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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Bigfoot Roams Houston and Anderson Counties

At the turn of the season when the first cool snap moves in, and the Pineywoods are speckled with red and gold autumn leaves, east Texans begin to notice it is getting dark earlier. The dense pine trees cast a shadow that make the darkest night darker, every surrounding sound seem louder, and the hair on the back of one’s neck stand straight up.

East Texas is home to many creatures of the night that humans fear, and occasionally claim to encounter. East Texas has given way to Bigfoot sightings, alien encounters, and close calls with blood–sucking creatures. Individuals claiming to have come in contact with numerous unexplainable creatures all share one thing in common, and that is a certain look engraved in their faces, that can only be made by fear of the unknown.

East Texas is known for its legendary, hairy, apelike creatures said to dwell deep in the pineywoods. The bi-pedal creatures have been spotted all along the Texas-Louisiana border, making little known towns famous. What Houston and Anderson County creature seekers may not realize, is these woolyboogershave been reported in the area on a somewhat regular basis.

Bigfoot, otherwise known as Sasquatch, the Forest Giant, or the wild man of the woods, has been a topic of discussion for over 400 years. Sighting of the illusive creature have reached the thousands, and many of those reports have come from East Texans. Throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s Bigfoot made headlines in East Texas by way of local newspapers. The Pineywoods are said to provide the perfect conditions and plentiful food sources that would allow the creature to not only survive, but thrive in the area.

Many of the individuals who have claimed to encounter the hairy legend wandering about East Texas describe the first impression as undeniably human-like. Bigfoot is said to have 10 fingers and 10 toes, human-like facial features and expressions, and capable of walking upright.

Those who cross the hairy creature almost immediately notice a profound difference in size to that of a human. The overall massiveness of the creature, which is hard for witness to put in proportion, makes up the powerful build that many witnesses report. Others report a malodorous smell permeating in the air.

According to the Texas Bigfoot Research Conservancy(TBRC) many witnesses who spot the up-right walking creature hesitate to share their stories of the strange animal. Though each sighting that does get reported varies in some form or another, the details of the creature are always similar, if not the same.

The Neches and Trinity rivers produce regular sightings of the creature. Hunters camping on the banks have made numerous claims of encounters with large, hairy creatures. The Davy Crockett National Forest is also said to be home to Bigfoot, and has produced several sightings in recent years. Anderson and Houston County also have a history, nearly a half century long, of sightings coming from within county lines.

In 2004, a hunter filed a report with TBRC concerning a sighting in the Davy Crockett National Forest of not just one, but two sasquatches, one male and one female. The observation made by the hunter was a lengthy encounter, during which he claimed to have witnessed the pair moving about the brush and feeding, at approximately 8 a.m.

The witness reported to TBRC Investigator, Mike Hall, that he heard mewling, guttural noises, accompanied by whistling and clicking noises coming from the animals. He believed the two creatures were mates and communicating with one another through the various noises. Hall interviewed the witness extensively, and referred to the encounter as “compelling.” Hall also recorded in his in depth report and analysis that he could find nothing that lead him to believe the witness was fabricating the story.

Just north of Houston County, along the outskirts of Palestine, area residents have laid claim to encounters with the creature said to roam the area.

In 1998, during the cold winter months of February, two young men, approximately 16 years old, were rendered speechless after encountering, what they claim, could have only been a Bigfoot. While on a camping trip, on family owned property, near the Gus Engeling Wildlife Management Area, the two teens allegedly got a look at massive upright creature from roughly 20 yards away.

At approximately 2 a.m. the young men were spotlighting for rabbits. The two teens were slowly fanning the spotlight when they saw something much larger than a rabbit. Just ahead of the light they noticed something big, allegedly eight feet tall, and moving quickly trying to avoid the light. The boys said the creature appeared to have grayish-brown hair covering its body, and long arms. The creature allegedly crossed a five-strand barbed wire fence with no hesitation and great ease. The witnesses reported hearing no sound in the event of the crossing.

This report was published after the two boys’ parents saw a special report with Jonna Fitzgerald on NBC Channel 56 of Tyler and Longview, about the TBRC and Bigfoot sightings in east Texas. Parents of the two teens contacted the TBRC and put the boys in touch with researcher and investigator, Craig Woolheater.

Woolheater’s report said after the sighting the two young witnesses’ encounter they sat “in stunned silence” for a few moments before leaving the area as quickly as possible.

