I love Jefferson, Texas. It is steeped in Texas history, sits on Caddo Lake (truly a swamp), and offers a wealth of ideas for my writing. It is a spooky and beautiful location. Jefferson is said to be the most haunted town in East Texas—maybe all of Texas.

There are several sites, including The Grove and The Jefferson Hotel, with documented hauntings.The Excelsior House Hotel is also said to be visited by spirits, although the owners of the hotel, The Excelsior Foundation and the Jessie Allen Wise Garden Club, do not encourage such a reputation. They believe it detracts from the history. I only know the spooky rumors do not affect my opinion of the hotel.

The Excelsior House was built in the 1850s, and has been in continuous operation since, making it the oldest hotel in East Texas according to the National Register of Historic Places.

The Excelsior is built on property once owned by a steamboat captain named William Perry. This land was a gift from the City of Jefferson in 1846 as a thank you For Perry’s hard work to keep the Big Cypress Bayou navigable.

William Perry, realizing the need for a hotel in this rowdy part of town, constructed the Irving House. Today, this is the oldest part of the hotel, forming the northwest portion of the Excelsior. The southwest section was added sometime between the end of the Civil War and 1872.

The Big Cypress Bayou once allowed riverboat traffic to reach Jefferson from both New Orleans and St. Louis, via the Mississippi and Red Rivers. Its main export was cotton, which was brought in from towns as far away as Dallas and sold to commercial merchants.  During this time, Jefferson was a bustling port town. It was also known as one of the most violent towns in Texas. Many deaths occurred here.

The most notable was of Diamond Bessie, or Bessie Moore, aka Annie Stone. Diamond Bessie was dubbed as such because she sported large diamond rings wherever she went.   She met a tragic end in January of 1877.

Diamond Bessie and Abe Rothschild came to Jefferson a few days earlier. They registered at the Brooks House as "A. Munroe and wife, “although most accounts say they never married.

Their short, two-year relationship was tumultuous. It is rumored Rothschild forced Diamond Bessie to prostitute herself so he had money for alcohol. It all ended when Abe and Bessie took a picnic lunch across the bridge at Cypress Bayou, walking away from town along the Marshall road. Abe returned without Diamond Bessie, saying she had gone into the bayou to visit friends.

Bessie was found a week later with a bullet to her head. Abraham Rothschild was charged with the murder and, after three trials, acquitted. Many people felt it was an injustice for Rothschild to be found not guilty. It was written up in the newspapers as a miscarriage of justice.

(As a side note: The townspeople paid for Diamond Bessie’s burial. To this day, her grave can be seen in the Oakwood Cemetery in Jefferson.)

This tragic tale is a familiar one when it comes to hauntings. There are differing accounts about Diamond Bessie staying at the Excelsior Hotel. Yet, it is rumored that she is one of the phantoms which haunt it. There are also reports of a headless man sited in the corridors, a woman in black gripping a child to keep it close, phantom cigar smoke and perfume-like smells, and top covers being torn away from sleeping guests.

While at least three rooms are allegedly haunted, the most haunted one is said to be the Jay Gould Room. A simple Google search will tell you the rocking chair in this room is said to rock on its own, and the door will slam shut on its own.

Maybe the most notable eyewitness account is from film Director, Steven Spielberg. He was in Jefferson during the 1970s, filming his movie Sugarland Express. According to rumor, Spielberg stayed in the Jay Gould room where he tossed his briefcase on a chair, only to have it fly right back at him. In the early morning hours, a small boy awakened the director, asking if he was ready for breakfast. Spielberg awoke his crew and checked out of the hotel.

(An interesting note: Spielberg wrote and produced the film Poltergeist soon after his visit to the Excelsior House Hotel.)

If you get a chance to visit Jefferson. I recommend you check out The Excelsior House Hotel. The history alone is worth the visit. If you run into an apparition, well, maybe it’s a bonus…Or not.

Sources:

My publisher, sponsor of Author Masterminds and Readers and Writers Book Club, is gifting $408.69 worth of bonuses to encourage readers to try award-winning Ravens Cove. Bonuses include a free Ravens Cove eBook and the Works of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven Edition. Here’s where you’ll find the details: https://buff.ly/2qxQxXK.

 

 

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The following story is courtesy of Ghost Report at http://ghostreport.net/ . Find other interesting sightings and information about the paranormal at this link. One of the best I’ve found.

