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 Texas : Features : Ghosts :

Texas Historical Ghost Story

The McDow Hole

by Bob Hopkins
Alexander, Texas country  road
Erath County near Alexander

Photo by Ken Rudine, July 2005
One hot and humid morning during the summer of 1855, a group of commissioned Texas scouts, searching for a band of raiding Comanche rumored to be in the territory, rode their horses along a creek bed in the northern section of the district of Milam, later known as Erath County. They stopped at a large water hole to rest and water their tired animals. Suddenly, from the protection of the lazy creek, the men could see black smoke rising over a hill about 300 yards to the southeast.

Quick to investigate, the men, found a young couple brutally murdered, laying in the yard of their small burning cabin. Not far from the couple lay the body of a small boy. All three had been savagely tortured, killed, and scalped. The naked body of an infant was later discovered about 50 yards from the house. Her small lifeless body, was found full of thorns, with a rope tied around her feet. She had been drug to death through the cactus.

Outraged, the patrol quickly found the trail of the fast moving raiders and followed them to an area along the Leon River where a battle ensued. The marauding Comanche were no match for the group of Tennessee woodsman. Texas style justice was handed out as all nine Comanche warriors lost their lives.

The scouts rode back to the water hole on Green’s Creek and buried the remains of the pioneer family who lost their lives in such a cruel and senseless manner. However, the traumatic event would not be the last to take place at what would become known as the “McDow Hole”.


One summer afternoon in 1921, Jewel and Dieletta Hickey, were gathering water at Green’s Creek, located near their home. On their way back to the house, nine-year-old Jewel dropped both buckets of water from her hands. She began to run, looking down and behind her with an expression of horror.

After reaching the house in a state of terrified exhaustion, the child explained, as she cried, that a dog had chased her. When her six-year-old sister told her she never saw a dog as she ran behind her, the terrified Jewel explained that she never saw it either, that’s what was so scary. She said the “thing” was growling and snapping at her legs”. “I could hear it snarl and gnash it’s teeth together”. “It was panting, loudly, like it had been running”. “I kept walking faster and it kept striking its teeth together, right at my heels”. I dropped the buckets and ran”.

The Hickey family would witness such strange events in and around the McDow water hole on Green’s Creek, south of Dublin in Erath County, for the next three decades. These and many more ghostly happenings have been recorded over the last 135 years at McDow Hole, the first being recorded after the murder of a young mother and her baby about 1865.


In her book “Hickey Pioneers, a partial history of the Captain Wesley W. Hickey Family”, Dieletta Hickey Watson, recounts the days her family lived near the spot of the old Papworth cabin on Green’s Creek, from 1916 to 1940. She recorded several strange events and encounters, by one family member or another, with the mysterious ghostly woman who was seen several times on or near their property over the course of her childhood.
Alexander, Texas sign




Photo by Ken Rudine, July 2005
The water hole, located about three miles north of the ghost town of Alexander, is basically a deep part of a creek bed lined with a natural bedrock bottom. The hole is spring fed which assured local pioneers water year around. The McDow Hole got its name from the Jim McDow family who came to the area in January 1860 purchasing 189 acres. The McDows built their cabin not far from the water hole. When pioneers began to come to the region they would go down to the “McDow” place to get water referring to the location on the creek as “McDow” Hole.

The story of the original McDow haunting has been written about by several writers, magazines, and newspapers but was first documented in 1900 by Stephenville resident Joe Fitzgerald. Mr. Fitzgerald’s daughter, Mary Joe Clendenin of Stephenville, to whom most of this work is credited, has written several stories about the murder of Jenny Papworth and her infant child at the McDow. ... next page
© Bob Hopkins

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