Hunters regularly claim to encounter the wild man in East Texas, due to the amount of time they spend in the woods. Hunters are outdoors in remote areas, significantly more than the average person, seeking the perfect hunting spot. Though hunter’s reports of Bigfoot encounters are perhaps more lengthy than others, they are certainly not the only people encountering the creature.

According the TBRC, in Oct. of 1998, another report was made near the South-East Houston and Anderson County border. The report did not come from a hunter, but rather a local man that had to pull his vehicle over in order to relieve himself. The man allegedly stepped from his truck over to the edge of the woods, approximately 20 yards away, and began to take care of business. The witness said he began to hear leaves crunching, under what sounded like heavy footsteps. The nervous and quickly headed back towards his truck and away from the woods.

According to the report made to the TBRC, as the witness made his way back to his vehicle he noticed that when he stopped walking, so would the footsteps of the unknown stalker that were coming from within the darkness of the woods. Suddenly the heavy footsteps that had been stalling began to gain speed.

The frightened witness bolted for his truck. He jumped into his truck and fled the area. The man claims that as he was speeding off he looked into his review mirror and saw “something big and black, standing on two legs” in the road behind him. The witness’s report to TBRC, researcher and investigator, Daryl Coyler, claimed the “wide and thick” creature was within 10 yards of his tailgate at one point. The Anderson County witness could not discern further details, due to making such a quick getaway.

East Texas Tales of the legendary Bigfoot have captivated and haunted locals for many years. The deep dark Pineywoods are capable of implanting fears in those who enter their piney domain, and instilling skeptics with new found beliefs of the creature’s existence. Though there is no hard proof that Bigfoot inhabits the Pineywoods, those who claim to have come face-to-face with the legend are convinced the creature lives among us, and is watching us.

The TBRC is funded by membership dues, fundraisers, and the annual Texas Bigfoot Conference, in addition to donations and grants. It is the TBRC’s desires to enhance the credibility of Bigfoot research, as well as facilitate a greater degree of acceptance by the scientific community of the likelihood of a biological basis behind the sasquatch mystery.

Demons Road

Huntsville – Bowden Rd, perhaps better known as " Demons Road,” has a steady flow of reports regarding the experiences travelers claim to have had while driving down the old road. People that wander off down “Demons Rd” tell tales of disturbing encounters, and an eerie feeling that sweeps over anyone who dares disrupt the spirits said to be lingering down “Demons Road.” The old road leads to an old cemetery known as Martha’s Chapel Cemetery.

Locals warn curious people who desire to brave the path or visit the graveyard not to provoke the spirits. Many of those warnings are spoken by those who claim that a spirit followed them home after being in that area. In May of 2010 a women reported the encounter her husband and their friends had while at the cemetery. She claimed they saw a man wandering through the cemetery one evening, but did not pay much heed to the wanderer. A few days later, as the woman was getting into the shower, she turned around to close the shower curtain, and much to her surprise, there in her bedroom, stood the same man they had seen wandering through the cemetery.The man disappeared after instilling immense fear in the woman, and she has not reported seeing him since.

According to one man’s story, he and a buddy saw a hand protruding from a grave in the cemetery off “Demons Road.” Eventually the whole arm was said to be out from within its grave, and grasping around in search of something, or anything. The man moved towards the grave against the persistent urging of his friend. He said he bent down to touch the hand, with his friend pulling at him desperately the whole time. His friend’s pleadings did not stop him from making contact with the hand, which in turn, allegedly grasped his hand and began to pull him downward toward the grave. He was able to pull free from the hand. He turned to his horrified pal, who asked if he was ok, before noticing that there was someone standing just behind his friend. He darted towards his friend in an effort to protect him from whoever was behind him. Just before he reached his friend, the man behind his friend lifted his head and looked at him. According the man the figure that had been standing behind his friend looked exactly like his friend who had been begging him to leave. When he turned to look at his “real” friend, he was not there. The man then says he bolted and headed for the vehicle. As he raced up to the car he noticed handprints in the dust on the car. The man said that as he climbed into the safety of the car, he realized his friend was dead in the back seat.

Witnesses report large handprints being left on their vehicles. Some witnesses claim the handprints appear to be where someone or something unseen grabbed at their car. Almost 100 car owners who found prints on their vehicle have reported their encounters.

Reports of mysterious red lights seen along “Demons Road” are also often made. Those who claim to have seen the lights say that the number of lights that appear depends on the number of people traveling in the vehicle. One group of four said that as they were leaving the road, at approximately 4 a.m., four red lights appeared out of nowhere. Suddenly four handprints appeared on the hood of the truck, according to one of the men in the group.

