tale came by way of Mr. Pete Kendall, one time sports writer for the
Cleburne Times Review newspaper in Cleburne,
Texas. Mr. Kendall relayed the story in 2003. It is a ghostly
article he found in a 99-year-old-newspaper. The author of the piece
is unknown and long removed from this life but gives us a Victorian
insight of a poltergeist of certain demented intent. The story is
taken, word-for-word just as the author intended from a 1902 newspaper
| A Good Ghost
Surveying party encounter
A haunted house and
A SPOOKED INHABITED
Mysterious noises disturb their
slumbers and search confirms
supernatural character of
their ghostly visitants
first class and thoroughly confirmed ghost story is told by returned
members of the party, which for its realistic features and the previous
record of the locality served at the time to raise the hair of the
campers as well as to remind the readers that there are intangibilities
in the observance of our human senses, ‘that’, “There are more things
in heaven and earth, Haratio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy”.
And the surveyors do “a take unfold whose highest word did “harrow
up” their very souls – but, to the story.
Last Saturday night the surveyors had reached a point about two and
a half miles northwest of Burleson
and finding there a vacant house concluded to utilize its sheltering
roof for their night’s repose. This house is one far above the ordinary
farmers’ residence; being the most neat appearing and spacious modern
cottage of several rooms and an “upstairs”, the stairway leading from
the front gallery to the upper story. It was in apparent good repair
and thought open to campers concluded to sleep on the broad porch.
Here they spread their bedding and at an early hour had gone to sleep
– all except Mr. Ransone.
Mr. Ransone relates that as he lay in a semi-sleeping condition suddenly
just at his head and in the front room of the cottage there rang out
two shots in quick concession, which aroused the whole party and created
momentary consternation in the minds of all. Each one jumped out from
their pallets and the strange occurrence was freely discussed among
them. Footsteps in the room were heard as if someone were leisurely
walking about and these coming out the door right among them turned
up the stairway from the porch and were distinctly audible as they
ascended the steps. Then about through the upper story went the footsteps
echoing loudly through the building, finally approaching the stairs
and coming down again.
The party was composed of Mr. J.R. Ransone, Mr. G.A. Human, Mr. Shaw,
Berkley Collard, Elmer Collins, and Lucian Wilson, all more or less
well known here.
Mr. Collard was on his pallet the nearest one to the stairway and
as the disturber descended the steps he arose armed with his own heavy
shoes and attempted to close with the intruder, but in the clinch
he only embraced the empty air and though heavy pedal coverings were
hurried into the stairway with all the violence of intense excitement
they smote only the intangible air and bounded back down the staircase
– but the steps proceeded – tramp, tramp, tramp through their midst
into the room and finally died away into indistinctness into the further
part of the house.
mystery of the visitation was discussed amongst the campers for some
time and they finally determined that their senses had been mysteriously
deluded or that mischievous practical jokers of the neighborhood had
determined to have a lot of enjoyment at their expense. In either
case there was no danger, so they laid down again to sleep, their
hair standing stiffly outward forming a natural pillow for their puzzled
No sooner, however, than they had began to dose off again than – bang!
came some heavy object against the wall from the inside and with such
a force that the windows of the room which had been raised fell with
such a violence that the glass in the window shattered.
A strange feature to this occurrence was that the party had tried
ineffectively to close the windows down and found that impossible
because the rains had swollen the wood and stuck the frame fast. This
episode convinced them that some supernatural agency was at work and
they determined on a thorough search of the premises.
This they made by stationing guards at the front and rear to cover
exits while two of the party with lighted lanterns explored every
room, closet, nook and cranny, but without developing anything further
than empty rooms and resounding walls. They then searched the surrounding
approaches, went “into” and thoroughly searched the storm cellar in
the rear of the house and found – nothing.
Like wise men they then returned to sleep convinced that no human
agency had disturbed them and all through the mysterious noises, rapping’s,
and persistent plodding of the footsteps continued throughout the
night they slumbered at intervals and at intervals sat up to listen
intently to the nocturnal prowler.
When morning arrived they again explored the whole house and surroundings,
but absolutely nothing tangible did they find as explanation of the
nights experiences. Afterward, they inquired of a gentleman living
near and learned that he had also heard the apparent shots as he sat
up in the waiting on his family to return from church at Burleson.
This gentleman is Mr. Bristow and lives about 400 yards from the “haunted”
house. From him the party learned also the history of the record of
the place, which from his story bears the reputation of a dwelling
place of spooks.
house is on a tract of land in the J.H. Catlett survey and now belongs
to Mr. Bristow. It was erected about ten or twelve years ago by a
Mr. Bills, from whom Bristow afterward purchased it. It has not been
occupied for about three years, Mr. Bristow’s brother and family being
the last occupants they left allegedly on account of the disturbances
which were of nightly occurrence. No one was ever known to have been
murdered there or nearby, but two parties – a man and a woman – have
died in the building and it is certain from the narrative of those
present that some disembodied spirit returns on the shades of a friendly
night to go again over old scenes and to frighten trespassers upon
Asked as to their theory on the haunt these gentlemen have none to
give but it has been suggested that perhaps the place is the rendezvous
for some lawless band – thieves or counterfeiters – who have hidden
doors or traps and an underground resort in which they ply their nefarious
trade or store their purloined property and have some mechanical devices
by which they produce the nocturnal noises and protect their retreat
from the encroachment of a too investigating public.
Whether this be true or whether in fact the ghost of some departed
inhabitant has taken up its abode and resents intrusion from men of
mortal mold is matter for speculation. But one fact stands out boldly
from mystery of the surrounding scenes and that is Human and his party
were so thoroughly cognizant of the conditions that all tell the same
story – all heard the same noises and all are credible to the extent
of the physical facts they relate.” The end. Aug 7, 1902
would be most interesting today to find exactly where the house once
stood, given the exact abstract locations by the author makes it possible.
Was the haunting real? Hauntings are as old as mankind. Most true
hauntings are a plethora of strange happenings and occurrences which
create more questions than answers as they tend to defy logic and
the natural laws of physics while terrifying any unfortunate witnesses.
In late Victorian America it was not a custom to discuss such matters
openly as it is today. Modern America embraces everything about ghosts
and ghostly activities as scores of television shows have been spawned
creating celebrities out of geeky regular people who believe their
seems to be a ghost in every house or building older than 50 years.
But, official documentation of such occurrences prove that a real
haunting is much less likely to happen and even less has actually
been officially documented.
Some people are skeptical of ghosts
and should be while others think they see a ghost
behind every old house or building in town. True hauntings,
though rare, have terrified those who have experienced them and leave
deep spiritual and psychological scars. It would be best to leave
ghost hunting up to the spiritual experts as not to taunt things you
can’t see. Like the surveyors of old Burleson,
you may get more than you bargained for as things around your home
begin to go bump in the night. Happy Halloween!
October 25, 2011 Column