Claiborne House–Jefferson, TX

It’s Freaky Friday once again. It’s been two weeks since we last had a discussion on ghosts.  How about some haunted history?

Jefferson, Texas has been known by many names. Riverport to the Southwest and Gateway to Texas are two of those names. The Bed & Breakfast Capitol of Texas is another. My favorite name for Jefferson is  The Most Haunted Little Town in Texas.

Jefferson is way out in the middle of nowhere, deep in the land of towering pine trees.  The Big Cypress Bayou flows only a few blocks from downtown.  A significant effort has been made by the citizens to preserve Jefferson’s historic charm.  Visiting is truly like taking a step back in time.  It’s easy to see ghosts roaming among those old buildings and antebellum homes.

Jefferson in relation to large Texas cities

Founded around 1840, Jefferson was one of the most important ports in Texas between 1845 and 1872.   Steamboats traveled up the Mississippi River, into the Red River, through Caddo Lake, and up Big Cypress Bayou.  There, they entered the “Turning Basin” where the steamboats loaded and unloaded cargo.

During the Civil War, Jefferson’s port was integral in supplying troops with anything from meat to munitions.  In the years following the Civil War, Jefferson was the sixth largest town in Texas. It was second only to Galveston as a port city.

The Great Raft (AKA The Red River Raft) was a hundred mile long log jam located north of present day Natchitoches, La.  This log jam raised the water levels in the Big Cypress Bayou to navigable levels and played a large part in Jefferson’s success as a river port.

In 1873, the U.S. Corp of Engineers began to remove the Great Raft.  Without the Great Raft, water levels dropped in Big Cypress Bayou.  Shipping to Jefferson was no longer convenient.  With the advent of the railroads, merchants no longer needed to depend on waterways to transport goods.

The Great Raft

Jefferson went from the sixth largest city in Texas to a present day town of under 3,000 in population.

My husband and I decided to visit Jefferson for a photography expedition.  That the city was supposedly very haunted appealed to me.  We stayed at the Claiborne House.

click image to visit their website

Claiborne House dates back to 1862.  It was built as a single family residence.  We stayed in the Yeats Room, which was beautifully furnished with antiques.  And, yes, the house had some ghost stories associated with it.

One of the ghost stories has to do with a guest who was staying in the Browning Room.  She was awakened by a loud conversation outside her room.  She opened her door a crack to see what was going on.

Sitting area outside the upstairs guest rooms

In the sitting area, she saw a woman wearing an old fashioned dress.  The woman was carrying on a conversation with someone the guest couldn’t see.  A boy approached the woman and said something about taking a bath.  The woman sent him on his way.

The guest went back to bed, thinking this family must have arrived after participating in some sort of historic re-enactment.  The next morning, though, she noticed none of the other guest rooms had been slept in.  At breakfast, she learned no such woman had been checked in.

The Dining Room

The Browning Room is home to another occurance.  Despite the efforts of the owner and the housekeeping staff, the bedspread was often found rumpled.  A picture taken by the owner showed a shadowy figure sitting on the edge of the bed.

Another time, guests of the Claiborne House returned after staying out late in Jefferson.  The drove up to the house and found it–as expected–dark and quiet.  Parking is around the side of the house, so the visitors drove around and parked their car.  When they walked to the front of the house, all the lights were blazing.  They got inside and learned everyone in the house was in bed asleep.

Staircase leading to the guest rooms

I’d like to say I had a ghostly encounter at the Claiborne House, but I can’t.  A few times, I woke up at night with the intense feeling of being watched.  Our room was cold the entire visit, and we couldn’t get warm.  Other than that…nada.

The owner of the Claiborne House serves an exquisite breakfast.  It was large enough  that we rarely ate more than breakfast and supper.  The accommodations were clean and comfortable–other than our room being cold.

Breakfast at Claiborne House

Jefferson, Texas is home to a ton of stuff to see and do.  There is a Historic Ghost Walk.  Author Mitchel Whitington opens his home, The Grove, for ghostly tours.  The Jefferson Railway hosts a Ghost Train excursion during certain times of the year.

The House of the Seasons is a gorgeous example of architecture of a bygone era.  Caddo Lake, which is home to the world’s largest cypress forest, is nearby.  The best restaurant we ate at in Jefferson was The Hamburger Store (website plays music–click with caution).

A word to the wise travler:  a lot of stuff in and around Jefferson is only open on the weekend.

Interior of The Hamburger Store

Despite not seeing a ghost in Jefferson, we took some fantastic photos around the city and at Caddo Lake.  Perhaps I’ll share those in another blog post.

If you enjoyed this article, you might enjoy my fiction. Please take a moment to check it out either on my Looking For More? page or on my Amazon Author Page. I write both horror and paranormal mystery fiction. The topics I research for this blog serve as my inspiration.

34 thoughts on “Claiborne House–Jefferson, TX

  1. This place sounds like it’s right up my alley. I would love to stay in one of the haunted rooms and see what happens. The Myrtles in South Carolina is on my list, too. Fun post with lots of great research!

