Perhaps you have been wanting to go on a Ghosts of Denton tour and waiting for the right opportunity. The weather is warming up, so you don't have an excuse! There are tours every weekend, but on March 27th you have a special opportunity. Ghosts of Denton is one of many local businesses teaming up with the Greater Denton Arts Council to bring you "Arts All Night."
On Friday, March 27, 6 PM – Saturday, March 28, 9 AM join the party at the Patterson-Appleton Center for the Visual Arts (400 East Hickory St. Denton, TX). There will be music, art, food, prizes, and fun ... along with three opportunities to take a shortened version of a Ghosts of Denton tour.
So how much is that going to cost you? It is all free with donation (suggested minimum donation $10; children under 12 free). Those donations will help the Greater Denton Arts Council keep the arts alive in Denton.
But, I want to tell you about the dead!
So, here is what I am offering:
At 10:00 p.m., MIDNIGHT,and at 2:00 p.m.
LATE NIGHT FRIGHT! THREE different tours ... in the dead of night!
I will be offering a shortened tour at each time, with each getting progressively spookier! I'll share with you some of the places where we have (on the tour) had odd occurrences that cannot be explained. Each tour will include different stories, and no, it's NOT a full tour, yet it will give you a "taste" of the tales. But, it's "first come, first serve" and I can accommodate only thirty people on each tour.
We will be starting from the very haunted Visual Arts Center and return there at the end of the tour. That means you should wear your walking shoes! Ladies, those high heels will kill ya, and I don't need any more ghosts on the tour! Back at the Visual Arts Center, you can turn in your wristband for a chance to win a copy of Ghosts of Denton ... The History of the Mysteries in a Small Texas Town.
It's only available to those who attend Arts All Night ... and there is no extra charge for the tour.
Here is your chance to find out what Ghosts of Denton tours are like ... and support the arts in Denton at the same time. Be there!
[Note: If you are not a night owl, there will be a regular Ghosts of Denton tour at 8:00 p.m. on the 27th starting from Jupiter House Coffee. For that, you must have reservations, and you can make them here.]
What else will be going on at the Visual Arts Center that night? Here is the word from GDAC, but you should visit the website for Arts All Night or the Facebook Page for the Greater Denton Arts Council for more information and a schedule of events.
Featuring Brave Combo, J Paul Slavens, Vintage Jazz Society, SCRAP Denton, Visual Arts Society of Texas, Denton Handweavers, Norman Roscoe, Denton Celtic Dancers, UNT College of Music, Twice Upon a Time Storytellers, Texas Woman's University Department of Dance, Ghosts of Denton, Lily Taylor, Wanz Dover,Thin Line Fest, Reid Robinson, Mark Ridlen, Authentic Yoga Life and more.
Enjoy food and beverage by Crêpetopia Denton, Fire in the Hole Wood-Fired Pizza, Jupiter House Coffee, Royal's Bagels
Win prizes from A Creative Art STUDIO, Amyx Fine Jewelry, Art Glass Ensembles, Authentic Yoga Life, Barefoot Apparel, Beth Marie's Old Fashioned Ice Cream, Bookish Coffee, Calloway's Nursery, Candy Haven, Cookies by Design, Cupboard Natural Foods & Cafe, Denton Camera Exchange, Denton Community Theatre, Music Theatre of Denton, Greater Denton Arts Council, Hannah's Off the Square - Denton, TX, Mellow Mushroom Denton, Sub Shack, West Oak Coffee Bar...AND Ghosts of Denton!
October is here at last! This Halloween season, some of the tours are filling up fast, as people make their advance reservations. Perhaps it's time for you to make your reservations, too? I only take 30 people around the square in an evening tour (that's for your enjoyment), so advance tickets are required.
As usual, there will be Ghosts of Denton tours each Friday and Saturday throughout the month of October. Be aware that (as of this moment) Saturday, October 4th tour is sold out. Saturday, October 11th has 9 spots remaining, and Saturday, October 18th has 10 spaces left.
In addition to the regular tours, I am offering extra tours during the week of Halloween! There will be tours on the following dates:
If you would like a private tour on a different date, contact me. If I'm available, I'd be thrilled to book a party of 10 or more on a different night.
