Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Book Review #3: Ghost Stories of Texas

Ghost Stories of Texas by Jo-Anne Christensen (Lone Pine Publishing, 2001) is a quick, quirky read divided into seven sections:
  • Historically Haunted
  • “It Happened to Me…”
  • Phantoms in the Family
  • Modern Mysteries
  • Tall Texas Tales
  • Haunted Houses
  • A Strange Assortment

The reader would expect (and not be disappointed) to find two stories about the Alamo and Goliad (a pre-Alamo battle/massacre). My favorite was the story about the Driskill Hotel in the capital city of Austin, perhaps because I’ve been there. Running a close second is the tale of the specter that haunts the governor’s mansion in the same city—possibly the nephew of the Civil War governor who committed suicide in the north bedroom.

“It Happened to Me…” contains a series of short vignettes set in the 20th century. My favorite is the slightly-longer story, “The Black Dog”, a modern-day version of a old legend of the “Black Shuck”.

Phantoms in the Family has stories of deceased family members returning to help living ones. Be sure to read “Margaret Sends for Help”, the story of Josiah Wilbarger, scalped and left to die by Indians, then miraculously rescued by a neighbor guided by a dream about Josiah’s dead sister, Margaret.

Modern Mysteries tells of hauntings in schools, hospitals, and houses.

Tall Texas Tales doesn’t stint with the retelling of stories from Texas’ past:
La Llarona, the Weeping Woman, who lures children into the river where her own babies died; phantom horsemen who ride prior to the outbreak of a war; frontiersman Brit Bailey, whose request to be buried stand up with a gun was honored by his widow—though she declined the third request which was a full jug of whiskey at his feet; cattle stampedes, phantom horses in Palo Duro Canyon, a herd of albino buffalo; love gone wrong; and of course, the obligatory buried treasure.

Haunted Houses spins stories about just that, from Dallas to the small town of Lampasas, where my mother was born and grew up.

Finally, A Strange Assortment takes up near-misses, haunted worksites, psychic abilities, and the famous Marfa Lights, seen for over 100 years by those in the vicinity. The other claim to fame of this small west Texas town is that, in 1955, it was the site where the movie “Giant” was filmed.

So pull up a chair, have your favorite beverage and a snack close at hand, and let yourself be transported into the far and near past. Oh, and it might be a good idea to turn on all the lights before you begin!

 FTC Disclaimer: I own this book and have not been paid to review it.


Emma Lai said...

Thanks for the review, Judy! Sounds like some inspiration awaits in the pages of this book.

K9friend said...

Sounds eerily fascinating!

Ricky Peterson said...

Nice post. I don't believe that marfa lights can be seen but in my next vacation surely visit this place. Texas is a good place. Don't miss the sun-soaked sands of the Bombay beach. for more details refer Marfa Lights