GHOSTLY-MOSTLY

Tales of ghosts, superstitions, and such

Ghost Tale from Beaumont, Texas

“Would you like to hear my ghost story,” the teacher asked.

I replied, “Is fat meat greasy?”

“Huh?” he said. Obviously he didn’t “get” that this was a “yes.”

I had just finished performing for his High School students, in a school near Beaumont, Texas. I told them several ghost stories from different parts of The Lone Star State and, as is often the case, I got swarmed after the show by kids who wanted to tell me about the ghosts they have heard about or even seen. I’m accustomed to that, but I just didn’t expect it from the teacher!

“When I was a teenager, a bunch of us went out ghost hunting on Jap Road,” he told me. But, I had to interrupt him with, “Did I hear you correctly? Is that the name of the road?”

“Yes,” he said. “They called it ‘Jap Road’ back then, but in the last few years there was a lot of controversy about it. I think they changed the name to ‘Japanese Road.” [Note: actually it was changed to “Boondocks Road“]

“Anyway, we had been told that if we drove down Jap R…, excuse me, Japanese Road late at night we would see an orange ball of light rushing toward us out of the darkness. It would disappear before it got near.”

“Wait,” I said. “That sounds like some of the legends surrounding Bragg Road, near Saratoga. Folks in Hardin County have been claiming to have seen ghost lights since the time of the Civil War.”

“Yeah,” he shrugged. “We may have had our urban legends mixed. But, we still went out there and drove up and down the road all night. We didn’t see a thing. No lights. Nothing exciting.”

“We decided to head back home, and we turned around. We hadn’t gone far when we saw one huge headlight that was smack dab in the center of the road. It was coming straight for us, so we pulled over to let them pass.”

antique tractor

“It turned out to be an old-time tractor chugging down the road,” he said. “The old coot that was driving it just stared straight ahead … he didn’t even wave to thank us for pulling over. He didn’t look at us at all.”

“As soon as he got past us, we pulled back on the road. All of us were complaining about how rude the geezer was. Then someone said, ‘Hey wait a minute! Did you hear that tractor when it went past us?’ None of us had heard a sound at all! We turned to look, and that tractor had completely disappeared! But, we ALL saw it.”

The man who told me this story swore up, down and sideways that it really happened. He and his buddies went on the wrong road looking for ghostly lights, and they saw a different ghostly light altogether. I’ve been searching to see if I could find out about other people seeing strange things on Boondocks Road (formerly known as “Jap Road”). So far, I’ve got nothing.

If you know anything about a haunting on that road, or know of any ghostly stories from that area, I would love to hear them!


Photograph courtesy of Portal to Texas History. Oliver Lug Wheel Tractor, Photograph, 1930-1940; digital image, (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth222752/ : accessed February 10, 2014), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Danish Heritage Preservation Society, Danevang, Texas.

Ghosts AND Gators At Goat Man’s Bridge

They say that if you go to Old Alton Bridge at midnight, and honk twice, that you will see the glowing red eyes of The Goat Man! They claim that some teenagers have gone out to explore the bridge at night and went missing, never to be seen again! Stories go that those teenagers were victims of The Goat Man’s Revenge — or maybe of “something else” just as sinister!

Old Alton Bridge

That’s what “they” say about “Goat Man’s Bridge.” Around Denton, as the spooky season of Halloween draws near, droves of mischievous inquisitive teenagers (and truckloads of adults) drive south of town to an iron truss bridge that has long been closed to anything but foot traffic. Their goal is to see the ghost of The Goat Man. There are many legends about The Goat Man that, like the tale I told of Nurse Betty yesterday, are great for slumber party chills and thrills. I’ve included the most plausible story below, and it might be best to just sit around and tell tales. But, if you are an adventurous soul and decide to head out there in the dead of night with a group of friends, I want you to be thinking more about gators than ghosts! Gators could be the sinister “something else!”

723-pound-alligator

Have y’all been seeing the pictures in the news of the huge gators that are being caught in Louisiana? This one isn’t a record breaker … it’s only 723 pounds, and a 13 foot long, 727 pound alligator was caught an hour later!

Thirteen feet long, eh? Well, take a gander at the picture below. It was shared with me by local resident Bill Colville. The picture was taken at Old Alton Bridge in 2008, and shows an alligator footprint. The game warden said that the alligator was probably between 13 and 16 feet long!!

gator print at Old Alton Bridge

Hopefully, that will make you cautious if you go to the bridge at night. Come to think of it, maybe you just want to share the story below around a comfy campfire in your back yard? Or, come with me on a Ghosts of Denton haunted tour. There are no alligators downtown, but there are plenty of ghosts.

The most plausible story of the Goat Man that I have found tells of a black man by the name of Oscar Washburn, who lived with his family in a cabin near the bridge. “Plausible,” but is it true? I’m not so sure. Here is the way the story is told:

Oscar Washburn raised goats, earning his money selling the meat and the milk. In fact, he made quite a decent living … which angered some of the white farmers in the area. They didn’t like goats in the first place, and they didn’t like people of color. It bothered those fellows that a black man was prospering more than they were. When Oscar put a sign on the bridge, with an arrow pointing to his home, which stated, “This way to the Goat Man,” it was the final straw for those men. They decided it was time for Oscar Washburn to learn a lesson, and they planned to teach it to him.

