Old Town Spring's historic streets may set the scene for a quaint shopping village, but they also serve as byways for one of the most haunted towns in Texas. A perfectionist past the end, Uncle Charlie still fusses around the historic Wunsche Brothers Café, the oldest commercial structure in the area. The spirit of a girl who died in a barn still plays with her group of friends in Doering Court, while a headless switchman runs after phantom trains trying to prevent a collision. Her path lit by unknown lights in the sky, author Cathy Nance leads the way through Old Town Spring's spookiest sites.
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About the Author
Cathy Nance is the founder and case manager of Woodlands Paranormal. As an intuitive and empath, Cathy has been on a lifelong journey to help others and to explore and learn about everything she had an interest in. She has used her gifts as the case manager of Oklahoma Paranormal Research and Investigation (OKPRI), Society of the Haunted and then Woodlands Paranormal, where she counsels the group's clients and manages the group.
After several near-death experiences at the age of three, she began to have strange things happen that no one could explain. She would dismiss anything strange, because she thought she was tired, or she would rationalize it to fit the most logical explanation. Cathy grew up in the church and found some explanations through priests and her religious studies. She says, "As I got older, I moved into a very old home with paranormal activity and couldn't always explain it away. I started seeking more answers by reading everything I could get my hands on as well as asking questions from anyone who would talk about it. I took some classes in parapsychology, became even more devout in my church and spirituality."
Her work in the paranormal has led her to be featured on Animal Planet's television show The Haunted as well as My Ghost Story on the Biography Channel, Ghosts and Legends of Oklahoma on Ghosttales Television Network and multiple other film projects.
Apart from her paranormal interests, Cathy is the owner and photographer of Cathy Nance Studios, located in Old Town Spring, Texas. Photography is one of the mediums she uses to create art for her clients. Her art and photography have been displayed in various galleries. She is also a nurse and an accomplished pastry chef.
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Spring Historical Museum
403 Main Street Spring, TX 77373
In front of the building there is a path with a sitting area around a fountain. A historical marker, placed there on July 18, 2004, states:
Initially a farming community supported by sugar cane and cotton crops, Spring was platted by the Houston & Great Northern Railroad in 1873. That same year, Callahan Pickette became the town's first postmaster. Spring served as the commercial center for the surrounding area during the early 1900s and a focal point for German settlers including Carl Wunsche, who was instrumental in the town's development. A new rail line reached Spring in the early 20th century, and the addition of a roundhouse and railway shops created an import rail center for the growing community. Developer R.I. Robinson subdivided land south of the original town and the commercial area shifted to accommodate the rail junction. Railroads facilitated the development of the lumber industry, which boasted a number of mills, both large and small, in the boom era of lumber production. With the boom came the need for new businesses including hotels, saloons, an opera house, gambling houses, a hospital, and a bank. In 1907, residents established the Spring Independent School District. The loss of the roundhouse and the onset of Prohibition led to a decline in population. Ultimately, the saloons, hotels, and other rail-supported businesses closed in the 1920s. The dwindling community persisted, however, creating a volunteer fire department in the 1950s and sustaining the Spring ISD, which integrated in the mid-1960s. As the population began to grow again in the early 1970s, new businesses opened including many specialty shops. Spring continues to attract new residents and businesses, but retains its unique identity as a town with a strong German heritage and its link to early history.
This building was constructed in the 1940s as the Spring Church of Christ. Harris County acquired and remodeled it to serve as the courthouse. It housed the offices of the constable, deputy sheriff and highway patrol for many years. It was designated as a Texas Historical Landmark in 2003.
Today, it serves as the Spring Historical Museum, housing artifacts from Spring's past. One of those items is a hand-cranked 1900-era Victrola previously belonging to Marie Bailey. It is said that, mysteriously, it plays a song reportedly favored by the original owner. Bailey brought it when she traveled from St. Louis to be with a man named Albert Faetzhold, whom her father forbade her from seeing. They were wed despite her father's objections and lived their lives in Spring, where they were devoted to each other until their deaths in the 1970s. They loved spending nights listening to music and dancing.
