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Friday, October 26, 2007

Hauntings, Ghosts and Monsters of Ellis County

The Catfish Plantation is probably Ellis County's number one location for experiencing the indigenous phantoms. I spoke to a lady and her husband who have worked for years at the Catfish Plantation and they say it is all true. The lady acquaintance told me that when the Ghost get mad they like to "break wine glasses and cause trouble." She told me that the ghost have written words on the windows when they fog up. The three Ghost that reside here are "Elizabeth, Caroline and Will. Both Caroline and Will died of natural causes while Elizabeth was murdered on her wedding day."-W.D.L.  Elizabeth was murdered in the bathroom which is said to be the most haunted place. When I was growing up I always heard that the Elizabeth lady would walk down the street in her wedding gown looking either for her lover or her murder.

"The sign at the entrance to this quaint restaurant reads: "If you have a ghostly experience, please tell us!" The quaint Victorian house was built in 1895 by a farmer named Anderson. His daughter Elizabeth was strangled to death on her wedding day in the 1920s. She died where the ladies' room is now located and became one of the ghosts of Catfish Plantation. There are two others. One is a farmer named Will, who died in the house in the 1930s. The other is an elderly lady named Caroline Mooney, who died in the house in 1970. The three ghosts are responsible for the bone-numbing cold spots that move silently through the house, as well as flying objects and slamming doors. Elizabeth's kindly presence is felt mostly in the dining room, where she likes to reach out and touch people. Will's apparition is often seen on the front porch, and Caroline's angry spirit is detected in the kitchen. Ever since Melissa and Tom Baker remodeled the house into a Cajun eatery in 1984, dozens of employees, customers, and news people have witnessed paranormal manifestations here.
The Catfish Plantation Restaurant is located at 814 Water Street. Version one: it is haunted by benevolent Elizabeth Anderson who was murdered on her wedding day, a farmer named Will, and grumpy Caroline Mooney. Version two: it seems the spirits are those of Eliza Herrod Richards, who died 14 October, 1925, and her son, Jesse Thomas Richards, who died in the house on 9 October, 1937. Although Eliza was 77 years old at her death, she appears as a young woman of about twenty, close to the age she was at her first wedding in 1867. She apparently had an unhappy second marriage to a man in Kentucky whom she left. She moved to Texas with her eldest son, and returned to using her first married name, Richards. In all my researches, I've not found an Elizabeth Anderson who died in Waxahachie, or who ever lived at the house on 814 Water Street. The third spirit resident is known to be Carrie Jenkins Mooney, who lived in the house from the 1950s until her death in 1970. Version two supplied by historical researcher, Nancy Poole.
Slamming doors, knocking walls, pianos playing, clocks chiming, blue glowing lights, flying coffee cups, and cold spots are just a few of the strange happenings at The Catfish Plantation in the historic town of Waxahachie.
The restaurant is supposed to be haunted by three ghosts. Waitresses and customers are always reporting strange things that happen—rude patrons having plates dumped on them, cold spots in the bathroom, etc. Pictures have been taken that show a slender young woman in outline form. One is a farmer, one is an old woman who lived there, and one is a young girl who was murdered on her wedding day in the house. Supposedly a burglar attempted to burglarize the safe one night and seemed to leave in a hurry."
From the ->Texas ghost hunter site.

"Another famously haunted business in Waxahachie is the Rogers Hotel.
First built by Emory Rogers as a log cabin at a small town crossroads, this building has turned into a grand establishment" "This hotel is said to have had more than 300 ghosts in the building. The most known spirits are a cowboy, a little girl who drowned in the hotel pool and Emory Roger’s son. These ghosts roam the hotel appearing in several different spots. The little girl walks the lobby, while Roger’s son haunts the elevator and the cowboy makes appearances in room 409, which is said to be the room with the most ghostly activity."-WDL Emory Rogers was the founder of Waxhachie and a Civil War Veteran. He donated land for the Courthouse. He originally settled near Milford. Cleared the land on Richland creek and later came in 1847 where the Rogers Hotel is now and lived in a tent while he built his cabin.

"One story says that the ghost of a confederate soldier walks down Becky Lane in Waxahachie at night. Private John Hemerich's is suppose to be the soldier ghost. Becky Lane is supposedly the site of the last Union hanging after the Civil War."-WDL I have never found any Historical evidence of this hanging but interesting when you have to realize that the Reconstruction was brought right into the heart of our County! Just a mile or so from Rockett Springs where the first Confederate soldiers from Ellis County gathered to enlist in Parson's Brigade in 1861!
They say there is a Goat Man Trail in Italy. A boy who accidentally let some animals out of a pen. While trying to go home he and some of the animals got hit by a train. I have heard of th Goatman in Cedar Hill near Mt Lebanon along with the devil worshippers in Dallas County. Also in Italy there was a tale of a dinosaur that lived in a creek. It turned out to be a lost pet Iguana.

