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Sunday, October 27, 2019

Ghost Stories of Kerr County

Ghostly shingle maker, splitting a cypress log.
Click on any image below to enlarge.
Since next Thursday is Halloween, I thought I'd share some ghost stories from my files:
Over the years I have heard numerous Kerr County tales of haunted mansions, scary cellars, and walking spirits. And once, when I was in middle school, a friend and I thought we saw a ghost downtown.
For many years residents of Delaney Hall at Schreiner University have reported seeing a young cadet, in military uniform, who appears, salutes, and then disappears. He's been known to open doors for students, as well.
Nearby, between Delaney Hall and the creek, are the seven grave markers of the Harris family who once lived on a farm there. The stones are flush to the ground, so they're hard to find, but stories are told about the air temperature being oddly colder at that spot. The grave monuments are not the originals – and the location of the actual graves may not be known. Perhaps Delaney Hall is the actual spot?
Several sites in downtown Kerrville have ghost stories attached to them.
Arcadia Theater, 1931
The old Arcadia Theater building once housed offices and shops on its second floor, including a jeweler who died in his little shop there. Some have claimed to hear the tapping of a small jeweler's hammer near the spot his workbench stood on the second floor.
The Kerr County courthouse is the spot of two separate stories:
The first involves a young couple who argued on the courthouse square, back in the late 1800s. Their disagreement turned deadly when the jealous young man shot and killed the woman, then later turned the gun on himself, right there in front of the old courthouse. Some people say, on moonless nights, you can see the pair in the shadows, and hear them bickering with each other, their argument never ending.
Haunted Kerr County Courthouse
The second story involves what was, for a while, the county jail. Looking at the front of the current courthouse, you'll notice a basement, two stories, and then a smaller third story at the top of the older part of the building. That third story was the county jail at one time. I've been up there -- it's creepy even in the daylight. County employees felt the old jail was haunted by an inmate who died in custody years ago. Some report the room has many strange noises, like keys turning a lock, or metal banging against the old steel bars.
Camp Verde Store
Camp Verde, south of Kerrville, is also a spot with many ghost stories. Some have seen a ghostly line of camels, walking in line, passing through the trees and shrubs near the old fort. Others have seen troops running across the bridge there.
Workers at the Camp Verde Store used to have stories of a ghost in the basement, an apparition they called Ruthie. She was a Civil War-era spirit who was a regular customer of the store when she was alive; the old stories say, when she's agitated, Ruthie moves pictures on the wall, rearranges cash drawers, throws merchandise across the room. I read about Ruthie in an article published here fifteen years ago -- I'm not sure if she's still active there.
Charles Schreiner Mansion
I remember as a boy being convinced that the Charles Schreiner Mansion on Earl Garrett Street was haunted.
In those days it wasn't a museum. It was just a big vacant mystery, filled with cobwebs and the stale smell of an abandoned building.
Many years ago, on a blustery October night, a friend and I saw the flickering light of a candle moving from the second story windows of the turret room and heading slowly toward the store; the light moving steadily through the big ballroom on the upper floor. As it approached the last window, half-hidden by the bent pinion pine, it stopped and moved closer to the window pane. The oval of a face was faintly illuminated, a small man with a silver mustache. It peered through the window, out toward the street, and looked at us, two boys scared to death, as we stared from the little alley next to the old Masonic Building.
Our faces must have been white with fear. The eyes looked calmly at us. The lips moved slightly, forming a hint of a smile. And then suddenly the candle went out, and the window was black. My friend and I understood instinctively we needed to be moving along, with haste, so I don't know what became of the old kind face in the window. Maybe it's there tonight, looking out across Earl Garrett Street, waiting for those two boys to come back.
Ghosts -- do you believe in them? I know some folks who do, who've seen and heard some strange things. One thing is for sure: ghosts sure make a good story.
Happy Halloween to everyone.
Until next week, all the best.

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Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who has heard some strange things at the print shop after dark, a sure signal it’s time to go home for the night. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times October 26, 2019.

I have two books available, both filled with historic photographs of Kerr County.  Both books are available at Wolfmueller's BooksHerring Printing Company, and online by clicking HERE.

1 comment:

  1. Ghost stories teach us how much we just do not understand about the world beyond. Daddy died on Dec 30, 2017. I have seen several unexplained things since then and know he is around. This gives me peace, not a sense of unrest as I believe God allows this to comfort me. When I moved into an apartment last Winter, I stood there in the twilight, surrounded by unpacked boxes, I wondered if this was the right thing for me. It was dreary and cold outside and I felt weary and down. I wished I could talk to Daddy. On this night, I really needed him. Ever since he died, I'd looked for a photo he always carried in his wallet. This photo showed a young hula dancer on the beach in Hawaii - a memento from his days in WWII in the Navy. Mom and I searched every bag of photos, every box, for nearly two years. That night, standing there alone in the twilight, I heard a soft whoosh. I had placed my bag of selected photos on the kitchen counter; favorites I planned to frame. As the bag fell to the floor, two old photos slid out, face down. I picked them up and one was a photo of Daddy in his Navy uniform, he was probably 17 years old. The other was the Hula dancer. Thanks Daddy.


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