Today, it is said that you can see a young couple dancing in each other's arms to the music on nights of full moons. The woman wears what looks like a lacy bridal gown. It is believed to be the couple just described. It has also been reported that, on several occasions, without explanation, the Victrola would start by itself and play. Sometimes, the music is heard right after the lights go off and the museum closes. Some members of the historical society say they have heard music or noises resembling the Victrola playing.
Sometimes, an object is so loved by the person who owned it that their energy gets imprinted or recorded on it. That kind of haunting is what is called a residual haunting. It's like a recording playing over and over when the conditions are right. Science doesn't yet understand what conditions are most favorable for this phenomenon.
In a residual haunting, the energy is somehow recorded — the mechanism of how it gets recorded or imprinted is not known. The recordings can be captured and imprinted on stone, as on old wood, slate or other materials, like iron nails or crystal quarts and many times have an underground water source. There is an unknown environmental condition that happens to record the event. We also don't know exactly the mechanism or sequence of events that will allow it to be replayed. Perhaps a heightened emotional state of a living person, high humidity or barometric pressure play a part; again, we don't know. If we did understand it, we would create that condition over and over again and study it in- depth to understand it. We do see some patterns. For example, a haunting is usually of an emotional nature — traumatic or violent.
When the playback of the event happens, energy is dispersed. The haunting is really a playback of an event that took place in the same spot. The haunting will happen often, at the same time of day, and the spirit does not interact with any person or the environment. The apparitions you may see are not intelligent spirits but recordings of the event.
When the playback of the event happens, energy is dispersed, and this can make doors open or shut, create noises or produce ghostly apparitions. Many famous hauntings are residual and not what we call intelligent. The most famous is the Brown Lady of Raynham Hall, photographed by Captain Hubert Provand and his assistant Indre Shira while they were taking pictures of the historic Raynham Hall for Country Life magazine in the late afternoon of September 19, 1936. The photo was the first known capture of a spirit. Lady Dorothy Walpole is the person thought to be the Brown Lady. She still walks the staircase, looking for her five children. Walpole was born in 1686 and "officially" died of smallpox in 1726.
Her tragic story began after her father refused to grant his consent for her to marry her first love, Charles Townshend, Second Viscount Townshend. Dorothy was married off to someone else then began an affair with Townshend. When her husband found out, he ordered that she be kept locked in her apartments at Raynham Hall. As further punishment, he prohibited her children from being around her. Unofficially, she died the age of forty of either a broken heart or a broken neck after being pushed down the grand staircase.
Another example of a residual haunting is the Treasurer's Grand House in York, England, which dates from the seventeenth or eighteenth century. This is the example I use most frequently to explain a residual haunting to clients. The city of York has stood since A.D. 71, when the Roman Ninth Legion built a fortress with six thousand soldiers. The house stands within the area of the old Roman barracks. The Minster Treasurers lived in this house until the Reformation. The last treasurer was William Cliff in 1547. The title was discontinued because there was no longer a need for a treasurer. The area of the house where residual hauntings can be witnessed is in the cellar. There, when conditions are right, Roman soldiers march two by two through the wall and into the opposite wall. These soldiers never interact with anyone; they only march where you can see it and hear it. Apparently, over the years, the soldiers' legs have gotten shorter, to the point that it looks like they are waking on their knees. You may be wondering why they would be on their knees. One day, the cellar was excavated, and the Roman road was found two feet beneath the floor.
The Tower of London's ghost of Queen Anne Boleyn is another great example. Anne could not bear a son for her husband, Henry VIII. He became convinced that their marriage was cursed. He had his eye on Jane Seymour, who eventually became his wife. She gave him a son, Edward VI (1537–1553). In order to get rid of Anne, Henry falsely accused her of treason, witchcraft, adultery and even incest with her brother. Five men accused of being with Anne eventually confessed under torture and were executed on Tower Hill on May 17, 1536. Anne was executed two days later. This emotional and violent series of events led to the residual haunting.
