It was a time when horses, buggies, buckboards and steam locomotives
were the only transportation available. Texas was less than fifty
years old and the town of Weatherford,
younger still. It was a time ripe with opportunity for those souls
brave enough to take their chances in a new world born of the industrial
age and decorated with Victorian style.
A man, if he set his mind to it, could make a good living in a land
of unlimited opportunities such as north Texas. Gone were the savage
Indians and the uncharted territories. Plenty of farm and ranch land
along with an ever-growing population.
The City of Weatherford, just 26 miles west of Fort
Worth, was established in 1856, just before the Civil War. The
downtown area of the city was the center of activity for all of Parker
County and soon became a prime area for the dry goods business.
Mr. J.D. Baker, who found success in the merchandising business in
Hood County, moved his business to Weatherford in the 1880's because
he believed it to be a better market for his inventory. He was right
and by 1890 had established a successful business that blossomed into
a chain enterprise covering several western counties of north central
The gamble had paid off for Baker and it seemed as if all was going
well for his family at the end of the nineteenth century. In 1894,
the successful Bakers began construction on a beautiful 6,000 square
foot Victorian home at 704 South Lamar in Weatherford. They had four
Children - Charles, Harry, Mary, and Ethel. Ethel unfortunately, died
at the age of twelve. That would be the first family tragedy.
Mr. Baker past away on Easter Sunday, 1899, during the wealthiest
years of his life. Unfortunately, he never witnessed the completion
of the beautiful home.
In 1908, another tragedy struck the family. A strange tale that remains
unsolved to this day. Charles Baker, who grew to be an intelligent
man and business wise, became a buyer for the Baker Company. In the
early spring of that year he embarked on a buying trip for the stores
and was last seen leaving San Francisco en route to Seattle where
he was to order goods. He was never seen nor heard from again.
A year later his family put out a large reward for any information
that would help them find Charles. A poster was circulated all over
the southwestern states in hopes that he would be located. The poster
read as follows:
|$ 5,000.00 REWARD.
A reward of $5,000.00 will be paid by the undersigned for the body,
dead or alive, of Chas. R. Baker, last heard of March 9th, 1908, in
San Francisco, Cal., and supposed to have gone to Seattle the following
Age 29 years, height 6 ft., weight about 150 lb.., hair light, eyes
blue, sharp features, smooth shaven. Has a very perceptible limp in
walking, caused by rheumatism, affecting feet mostly. He is a constant
sufferer of this disease. Has scar on the first finger of right had
caused by a severe glass cut. Holds finger in crooked position. Dry-goods
merchant by occupation. Well versed in business matters generally.
Very quiet and gentlemanly in demeanor. Not dissipated.
(signed) Harry Baker
Address all communications to Harry Baker, care of Baker, Poston &
Company, Weatherford, Texas.
The First National Bank of Weatherford, Texas, guarantees the payment
of the above reward.
(signed) W. S. Fant, President.
|To no avail,
no word of Charles was ever heard of and the money was never collected.
In 1936, Charles's sister, Mary had his will probated assuming him
to be long dead. The Parker County courts agreed and the long unsolved
mystery was put to rest.
A short time after the disappearance of Charles Baker, his brother,
Harry was on a business trip to Chicago where he was suddenly struck
with a ruptured appendix and tragically died.
The last of the Baker children, Mary, married and moved to Oklahoma
City. Mrs. Baker continued to live in the Baker home until she got
too old to take care of herself and moved to Oklahoma City with her
daughter to live out the remaining days of her life, keeping the home
in Weatherford until her death in 1942.
Mrs. Mary Baker Rumsey, the remaining Baker child, sold the huge home
to Mr. & Mrs. George Fant in the early 1940's. Mr. Fant happened to
be the President of the First National Bank of Weatherford, the bank
that backed the $5,000.00 reward for the whereabouts of young Charles
Baker in 1908. The Fants owned the house until the late 1970's, long
after the death of Mr. Fant.
