There are those who believe in ghosts, those who don’t and those who really don’t know what to think about the stories they hear about things going bump in the night.
East Texas is no different than any other location in the world when it comes to tales of ghostly apparitions, strange noises and things which cannot be easily explained.
Most of us heard stories told by elders about things they had seen, or in many cases, stories they had heard about which scared the daylights out of us.
In every community there is at least one rundown abandoned home that neighborhood kids swear is haunted and one rite of passage is to go inside the home to prove your courage.
But even adults have stories, such as the Ghost of the Smith County Jail.
Former Sheriff J.B. Smith said a woman hung herself in the old jail on top of the Smith County Courthouse some years ago, and ever since her death many people have “felt a presence,” or heard someone walking behind them when no one was there.
Smith said he wasn’t sure if the place was indeed haunted, but said some people believe the woman walks the halls at night and her spirit is strongest in her former jail cell.
At the Goodman Museum on Broadway, chamber music, such as that of an old waltz, has been heard and apparitions have been reported throughout the years, but Patricia Heaton, the current curator and director, said, since restoration was completed in 2010, all has been quiet.
“I guess they are happy with the renovations,” she said laughing.
Ms. Heaton said she has heard the music on three different occasions, but others have seen ghostly figures and one former employee had quit because of the activity he experienced years ago.
Another Tyler building believed by some to be haunted is the Wise Auditrioum at Tyler Junior College where a ghost named George is said to be roaming the theatre
According to local lore, George might be the ghost of a person who fell to his death from the light grid and he haunted the auditorium for years until TJC moved much of its productions to the Jean Browne Theatre in the Wise Cultural Arts Center.
But then it is believed by some that George also made the move.
Rounding out East Texas there is Goshen Cemetery in Eustace and the Killough Monument in Cherokee County.
Goshen Cemetery, a cemetery with roots before 1865, is where many locals claimed to have seen unexplained apparitions, but former cemetery board member Doris McGlaun said in a 2003 article the stories were false and the cemetery was not haunted.
“I don’t know about all the stories, but I can say the cemetery is not haunted,” she said at the time.
Killough Monument, between Tyler and Jacksonville, was the sight of the Killough Massacre, in which 18 members of several farming families were either slain or captured by Caddo Indians in 1838.
Recorded history of the incident indicates the Caddos were given the land in a 1836 treaty, but the Senate never ratified the treaty and it was declared null and void.
When the settlers moved into the area, the Caddos felt as if they had been duped by the government and attacked the unarmed farmers in the field.
Locals tell of a baby’s wails and the screams of those killed in 1838 filling the night air, but no authority figure chose to acknowledge the stories.
There are stories all over East Texas, such a bridge on Dean Church Road in Tyler where its been rumored a spirit will keep a car from starting if it is turned off on the bridge, and then there is the story of a bloodied woman in white carrying a knife on Old Bascom Road.
The story claims the woman stabbed her husband, thinking she killed him and took her own life. From time to time, the woman is seen, as she is hoping to finish off her husband, who survived her original attack.
Ms. Heaton said she first thought the goings on at the Goodman Museum were those of someone playing a prank, but she would come to believe there might be other entities in the stately southern mansion.
“A few years ago we had a paranormal group come in here and there were a few things they could not explain,” she said. “There are some things you just can’t explain.”