fred, a late middle-aged man, hangs out in the cellar and likes to sit down at tables after people have left, and pretend to eat their food. He lived and died in Boerne in the 1860s, then moved into the Country Spirit because it was the grandest place he knew in life.

Ghost number two is “David.”A young boy between the ages of 13 and 16, he was killed on the property in the 1890s. Psychics believe he was kicked in the head by a horse outside a window at the bottom of a staircase leading to the bathrooms. A lot of trauma is felt here. David likes to hang out in the men’s room (he even has his own pillow in the bathtub and says he likes this room because of the cows on the wallpaper). He also likes to flip potato chips off plates and throw wineglasses off the bar.

Augusta Phillip, a middle-aged woman who used to be the mistress of the house, died in 1949. The last of the three ghosts to haunt the house, “Augusta” likes to hang out on the green couch upstairs near the bathrooms.

With the help of police sketch artist Betty Cooper from San Antonio, Gharith Pendragon (who assists police departments with missing person cases and unsolved crimes) created portraits of the three haunts. The sketches hang proudly in an office upstairs, Fred complete with his floppy hat and Augusta with surprisingly few wrinkles – an omission Augusta herself insisted on!

Ghostly activity includes candles moving across tables; also, a previous owner was locked in the bathroom. Gharith believes the ghosts are friendly and actually help out from time to time. Through the ghosts’ communication with Gharith, the restaurant owner learned of an electrical problem in the house early in the spring of 1996. Electricians spent a morning alone in the house fixing the problem despite hearing footsteps upstairs and what they described as the sound of someone falling down repeatedly. After going upstairs a couple of times to assure themselves they were alone in the house, they managed to complete a three-hour job in only an hour. Along with the owner, three local high school teachers witnessed the levitation of a wineglass while sitting at the bar one evening. The glass did a somersault in the air before settling back on the bar.

One of the most impressive accounts is from a San Antonio couple who had come to Boerne for a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner in 1994. The couple didn’t know the restaurant is closed Tuesdays – Valentine’s Day that year. As they drove past the restaurant on Main Street, they noticed an older man in a floppy hat gazing out one of the floor-to-ceiling dining room windows. After parking, they found themselves confronted by a locked door (and growling bellies!). No amount of knocking could bring around the older gentleman they had seen inside the restaurant just a few minutes before. They finally gave up and drove back to San Antonio.

A few weeks later, they tried again and were rewarded with a typically delicious Country Spirits meal. When they mentioned to a waitress their experience with the man wearing the floppy hat, she recognized Fred from their description. Sure enough, when shown his portrait, the couple identified Fred as the man they had seen gazing out onto Main Street on Valentine’s Day. Maybe he was waiting for a date.

Sleep tight…

Author’s Note: El Chaparral Mexican Restaurant now occupies this former two-story home built in the 1870s.

Haunted Hillsboro House

Excerpt from “Haunted Texas Vacations: The Complete Ghostly Guide”

A prominent Hillsboro, Texas attorney named Green Duke Tarlton built the Tarlton House in 1895 for his growing family. Located just off the main square downtown, the home is the largest in Hillsboro, measuring more than 7,000 square feet. Of the Tarlton’s seven children, one was born in the house and four lived to adulthood. In 1907, Mrs. Tarlton died of unknown causes. To the dismay of his children, Tarlton remarried quickly. Because his children hated his second wife, Tarlton built his new bride a pretty yellow house next door.

During the Great Depression, the Tarltons lost everything – except for the grand house on North Pleasant. In 1931, the second Mrs. Tarlton passed died from pneumonia. The newspaper obituary states that Green Duke Tarlton died on the same day from undisclosed causes.

Hillsboro legend holds that 70 years ago, Tarlton left his dead second wife in her little yellow house, walked next door into his beloved home, and climbed the stairs to the dark attic, where he hanged himself from a sturdy beam. Former owner Pat Lovelace believes the shade that walks the third floor of the beautiful Victorian home is indeed Green Duke Tarlton. By all accounts, Tarlton loved his house and it seems sensible that he would choose to stay in the home where he raised his family and spent his final destitute days after losing his fortune.

