Texas Living

Spooky Texas Ghost Stories to Tell Around the Campfire

By Peter Simek 6.4.18

Some of Texas’ first ghost stories must have been told along the cattle trail. Cowboys sitting around a campfire, listening to the sound of their herds off in the distance, would have wondered what mysteries and dangers lay just outside their campfire’s little ring of light.

The strange new land was already familiar with Native American stories and Spanish and Mexican folklore. But as the state developed, the folklore morphed into tales of Wild West murders, jilted lovers’ quarrels, and mysterious happenings.

Today, Texas is filled with places rumored to be haunted, from old asylums and hotels to spooky woods and historic sites. Here are some of our favorites to tell around today’s summer campfire. Just add marshmallows.

Presidio La Bahía, Goliad

Spanish explorers founded a small outpost at Goliad in 1721. More than a hundred years later, the settlement became the site of numerous Texas Revolution battles and skirmishes. Most notorious was the Goliad massacre. After the Battle of Goliad, somewhere between 425 and 445 prisoners were killed by the Mexican army. For years, visitors to the old stone settlement have told stories of screams and wailing emanating from inside. Some even reported having seen apparitions of soldiers on the fort grounds.

The Lady of White Rock Lake, Dallas

It has happened to numerous drivers who pass by Dallas’ White Rock Lake. Often on cool October evenings, a woman appears on the side of the road. She is dressed fashionably but is soaking wet. The driver stops. She asks for a ride. He lets her get in. As they drive, he learns her story. She was out on the lake in a boat when it tipped over. “Out on the lake this time of night?” The driver turns, and the woman is gone. All that is left is a puddle of water in the backseat. The woman died forty years earlier in a boating accident.

Baker Hotel, Mineral Wells

When the Baker Hotel opened in 1929, it was an attractive destination for tourists looking to enjoy the town’s famed medicinal mineral waters. But soon, mishaps began to darken the mood of the hotel. The lover of a hotel manager threw herself off the hotel, and a man was killed when he got stuck in the elevator door. Today, both are said to haunt the hotel. The woman has been spotted on the seventh floor, while the ghost of the man who died in the elevator has been seen throughout the now-shuttered hotel.

Jefferson Hotel, Jefferson

In the 1870s, a bride-to-be named Elizabeth checked into the Jefferson Hotel. But after her fiancé did not show up, Elizabeth was found dead: She hanged herself in Room 19. Since then, the Jefferson has been haunted by the woman and several other ghostly spirits. Staff tell stories of ghosts locking rooms, moving objects, hurling things, and turning lights on and off. Some hotel employees confess that they were skeptical of the stories when they first started working at the hotel, but after these incidents began to repeat weekly or monthly — or they saw the ghosts themselves — they became believers.

State Highway 35, Angleton

In 1833, a man named Brit Bailey died and left a list of odd requests for his burial. Bailey wanted to be buried standing up, facing west, and holding his gun over his shoulder. It was a gesture of symbolic importance for the Texas frontiersman, and his compatriots obliged. Only they forgot one important part of the request. Bailey wanted to be buried with a jug he could carry into the afterlife. For more than a hundred years, drivers along State Highway 35 between Angleton and West Columbia have spotted an old man wandering along the road looking for a drink.

If you’re getting spooked, these tips will help keep you safe around your fire pit or campfire

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