Whispy clouds drift across a full moon and cool evening breezes bring with them strange rustling sounds and indistinguishable shadows in the night.
In the light of day Tomball is filled with vibrant antique and specialty shops, mom-and-pop eateries, live entertainment, festivals, and a quality of life that makes living in small town Texas something special.
But, despite the lively daytime activities here it’s rumored that after dark Tomball is filled with a “spirited” nightlife all its own -- a nightlife of creepy, unexplained activities and things that go bump in the night. It’s Halloween time in Tomball, y’all.
PHANTOM OF FANNIN STREET
The yellow, turreted two-story home at the corner of South Walnut Street and Fannin doesn’t fit the image of a Victorian style “haunted house” -- but years of alleged paranormal activities inside have forced the landlord to include a special clause in the lease agreement for his renters.
“My lease reads that paranormal activity is not grounds for terminating the lease contract,” said current resident Rocky Pilgrim.
Pilgrim, a local attorney, had heard the stories of the house before moving in but was skeptical; that is until things began to happen that she couldn’t explain logically.
“As the story goes, two spinsters lived in the house alone and for whatever reason one of them hanged herself from a beam in the second floor loft,” she said.
Former residents have told tales of children at play upstairs hearing voices telling them to “get out” and “leave, I don’t like you”. On more than one occasion vases and other inanimate objects have been known to migrate time and again from one space to another within the house, when no one was watching and glowing orbs have been photographed around the property by the occasional ghost tour, says Pilgrim.
An incident involving Pilgrim’s parents one night still leaves everyone wondering about her secretive housemate.
“My parents were staying with us,” she said. “The window covering was up and the doors into the room were locked. During the night my dad heard actual ‘people’ footsteps crossing the room and stopping in front of doors.”
“In the half-light he made out a shadow, a silhouette, from the light shining in through the seams around the sill. Thinking it was my mom trying to open the door that sometimes sticks, he got up to help her.” Pilgrim added.
When her father reached the shadow, it abruptly disappeared and the covering over the bedroom window fell to the floor revealing her mom sleeping soundly in bed.
“I have never been creeped-out living here,” she said. “Maybe it’s because I’m skeptical that nothing has happened to me -- it just happens around me. I guess I prefer to remain in ignorance, but it’s worked well so far.”
The mischievous spirit at Granny’s Korner across from the historic Tomball Depot, has been named Gertie by shop owner Mary Harvey. For years the sprawling antique and gift shop on Market Street has experienced unexplained voices and activities, both day and night.
“I’m sure that there’s a ghost here. Customers have even commented on it,” said Harvey. “Gertie slams doors, causes things to fall, makes all sorts of noises and has even touched people as they shop.”
But for Harvey, coming face to face with Gertie in the shop one day was all the proof she would ever need be become a believer.
“I was in a hurry and walked around a wall and nearly ran over her,” she said. “Thinking it was a customer, I put my hand up to keep from bumping into her. That’s when she just disappeared.”
Harvey says that she was so surprised to see the ghost that all she can remember is that Gertie was about 5’3” tall and had long hair.
“We’d heard that there was possibly a cemetery here at one time, and there was a jail nearby for many years,” said Harvey. “I’ve also been told that many years ago a woman was stabbed to death in what’s now the courtyard of our shop.”
Despite lights and ceiling fans that turn on and off without human hands, a thermostat that won’t stay put and merchandise that relocates on its own, the ladies who work at Granny’s Korner have accepted Gertie and hope that she will someday accept them.
“We’ve learned to deal with her,” Harvey said. “We’re not scared of her and actually enjoy talking to her and having her around.”
THE MUSEUM MYSTERY
Nestled in the heart of the popular Tomball Museum Center -- with its historic homes, log cabin, church, one-room school house and farm museum -- is the Griffin Memorial House.
Built around 1860 by Eugene Pillot, a renowned builder along the Texas Gulf Coast, the Griffin House is a beautifully restored example of Civil War era architecture complete with its own apparition in the attic.
According to Museum Director Charles Hall, stories of a female spirit in the Griffin House have circulated for years. As the story goes the figure of a woman dressed in period clothing has been seen in the upper reaches of the home and more than once rocking quietly back and forth in her rocking chair in the parlor.
The ghost is thought to be the 21-year-old daughter of the Faris family that once lived in the home. The mysterious cause of the young woman’s death has never been determined.
SPRING CREEK SPECTERS
During the Civil War, a Confederate powder mill sat in what is now Spring Creek Park, just a short drive from downtown Tomball. It was there Texans loyal to the Confederacy worked around the clock making cannon powder for the rebel army’s artillery pieces.
In 1864 a horrific explosion destroyed the facility killing three men working there. The force of the blast was so great that a huge crater was created that over time filled with water and became a popular swimming hole for locals.
Despite rumors of spirits at the pond and in the surrounding woods, the lure of the cool dark water continued to draw swimmers to the powder mill site willing to risk a ghostly encounter for a quick dip. Unfortunately for some, that decision ended in their death. After several curious drownings, the powder mill pond was fenced, but the rumors remain even today.
A paranormal investigation was conducted at Spring Creek Park in 2008 with results showing evidence of unexplained responses, shadowy images and psychic impressions. Could these have been the spirits of deceased soldiers of the Confederacy, drowning victims or possibly both?
From its haunted homes, to spirited shops and shadow filled cemeteries, Tomball is “Texan for Fun” in this life and apparently in the next!
For more information about Tomball, call 281-351-5484, visit www.ci.tomball.tx.us, or “like” Tomball on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TomballTexanForFun.