The following article brings many questions to mind: Are there really portals to our world? If so, how did they come to be? Why are they here? How do we protect ourselves against an unseen and undetectable threat?

 The Blue Hole Of New Jersey – The Devil’s Puddle

There are many strange and haunted places in the United States. However, most of them don’t involve bottomless portals to Hell. The “Blue Hole” of New Jersey seems to do just that.

The Blue Hole is a nearly perfect circle of water, deep in the Pine Barrens of Winslow, NJ. The water is strangely clear blue, unlike the murky waters of it’s surrounding counterparts. It is said that fish do not swim in the water and that there are no signs of life inside of what many call “The Devil’s Puddle”. The water also seems to maintain an unusually low temperature, even in the warmest months. When standing near the Blue Hole, it is said to be eerily quiet, with no signs of life at all. Not in the

water, or around it.

 

For many years, parents have kept their children away from the small body of water. Many believe that the Blue hole is a bottomless pit. Some people even claim that the Devil himself uses the water hole, as his personal portal to Hell. Some also claim that the hole is home to another kind of devil. This Pine Barrens area is closely associated with the infamous Jersey Devil, and many say that the Blue Hole is home to the mysterious creature. The Jersey devil has been terrorizing people for over 200 years in the Pine Barren area, although evidence for its existence is scarce. Some locals have claimed to see the creature crawling out of the hole, on occasion. The fear of locals is not unfounded. It seems that many who chose to swim in the small body of water, never made it back out. Many bodies have been pulled out of the unusually still water, with scratches on their backs and lower legs. This makes sense, when you hear other reports from swimmers who claim to have felt cold hands clawing at their legs, pulling them down.

 

Unexplained whirlpools have been witnessed inside of the circular body of water, which defy explanation. One occasion, a man was pulled from the water, with scratches on his legs and black empty holes where his eyes once were. Some have attributed this to some type of ritual or occult activity. others say that it’s just the Devil’s handy work. No matter which legend you choose to believe, it seems as though some type of paranormal activity may be happening at this remote body of water.

 

You are welcome to find out yourself, if you are ever in the Pine Barrens area. Just follow the paths through the forest and you will soon find yourself at one of the most mysterious places on earth. However, I wouldn’t recommend going for a swim. The water is always cold. And there may be even colder hands, waiting beneath the surface.

 

Until Next Time,

 

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Once there were two men, Truth and Lies. They both professed love for a woman named Wisdom and both asked for her hand in marriage.

Lies said to Wisdom. “You are the most desirable woman in the world. You can have anyone your heart desires. Yet only I can give you all the earth’s treasures and more. Choose me!”

Truth listened to Lies, looked to Wisdom and smiled. “You are indeed the most sought-after prize on this earth. I cannot offer you what Lies can. I can only promise to seek your counsel before I act on any decision, never forget you are in my life and to treat you as the rare jewel you are.”

Wisdom turned kind eyes from Lies to Truth. She said, “You both have much to offer. I must consider before I make my decision.”

Wisdom retreated to her sanctuary.

Lies spat, “What have you to offer Wisdom?  You are ridiculed, ignored by humans, all but extinct.  You are ugly and poor.”

Truth turned his earnest eyes on Lies and smiled.

Lies continued, “I have been called an angel of light.  I can deceive even the smartest human being. I have destroyed royalty, holy men, judges and peasants.  I have put them to death while they begged to live forever.”

Truth replied, “All you say appears correct.  Yet you have destroyed no one.  They chose to follow your false promises—a decision which led to their ruin. You do not have the power to put even a blade of grass to death.”

“Even so, Wisdom would be a fool to choose you.”

“Wisdom is never a fool,” Truth replied.

“No sane woman would choose you, Truth. Your way is one of hardship and ridicule. People would sneer at her because she chose the way of  Truth instead of the way of this world.

“No, Wisdom will choose me. I can offer her comfort. She will never want for anything in this life. In return, I will have Wisdom and rule this world.”

“We shall see, Lies. We shall see.”

Wisdom returned. “I have considered both of your arguments.”

She took Lies hands in hers and said, “You have been with me for more years than Truth. And I have been loyal to you. You have courted me relentlessly. You have promised me freedom from financial worries. You have offered me all I can imagine or think of in this world which would give me an abundant life. I cannot understand why I’ve held back my affections from you.”

“I knew you would choose me! Tell Truth to leave!” Lies said.