Some say that a cult, believed to be that of the KKK, has been spotted down “Demons Road” holding ritual ceremonies. It has even been said that members of the cult have been seen drinking blood from a sacrificed dog.

Others allege that they were visited by apparitions of a young child, with glowing eyes, riding a tricycle while on the road. A strange, faceless, threatening creature is also said to appear to some people. Whatever form the spirits choose to reveal themselves in, the spirits have never been reported as anything less than hostile, and terrifying, or at least frightening.

So if you must go down “Demons Road,” or if you just cannot resist the urge to explore the unexplained, please remember not to provoke or disrespect the spirits along your way. Steer clear of those who have passed on but are attempting to escape their graves, and avoid becoming the legendary cult’s next sacrifice. Oh and never let a ghostly “hitch hiker” follow you home.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Downes Aldrich Doll

The historical Downes-Aldrich house in Crockett, circa 1891-1893, is considered to be one of the most beautiful homes in Houston County. The Eastlake Victorian style house was home to some of the first settlers in Crockett, who reportedly may not have fully vacated the premises.
The majestic house is rich with history, and according to area residents the house is also rich with a persistent presence. No one knows for sure to whom the spirit belongs, but it is believed to most likely be a former inhabitant of the house.
Two of Crockett’s earliest families enjoyed living in the wooden mansion during the late 1800’s and early to mid 1900’s. James Elbert Downes and his wife Lizzie Downes were the builders and first owners of the house. Armistead Albert Aldrich and his wife Willie Aldrich later owned the house, where they spent their 5oth wedding anniversary.  The last family member known to have lived in the house was Mary Aldrich.
The house is full of antiques owned by former owners, as well as pieces donated by area residents in memory of their loved ones. Some believe that by bringing in the treasured belongings of others to a facility, the spirits of those who treasured the item can accompany the item to its new home.
Over the years, since the house became a historical homestead, those who have worked in the house or been involved in the preservation of the house have reported unexplainable incidents. According to some local residents one woman who tended to the house resigned from her position due to strange events that she claimed took place in the house while she was there. She allegedly left the house with unanswered questions, to which she did not want the answer.
Accounts of paranormal activity have been passed down through the years, many of which involve a doll in the attic. The doll can usually be seen in the attic window, however the window in which it appears tends to change, however no one takes credit for moving it.
Locals that have been involved with the house have reported a mysterious doll, that allegedly has a mind of its own, even though it tends to lose its head from time to time. Some claim that the doll’s head has been seen separate from its body, and at other times some claim the head was missing entirely, and nowhere to be found.
The doll is said to move about in the attic. One day the doll might be near the window, as if it is gazing out across the lawn, and on another day the doll might be face-first in a corner of the room. No one has ever been seen moving the doll, and no one has taken the credit for a prank well played.
The house is said to possess a presence that can be undeniably felt, especially if alone. While some have been frightened by their experiences in the house, others believe the spirit is playful, and thankful that the house has been preserved in the absence of the families that loved the home.

Old Memorial Hospital Patients Check In But Never Check Out

The old Memorial Hospital in Palestine appears to be little more than a dilapidating building these, but was once a busy medical center, where area residents sought care, worked, or visited loved ones. Locals also say the basement of the building was once the city morgue, where bodied were stored until either identified or claimed.
The old hospital has been abandoned as a care facility, however locals claim the facility has not been entirely deserted. Supernatural tales have lived within the old hospital far prior to the closing of the facility. Former patients that checked in, but never checked out are believed to haunt the building, as well as the stirring spirits of unclaimed bodies in the basement.
Apparitions of deceased patients have allegedly been seen in the building. Spirits have allegedly made their presence known over the years in many ways. Those who claim to have witnessed ghosts in the building have been forever changed by what they saw.
Claims of paranormal activity in the building resonate through legends of the old hospital, and continue to drive fear into the hearts of locals to this day. Former employees who once walked the halls of the old hospital, checking patience and dispensing meds, say they would never return to the building where they witnessed the living dead.
Apparitions of patients are said to wander the halls of the old hospital in search of their loved ones. Some have reported seeing a man in a wheelchair traveling the hallways. The man bound to the wheelchair is said to be looking for his wife, who passed just days after he did in their home. The man can allegedly be heard weeping and moaning in great sorrow as he passes through the halls calling out for his beloved.
Others who lay claim to ghostly encounters have reported unusual noises that have no explainable origin. The sounds of doors opening and closing, and footsteps shuffling down the halls can reportedly still be heard in the facility. Some who are not quite brave enough to enter the building have said they have heard sounds coming from within the building while passing by on foot or while riding their bike along the bordering sidewalk.
The old ICU area of the building is said to be full of mysterious noises and voices. Some say that they have heard what sounds like a ventilator, working diligently to supply oxygen to someone. Others say the faint sound of a heart monitor flat lining can be heard in the ICU area. Reports of voices mumbling aimless banter and chattering prayers are said to fill the air of the old ICU unit.
Locals say unexplainable cold gusts of air rush out of broken windows and can be felt while standing near the building, even during the dog days of the East Texas summer. Some of the now vacant patient rooms are said to harbor cold air that could chill one to the bone. The cold air is reportedly almost always followed by individuals sensing the looming presence of someone or something unknown.
Records are still stored in the old hospital building, and occasionally must be accessed. Those who must venture into the building to obtain the records are said to do so as quickly as possible. According to locals, no one willfully enters the building of their own accord for fear of encountering the spirits that loiter in the building.
Just standing near the old hospital can be a haunting experience. One’s imagination will reel while gazing at the building, and into the broken windows. Blurry images from within begin to take shape if gazed upon in curiosity too long.
The old hospital, though not in use, has seemingly not been entirely abandoned. The city of Palestine may no longer have use for the building, but the spirits within seem to be restlessly busy inside. If you are passing by the old hospital, where some lives were saved and others were lost, beware of the spirits that may seem to beckon to you from within. The calls and cries that can allegedly be heard, are not calling for you to come in, but rather they are calling to be set free and reunited with others from the other side.