When the Fants moved into the home, nothing seemed out of place for
about a year. Then their teenage niece, whom I will call Helen to
protect her privacy, came to visit. Most of the following accounts
in the home are recalled from Helen. She, out of fear of what others
would think of her, never told anyone of the strange happenings until
In a letter, dated September 2000, she wrote: "My aunt and uncle
bought and restored the old Baker house in the early 1940's. Now,
I know this sounds crazy, but I also know what I have seen. The
first time was during W.W.II. Sometime during the summer, I was
staying with my aunt and uncle along with another aunt. I was about
14 years old. She and I were sleeping in the easternmost bedroom
downstairs. This bedroom has a door leading to the southern side
of the verandah. Only the screen door was latched and I remember
all was quiet and everyone was asleep. I was awakened by the sound
of someone very quietly and slowly walking down a small hall on
the south side of the house that connected an inner bedroom with
the bedroom my aunt and I were sleeping in".
"I closed my eyes, afraid to look up. When I finally got the nerve
to open them, a figure was standing at the foot of the bed. I screamed
loudly enough to wake the dead and the figure immediately disappeared.
Naturally, everyone in the house descended upon our bedroom and
the consensus of opinion was that I was merely having a nightmare,
but I know it was not a nightmare because I was very much awake
when I heard him."
"That was the only time he ever appeared when anyone else was around
and the last time that I screamed. I didn't spend the night in that
house again for a long while. My parents and I moved out of town
and I didn't return to the big house until the early 1960's. In
the meantime, my aunt built a smaller house near by leaving a gate
between a brick wall for easy access to the big house, which stood
empty for a short while.
"One night, before I was married in the mid 1960's, I was reading
in my bedroom, which was on the second floor. My aunt was still
living there at that time and was in her bedroom-den downstairs.
It was again, a warm night but not warm enough to turn on the window
air conditioning units so my aunt had turned on the huge exhaust
type fan in the upstairs window over the stairway. I suddenly heard
a loud cry-not like crying actually-more like someone wailing or
"I ran out of my bedroom to the top of the stairs thinking my aunt
had fallen and was crying out for me but her lights were out and
I could see nothing. I realized that the crying was not coming from
her part of the house. It seemed to be emanating from the area near
the front of the house close to the dining room. The wailing went
on for at least five minutes. Being your basic coward, after the
wailing stopped, I went back to my room, locked the door and tried
"The next morning at breakfast my aunt said nothing and I decided
I had best keep my mouth shut. If you had known my aunt, you would
understand why I make this statement!"
"My aunt went on to work and I was getting ready to do the same
when her maid started yelling at me to come down to the dining room.
In the downstairs part of the house, between the dining room and
the hallway are heavy wooden sliding doors. Lying next to one of
the doors was a huge dead bat. We were never able to determine where
the bat came from or how he got into the house".
"The front of the house was always kept closed off and locked from
the back of the house because we had plenty of room in the back
after my uncle had added a huge den so it was easier to cool and
heat by closing it off from the front. The maid; however, inspected
and cleaned the front of the house every day and the bat was not
there the day before. Even though I know what I heard the night
before was certainly no bat, I still tried to write it all off as
a vivid imagination".
"Most of the strangeness occurred in this house when I was alone.
I think that is why I never mentioned it to anyone. There was always
a pocket of cold, not cool, but extremely cold air in the downstairs
hallway close to the living room. No matter how hot the day, when
I would walk down that hall, there was about five feet of cold,
cold air. I was always startled by it. Yet if someone was with me
and we walked down that hall, the air was always normal, cool or
warm, depending on the time of year".
"One day, in the mid 60's, I was with my aunt shopping at stores
on the Weatherford Square. We were in a boutique called "Sturges-Allen".
The elderly owner of the store, Mrs. Bozelle and I were having a
conversation about the old house. She told me that sometime during
the 1920's, her aunt attended a party at the house given by Mrs.
Baker. At some time during the festivities a loud noise emanated
from a large armoire, located on the first floor that had belonged
to Charles Baker. The door of the armoire slowly opened and an old
starched collar fell out and rolled down the hallway to near the
large wooden sliding doors and came to a stop. She said the party
goers were more than mystified by the event".
"I thought deeply on what she had reported and it gave me quite
an uneasy feeling because the collar stopped in about the same place
the dead bat was found".
"In 1970, my husband and I moved into the house with plans to purchase
it. My husband worked a lot at night and sometimes traveled so I
was in the house alone for five to seven days at a time. After living
there for about a year, the visitations started".
"Our bedroom was upstairs on the south side. One night, while alone
in the big old house, I woke up and was sure that I heard something
on the stairs. The dogs were outside and one of them started howling.
