It’s that time of year. The sun sets a bit earlier each day. Cool evening breezes bring with them strange rustling sounds in the night, while indistinguishable shadows dance beneath the full moon. It’s almost Halloween in Tomball, Texas.
By day the City of Tomball, 25-miles northwest of Houston, is filled with thriving antique and specialty shops, mom-and-pop eateries, entertainment and a quality of life that makes living in a small town special.
Despite the lively daytime activities here and in communities just a short drive away, it’s rumored that after dark the surrounding countryside is filled with a nightlife better suited for those who have crossed over. No, not into Montgomery County . . . those who have passed away, yet feel the need to remain in Tomball.
THE MUSEUM MYSTERY
Nestled in the heart of the popular Tomball Museum Center with its historic homes, log cabin, church, one-room school house and farm museum is the Griffin Memorial House.
Built about 1860 by Eugene Pillot, a renowned builder along the Texas Gulf Coast, the Griffin House is a beautifully restored example of Civil War era architecture complete with its own apparition in the attic.
Museum Director, Charles Hall shared with me the story of a female spirit in the Griffin House that has circulated for years. As the story goes the figure of a woman dressed in period clothing has been seen in the upper reaches of the home and more than once rocking quietly back and forth in her rocking chair in the parlor.
The ghost is thought to be the 21-year-old daughter of the Faris family who once lived in the home. The mysterious cause of the young woman’s death has never been determined.
SPRING CREEK SPECTERS
During the Civil War a Confederate powder mill sat in what is now Spring Creek Park, just a short drive from downtown Tomball. It was there Texans loyal to the Confederacy worked around the clock making cannon powder for the rebel army’s artillery pieces.
In 1864 a horrific explosion destroyed the facility killing three men working there. The force of the blast was so great that a huge crater was created that over time filled with water and became a popular swimming hole for locals.
Despite rumors of spirits at the pond and in the surrounding woods, the lure of the cool dark water continued to draw swimmers to the powder mill site willing to risk a ghostly encounter for a quick dip. Unfortunately for some that decision ended in their death. After several curious drownings the powder mill pond was fenced, but the rumors remain even today among park-goers and overnight campers.
A paranormal investigation was conducted at Spring Creek Park in 2008 with results showing evidence of unexplained responses to questioning, shadowy images and psychic impressions. Could these have been the spirits of deceased soldiers of the Confederacy, drowning victims or possibly both?
Historic old cemeteries surround Tomball. From the Pillot plots and the Salem Lutheran Church cemetery, to the Magnolia’s community cemetery and others in Klein and Spring, exploring the final resting places of founding fathers and mothers can be an adventure . . . especially after dark.
A story circulated on the Internet involves the Dowdell cemetery just east of downtown Tomball on FM 2920. It’s said that a group of friends looking for a graveyard “gotcha” parked their car outside the locked gate of the cemetery late one night.
It wasn’t long before they heard the sound of approaching footsteps through the open windows. As the sound grew louder the group peered into the darkness but saw nothing. The sound continued to “walk”around the car, pausing at the rear, then slowly move away into the night.
Minutes later, as they sat there talking about their creepy encounter, a green light flashed through the cemetery and the chained gate began to rattle on its own. The terrified group drove back into Tomball and later that night found unexplained handprints in the dust on the back window of their hatchback.
The days around Halloween tend to make one wonder a bit more about things that go bump in the night; things to be explored after dark, or better yet, left alone. Welcome to Tomball, y’all.
Michael Baxter is the TexasTravelin’ Man
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