Houston County Ghost Indians and Confederate Soldiers

The oldest county in Texas is believed to be hallowed ground, on which the spirits of Indians and Confederate soldiers roam freely. Neither the Indians or Confederate soldiers were successful in their endeavors as they waged wars to preserve the ways of their people. Many believe the restless spirits wander the county in angst.
The Pine Springs Campground, approximately 14 miles north-east of Crockett, is one of the favorite campgrounds used by the Caddo Indians prior to the arrival of European settlers. The site was believed to be abundant with game and fresh water that flowed freely from a natural spring.
Area residents claim that the sprits of the Indians make their presence known through a mighty rushing wind that sweeps through the pines, and seemingly comes out of nowhere. War whoops and  yells are said to echo softly through the woods.
The ghostly Indians are allegedly heard and sensed best at midnight. Those desiring to experience the rushing wind or hear war whoops of the tribe show up on Spring nights or Halloween. The spirits are said to return each year to the Pine Springs Campground, where they once thrived on the flourishing land.
The Caddo Mounds, located east of Weches, are also said the be haunted. The burial mound, which holds the bodies of numerous Caddo Indians is said to be haunted by a banshee. The banshee wanders the mounds in sorrow.
Tales of an Indian woman who cries out into the night have circulated since the 1970’s. The woman is said to appear atop the burial mound, dressed in white, and can allegedly be heard weeping for her lost loved ones.
Within Houston County’s oldest cemetery lies the bodies of many confederate soldiers, as well as the first mayor of Crockett. The cemetery is dappled with tombstones that are no longer legible, and the tombs and monuments belonging to those who settled the area.
The shady cemetery has given way to numerous claims of ghostly apparitions, and deterred visitors from entering the gates. Locals steer clear of the county’s first burial ground.
Some say they have witnessed ghosts of confederate soldiers wandering through the graveyard. Some of the ghostly soldiers are said to be hobbling on crutches due to missing legs, while others have been reported as having missing arms, all of which are believed to have been lost during the civil war.
Others claim to have heard the whispers of soldiers as they pass through the cemetery. The soldiers can supposedly be heard whispering from beyond the grave such phrases as, “War is hell,” or “Here I am General, over here.”
The Confederate soldiers who rest in the old cemetery appear to be no more peaceful than they were while waging war, according to local claims.

Haunting of Parker Cemetery

A good ghost story, whether read aloud or spun around a campfire, is always a little better at Halloween. In Texas, the ghost stories get better with age, through blending the diverse Texan cultures, tall tales, and timeless stories. Some of the haunted Texas legends are humorous, some are haunting, while others are terrifying.
Grapeland harbors several haunted places, of which only the bravest residents dare to investigate. Tales of ghostly apparitions, strange lights, and noises that send chills down one’s spine linger in the autumn air. In October, the legendary ghost stories begin to rear their heads, leaving residents spooked and leery of certain areas.
Parker Cemetery has long since been the most talked about haunted place in Grapeland. The historical cemetery is nestled beneath the pines and giant cedars, in the bend of a deep sandy road, where only a few rays of sunshine can peer through in the evenings. The sand is so deep that if one were to attempt a getaway the deep sand would certainly make it a slow escape.