For years, citizens of Hillsboro thought of the Tarlton House as haunted. Several long-time residents told Pat that they habitually cross to the other side of the street rather than walk by the old home. This reputation saved the building from vandals during the years it stood vacant. As a result, many treasures, such as the seven original coal-burning fireplaces rimmed in imported Italian tiles, remain intact.

The most commonly reported occurrence in the third-floor guest rooms in the “sinking” of the beds’ mattresses as if someone has just sat down. Pat experienced this phenomenon once while kneeling on the bed in Abby’s Attic to adjust the air conditioning. She felt the depression and thought her cat, Sadie, had jumped up on the bed. Looking down, Pat saw an empty bed. A quick check downstairs confirmed that Sadie and the Lovelace’s other cat, Steely Dan, were secured in the kitchen.

The former housekeeper Maria claims she saw Tarlton while making the bed in the Tower Suite. He was crouched over with his hands on his knees, studying Maria from the hallway, and appeared very real and solid.

On the sweltering June afternoon I toured the third floor with Pat, I found myself covered in goosebumps and having difficulty adjusting the pressure in my ears. Pat apologized for the heat upstairs, explaining the third floor air conditioning units had not been turned on due to the lack of guests that day. Although I was sweating, every hair on my arms and legs was standing on end.*

The supernatural antics are not confined to the third floor. Another guest felt an ice cube drop from an unseen hand into her glass of iced tea while she was standing in the dining room. Pat has experienced a small storage door in the Gables Suite bathroom opening on its own. Another visitor, spending the night in the Floral Room, reported overhearing a conversation between a man and woman in her room, but she couldn’t make out what was being said. Pat wonders if this was perhaps a conversation between Tarlton and his first or second wife.

Pat said the ghost is particularly active when teenagers are in the house. Thirteen teens stayed overnight and experienced several different camera malfunctions in the dining room. Pat theorizes the spirits of Tarlton House are attracted to and make use of the bountiful energy of adolescents. Many ghost researchers believe in “paranormal parasites,” or entities relying on living energy to aid in manifesting their activities in the physical world.

Sleep tight…

*NOTE: This is the same floor where Green Duke Tarlton hung himself. I felt uncomfortable walking through these rooms, as if someone watched us who we couldn’t see. The memory of my discomfort and chills on that hot summer day in 1999 remains clear.

“Remember the Alamo”

Excerpt from “Haunted Texas Vacations: The Complete Ghostly Guide”

The Alamo is the site of one of the most famous battles in American history, the valiant fight for Texas’s independence from Mexico, and is also the state’s most haunted mission/fort. Originally, the Alamo was built in 1718 as a Franciscan mission, known as San Antonio De Valero. The mission served as home to missionaries and their Indian converts for nearly 70 years. In 1724, construction began on the present site, which is now in the heart of downtown San Antonio.

More than a century later, in 1836, the spot was an outpost for a brave group of Texas defenders led by William B. Travis, Jim Bowie, and Davy Crockett – all determined to defeat the Mexican army, which outnumbered them nine to one. On March 6, after 13 days of siege, the Mexican forces, led by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, overran the Alamo and killed every armed defender at the outpost. Santa Anna ordered that all 184 bodies be dumped into a mass grave and left orders that the Alamo itself be torn down to the ground. Bodies smoldered for several days in two large funeral pyres erected on either side of the Alamo. The bodies of many Mexican soldiers were dumped into the San Antonio River.

There is no doubt what the battle has come to symbolize for Texans and others all over the world. People remember the Alamo as a heroic struggle against overwhelming odds. For this reason, the Alamo remains hallowed ground and the Shrine of Texas Liberty.