The guards, known as the "Yeomen of the Guard," have watched the tower since 1509. They have many stories of seeing the ghost of Anne. One guard reported watching Anne lead a courtly procession across the tower green and toward Tower Hill, where she had been executed. In another story, a group of guards saw her appear so close that one of them was able to poke into the apparition before it faded in front of them.
Sometimes, a house will be remodeled, but the activity of a residual haunting will remain. The spirit will walk through what was a door but is now a wall. It will climb stairs that were once there but have long since been removed, perhaps as a result of a fire. This activity continues to occur under the right conditions and usually at the same time of day. If the staircase in Raynham Hall is ever demolished, I am sure that, under the right conditions, people will continue to see the Brown Lady — this time, floating down on what would have been the stairs.
I hope you now have a better understanding of what a residual haunting is and know that there is no reason for anyone to be afraid of such residual activity. It is an amazing event that allows people to witness the past — much like watching a movie. The Spring Historical Museum houses many things from the past that could contain some amount of residual energy.CHAPTER 2
THE DOLL HOSPITAL
419 Gentry Street #102 Spring, TX 77373
The building housing the Doll Hspital is not original to Old Town Spring. Mary Ann Pizzolato, the owner of the doll hospital, tells me that nothing out of the ordinary has happened to her while she has been here. She does restoration and repair of old dolls. She believes that no doll is too old or too new to have work done. According to an article on the doll hospital's website taken from the Dallas Morning News, "Thousands of cracked, unstrung and disrobed dolls have sipped from the fountain of youth. The oldest ones date from the mid-1700s, when they were shaped by hand from sticky wax. There are 1950s bobby sox figures [and] Depression-era Shirley Temple dolls."
All of these beautiful dolls, many with long histories, are just waiting for a new home. But some people are afraid of dolls. Parapsychologist Peter James Haviland Acch of Lone Star Spirits talked to me about something in his field called "place memory," in which our psychic selves pick up on an event that is attached to an object. This could be all the love and happiness someone had while carrying a doll around, now a residual place memory. Someone can pick up an item like an old doll and feel happy. Many times, though, place memory is associated with a traumatic event. A person who fears dolls may want to avoid the doll hospital — all these dolls in one place. Most of the memories associated with the dolls are good, but perhaps some bad memories exist, as well.
I have had a few people tell me they investigated around the building and became scared and ran off. Old Town Spring has many such stories, but there are none about this particular store or any its dolls. Perhaps it was an irrational fear of dolls that made them think of investigating here. This fear is known as pediophobia. Paranormal investigator Tyler Brown has this fear of dolls. In 2014, his organization, Kingwood Paranormal Group (KPG), uploaded a video to YouTube of an investigation they did. They were running a ghost box session outside of the doll hospital, specifically because one of their members was deathly afraid of dolls.
A ghost box, also known as "Frank's box," is a useful tool in the investigation of the paranormal. The device is used to communicate with the spirit world. Ghost boxes are modified radios that constantly scan the airwaves, sweeping and bypassing channels instead of stopping on a specific station. It plays each one for a fraction of a second. My favorite time to listen is when there is more static, which is called "white noise," rather than slowly scanning the radio, when you really can discern the radio stations. The idea is that spirits can come through on whatever unknown frequency there is by which to communicate. We record these sessions with an audio recorder for later review. Sometimes, voices can be heard. The voices can respond to questions we ask. Over the years, we have had some interesting results with these sessions.
On the night of KPG's investigation, the members got multiple responses on the ghost box. (The results can be heard by searching the Internet for "Old Town Spring doll hospital" or "Kingwood Paranormal Group.") After turning on the ghost box, they asked the spirits, "Can you tell me how old you are?" They received responses of "five," "eight" and "eight." They next asked, "Do you like dolls?" and got the response "Gay, yes." They asked a couple more questions and then heard "Don't" when they asked if they could move one of the dolls. Tyler then asked if there were any evil dolls in the building. The response sounded like "You betcha." It was asked again if they could move one of the dolls. "Yes" was the response and, later, what sounded like "Tyler." Toward the end of the video, Tyler tells the spirits that he is going to shut the session down. What sounds like "Hold on" is then heard. These responses seem to be from something intelligent.
