Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

June 13, 2014

Ghost hunt will test Friday the 13th fears


Mineral Wells Index

— By TODD GLASSCOCK



The day haunts people’s minds.

Today – Friday the 13th – may conjure Hollywood-contrived nightmares of a machete-wielding, hockey-masked slasher.

But, beyond silver-screen induced terror, triskaidekaphobia – the fear of the number 13 – may keep you home today, haunted by the possibility of all sorts of dire portents and ill omens.

If you can manage your fears of the dreaded number, and day, you might find yourself haunted in another way – by going on a ghost tour of downtown Mineral Wells with the Fort Worth-based ghost-hunter team of Haunted Texas Paranormal Society, said Amanda Eagleton, founder of the group.

Each Friday the group serves as host to a ghost tour, often through downtown Mineral Wells, she said. They take souls brave enough on tours of the Baker Hotel, the Crazy Water Hotel and other sites that have long lore of ghosts, spirits and other otherworldly phenomena. The tour is from 8-10:30 p.m.

The Baker, for instance, lore says, purports to have a ghost of a woman on the seventh floor – the alleged mistress of a hotel manager – who jumped to her death from the top of the hotel. The Crazy Water, sources say, is at the very least haunted by a little girl in a frilly pink dress.

Perhaps, though, it’s a small white wood-frame home – the Hill House – at  501 N.E. 1st St. that could be Mineral Wells’ most haunted.

In addition to the ghost tour, Haunted Texas will serve as host to an overnight ghost hunt from 8 p.m. Friday to 8 a.m. Saturday, Eagleton said. The hunt is open to anyone 12 and over, as long as they are not afraid of the dark. They meet at the First United Methodist Church parking lot to go over to the house.

Today may be a good one to catch ghosts, she said, not because it’s the 13th, but because of today’s full moon.

“We usually get a better reading on bad weather days and on days with a full moon,” she said.

The theory is bad weather and full moons allow the spirits to draw off more energy, she said.

Some of the ghosts and spirits rumored to be at the Hill House are a young boy on the top floor, who supposedly died early from brain damage caused by asphyxiation, and a dark shadow of a man downstairs, Eagleton said. During the overnight stay, the team splits up into groups to go to different levels to search the house with such devices as EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) recorders to detect possible paranormal activities.

For the truly daring, the house has a closet used as a pyschomanteum, a dimly lighted room that is supposed to open your senses to the spirit world, she said.

“I’ve seen a lot of things happen,” said the home’s owner Phil Kirchoff, of Hurst. “You see things. You’ll feel ice cold.”

The home originally belonged to Fannie Yeager, whose family has long roots in the city’s history, he said.

Once Yeager died in the 1920s, the home had various owners and built up legends such as being used by bootleggers during Prohibition and serving as a bordello, none of which has been confirmed, he said.

He and his wife intended to restore the home, live there and retire in Mineral Wells, but too many strange, unexplainable things have happened since he bought it to consider living there for now, so he has made the home a paranormal research center. He’s opened it to the public for overnight stays and for ghost hunting teams. 

A skeptic at first, Kirchoff claims to have seen firsthand some of the home’s weirder “residents” such as orbs that set off motion detectors and mists, as well as feeling temperature drops when such phenomena appear. He has also heard footsteps that sound off regularly at 4 a.m. each day and a couple fighting upstairs where no one is staying.

More than 50 ghost research teams have come to the house and each team has confirmed the house is haunted, he said.

If haunted homes aren’t enough to make you phobic of Friday the 13th and the number itself, the day and the number do seem to have strange and perhaps malevolent histories.

Triskaidekaphobia may have its origins in spiritual matters: in Norse mythology, when Odin and 11 other Norse gods gathered for a feast, the party became a bit ungodly when the trickster god Loki showed up and created turmoil, which included having the party end with the god Balder getting stabbed to death with a spear of mistletoe. Christians know that 13 people were at the Last Supper and Jesus was crucified on Friday – lore says it was the 13th day of the month.

Texans also have been haunted by the number 13. The Alamo fell after 13 days, and the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission was launched at 13:13 hours (Central Standard) and was aborted on April 13 – a Monday.

Whatever the day brings, it might be best to end it with a movie – Friday the 13th perhaps? – and hope daybreak on Saturday the 14th portends to a less haunted outcome.

Haunted Texas Paranormal Society ghost tours

• $20 for Mineral Wells downtown walk that includes the Baker and Crazy Water hotels.

• $30 for the overnight stay at the Hill House.

• $40 for the combined tour and overnight stay.

• More information is available at 682-622-6249 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/hauntedtx.

• More information is available for the Haunted Hill House at www.hauntedhillhouse.com.