Many psychics believe the paranormal activity surrounding the Alamo in the heart of the city is due to the bloody battle fought here over 100 years ago. This fight for Texas independence resulted in a tremendous loss of life, and thousands of dead soldiers were not given a proper burial. The land surrounding the Alamo is also the site of an ancient Indian burial ground. The Alamo grounds, both sacred and tragic, have produced an enormous amount of paranormal activity.

Reports of ghostly sightings, disembodied voices, and an otherworldly presence have been experienced by so many for so many years that the Alamo reigns supreme as the most haunted site in San Antonio. The first tale of supernatural apparitions at the Alamo occurred just a few days after the famous battle for Texas independence. Ordered by Santa Anna to destroy the mission, Mexican engineers fled in fear after ghostly hands protruded from the walls to stop them. Some of the phantom hands held glowing “torches,” and a thundering voice called out, promising a horrible death to anyone who desecrated the walls. The paranormal phenomena continue today.

The most famous ghost in residence at the Alamo is believed to be none other than Hollywood legend John Wayne. In the late 1950s, the “Duke” decided to direct a movie called The Alamo, which embodied his own life philosophy. He spent $1.5 million dollars re-creating the Alamo in Bracketville, just a few miles outside San Antonio.

During filming, Wayne became obsessed with the area, the history of the battle, and the heroic defenders he greatly admired. Many visiting psychics have described his presence in the mission. One even estimated that Wayne returns to the shrine about once a month to visit with the defenders’ spirits who still reside here.

Another famous resident is frontiersman Davy Crockett, who has been observed carrying a rifle and strolling outside the Long Barracks dressed in buckskin clothing. He wears his traditional coonskin cap and moccasins. Crockett’s portrait in the chapel has been found askew when rangers open the mission for the day. The painting hangs 10 feet up and cannot be reached by human hands.

One of the hottest areas for paranormal activity is the Long Barracks of the Alamo complex. It was here that the defenders made their last futile stand against Santa Anna’s advancing army. Rangers have heard ghostly whispers and murmurs as well as emotional voices yelling, “No! Stop! Here they come! Fire! Dead!” and the most poignant, “It’s not too late!” Psychics have described the resident spirits as not only those of Texans but also several Mexican soldiers. Disembodied footsteps have followed guards as they make their late-night rounds through the barracks; one ranger reported he was kicked in the behind by an unseen force.

One of the most frightening encounters in the Long Barracks occurred after closing when a ranger entered a room to find a man dressed in buckskin leaning against a wall, bleeding from several bullet wounds. The phantom grimaced in pain as several Mexican soldiers materialized and began stabbing him with their bayonets. In the blink of an eye, the grisly scene vanished, leaving the guard extremely shaken and sad.

The informative book Haunted Alamo, by Robert and Anne Powell Wlodarski, cites the “wall of tears” as a particularly touching manifestation that occurred in the basement of the Alamo Gift Shop. On February 27 and 28, 1995, five employees were conducting an inventory in the basement of the gift shop. For two days the sound of a woman weeping accompanied their work. The sounds seemed to come from the surrounding walls. Two employees became so stricken with sadness that they could not remain in the basement. Others reported feeling watched and saw strange shadows creep across the walls. Several women and children were present in the Alamo during the bloody battle, and all lost loved ones. Does at least one woman remain still mourning her loss?

Another specter who frequents the gift shop is a small blond boy who stares despondently down from a window overlooking the courtyard. Many tourists and employees have seen the boy, who appears most often during the first few weeks of February. One psychic claimed the boy had been in charge of caring for the cattle at the Alamo and remained because of the enormous amount of guilt he carried regarding the outcome of the battle. The child believed he should have done something more to participate and contribute during the fighting.

The ghostly figure of a man gazing out of the window over the chapel doorway has been captured on film by a passing tourist. The specter has been spotted on several occasions by other tourists and rangers.

Numerous rangers have witnessed ghostly apparitions of men in 1800s homespun clothing walking from the chapel to various destinations on the grounds. The rangers always assumed them to be trespassers, and are quick to approach the “intruders,” only to have them disappear into thin air. Many believe these wraiths to be the spirits of the defenders of the Alamo. One could speculate just who the “real” intruders are here.