Wisdom held up her hand. She turned to Truth. “You offer me a life of trials with no guarantees for happiness. You offer me a life of challenge and possible danger. Yet you offer me more than Lies has in all of these years.”

“What? How?” Lies demanded.

“Truth has offered me life. He will tell me when I am making a decision leading to my downfall instead of my growth. He will give me strength to make the right decision when I am tempted by lies to take the easy way out. He will help me to continue to be a pure example to others. He has given me purpose and a partnership. So, Lies, I choose Truth.”

“So be it—for now. I will be back to ask again after you’ve gone through need and pain. Then, we shall see who you choose!”

Truth said to Lies, “Wisdom has made her choice. You see, Lies, Wisdom has always been mine; without her I am nothing and without me she is only a lie.”

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Overtoun Bridge has been dubbed ‘The Dog Suicide Bridge by some. It is an innocuous looking structure. One that seems like many in Europe.

Local researchers estimate more than 300 dogs have sailed off the Overtoun bridge; tabloid reports say it's 600. At least 50 dogs are said to have died.

Overtoun House and Overtoun Bridge have an extensive, and interesting history. None of which, though, seem to lend the bridge to becoming a paranormal phenomenon.


The History of Overtoun House and Overtoun Bridge

In 1859 a retired lawyer named James White bought Overtoun Farm with the purpose of building a mansion there. It was to be his retreat in the country. He first acquired 900 acres, then increased his land to 2,000 acres. White hired the architect James Smith (father of the murder suspect Madeleine Smith) to design and construct a house. Overtoun House was built between 1860 and 1863, though Smith, the architect, died before work was completed. The house was completed through one of Smith’s partners. White's family began living in the mansion in 1862.

James White owned the property for 22 years. In 1884 he died. His son John moved to the estate in 1891 after the death of James’s wife died. John White wanted expanded the property further, by coming to an agreement with a local pastor, Reverend Dixon Swan, the heir to the adjacent Garshake Farm lands. Under the deal, John White laid out the West Drive and its lodge. The eastern and western sides of the estate were split by a waterfall on the Overtoun Burn. To connect the two sides, a road was built and the Overtoun Bridge erected.

For reasons this author doesn’t understand, John White took the additional surname of Campbell, and was elevated to the peerage as Baron Overtoun in 1893. Since he died childless in 1908, he was succeeded by his nephew Dr Douglas White, a London-based general practitioner. John’s wife, Lady Overtoun, continued to live in the house until 1931. When it was left vacant, Dr White, who seldom visited Scotland, gave the house to the people of Dumbarton in 1938.

During the Second World War Overtoun was turned into a convalescent home for injured soldiers and locals. The house remained mainly isolated, and it was not damaged during the war.

In 1947 Overtoun was turned into a maternity hospital. A fire destroyed part of the house in 1948, although there were no deaths, and the hospital remained in operation until 1 September 1970. In 1975 the British government decided to use the house as a base for its Quality of Life Experiment. From 1978 to 1980, a religious group, the Spire Fellowship, utilized the home, and from 1981 to 1994, the estate was used by a group named Youth with a Mission.

The house fell into abandonment soon after Youth with a Mission left the area, but in 2001 Pastor Bob Hill from Fort Worth, Texas, leased the property from West Dunbartonshire Council to use as a Christian center for Scottish youth. The house was used in the 2012 film Cloud Atlas, where it doubled for the house of Vyvyan Ayrs in the 1936 segment, and Aurora House in the 2012 segment. Regeneration, which was partially filmed in Overtoun House, is a 1997 film adaptation of the novel of the same name by Pat Barker. The house was also used in Caro Emerald's 2013 video for I belong to You.

In October 1994 a man killed his baby son by throwing him from Overtoun Bridge. As far as I can tell, this is the only reported tragic death associated with this bridge.

Since 2005 there have been a number of media reports of dogs making what appeared to be a suicidal leap from it. This was attributed to supernatural influence, or explained by the dogs being attracted by scents then losing balance on the sloping parapet of the bridge.

Looking for a ‘rational’ explanation, some say the Mink and other animals living near or under the bridge are the reason for the dogs taking this dangerous, possibly lethal plunge. Others say there haven’t been any Mink in the area for years.

No one has been able to come up with a concrete reason for why dogs are jumping.

All I know is, if I lived near Overtoun Bridge, I would avoid walking my dogs anywhere near it. I would hope anyone else would do the same.