Intelligent responses seem to point to a possible haunting. There are stories from around the world of hauntings associated with items such as dolls, perhaps from voodoo rituals. One of the most famous instances is that of Robert the Doll, which was donated to the Key West Art and Historical Society. He is in a case in the Fort East Martello Museum and Gardens. This creepy-looking doll, four feet tall, is made from rags and stuffed with straw. It even has hair stitched on its head. It was given as a present in 1906 to a boy named Robert Eugene Otto by his former caretaker several days after they fired her. Soon after he received the present, Robert stopped using his first name. He told his parents that the doll wanted to be called Robert. This doll inspired the movie Child's Play and its character Chucky. It was reported by numerous sources that Robert the doll would move from one window to the next, talk, change facial expressions and move. Items were reported to be moved or broken. It was eventually put away in the attic by the boy's parents. Eugene Otto grew up, became a famous artist in Key West and eventually got married. His parents passed away, and the doll finally came out of the attic to spend its days with Eugene until 1974. It was then locked in a trunk and later found by new residents of the house. It terrified the couple's ten-year-old daughter and was then donated to the Key West Art and Historical Society.
Today, people come to see the famous doll and are warned about taking pictures — unless Robert gives his permission by tilting his head or by following a strict protocol. First, you must introduce yourself; second, take the photograph; finally, thank Robert when you're done, or else bad things will happen. People from all over the world have written to Robert, including a letter from America's forty-third president, George W. Bush. Most of the letters involve people begging the doll for forgiveness for taking its picture without permission. Museum employees tell of finding the doll in various locations around the museum. One worker says that the doll attacked him one evening during a thunderstorm. The man, who was then in his seventies, said he never returned to the museum. He told one of the paranormal investigation groups that he was sitting at his desk one night when he saw the doll run across the room and hop up on the end of the desk where he was sitting. According to the man, the doll was very much alive, giggling a weird laugh and telling him that he would die that night. One of his coworkers said that, the next morning, Robert was found lying on the floor of the museum.
There are no stories of hauntings of any of the dolls that have come through the doll hospital here in Spring. This is a unique place to visit and spend time looking at all the dolls, some of which are older and historical. Imagine owning a doll from the mid-1700s. All of the dolls need places to live and need your consideration in taking one home.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Haunted Old Town Spring"
Copyright © 2017 Cathy Nance.
Excerpted by permission of The History Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Part I A Walking Tour of Haunted Old Town Spring
Spring Historical Museum 17
The Doll Hospital 24
Resting in the World 28
The Blue Giraffe 31
Cathy Nance Studios 36
Brookwood Community Center 41
Envy Wine Room (Chakra Shop and Tarot) 44
Ellen's Café 48
The Dugout 55
Shabby Rose 59
Indigo Hair Studio 63
Crazy Mama's 66
Celtic Odyssey 70
Masterpiece Handcrafted Furniture 74
Spring State Bank 77
The Spotted Pony 83
Wunsche Brothers 88
Train Crossing 96
Zwink House 104
Masonic Lodge 107
Noble Street Tattoo Parlour 109
Spring Fire Station 112
Simply Texas 114
Social Knitwork 118
Sedona Joe's 125
The Greater Church of Lucifer 129
Rebel Birth 134
Black Sheep Bistro 137
The Well 139
Chakra Shop and Tarot 143
Yours Truly 146
Jailhouse Saloon 149
Thyme Square 152
Part II Drive Around Old Town Spring
Spring Cemetery 157
Bayer Lumber Yard 160
Bayer Home 163
Wunsche Family Cemetery 165
I-45 Diner 168
Part III Undisclosed Locations
It's All Up in the Air 173
The Sprite House 176
Right Around the Corner 179
Possession or Depression 183
About the Author 189