Dressed in the white cloaks and hoods of the Ku Klux Klan, these men drove out to the bridge in August of 1938. They turned off their lights to cross the bridge so that Oscar Washburn wouldn’t hear them coming to get him. The men dragged Washburn out of his house and down to the bridge, where they slipped a noose over his head and tossed him over the rails to lynch him. However, when they looked over the side to admire their handiwork, the noose swung empty! In a rage that Washburn had somehow managed to escape the fate they had planned for him, the men swarmed back to Washburn’s home and burned it down — with his family inside!

To this day, the ghost of Oscar Washburn, the Goat Man, haunts to bridge hoping to get his revenge.

EEEeek! A hair raising story, indeed! That story sounds like it could have happened. In fact, a man on my ghost tour said, “I know the story is true because my Grandfather told it to me. He was living here then and remembered it happening.”

Perhaps. I’m not saying his Granddaddy is lying. Granddaddies never lie, they just sometimes “embroider the truth.” And, memories can be faulty. You can believe it if you want, but I think it’s just a spooky legend.

I’m not saying that the bridge isn’t haunted. It is! In fact, paranormal investigators in the area say that it definitely has spooky activity, and they never fail to experience haunted happenings there. However, if there was a Goat Man, he probably wasn’t named “Oscar Washburn,” and it probably didn’t happen in the time frame that is mentioned. Two years of searching records show me that facts don’t support the story the way it is told.

If you go out to the Old Alton Bridge this Halloween to find out for yourself, take bug spray, a flashlight, and be on your guard. You could probably outrun a gator (some say that they can only run 8 or 9 miles per hour) and he probably wouldn’t attack you in the first place (alligators prefer an easy meal that they can swallow in one bite) … but don’t take chances! There is more to fear than ghosts at Goat Man’s Bridge — there are gators.

And, since 2008 that thirteen to sixteen foot alligator has had time to grow…

Nurse Betty. The Ghost of Flow Memorial Hospital.

Flow Hospital

On Scripture Street in Denton, a medical facility called Flow Memorial Hospital was erected back in 1950. For thirty-six years it serviced the needs of the community of Denton County, before it went bankrupt and closed. It hadn’t been around long before ghost stories were being told concerning it! The ghost who was said to haunt it was called “Nurse Betty.”

Flow Hospital Nurses

Those who claim to have seen her say that she dressed in a style typical of nurses in the 1950s and 1960s. Betty didn’t wear scrubs, but a white uniform and cap. She wasn’t a frightening ghost, but rather an apparition which more often soothed and protected people.

The story surrounding her is a rather generic ghost tale. It’s suitable for slumber parties:

There was once a young nurse named “Betty” who worked at the hospital. Her beauty caught the attention of many of the doctors, but she fell head-over-heels for one in particular. They began to date “on the sly,” because he was already married. When Betty found herself “in the family way,” abortion was not a legal option. The doctor took it upon himself to abort his own child. Secretly, at night, with no nurses to assist, the doctor performed the abortion. But, without proper instruments he had no way of knowing that Betty was bleeding internally. She bled out in the elevator and died before he got her to the first floor. After that, Betty haunted the halls of Flow Memorial Hospital.

That story of a botched abortion sounds suspiciously like a tale told about a ghost named “Wanda” who is said to be at Bruce Hall at the University of North Texas. It also sounds like a dozen other ghost stories told around the country! Is it true? Probably not … but there seems to be a consensus that Flow Memorial Hospital was haunted. Patients and staff believed that it was, and because the ghost had to have a name, folks called her “Betty” and recounted that tale. From the stories I’ve been told of personal encounters with the spirit, I wonder if more than one entity haunted the facility!

Flow Memorial from Portal to Texas History

Flow Hospital was closed in 1986. For awhile, the building was used by other agencies but it was finally demolished and replaced by an apartment complex for University Students called City Parc at Fry Street (evidently it was named by someone who didn’t have spell check on their computer … they do spell it “Parc”).

Some people claim that Nurse Betty still haunts that area (helping people in need) … but nurses and doctors claim that she packed up and moved when the hospital staff did and now haunts a different hospital! Is Betty in two places at one time … or was there more than one ghost? The stories I have heard have been fascinating.

I share those stories on my haunted history tour. I also share my own encounter with “Nurse Betty,” although I didn’t know it was ghostly for more than twenty years, because I had never heard her story. I thought, at the time, that it was medication that caused what I experienced.

Visit the website for Ghosts of Denton and make your reservations (the tour sizes are limited, so don’t delay) to hear about Nurse Betty and dozens of other reported hauntings in Denton. I have so many stories now, that I give a different tour on Friday than I do on Saturday. Usually I tell about Betty on Saturday, but if you request it I can be persuaded to share her tale on Friday. Come and visit … and if you have ghostly tales of Betty then you can share, too!


Thanks to Laura Douglas of the Emily Fowler Library for photos of Flow Memorial Hospital and the nurses there. The second picture of Flow is from the Portal to Texas History http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth25313/m1/1/?q=flow