    • Did you know there’s also a plantation called The Myrtles in Louisiana. This is supposedly one of the most haunted homes in America. I’ve been thinking of doing a blog post on it, but there’s a lot of info out there. In other words, it’s going to take me hours of reading to decided what I want to say. If you do a you tube search on the Myrtles + Louisiana, you can see some odd stuff.

      My husband agreed to stay a night at the Myrtles with me. He did admonish me, however, that he would not stay up all night wandering around and whispering, “hello?” into the darkness.

      Thanks so much for stopping by.

  2. Jefferson sounds like a fascinating little town! Definitely a must-see if I ever find myself in the area.

    Dayton’s old courthouse is supposedly haunted, but both times I’ve been inside, I’ve seen/felt no evidence of it. Then again, I am one of the least intuitive people I know.

    • I have really been enjoying your blog posts where you talk about the history of Dayton. I’ve never been to Ohio, but I know there’s tons of history there. I’ve been in lots of places that were supposedly haunted, but I didn’t see or feel anything. Then, I’ve been places where I couldn’t sit still and later learned it was haunted. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  3. Ever thought about being a tourist guide, or a writer for a travel magazine. Your articles sound so good that I feel the need to pack. The background information is fantastic. Ghost Town, how fun!
    Thanks Catie.

    • Funny you should ask that. I had a couple in New Orleans ask me to take them to all the haunted places one time. I used to have the spooky places memorized, and I never get lost in the Vieux Carré. Which is spooky all by itself.

      Thanks so much for stopping by. :D

  4. on ,
    MoM said:

    Good article. You know how I love history and you are the best when it comes to digging up stuff.

  5. Love these ghost stories of yours, Catie. But then, I love all your blog posts :-) I take it there’s a poetic connection with the house (Yeats, Browning). I was away in an old gothic house last week, and they gave me the room that was supposedly haunted by the ghost of Mrs. Worby. Unfortunately, I didn’t see anything either!

    • Derek, the guest rooms were named after poets. The was also a Wilde Room, a Tennyson Room, a Dickinson Room, and a Keats Room. She even had books of poetry in the rooms. LOL

      How disappointing you didn’t see Mrs. Worby! Though, sometimes, the anticipation is much more fun than the actual encounter. Thanks for stopping by. :D

  6. Although I’m not a paranormal fan, I love Jefferson. Important in Texas history, as you mentioned. Only thing you omitted was the horse & buggy rides around town. They still have those, don’t they?

    • Remember how I said in my post that a lot of Jefferson attractions are closed during the week? Well, the reason I know this is that we went to Jefferson during the week. There were a lot of things we just didn’t get to see because they were closed. So, even though I didn’t see horse & buggy rides, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve discontinued them.

      And I do agree with you about how important Jefferson is to Texas history. I love how well preserved it is. Nacogdoches is an older town, I think, but it’s not as well preserved as Jefferson.

      Thanks so much for stopping by. :D

    • Well, thank you for stopping by. Claiborne House was gorgeous. We visited in autumn, and the owner had it fixed up for the holidays. It was a really neat experience. :-)

  7. Going on vacation years ago to England, I read a lot of historical ghost stories before I left. Unfortunately I psyched myself to the point I could not look around Canterbury Cathedral because I was afraid I would see the ghost that could bring about your death if you met its gaze, or so the story goes. Much older and wiser now, but not tempting fate before I vacation anywhere else. Love your stories!

    • I’ve never heard of the ghost at Canterbury Cathedral who can kill you with a gaze. That’s a great story. Now, I’ll have to research it. You sound just like me about getting psyched out.

      Scaring myself in anticipation sometimes intensifies whatever happens at my haunted destination. And I love fear–which is basically just an adrenaline rush.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and for saying you love my stories. Words like that make this a worthwhile endeavor. :D

  8. Once stayed at the Menger hotel in San Antonio for a couple days and felt like there was sooo much going on there it was impossible to pick out just one thing to concentrate on. Definitely uncomfortable at night, as if my senses needed to be on high alert. Still want to get to Estes Park to The Stanley Hotel. *shiver*

    • I’ve always been curious about staying at the Menger. We love San Antonio and visit as often as possible. We usually don’t spend the night. Instead, we’ll drive on out into the Hill Country to get away from the city.

      Your experience is fascinating. We stayed at a hotel in New Orleans once that was on the site of the Old French Opera house–which burned to the ground in 1919. There was an eerie, uncomfortable presence with us. Like you at the Menger, I didn’t sleep well.

      Awesome that you mentioned The Stanley. I’d love to visit there. We’ve never gotten that far “up” in Colorado. My sister-in-law is a Colorado native and has told me a few things about The Stanley. Fascinating and it apparently a really spooky place.

      Thanks so much for stopping by.