Sleep tight…

Full o’ Boos: Victoria’s Black Swan Inn

An elegant white plantation home sits atop a grassy knoll that overlooks the Salado River, just outside San Antonio. Indians occupied this area more than 7,000 years ago. The same area was the site of a second invasion of the Mexican army in September 1842. A historical marker detailing this conflict sits just in front of the gates of Victoria’s Black Swan Inn.

German immigrants Heinrich and Marie Biermann Mahler built this mansion in 1901. The Mahlers ran a dairy farm here until the mid-1930s, when they sold the house and surrounding land to two sisters and their husbands. Katherine and John Holbrook, along with Blanche and Claude Woods, conducted extensive remodeling and enlarged the mansion to accommodate the two families. They called the house White Gables.

The Holbrooks had no children, but the Woods had a beautiful daughter named Joline. Joline married an attorney, Hall Park Street II; the couple raised their two children, Joline and Hall Park Street III, at White Gables. Mrs. Woods lived in the large house with them after her husband and the Holbrooks passed away.

The Streets lived a luxurious life in the house until Joline died of cancer in her late 30s. Her daughter Joline was only 19 at the time. Years later, after Hall Park Street remarried, he allegedly committed suicide by strangulation. His second wife found him at her home on Northridge Drive with a belt looped around his neck and a bedpost. He was 55 years old.

Joline Woods and her family remained at White Gables with her grandmother until the old woman passed away in 1973. Mrs. Ingeborg Mehren then bought the house. The Mehren House was refurbished to hold large dinners, conferences, and receptions until it was sold again in 1984. The house had several more owners until it was sold to Jo Ann Andrews in 1991 and converted into a restaurant and party house, which she named Victoria’s Black Swan Inn.

After only a few nights in the house in April 1991, Jo Ann was awakened at exactly 3 a.m. for about 10 nights straight. Her bedroom door would unlock, the hall light would turn on, and a man dressed in a white shirt and dark slacks would stand at the foot of her bed, hands on hips, and stare at her before disappearing. Jo Ann changed the positioning of her bed and the troubling visits stopped.

Jo Ann’s daughter, Meredith, has witnessed a frightening sight on rainy nights. She has awakened to find an old, wrinkled, “evil-looking” man staring through her second-story bedroom window, which is inaccessible to humans.

Most people in the house have felt a benign female presence in an upstairs bedroom to the left of the stairs. She is described as very beautiful, wearing a 1920s-style dress and a beaded headband with a feather at the back over her dark hair. Psychics have identified her as Joline Woods Street, who died from cancer at such a young age. Former owner Ingeborg Mehren uncovered a photograph of Joline Street serving as a San Antonio representative at a gala ball in Washington, D.C. She’s wearing a beaded headband with a feather at the back!

Because of the nature of some of the manifestations, such as dolls in a collection being moved around during the night, the owners believe one of the spirits is that of a small girl. Her mischievous presence has been felt most frequently in the Possum Flats Haberdashers shop located behind the Black Swan, which specializes in authentically constructed clothing of the Victorian and Edwardian eras.

Psychics have also identified the elderly Mrs. Woods ensconced in a small bedroom in the south wing. She spent several years confined here before she had to be placed in a nursing home. There is a feeling of sadness here.

Recent reports include a visitor who witnessed the arrival and sudden “departure” of two gentlemen who entered the room where she was sitting, gazed at her, and disappeared. Employees hear the sounds of a music box, piano, and strange hammerings on a regular basis. There is also the apparition of a beautiful dark-haired woman in a white dress who walks out of the front door of the restaurant, down the front sidewalk, and disappears behind the gazebo. Jo Ann said this happens so frequently that the staff hardly bats an eye.