Source: Wikipedia

–If you’d like to sample my writing and also obtain over $400 in eBooks from various well-known authors, please visit: https://www.readersandwritersbookclub.com/ravens-cove

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Grady Dellaneaux strode up the pebbled walk leading to his half million-dollar home. He pulled his coat collar close around his neck, trying in vain to protect himself against the frigid mist carried in on a dense fog.

“Stupid weather!” he exclaimed.

The weather wasn’t what ate at Grady. In fact, he liked bad weather. It always lifted his spirits. What devoured his emotions this evening was the news he’d been delivered.

“I’m sorry, Grady, but we’ve had one too many complaints from our clients,” Mikale Frandlong, the owner of Frandlong and Associates CPAs said.

Frandlong held a sandwich in one hand and the phone receiver in the other while he delivered the crushing news.

“I expect you to be gone by the end of the day.”

Grady turned to leave—no run—from Frandlong’s office.

“And, Grady, you may want to get an attorney. Arthur Longdon is threatening a lawsuit. Seems he thinks you skimmed quite a bit of his money last quarter.”

Grady turned and looked Frandlong in the eye. “Nonsense! I told him as much when he accused me yesterday.”

Grady narrowed his eyes and shook his head. “See where being loyal got me? I knew better! Ten years down the tubes. Thrown out without a second thought. Just like the wrapper on old Frandlong’s sandwich.”

Grady smirked. If old Frandlong only knew how much I have taken in ten years. I slipped up with Longdon. I’ll take care of him tomorrow.  

“You are condemned to hell, Graduate Dellaneaux.”

Grady spun on his heel and squinted into the dense fog. No one there. The sickening-sweet, Southern voice of his long-dead grandmother continued to echo through Grady’s brain. 

He grabbed his head with both hands and whispered vehemently, “Shut up, old biddy. I tried it your way. Look where your morals got me! I’m doing it my way now, thank you very much!”

 A familiar and cold terror tore at his stomach and whispered into his mind, What if the voices are back? 

“I won’t allow it!” Grady answered.

Rubbing his temples, Grady recited under his breath, “You aren’t real, you aren’t real, you aren’t real,” until the pressure in his head subsided.   

            Grady let out a slow breath and continued up the short flight of steps. He inserted the housekey into the bright brass dead bolt glistening in the pale-white streetlight.

“I’ve been waiting for you.”

            Grady tensed, gripped the key between his index finger and thumb and slowly removed it from the lock. He turned, holding the key waist high and squinted at the dark figure in the shadows of his white-columned porch. 

“It’s you,” Grady growled. He dropped his hand to his side. “What are you doing here at this time of night?  You scared the ghost right out of me.”

            A tall, lean man stepped into the light. Donald Renphrow held out a manila envelope.

“You left instructions to have this package delivered post haste. If the instructions were wrong I’ll leave, and you can come by and get it when the shop opens.”

            “No, no! I’ll take it now.”  Grady reached out greedily. 

The visitor stood motionless.

            Grady’s mouth tightened. He forced his voice to be calm.   “I really have a lot to do tomorrow, and it is late.  Please give me the package.” 

After what seemed an eternity to Grady, Donald Renphrow held the package toward him.

Grady seized it. “Thank you,” he mumbled, hurried into the house and shut the door.  He listened for Renphrow to leave.

The entry clock ticked loudly in the otherwise silent house.  Grady strained to hear above the clock’s noise.

The sound of heavy boots going down the steps, then steadily growing more and more faint was music to Grady’s ears.

            Grady double-checked the lock, placed his keys in their gold tray on the foyer table and hurried over the marbled entry to his personal study.  He peered to either side to ensure he was alone, walked in, closed and locked the door.

            He ripped open the package and smiled as he pulled out a leather-bound book.  Reported to be 200 years old, the book showed signs of having been a deep crimson in its early days but now was splotched by black, like new blood mixed with old.  He set aside a note and a small round ampule filled with amber liquid.

            “The Book of Fallen Angels,” he whispered and gently stroked the worn leather as if it were a newfound love. 

            After several minutes he remembered the note, picked it up and read:   

Congratulations.  As you know, you were the top bidder for this book.  I commend your determination. It is rumored that whoever owns this book has unlimited access to the powers of Lucifer and his army of fallen angels. With this text, you begin a journey from which there can be no return.  It does not come without price.  The liquid accompanying this note is the catalyst for the change you must make if you hope to understand and access the powers of this book….