Then I saw a shadow along the wall of the stairwell rising toward
my bedroom. I was absolutely terrified. I couldn't reach the phone,
I couldn't say anything - just lay there. Once again I closed my
eyes and kept them closed. I heard the footsteps enter my bedroom
and approach my bed then I felt a hand gently touch my shoulder.
I opened my eyes and jumped up very quickly but nothing was there.
I don't know what the neighbors thought but I immediately got up
and turned on every single light in the house and left them on until
daylight. In the bright light of day I did my best to convince myself
that I had had another nightmare like the one 30 years earlier".
"This event happened to me at least six or seven times during our
years in the house, always with the same result. Someone came upstairs,
walked into my bedroom, put his hand on my shoulder and then disappeared.
Unnerving to say the least. Still I never told anyone, not even
"There were times when I felt someone was watching me. I felt what
ever it was, wasn't exactly friendly. I did not feel potential violence
as much as plain malice. This almost became a daily feeling. Anywhere
I went in the house, someone was watching me and I became extremely
edgy and frightened, afraid to leave and afraid to stay. Then, for
a period of months to a year there would be no feelings of being
watched and I would relax".
"The worst incident of all happened one night about 1976. It was
in the spring of the year and I was alone in the house late one
night. One of those Texas spring storms blew up with its usual violent
winds, rain, hail, lighting and thunder. At that time there was
an electric transformer on a pole about 20 yards east of Lamar on
Columbia Street. The transformer would blow every time there was
a drizzle and of course, it blew in this storm. I had no lights".
"I was upstairs in the bedroom, thunder crashing, lightning flashing,
wind blowing something fierce. Suddenly, I heard loud pounding on
the door from the basement to the hallway downstairs. This door
was always securely locked and there was no way out of the basement
except through the hallway downstairs and likewise, there was no
way to the basement from the outside except through the house and
"I first tried to tell myself that the wind was causing the door
to rattle, but a rattle didn't sound like that. Someone was loudly
and furiously pounding on that door from the basement side. Thinking
about it now is sending chills up and down my spine. I managed to
get to the telephone and contact my aunt next door. She immediately
knew I was frightened out of my wits and said she would meet me
at the gate".
"I ran downstairs in my nightgown not even stopping to get my raincoat
or shoes. The second I passed the basement door, the pounding stopped.
I went through the kitchen, locked the kitchen door and started
across the screened-in porch to leave the house. By the time I got
to the screen door to leave, the pounding on the basement door started
again, louder and angrier than ever. I ran across the parking lot
to the gate where my aunt was waiting for me. I can honestly say
that I have never been more afraid than I was that night, before
or since. I still didn't say anything, only that the storm unnerved
" I was never again comfortable there. A year later, my husband
and I divorced and I left that house for good. I truly believe that
the ghost, spirit, figure that appeared to me in 1942 was that of
Charles Baker and I don't think he liked me even one little bit.
Since no one else, that I am aware of, ever saw him, I can only
assume that I was the catalyst that aroused his ire. I can still
feel the touch of a hand on my shoulder, Ugh!!!"
So, did the ghost of Charles Baker return to the house? Was he upset
that he was unable to find the familiar surroundings left by his
loving mother or was he reaching out for help from a place he disappeared
from a long time ago? Anything is possible in a house familiar to
The present owners of the home, Rhonda and Michael Lasely report
they have had no strange encounters and have lived in the beautiful
Victorian home for over 16 years. Oh! There was that time that their
maid, who spoke little English, was very upset, and assured them
that a "ghost" or "something" tried to push her from the stairs
on the second floor.
As for Charlie Baker, we hope he has found peace and for all those
who may live in or visit the home we hope they enjoy all the beauty
and elegance the glorious home has to offer. For some, it will always
be a place of deep mystery.
© Bob Hopkins, Weatherford
Book Hotel Here > Weatherford
I am a professional Firefighter with a degree in Fire science and
a certified Fire Investigator, therefore, I believe just about everything
can be explained if one looks hard enough. That was before I began
to research a few north Texas ghost stories that are difficult to
I have researched about 30 north Texas haunts, many of which have
never before been documented or researched. They range from the hauntings
of the old Baker and Crazy Water hotels in Mineral Wells to a haunted
plantation near Tyler. I have researched each as to the best of my
ability for authenticity and historical accuracy. I would be more
than happy to share some of my research with (your readers). Thank
you very much. - Bob Hopkins, Weatherford.
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