In December of 1996, the Sci-Fi Channel’s television program Sightings visited this mansion with a psychic consultant, Peter James (died in 2007). James confirmed that the Black Swan is literally crawling with otherworldly visitors – four to six entities in all. He found a woman on the stairs, another in the main reception rooms, two spirits in the south wing, and another in a hallway. He also saw a man looking into a window. James confirmed the existence of a little girl spirit named “Sarah,” but always called “Suzie,” who pulls pranks in the Possum Flats Haberdashers Shop. James also communicated with former resident Hall Park Street, whom he believed was murdered in a south wing closet, then moved to another location, where the murderer made the death look like a suicide. James believes Street was killed because of a treasure he still guards in the south wing.

Sleep tight…

San Antonio’s Haunted Gunter Hotel

Excerpt from Haunted Texas Vacations: The Complete Ghostly Guide

The Gunter Hotel was built in 1909, on the site that is now the intersection of Houston and St. Mary’s Streets. This is the same site where a previous hotel, the Settlement Inn, was built in 1837 following the Battle of the Alamo.

The Gunter has had its fair share of famous people stay the night. Will Rogers, Max and Buddy Baer, and Mae West were guests. John Wayne stayed here while filming The Alamo. When Harry S. Truman was president, he stayed in the 12-floor presidential suite. Along with the elegance the hotel exudes lies a hint of intrigue. The Gunter was the location of the most unusual and bizarre crime in San Antonio history. This tragic event seems to be the source of some of the haunting activity in the elegant old hotel.

In February 1965, a tall man in his late 30s checked into the hotel, requesting Room 636. Over the next few days, he was seen around the hotel in the company of an attractive blond. On February 8, a maid opened the room for cleaning and found the tall man standing over a blood-soaked bed holding a blood-soaked bundle in his hands. During the ensuing panic, he managed to flee with the bundle down the fire escape.

Police found two bullet holes in the bed and in a wall behind a chair, as well as evidence of a bloody butchery in the bathroom. Some officials believe the man shot and killed the blond woman, dismembered her in the bathroom, ran her body parts through a meat grinder, and flushed them down the toilet.

Investigators discovered the tall man had registered under an assumed name, which was traced to purchased items found in the hotel room, including a missing meat grinder! He was finally located at another haunted hotel, the St. Anthony, registered under his assumed name and staying in Room 536. (He had apparently requested Room 636, but it was occupied.) When officers entered the room to question him, the man shot himself in the head. The crime files have never been closed.

In a strange twist of fate, the hotel manager recently received a strange envelope in the mail. It was a post office envelope bearing no return address. The envelope was addressed to the Gunter and the zip code was the old one used back in 1965. Inside the envelope was an old room key – the key to Room 636. This was an old-fashioned key, similar to those the hotel used back then, not the credit-card-like plastic openers used today.

Many ghostly manifestations seem to center on Room 636, the scene of the heinous murder that remains unsolved to this day. After the murder scene cleanup, hotel management decided to split the large room into two smaller rooms and create a suite. A shared door connects Rooms 635 and 636, and 636 is outfitted with bunk beds perfect for guests with children (very brave children!). Sightings of a woman in ghostly garb have been reported by night watchmen walking the halls around Room 636 late at night. Guests have complained of loud banging noises where no source has been found.

Along with the woman seen near Room 636, several other ghostly visitors prowl the Gunter. In 1990, an apparition that materialized in a very dark room surprised a female employee of the hotel. The woman had entered the room to prepare for an important guest and discerned an old woman standing in the middle of the room, arms outstretched toward the startled staff member. The employee left quickly, slamming the door behind her. She claims she never recovered from the experience and still feels cold chills whenever she recalls the afternoon she surprised the woman in that dark room.

During a Christmas party given by a group of hotel employees in the ballroom, an uninvited ghost boldly posed for the camera. Other paranormal experiences include phantom voices and mysterious shadows that have been reported in the vicinity of Room 436.