            “What a lot of hooey,” Grady snorted. He threw the note aside and stared straight ahead like a stubborn child refusing his broccoli. His brow furrowed in thought.

What if the note is true? What if I can only access the book’s power by drinking this stuff? 

He picked up the vial and held it to the desk lamp. He tipped it backwards, then forward, contemplating the oily brown liquid as it coated the sides before melting into itself.  He removed the stopper and inhaled cautiously; an unknown but pleasant odor.

“What could it hurt?” he asked. He returned to the note.

…It will be unpleasant and probably painful.  You must be and stay alone during the process.  It could take several hours for the transformation to be complete…

Grady Dellaneaux did not care about physical pain.  Being a small and thin child, he was a favorite whipping post for school bullies and others in his youth.   

He could not, however, tolerate waiting. Grady opened the right-hand drawer of his office desk and pulled out a syringe.

He stared at the needle left from his grandmother’s last days when her only pain relief came from frequent morphine injections.

“I knew this would come in handy someday.” He opened the hypodermic and the vial. His ears throbbed with his rising heartbeat.   

            He placed the thin spike in the amber liquid and watched the fluid slowly rise up the plunger.  When it was full, he pushed the stopper until a small amount squirted from the tip.  He rolled up his left sleeve and inserted the needle into his vein. He waited.

            His skin tingled.  His throat went dry.  Excited, Grady jumped up and rushed to the mirror in the foyer.  A slight built, balding man stared back. 

His reflection revealed a slate gray tone to his skin and a navy-blue hue creeping around his lips.

His quickening pulse slowed and bounded at the same time.  Grady felt power with every beat.  The room began to spin and his arms and legs went numb.  Grady Dellaneaux fell to the floor, welcoming whatever would come next. 

He lay there listening to the entry clock chime one, then two, looking forward to the next stage of his transformation. 

Grady smiled. “I will finally have my revenge and my reward.”

“You will have your reward alright. You are condemned to hell, Graduate Dellaneaux.”

The sickening-sweet, Southern voice was no longer in his head. 

Grady rolled his eyes toward the voice.

His grandmother looked down on him, eyes blazing with judgment, wagging her finger in his face.  

            “You were hell, old woman,” he mumbled.

            “You made your own life horrible!”

As he watched in horror, her foot lowered to his chest, twisting and crushing it like an old cigarette butt.  The pain radiated to every joint in his body.

Mercifully, Grady went numb again; a powerful calm overtook him. He smiled triumphantly at his grandmother. 

“You can’t hurt me anymore. I am more powerful than you now.”

“It is not I who you should be concerned with.” Grandmother Dellaneaux pointed to the ceiling.

Grady looked up.  

A triangle of three large, scaled beings crawled above him. Their bloated arms, legs and torsos reminded Grady of marshmallows. Their swollen bodies shimmered with an iridescent grey light, keeping them slightly out of focus. Long, anteater snouts protruded from small, malformed heads. Their mouths were open in a permanent O. The leader inhaled.

The air left the room. Grady gasped in short, fast breaths seeking any oxygen he could. 

“You see, when you bought the Book of Fallen Angels, you sealed your fate. Did you truly believe you could summon demons and subject them to your will?”

“Others have.”

“No, Graduate, others have not. Your need for power and wealth made you easy prey for a great deception.”

“You are as crazy in death as in life, old woman.”

She ignored him and continued, “It is a risk to obtain a prize sought after by those even more evil than you. This book will be back on the market in a few days. Donald Renphrow will see to it. You always did trust the wrong people. Mr. Renphrow knew you’d do anything to achieve complete power. It was easy for him to dupe you into poisoning yourself.”

“You lie!”

“Do I? You’re the one talking to a ghost.”

The large, pale beings catapulted off the ceiling and joined Grady’s grandmother.

“These are your fate. You now serve those you sought to control.”

Without warning, the calm numbness gave way to a roaring wave of pain.  Grady’s whole being shouted for relief. It did not come.

He opened his mouth in a silent scream. Grady arched his back, lifted his arms and called forth his body’s remaining strength. He reached for his grandmother’s throat.    

She stayed just out of range, watching in amusement, her eyes pulling him to her until there was nothing else in Grady’s line of sight.

The demons moved in on Grady.

“You are dead, Graduate Dellaneaux,” were the last words Grady Dellaneaux ever heard.

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