Wednesday, November 9, 2011

*New* Riverside Cemetery Historical Tour

     Now that things have calmed down a little, I have had time to rework my entire script and I have come up with a new daytime historical tour in Riverside Cemetery. I have taken the best stories from my Halloween Nighttime Tour and my Historical Nighttime Tour and combined them into one awesome daytime tour.
     There will be sixteen different stories on a walking and driving tour. Riverside Cemetery is SO large that we can't possibly walk it all, so we will drive a little ways, get out of our cars and walk to a few headstones where you will hear the stories of those famous or infamous people who are buried in one location and then get back into our cars and drive to a different part of the cemetery. 

     Driving to different locations around the cemetery allows those who can't walk long distances or those who simply don't like to walk, to enjoy the tour more. The tour runs about 2 hours, but much of that time is spent getting in and out of our cars at each location.

     For more info on my new tour, click on this link to visit my website Riverside Cemetery Tour

     I want to thank everyone for their tremendous outpouring of support over the past few weeks. Especially to those who wrote or called the City of Wichita Falls on my behalf. You will never know how much that means to me. I can't go anywhere in town without someone recognizing me and telling me how sorry they are that my nighttime tours were canceled by a small group of people and businesses in town, people who never took the tour but were feeding into what they were told.

"Before you assume, know the facts.      
Before you judge, understand why.
Before you hurt someone, feel.
Before you speak, think."

     If you have any questions or comments please be sure to post them to this blog.

     I AM BACK and I fully intend on telling the stories of our forefathers that everyone wants to hear. So, if you didn't get to take my nighttime tours, here's your chance to see what you missed!!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Downtown Darkside Tour Saturday Nov. 5th Make your reservation now!

     During our Halloween Riverside Cemetery Tour, we had a lot of people who showed interest in also wanting to take the Downtown Darkside Tour. It looks like it won't be too cold Saturday night so I am trying to get a downtown tour together.
     It will start at 7 and it runs about two hours. It's similar to the cemetery tour except it is a total walking tour. We walk from 9th and Ohio over to Indiana down to 8th, over to the RR tracks on 7th, down Ohio a little further and finish back at 8th and Ohio.
     Hear stories of murder, suicide and accidents as it occurred in the HISTORY of Wichita Falls. We have a photo display that we show with large photos (about 50 in all) of what the town looked like back in the old days and you will see some things from the old days that you probably didn't know still existed.
     We put our 1968 Tribute Police Car in the exact same spot where two police officers were killed in 1968 on Ohio St. and tell you the story of their deaths (with a complete blessing from their loved ones.)
     We also tell you some ghost stories that have been told to us by prominent people in Wichita Falls.

If you enjoyed the Halloween or Historical Cemetery tour, you will love this tour too!

Visit our website for more info or call 631-5380 or email Julie at to make a reservation now. I must have 10 reservations before I will conduct a tour.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween Riverside Cemetery Tour - Cancelled by City of Wichita Falls

     It’s been a whirlwind week for me, starting with booked up reservations for my Riverside Cemetery tours and ending with the cancellation of anymore tours ever again at night. The city decided to cancel my tours based solely on a Facbook and email campaign to ruin my business because of a false rumor started by ONE person in Wichita Falls who is connected with a well known family business. This rumor spread all over the country and complaints came from New Mexico, Dallas, Ft. Worth and even as far away as Washington, D.C. because these friends were urged to write letters based on this false rumor. This “campaign” was finally admitted to me by the woman who started all of this and in her own words she said an e mail, "was sent to everyone in this town, schools, banks, and businesses. Principals, presidents of banks, business owners and employees." After allowing me to explain, the friend of hers from D.C. didn’t see anything wrong with it with the tours at all! This was all started because we, as guardians of the cemetery at night, wouldn't let her into the cemetery after dark to sit by her sisters grave. We we terrified of a protest by the way she threatened me on the phone and she was told that if she broke the law by being in the cemetery after dark, we would call the police. We had no idea who she was at the time. If she had explained herself, I would have reassured her. But her threats to come to the cemetery, frightened us. Mark Twain once said, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”
     I have been harassed by emails and telephone calls for the past week. The false rumor which this person started was that I was going to tell the story of her relative's death that happened about ten years ago. First of all, I didn’t know the circumstances about her death, however since this got started, plenty of people have told me the details. Secondly, I would never talk about something like that in my tour because it was not the nature of my tour which was based on heroes, history and stories from my two books, “How Did They Die? Murders in Northern Texas.” There were no heroes, no historical value and I didn’t write about her death in my book. 
     Once her campaign blew up all across Facebook, someone from another local well known business ran with it. Both of these well known businesses had a whole lot of pull with the powers that be at the City of Wichita Falls and those powers believed what their emails had to say without ever verifying it for themselves. Not one city official, the mayor, the city council, the city manager or those in the parks department ever took my tour. Nor did anyone from the city manager’s office or the city council ever call me to talk to me personally. They took the word of people who contributed to a smear campaign, without ever checking it out for themselves. I am appalled that any small business in this town would ever try to wreck another small business. We all struggle to keep our small businesses going. Now, my business will never be the same thanks to their network of contacts. I will lose a considerable amount of income because of them and the city will lose a percentage of my income that I paid them to do this. These fees went back into the parks and cemetery fund.
     In my advertising campaign, I tried to “ghoul” it up for Halloween, and it worked! I had SO many people interested in the Halloween tour. I was amazed and excited to get to tell my stories. On my website I said:
I think that we will have a good mix of horrible accidents involving children; there will also be car wrecks, drowning, murder, suicide, fires, explosions and even a plane crash. We also have a story of vandals removing a body from a mausoleum." Intriguing? Of course it is, but you had to take my tour to get the real stories. Lots of people did take the tour and they left the cemetery with a deeper respect for the citizens of Wichita Falls.
     Since my Halloween tours are now over, I will reveal the stories that were told. All of the people who spread the lie that ruined my business should be ashamed of themselves. People have been running to me all week long to tell me what businesses were involved in this campaign to destroy my business, my how rumors fly!

