was during those declining years that an eerie thing occurred. On a summer’s night
in 1930, eleven year old Walter Kostiha and his older brother Frank had an encounter
that would stay with them for the rest of their lives. Walter was 82 years old
when he shared the tale from the safety of his store within the quaint village
of Strawn, located just down the
road from Thurber.
Walter said, “I remember the night well, always have, always will. A boy never
forgets the odd things of life and that one was surely odd for me.”
It was the beginning of the great depression which hit Texas
harder than most other states. Many grown and able-bodied men were out of work
and taking any job they could find so it was rare that two boys could find work.
But they did. Walter and Frank would walk down to a local Mexican restaurant on
Saturday nights, one of the few establishments left in Thurber,
after closing hours to assist the owner with rolling tamales. “One particular
night,” Walter said, “was very clear with a beautiful full moon hanging low upon
the summer horizon.” The two boys finished their work at the restaurant about
midnight and after collecting fifty cents each, they headed home down an old dirt
road that paralleled a set of railroad tracks that took coal cars to the town
of Mingus, a few miles north of Thurber.
Kostiha said, “We came to the place where we left the road to cross over a fence
in order to get to the house. In those days many fences had “stiles” built upon
them…steps in which one could easily climb up, over and back down without having
to climb the fence. We were approaching the stile when the ghostly thing appeared.
Here came this beautiful silver-looking thing.” He went on to say, “My brother
looked at it, screamed and ran as fast as his feet would carry him toward the
house, unfortunately, the long way. I followed but he was bigger and faster than
me leaving me further and further behind. Once my brother cleared a considerable
distance from the ghost he slowed then finally stopped until I caught up to him,
both of us out of breath and scared half out of our wits. Only then could we gather
enough courage to look back at it but it was gone.”
The boys, going the
long way home to avoid another face-to-face with the specter, immediately went
to their father and told him of the frightful event. Walter asked his Papa if
someone was pulling some kind of prank on them. His father replied, “No, this
was no prank.” He then explained to the boys that what they saw was something
rare indeed, something that very few people in the Thurber
area have encountered. He told them the story of an incident that took place in
before when it was a booming community. A carnival had made a stop in the village.
There was a beautiful woman with the carnival who would sing with a voice even
more beautiful than she was. She was tragically killed by a local resident who
had become obsessed with her. “The woman”, he said, “avenges her murder by returning
to haunt the streets of Thurber.”
night, Walter said his brother refused to speak of the incident and didn’t want
anyone to know of their encounter with the ghost. Walter went on to say, “If people
say that I didn’t see a ghost, you tell em to come see me! I saw it with my own
two eyes and I know what I saw.” Rumors of the haunting floated in and around
a few years, however, Walter only personally knew of only one other person who
claimed to have witnessed the ghost. The man, a friend of Walter’s father, told
Walter and his family of the night he was walking toward his mother’s house, just
about the same spot where Walter and Frank saw the ghost. He claimed on a moonlit
night he came upon the ghost of a woman sitting on the stile at the fence. He
said he was somewhat under the influence of strong drink when he approached the
woman thinking it was his mother. “Suddenly”, he said, “she began to rise up into
the air before fading away right in front of my eyes.” He then said he’d never
sobered up so quick in all his life.
Since then, the road no longer exists.
Pasture has reclaimed it and the fence has been gone for many years as has anyone
who may have encountered the specter. Walter unfortunately passed from this world
in 2006 taking any other information of the ghost with him.
ghost town of Thurber,
Texas was once a thriving place teaming with immigrant workers, mostly Italian,
Hungarian and Mexican trying to make a living for themselves and their families.
The great flu-pandemic of 1919 took the lives of at least 20 children and several
adults in Thurber.
Other sicknesses and difficulties plagued the immigrant town as well. A ghost
could be just about anybody.
Walter had many fond memories of growing
up and living in the Thurber
and Strawn communities. The coal
mines are long gone but reminders of their existence still dot the countryside
around the area of southwestern Palo Pinto County. No record exists of the murder
of the beautiful carnival queen but that doesn’t mean that the event didn’t happen.
Such a person in such a transient profession could have never been reported as
the carnival moved on to another town.
a ghost still exists in Thurber,
the only live people it would find to haunt would have to be at the Smokestack
restaurant which has reported their own accounts of ghostly happenings over the
years. But if you want to see the ghost of the carnival woman, you’ll have to
stand out in the field where the road once was. The problem is nobody knows exactly
where that was or at least, none of the living. Happy haunting!
Ghost Stories | Texas
Ghost Towns | Texas