I'm taking a teeny-tiny vacation on July 19th, so there will be no ghost tour that night. Yes, I am taking the night off ... but it's not a vacation from mayhem! I'm going on a murder mystery tour! On a train!
I've never gone to one of those "murder mystery" parties, so I'm pretty jazzed about it. It is put on by the Austin Steam Train Association. I was hoping the cars would be pulled by a steam engine ... but no. A diesel engine will pull it (go figure) but at least it's a train. How cool is that?
The Austin Steam Train has several different day trips that they offer (so you might want to check them out). However, I jumped on board when I saw this headline:
You Scream, I Scream, We All Scream …MURDER!
Here is the info about it:
"The happy go lucky ‘90’s weren't all that carefree - at least not for a family whose fortune hinges on a brand new ice-cream recipe. Their mid-summer celebration to unveil their new flavor is marred by murder! Who killed the patriarch of pistachio parfaits? Was it his seemingly vanilla daughter? Did the ad-man turn “madman?” Enjoy this ride with plenty of treats and a side of sweet, sweet revenge! Your ticket includes entertainment, box dinner, beer, and wine. Guests ages 17 and older only please! ALL SEATS ARE RESERVED AND PRE-ASSIGNED BY THE TICKET AGENT. All trains are pulled by our 1960 Alco diesel locomotive."
Do you envy me? Yeah, the introduction is a little silly, but I bet it will be fun. And, I think you might still be able to get tickets. Here is a link to all their events: http://www.austinsteamtrain.org/events
Come and go with me. But, remember that you won't find me telling ghost stories on the Square on July 19th. I'll be chugging down the tracks eating ice cream and screaming, "MURDER!"
At last the Texas weather is warming a bit ... and ghost tours are continuing every Friday and Saturday night. Sure, there are occasional exceptions, but about the only thing that keeps me away from the square are pouring down rain, ice, or work out of town. Watch the Facebook page to keep up to date.
LATE NIGHT FRIGHT!
I'm doing a special event, with 25% of the proceeds to benefit the Tejas Storytelling Association. They have their 29th annual storytelling festival on the horizon.
In addition to my regular 8:00 tours, I'm experimenting with a tour at 10:30 (after the festival concerts end) on two nights only.
If you are a night owl, book reservations for a "Late Night Fright" tour on March 7th or 8th, and know you are helping out a good cause: Tejas Storytelling Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering the appreciation of storytelling as an oral tradition, a performing art, and an educational tool.
Baby, it's cold outside! The courthouse is likely to look exactly like this over the weekend.
I've told you that the Ghosts of Denton tour is year-round, and it is, but there are times that it just isn't smart to walk around in the Texas weather. This weekend is likely to be one of those times! The weather forecasters are predicting a wintry mix for the entire weekend.
I know, I know ... you can't always believe the weather forecast ... but it is better to be safe than sorry. I don't want you in an accident while you try to get here. We don't need any more ghosts on the Denton Square!
To that end, I am cancelling the tour for the weekend of December 6th and 7th. Stay warm and dry. Maybe mix up a batch of wassail?
Meanwhile, I am working on gathering new stories about some haunted places on the square that are not yet on the tour! Perhaps I will have those for you by the weekend of December 13th and 14th ... when we will try again.
Ghosts of Denton is teaming up with ASUP, Inc. (Association of the Study of Unexplained Phenomenon) to bring YOU the opportunity to investigate "GOAT MAN'S BRIDGE!" ASUP is a TAPS family member (TAPS= the television show "Ghost Hunters.") No, this won't be filmed, but it's going to be fun!
Nearly every investigative team that has gone to the Old Alton Bridge (aka "Goat Man's Bridge") has experienced paranormal activity. I expect the we will, too! If you would like to join us, now is the time.
When? Saturday, October 5th
We will have a training session during the early afternoon in Denton, so that YOU can learn to use the investigative equipment, Then we will caravan to Old Alton Bridge while it is still daylight (so we can acclimate ourselves to the area) ... and when it gets dark the spooky fun begins!