Psychics who stayed overnight at the Gunter have identified two resident female spirits. One is named “Ingrid,” a woman who died in the early twentieth century. Ingrid, rather avant-garde for her day, apparently loved wine and smoking. The Gunter was her favorite party headquarters. Many employees believe this is the dark-haired apparition in white who has been sighted all over the hotel, gliding silently down halls and in and out of rooms. The figure has long black hair, swept up on the sides and loose in the back. The other spirit is called “Peggy,” and she’s a flapper from the 1920s Prohibition era. According to the psychics, she and Ingrid do not get along. Perhaps a little ghostly jealously over haunting the same hotel?

Sleep tight…

What is a Ghost?

Excerpt from Haunted Texas Vacations: The Complete Ghostly Guide

Is there life after death? This is perhaps humankind’s oldest question and most sought-after answer. We are intrigued by the idea of seeing a ghost for several reasons. For some it is confirmation of life after death. Often a culture’s belief in spirits is the basis for its religious beliefs. For thrill-seekers, a ghost sighting produces an adrenaline rush equivalent to that of skydiving or bungee jumping. For others it is a glimpse into an unknown world that cannot be explained by traditional science.

Pioneering paranormal researcher and ghost hunter Dr. Hans Holzer (1920-2009) characterized three phenomena that occur when a person dies under traumatic, tragic circumstances. The first is the most common form of passing: The transition from the physical human being to spirit being happens without difficulty and without the need to stay on Earth. The individual accepts death and moves on.

The second phenomenon occurs with ghosts – those individuals who don’t realize they’ve died or refuse to accept their deaths and remain “hung up” in the physical world, unable to participate or function as living people. Often, they were victims in life and have unfinished business here on Earth. Ghosts remind us of the errors were are capable of committing and the traps we can lay for ourselves in life that may haunt us in death.

Some ghosts stick around because they don’t want to leave a beloved home they once owned, a painting they don’t want to part with, or a loved one who is grieving. Dr. Holzer calls this type “stay behind” ghosts, who choose to stay in a familiar place where they felt comfortable in life. Reasons such as these and many more can tie a ghost to the Earth for varying lengths of time, some haunting the same location for hundreds or thousands of years and others appearing once or twice and moving on.

Most ghosts are rather shy and make infrequent appearances, preferring to pace darkened hallways and whisper in empty rooms. Others are quite mischievous, raising a ruckus in the attic and hiding car keys from the living. Some spirits return regularly on the anniversary and to the location of their deaths.

The third phenomenon, called a psychic imprint, is very much like a photograph or film of an actual event that replays again and again throughout time. Imprints are lifeless and do not represent an actual presence at the time of observation. Some paranormal researchers theorize that certain weather and atmospheric conditions, such as humidity and barometric pressure, can influence chances of witnessing a “replay.” This is interesting support for the stereotypical notion of ghosts’ fondness for roaming on “dark and stormy nights.” Our moon’s phases also seem to affect the probability of a sighting, with increased supernatural activity occurring during the full moon.

An orb is the basic energy pattern of the spirit world and is the most commonly photographed phenomenon. Orbs show up on film as glowing, bubble-like shapes. They emit their own light. Many researchers believe these orbs to the life force – or energy – that survives the death of the physical body. Ghost hunters theorize that vortices consist of dozens of orbs working together as one force. This phenomenon shows up in photographs as columns of light or swirling collection of orbs. NOTE: Orbs and vortices are not to be confused with dust particles and camera straps most often mistaken for paranormal phenomena when captured on digital cameras and film. The anomalies in the photo above were not visible to the naked eye at the time the photo was taken.

Sightings are rare but tantalizing and depend on each individual’s psychic sensitivity. Ten percent of the population claims to have seen a ghost. An eerie glowing light in an abandoned building, a whiff of rose-scented perfume, a murmured word – these are the things we wait hours in the dark to experience. When you hear the floor creak or catch the glimpse of something out of the corner of your eye (most ghosts appear for 15 seconds or less), remember that others have passed this way before and we are not alone.

Until next time, sleep tight…