The following article is for entertainment purposes only. It is not intended as scholarly research or as a final authority on the subject.
The following article is presented for entertainment purposes. It is not intended as scholarly research or as a final authority on the topic.
Welcome to Freaky Friday. Confession: I made a boo-boo. This week should be a true crime topic. I realized this after I already had this week’s paranormal topic written. Apologies to those who were looking forward to a true crime topic. There will be one next week.
Today, we’re journeying to the pineywoods of East Texas to visit Nacogdoches. Nacogdoches is not too far from where I grew up, and I still visit when I go “home” to the pineywoods.
Nacogdoches: Oldest Town in Texas
Before the brick streets, the nifty little shops, and the transient college kids, Nacogdoches was a Native American village. Artifacts dating as far back as 500 BC have been found, but the area is believed to have been occupied long before that.
In the 1500s, Spanish explorers interacted with the Nacogdoche Indians who had a village in present day Nacogdoches. By 1716, the first European settlement came to Nacogdoches and established the Mission Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe de los Nacogdoches.
This mission was on modern day North Street, which in 1716 was called La Calle Real del Norte. The mission was abandonded in 1773.
Six years later, in 1779, Antonio Gil Y’barbo and a band of settlers reestablished the village of Nacogdoches. Y’barbo was awarded a commission as Captain of Militia and Lieutenant Governor of the Pueblo of Nacogdoches.
Y’barbo erected the well-known Stone House (or Stone Fort). It was originally used as a commissary and a storage facility for military supplies. The Stone House was later the seat of the First District Court of Texas, which was presided over by “Three-Legged Willie” Williamson.
In 1780, Y’barbo compiled Nacogdoches’s first laws.
Citizens could be penalized for
- violating the curfew
- poisoning and speaking out agains the king
- selling liquor to Indians, gambling
- singing indecent songs
- failing to scrape soot out of chimneys.
- being quartered alive
- being publicly exposed
- being publicly whipped
- being sent to the galleys for life
- the mysterious “degrading punishment.”
In a place this old, there are more than a few weird old legends and ghost stories. For purposes of brevity, I’ll only share three. If there’s sufficient interest, I’ll be happy to revisit the topic at some point in the future.
The Sterne-Hoya House
211 South Lanana Street
The Sterne-Hoya House was completed in 1830. It was owned by Adolphus Sterne, who had it built for his new wife. The house boasted one of the earliest wine cellars in Texas.
Famous guests include Thomas J. Rusk, Davy Crockett, and Sam Houston. Some accounts say that Sam Houston was baptized Roman Catholic in the house to fulfill the Mexican requirement that landowners practice Catholicism.
There have been several unexplained deaths in the home over the years.
- In the attic, a former housekeeper felt a gentle pressure all over her body and reported feeling as though the room was spinning. She described the presence as a happy one. This same housekeeper said the presence in the cellar was negative.
- The house once served as the Nacogdoches public library. While working upstairs, one of the librarians reported feeling the presence of children. The upstairs loft was the children’s sleeping area when the house was used as a residence.
Turner Fine Arts Auditorium
Stephen F. Austin State Univeristy
1936 North Street
The history of the haunting of Turner Fine Arts Auditorium is pretty murky. Several explanations exist.
The building’s blueprints were misinterpreted. The error resulted in the building being constructed backward. When the architect learned of the mistake, he committed suicide.
A drama student who committed suicide or was killed while in the auditorium. (This was the one I heard as a kid.)
The ghost is a construction worker who was killed during construction and buried beneath the building.
The ghost’s name is Chester. The earliest reports of Chester date back to 1967.
Chester is associated with cold drafts, unexplained footsteps, and the odd feeling of not being alone. Some actors report being tapped on the shoulder, turning around, and finding no one there. Some people see a lighted face in the darkened auditorium and a shadow in the hallways.
Two stories are particularly creepy:
- During a production of Macbeth, a scene in the play was portrayed by eight ghostly faces. Actors noticed there were nine faces. The director counted the people as they left the stage, and there were only bodies. The incident is attributed to Chester’s haunting.
- During a production of Tiny Alice, a series of production photos were taken. A ghostly fog was present in one photo. The photo was sent to Kodak labs and declared not to be a hoax. Judge for yourself:
200 North Fredonia Street
The history of the Fredonia is truly neat. In August 1952, the citizens of Nacogdoches voted to raise funds to build a “convenience of guests and travelers” to their city. By the end of 1952, they had raised $500,000. These funds were used to build the Fredonia Hotel.
In the 50s, the Fredonia was the swank hotel of Nacogdoches. During this era, an man and woman checked into the hotel…but didn’t check out. When their room was unlocked by staff, it was discovered that the man had killed his wife and then killed himself.
Every night between 2 and 4 a.m., the elevator is called to the second floor. When it returns to the lobby and the doors open, the elevator is empty. Workers at the Fredonia call the ghost Happy Jack.
A guest at the hotel, however, reported seeing a women in the elevator’s mirrors during early morning hours.
So perhaps the ghost is really Happy Jackie?
This story comes from Shelly Tucker. It can be found on right here on her blog. I have no idea how true this story is, but it’s very entertaining and unusual. Shelly is also on Twitter (@shellyktucker) and on Facebook.
“Ghosts from the Nacogdoches Past” by Matthew Stoff, Nacogdoches Sentinel, October 30, 2008
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