Ticket price: $30/person
Participants must be 18 years of age, and you will be asked to fill out a liability release waiver at check-in.
"So, how do I sign up?" you ask.
Well, you are going to pay ASUP. They are a non-profit organization, and you can pay via credit card or PayPal. Follow this link http://asupinc.webs.com/.
In September, we will e-mail you with more information. If you have any questions, call me or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
RESERVATIONS ARE LIMITED, AND IT'S ABOUT HALF FULL RIGHT NOW, SO HURRY!
In the course of telling my ghost stories on the square, I rarely have time to share a folktale. However, today I shared a story about the history of the outlaw Sam Bass, and his connection to Denton on This Eclectic Life. It got me thinking about the many tales I have heard about Sam Bass which described him as the Robin Hood of Texas.
As the folklorist J. Frank Dobie said, “Stories about Sam Bass by people of adverse feelings seem not to persist. What people like to believe does.”
Here is one of the tales I heard about him. It’s one I would like to believe:
Back in the early days of Denton, a widow woman tried to scratch out a living in the western part of the county. Times were difficult since her husband passed, and she was barely able to get along. In fact, that very day she expected the banker to come and throw her off her own land, because she didn’t own the deed. She certainly couldn't pay off the land.
But, until Trouble showed up, the chores still had to be done. She was feeding the chickens in her front yard. Her apron, full of feed, was bunched up in her hands as she scattered the seeds barely choking back tears of worry. Glancing up, she saw two men on horseback riding into her yard --- both of them strangers to her.
One of those young men had a grin that would charm the socks off of an alligator. When that sandy-haired boy took off his hat and smiled at her, it warmed her heart. He reminded her of her own son who had gone off to fight the Yankees and never came back. He said, “Ma’am, could you spare some water and maybe a bit of grub for a couple of hungry travelers?”
Although she didn’t have much to spare, it was a crime to send away a hungry stranger … and she did like his smile. Quicker than a duck jumps on a June bug, that woman took off her dirty apron, washed her hands, and mixed up a batch of biscuits. While the biscuits baked, she slapped some hog grease in the fry pan, coaxed some milk out of the cow, and whipped up some cream gravy.
Those boys sat at her table with biscuits, gravy, and a glass of cool water from the well. As they ate, they praised her cooking as if it were a fancy meal in a high dollar restaurant. But, that sandy haired boy was perceptive, and he noticed her worry.
He said, “Ma’am, have you got troubles?”
That was all it took. With a little sympathy, she poured out the tale of how that banker was going to throw her off land that she and her dead husband had worked for years. She told him she didn’t know what in Thunder she was going to do, and she had no where to go.
The young man, wiped his mouth with his sleeve, and reached into his pocket. “Well, ma’am,” he said, “I reckon we ought to pay you for this fine feed you put on for us.” He pulled out ten $20 gold pieces and put them on the table. With a grin he said, “That should help a bit.”
That old woman was flabbergasted. She said, “Son, that’s too much! You don’t owe me that!”
The young man shook his head, patted her hand, and said, “Don’t you worry, Ma’am. What goes around comes around. You give that money to the banker.” With that, the boys climbed on their horses and rode away.
Later that afternoon, that banker did indeed ride out from town. He fully intended to give that old woman the boot, but when she pulled out those gold coins and plunked them on the table his eyes glittered. He was more than happy to sign over the land to her and take that woman’s money, because that was what he wanted in the first place.
The banker rode away whistling, because he was pretty pleased with himself. All was right with the world … at least it was until he came around the bend to find the pathway blocked by two strangers on horseback.
One of them, a sandy-haired fellow with a big grin, pulled a gun on the banker and called out, “Mister, it’s your money or your brains.”
The banker said, “I assure you I don’t have any money!”
The young man said, “I’d say you don’t have any brains, either. If you don’t have money, prove it!” They made that banker get off of his horse and strip down to his underdrawers. Those boys found the money, all right. They took the gold, his boots, his coat, his gun, his watch, his hat, and his britches. Then they grabbed the reins of his horse and turned to head down the road.
The banker hollered, “What’s going on here?” The sandy-haired fellow grinned and said, “Mister, what goes around comes around.”