  9. Another awesome Freaky Friday! Claiborne house definitely sounds like someplace I’d love to visit! As for haunted cities, my own Baltimore has stories by boatload. Fells Point in the downtown area has “ghost tours” of the harbor area, homes, pubs and shops that have ghost stories associated with them. It is amazing how many bartenders in the area say they hear or experience strange stuff (other than drunk people lol) at closing time. I did the tour a few years ago – maybe I’ll do it again this fall so I can write about it : ).

    • I’d love to know more about Baltimore, Pam. I’ll look forward to you blogging about it. Ghost tours are so much fun. I always want to come home and research the actual stories. Knowing more than the small blurb a tour guide can share somehow adds to the stories and makes them more scary.

      I’ve read some odd things about the Edgar Allan Poe House Museum in Baltimore.

      http://www.eapoe.org/balt/poehse.htm

      Many years ago, someone told me a very vague story about an experience they’d had in the basement. The person wouldn’t go into much detail, as though talking about would somehow bring her bad luck.

      Perhaps I need to come to Baltimore and go ghost hunting with you…

  10. Sounds like a ghastly fun time, Catie. I like this one in that there is a bed & breakfast AND ghosts (which really helps when one needs room service in the dead of the night).

    Great post :)

    • You know, Gene, I didn’t think about that aspect of it. It’s very possible I should have asked the ghosts to bring me a hot water bottle for the bed. That way, I wouldn’t have been so cold in the room. :D

      Thanks for stopping by.

  11. You took some great photos and heard about some cool ghost stories. Even though you didn’t actually “see” any ghosts, it sounds like you had a chilling night anyway! Interesting history about the town, too.

    Funny comments from Gene!

    • Lynn, I am glad you enjoyed the post. My husband the photographer took most of the pictures. He’s a really talented guy. If I only had half the writing talent…LOL. Perhaps I’ll revisit Jefferson and share some more pictures. Thanks for stopping by.

  12. Pingback: I Set Fire to the Rain - Manon Eileen - a Writer's Blog

  13. Hi Catie!

    As you know, I think one of the most haunted cities is Key West. On our guided “Ghost Tour,” we learned about the hauntings of various buildings along Duval Street. You’ve piqued my interest in following up on some of those stories. Our next getaway to KW is October, and I hope to have more spooky news (Or do I??).

    Well-researched and fascinating post as usual. :)

    • Jolyse, I envy your visits to Key West. I would love to hear about some of your ghostly experiences there. If you want to really “see” something, go back after the tour is gone. When you’re alone, things are different. I don’t know if the imagination takes over and makes you see things you wouldn’t normally see or if it’s something trying to make contact. Either way, it’s a good way to get scared.

      Thanks so much for your kind words and for stopping by. :D

  14. Another wonderful post. I love your ghostly blogs. I’ve been in Jefferson but it was for work and I didn’t have time to play. I’ll definitely be going back and will try to stay here. It’s right up my alley so to speak. :-D

    • It is a neat place for sure. One positive is that you get to stay right there in the main house. Some of the B&B’s don’t do that. You have to stay in the carriage house.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  15. Pingback: Mind Sieve 8/29/11 « Gloria Oliver

  16. on ,
    Ladean Sahms said:

    I was born in Jefferson 66 yrs ago. I don’t know how old I was but I was looking out my window at night. This has been stuck in my brain; I saw a woman standing in the doorway of the house across the street and she was dressed in 1800’s clothes. I don’t know how I remembered that.

    • What a cool story! Jefferson is a neat city, one where the past has not quite been buried. My husband and I loved our visit there and felt the city was full of ghosts. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  17. on ,
    Suzanne Warren said:

    My husband and I toured the Claiborne House in Jefferson today. We had met the owner and were considering buying this B&B. After we toured the house, the owner showed us a photo that a guest had sent her of the breakfast table and an uninvited guest at the table. I asked her, ” so,, your house is haunted??” She smiled, and said….” some say so” When we got home, my husband looked through his photos he had taken at the house. He had taken a photo inside the house of an old door that opened into the parlor. He could see his reflection, but when he blew the photo up….IT WAS NOT HIS FACE!! The reflection is of an older gentleman with a thin nose, deep set eyes, mustache, looks to be wearing a long heavy coat. My husband is 43 years old, no mustache, larger nose, was not wearing a coat, just a thin shirt. I would be glad to send you the picture…and one of my husband, and you would see that in is clearly not a photo of my husband. This is really spooky!!I I have been doing a little research on the internet tonight…seems there IS a well dressed older man at this house…guess we now have a picture of him. The origial owner was Captain V.H. Claiborne. I am guessing maybe a steamboat Captain. I hope I can find a picture of him and compare to the picture my husband took….

    • I would love to see the picture you took. My email is catierhodes (AT) gmail (DOT) com. Be sure to fill in the words in parenthesis with the appropriate symbols and remove all spaces.

      Thanks for stopping by and telling your story. You reminded me that we need to go to Jefferson again sometime. We’ve talked about staying on Caddo Lake next time we go. We truly enjoyed the day we spent there.