In Trumbull (near Ferris) at the Train tracks there where three Mexicans killed. I believe late 19th early 20th century. It is said they were buried near the spot and and some rails were placed on top of their grave. When the engineer would pass the place where the Mexicans were killed he would hang out a red lantern.

The town of Ensign had "The Monster". Of course the only thing with the name Ensign now is just the road. But back before 1872 Ensign and Oak Grove were the place to be in those days. The Creek through Ensign, which was either Onion or Waxahachie  was "home of this big hairy creature that issued a blood-curdling scream." Parents would run their children indoors and bar the doors. Not in the same area but  in Ellis County
I have heard  blood-curdling screams walking down Red Oak Creek not too far from Rocket, Texas. In this video I filmed with little Kellyn Dickinson(step-daughter) on a Dinosaur adventure(we didn't find any). But on our way back to the bridge we heard what sounded like a someone moaning in pain. I believe it is a mountain lion or panther of some sort. You can hear the screams if you listen closely but maybe headphones or a good speaker system would be better. It startled Kellyn and I. Anyway "The Monster" is kind of a Bigfoot thing. I think and I have heard in all cultures that this maybe the bogeyman syndrome. Keep the kids in line or maybe just a joke to scare them. Probably a combination of man made fear and something skiddish like a mountain lion that can make a terrifying noise. If anyone can identify the noise please let me know what you think it is.

A missing-link(if I may) to "The Monster" may be found in the story of "The Monster" near Reagor Springs along Waxahachie Creek. According to the Boren Cemetery web-site, it all started when Uncle Frank Boren turned up missing after playing hide and go seek with the kids and everyone claimed a monster had gotten him. They found the Uncle Frank later where he had fallen asleep where they milk the cows. But "The Monster" Legend spread through the county.

When I was a kid we had the "Woo Woo" man legend. The "Woo Woo" man haunted Shiloh cemetery. It's located on Shiloh Road about quarter mile west of FM 664. We were told that at Dusk or night time you stand at the entrance to the cemetery and yell "Woo Woo, Woo Woo, Woo Woo"! I'm guessing like a train. Then supposedly at the back of the cemetery a lantern will appear and walk along the back fence line. Ledgend says an old train engineer is the specter. I did do this a few times and did see a light behind the cemetery. I also noticed that when cars drove by sometimes there was a reflection of light on the graves. Another legend is there is a particular grave at Shiloh cemetery that has a large granite sphere. It is said that it is cold in the summer and hot in the winter but I never found that to be true.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

La Belle Ship Wreck presentation by Dr. James Bruseth

La Belle

Ellis County Historical Commission and the Ellis County Museum

at 7:00 PM, Thursday, October 11th

201 South College Street (Ellis County Museum)

to celebrate Archeology Awareness Month.

Dr. James Bruseth, Texas Historical Commission Archeology Division Director, will give a presentation

on the excavation and preservation of the Belle, one of La Salle’s ships

that sank in Matagorda Bay more than 300 years ago.

The talk will describe the efforts that took place inside a large, steel cofferdam built around the shipwreck in the Gulf of Mexico.

I believe it will only be for Ellis County Museum members but I will try to attend. The greatest ship wreck find in North America!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

"Oh Susanna" with Peters Colony on your knee

Stephen Collins Foster (July 4, 1826 – January 13, 1864),
What does the song "Oh Susanna" have to do with Ellis County? 20 petitioners were originally involved in the Peters Colony that was a major force in bringing settlers into the Ellis County area. Of the American petitioners, 4 were from the Peters family and seemed to be the prime mover's in the organization of the colony. Hence the name Peters Colony. In the 1840's one of the major players in the Peters Colony was William C Peters a music teacher turned publisher. One of his students, Stephen Foster, as a gift, gave him the copyright to "Oh Susanna". W C Peters with his company Peters, Field and Company from Cincinnati did pay Stephen Foster a $100. People claim that W C Peters did not treat Stephen Foster fairly. But there was not really a song writers industry at the time and Foster never proclaimed to have been treated wrong by W C Peters. In fact he had written someone on the "delight" he experienced when he received two $50 bills for "Oh Susanna." "Oh Susanna" became a big hit and made W C Peters wealthy. W C Peters sold the song for $10,000. Using an inflation calculator the song would have sold today for about $200,000. Seeing that Foster died impoverished at the age of 37 with 38 cents on him, you can see where people feel he was taken advantage. The song was influenced by minstrel music Foster was exposed to at the age of 16 and by the full lyrics is very offensive and definitely politically incorrect. Though it is said that Stephen Foster was not a racist and instructed his performers to sing his songs with compassion towards the slave. Only God knew his heart I guess. Stephen Foster never visited Ellis County but his successful hit "oh Susanna" did help make W C Peters wealthy and maybe helped keep his investment in the Peters Colony alive a while longer.

reference "The Peters Colony" by Seymour V. Conor, Wikipedia