As those boys turned to ride away, the banker yelled, “Who are you, anyway?”
That fellow turned around and tipped his hat. He said, “Mister, I’m Sam Bass … and you can kiss my ass!” And, away he rode to his next adventure.
As I prepare for the upcoming ghost tours of Denton (which begin on Friday, March 22nd --- which is tomorrow!), I realize what a debt I owe to the woman below.
Her name is Emily Fowler, and she created the beginnings of a genealogical/historical section in the Denton Public Library system that is fantastic! Seriously, if you are tracing your family tree, or delving into the history of Texas, our libraries are the place to go. It's where I do most of my digging to unearth ghostly tales and the history surrounding the places they occur (although I also owe a huge debt to our Courthouse-Museum-on-the-Square). At the Emily Fowler Public Library, there is a section of ephemera in the vertical files that is astounding. Helpful librarians will gladly lead you to anything you want to find.
Emily Fowler worked tirelessly during her lifetime to support Denton's public libraries from 1943 until 1969, when she retired. Although she died in 1971, it is said that she still resides at the library that bears her name! She is still supporting the library!
Personally, I have never "met" Emily Fowler's ghost, but there are plenty who have. Librarians who work there, and people who knew Mrs. Fowler, have claimed to have experienced strange occurrences which they attribute to her. Several groups of Paranormal Investigators have visited the library overnight and recorded evidence of a haunting at the Emily Fowler library. It seems that Emily found a job she never wants to leave!
I'll happily tell you the stories of Emily Fowler on one of the ghost tours. And, I will tell you many more tales of Denton's ghosts. In fact, over the last few months I have collected more new ghostly tales than I can possibly tell in a 90 minute tour! I may have to create a second tour. Come out and join me on a Friday or Saturday night. I'd love to tell you about my town and the librarian who never checked out!
As I've been busily researching new tales to tell on the Ghosts of Denton tour, my eyes are bleary from comparing old photographs to try to determine what businesses once occupied the blocks! Today, I'm looking at the West side of the square. The first picture was taken in 1880 (you can find them on the Portal to Texas History). I think you can click on it to make it larger, but I won't know until I've published the post.
Visible businesses in this photo from the left to the right: C. M. Greenlee (which was a dry goods store), Drug Store, H. J. Howell: Jeweler, Health Office, Houston Stiff Saloon, The Chronicle's offices, W. H. Cleveland Groceries, Carpets, J. B. Schmitz Furniture, Opera House, Carter and Benners Grocers, Land Office; A. D. Beaty, Tin Shop, C. F. Sanders and Company's Saddles and Harness.
Can you see any changes that happened in just six years? This second picture was taken at the funeral of Judge W.J. Austin, on Sept 8, 1888.
I'm comparing those pictures to the map of Denton (taken for fire and insurance purposes) from 1885. Yes, I'm developing a permanent squint!
Now, I just have to take these pictures with me down to the square and do some comparison. Are there ghostly tales on that west side? Well, yes there are! Come let me tell them to you. The fun begins this Friday night, March 22nd at 8:00. Tickets are available on-line (via PayPal) or at Jupiter House Coffee on the east side of the square. I hope to see you there!
I wish you could have seen my husband and I dancing around in the dark trying to take pictures of this building. I wanted the photograph to look spooky, but we had to position the car headlights just right. We must have tried six times. Though I have a wonderful story to share with you on the tour of just how haunted this building is, the scariest thing that night was our attempt at photography.
This was once the Le Blair Hotel, and I gave you a bit of its history on my regular blog, This Eclectic Life. I can't wait to get to tell the whole story to an audience for real.
Although I am going to tell the tale on the tour, I'm not sure I will walk people to it ... it's a couple of blocks from the square on pretty bumpy sidewalks with low lighting. Getting to see it in the dark would add to the chills, but I don't want anyone to trip or get run over, because we don't need any more ghosts on the square!
Next week it begins! On Friday, March 22nd, be at Jupiter House on the Square a bit before 8:00. I'll be rarin' to go.
Release the Kraken!
Shelly has been a professional storyteller for 27 years. You don't even have to twist her arm and she will tell you a story.