As Halloween is the season, Fort dwellers might want to ponder the spectral entities in their own backyard. Mitchel Whitington’s Ghosts of North Texas from Republic of Texas Press contains at least as much local history as supernatural discovery. The author is an amateur ghost-hunter and a decidedly non-dramatic fellow – he insists that lucky witnesses of the paranormal rarely experience anything more terrifying than frigid spots in a room or fleeting images in their peripheral vision. This will disappoint movie lovers who crave more spectacular hauntings like disembodied voices that thunder “Get out! Get out!” or monstrous old oaks that shatter bedroom windows and snatch children.
Oh, well. Whitington devotes a sizable chapter to Fort Worth ghosts in his 220-page book, with information culled from his own interviews and research. The creepiest may reside in the Lone Star Room at the Texas White House Bed and Breakfast, where the spirit of its long-dead original owner, Mr. Newkirk, allegedly hangs out. One female guest reported waking in the middle of the night with the feeling that she was spooning with an invisible, uninvited presence. When she finally had the courage to turn around, she felt Casper the Overly Friendly Ghost move off the bed.
According to Whitington, the Main Street location of Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse was a bathhouse in the late 19th century. One of its cowboy roughneck patrons was shot through the back of the head while enjoying a steam. Fast-forward to the early 21st century, and some on the Del Frisco’s staff have reported hearing mysterious footsteps all around the restaurant after closing time and receive an occasional tap on the shoulder while they’re alone in a room.
The Stockyards Hotel might host at least two ghosts, one of whom is a deceased former employee named Jake, a houseman in charge of delivering messages to guests who supposedly had a voice like Lurch’s from The Addams Family TV series. During his postmortem rounds, empty elevators are said to travel up and down the hotel floors. Jake also has been known to call the front desk and leave odd messages from unoccupied rooms.
More Cowtown apparitions are described in Ghosts of North Texas, but they’re generally as friendly and laid-back as the city. A cannibalistic family of Satan worshipers who stalk Sundance Square would be more thrilling, but Whitington’s anecdotal book is still worth skimming through on these chilly autumn nights.