Many 100-year-old tombstones are scattered about the property. Some of the tombstones are directly next to trees that have pushed through the gravesites over the years while others are broken and lying where they fell. Others are discolored by green fungus attempting to overtake the headstones, and plenty are eroding due to the sands of time that beat against them each time the east Texas wind blows. Many of the names on the tombstones can no longer clearly be read, and some only read, “Mother,” “Father,” or “Infant Son.”
An old church sits amid the 100-year-old tombstones. The church, which is no longer in use, once held the services for the deceased. Mourners would sing old hymnals accompanied by piano music as they bid their loved ones farewell.
Though the story has changed over the years, and adapted to a new generation’s fears, what witnesses encounter in the cemetery is much the same. Over the years, hundreds have fled the cemetery, full of fear, after experiencing unexplainable events.
Locals claim to have witnessed strange lights floating about in the cemetery, to have heard piano music coming from the church house, and to have had brief encounters that ended with broken windshields. It is said that a presence can be felt in the cemetery, a presence that does not always welcome curious guests.
Recent cemetery visitors, though skeptic at first, reported strange lights lingering around the cemetery. The graveyard guests said at first they thought someone was nearby, maybe 50 yards, with a flashlight, which ultimately frightened them. They sat still and waited for the light to move again or approach the cemetery.
At a second glance, the curious visitors realized the light was too large to be coming from a flashlight.
“It was much too big to be made by a flashlight, but it appeared to be moving. I didn’t know what it could be,” said one of the graveyard investigators.
The two ghost hunters began to look for something, anything, that could be reflecting light in the distance, causing the appearance of the large light.
“We couldn’t find anything that would be reflecting light,” said one of the ghost hunters.
About the time, the two came to the conclusion there was nothing in the vicinity that could be casting a reflection, and shrugged the light off as a reflection from a nearby house or perhaps some old farm equipment, their hearts stopped as they saw an image pass in front of the light.
“Something or someone walked in front of the light. Something dark,” said the wide-eyed witness, as she told about their experience one night in the cemetery.

Others claim Hattie Parker, a woman supposedly buried in the cemetery, haunts the cemetery. Some say Hattie is prone to lose her patience with visitors, and not only sends out an unwelcoming vibe that can raise goose bumps, but has at times become enraged and made her presence known.
In the early eighties, a group of teens went to the cemetery to collect some friends per their parent’s request. The teens arrived at the cemetery, but did not find their friends. The group joked around momentarily, poking fun at anyone who was afraid of the cemetery legend or Hattie for that matter.
The group piled back into the vehicle to head home shortly after they realized their friends were not at the cemetery. The driver shifted the truck into gear and began to pull away, when suddenly they heard a loud noise. The sound of cracking glass was loud, but there was no sound of impact on the glass. The back glass had shattered.
The group, nervous and in disbelief, exited the vehicle to search for the culprit that could have broken the glass. They began to scan the area for a prankster, and even looked up into the trees. No one was found in the area, and no evidence of what cracked the glass could be found at the scene.
The group again loaded back up quickly and rushed home to their parents, anxious and scared of what had happened, and afraid of what the driver’s parents would say in regard to the broken glass.
One of the group members was a mechanic, and upon reaching safety began to examine to truck to find an explanation for what had happened. He inspected the motor, looking for an element that could have slipped and perhaps caused a part to eject and crack the windshield. He looked high and low on the vehicle, but found nothing.
Some who have visited the cemetery and wandered into the church report the doors shutting and then locking behind them, leaving them trapped within the old church walls. Witnesses who were trapped in the church said the sounds of piano music could be heard distinctly, as they struggled to open the doors.
Others who have experienced the haunting of Parker Cemetery do not claim that Hattie is the culprit, but rather a woman dressed in white, who was a victim of a brutal murder. Ghost seekers in more recent years claim that a woman who was tortured and murdered is buried in the cemetery, and is the one haunting the grounds.
A former resident returned home in recent years, and went out to the cemetery with a camera. She is said to have photographs, “that will make you wonder,” according to some of her family.
Be it Hattie, or the woman in white who is haunting the cemetery, local residents assert with great fervor that the cemetery is in fact haunted by the spirits of the deceased. Skeptics leave this cemetery believers, and the faint of heart leave trembling, never to return.
The tales of Parker Cemetery live on through new experiences had by the curious, and through its deep history, and aging tombstones.