1.) 1967- CAR WRECK INVOLVING CHILDREN - The Lily family. The car of a mother and two children plunged into an irrigation canal and sunk to the bottom. While everyone else stood around and watched, two police officers risked their lives to dive into the canal and down to the bottom to try to save the lives of this family. They are heroes in my book and I am sure they got a commendation for their live saving efforts. Pictures of their bodies were on the front page of the paper.

2) 1943 – DROWNING - The Shakleford twins – 3 children fell into an iced over pond in 2 degree weather. Without a second thought, City View Grocery store owner J.A. Vernon and another young man ran to the pond, across the thin ice to try to save the lives of the 3 children. One boy was pulled to safety thanks to the bravery of Mr.Vernon. The young man wouldn’t give up until he pulled the other two boys from the water, but it was too late. These men were HEROES to me and I hope they were recognized for their bravery.

3) 1921- MURDER - John Ragan was shot by Sewell Fields at the Hearn Hotel on 8th and Ohio which is now our farmers market. This is a story from my book. But, his headstone was stolen a few years ago and was found in a teenage boy’s room by a police officer and returned to his resting place. This story is about horrible vandalism and is hopefully a lesson taught to parents and children alike.

4) 1925 – MURDER – Herbert Griffin murdered a man and then he was killed also. This is a story from my book. He was the largest land owner in Archer County.

5) 1931 - CAR ACCIDENT, MURDER AND SUICIDE – Lon Hammond was a wealthy oil man in Wichita Falls. He killed a man, had a wreck that killed his son and later committed suicide. This is a story in my book. This mausoleum was involved in a horrible vandalism in 2004.

6) 1922 - CAR WRECK – Reese D. Allen was a student at Princeton University. His father was a very well known oilman in Wichita County.

7) 1918 – VANDALISM – Pat Carrigan died in WWI in France. People are able to look at the brass plaque on the wall of this mausoleum that was put there to commemorate his history. I also tell a horrible story of vandalism where a body was removed from this mausoleum in hopes that it impacts those on my tour. Teenage kids have walked with me after this story and told me of their disgust over this vandalism. That’s why I tell it.

8) 1946 – MURDER, SUICIDE, FIRE AND HEROES – This couple committed a murder/suicide but two regular men, risked their lives to break into the burning house to try to save the lives of this couple. These men were HEROES to me!! I am not sure what I would do in that situation.

9) 1945- PLANE CRASH – The McConnell’s were flying to Wichita Falls and crashed on the Dale Ranch in Petrolia. Next time you are downtown, look at the top of the building that is now part of the Wichita Theater and used to be Noble’s Hardware to see this family’s history!

10) 1932 – DROWNING AND TINY HERO – Two of the Pautsky boys drowned in a ditch by their home near Charlie Rd. Well know family in Wichita Falls. The family stated in the newspaper that they were very certain that the 6 year old was a hero because he gave his life trying to save his 3 year old brother.

11) 1949 – EXPLOSION – Albert Lowe died in an explosion caused by former Sheriff Ham Vance. (I just know that some of you old timers who are reading this are probably smiling at the mere mention of Ham Vance!)

12) 1921 – MURDER – George Gentry. A story about a hard working, well liked man who was killed because he was known to carry cash with him. This is a story from my book.

13) FIRE AND HERO - 1952 – The Abraham children were left home alone while the mother went to the store. A neighbor rushed into the house which was fully engulfed in flames without a second thought, to try to rescue the children. He was able to get to the little girl but the fire dept. wouldn’t even go into the house to rescue the little boy until they put out the fire. This man is a hero in my book!

     The “GHOST RADAR” explanation – There is an app that you can download on your smartphone that speaks words and pops up supposed “spirits” while you use the device. Is it real? I don’t know, however it has produced some very interesting words that correspond to a story that I am telling. But, it is a teaching tool. Educators have long said that “hands on” experience is the best way to teach. How does the Ghost Radar teach people? It keeps them interested in listening to the story; it makes them absorb more of what I am telling them. If a word pops up on their cell phone that relates to the story, it allows me to expand on my story and gets people more involved in each story. Here is a link to the Ghost Radar and what it does. I can just see people now grabbing their cell phones and going to their Market Place or App Store to download it. Try it, its fun!

     So, now you know the stories of my horrible, ghastly Halloween tour. Every single person who has taken the tour has left with a little more knowledge about Wichita Falls and a deeper respect for those that came before us. It also provided some entertainment in this town that is fun, safe and educational for family nights out or date nights. It doesn’t matter to me whether or they were rich or poor, famous, not so famous or infamous. They all have a story to tell about their time in our wonderful town. Not one single person that I am aware of, who has actually TAKEN a tour, has complained to the city about my tours, I have only received praise from them and applause after the tours. Some people have judged me based on what they READ, not what they experienced.
     The complainers have fed into a false rumor that was started and certain people were determined to see yet another business would fail in Wichita Falls.
There’s an old Jewish Proverb that says, “What you don't see with your eyes, don't witness with your mouth.”

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

New Book, "How Did They Die? Murders in Northern Texas 1926-1975" is finally finished!

     Another two years has gone by very fast. It took me two years to write my first book, "How Did They Die? Murders in Northern Texas 1892-1926," and a week later I started my second book. I finished the second book last week and it is available for sale here How Did They Die? Murders in Northern Texas 1926-1975

     This book has 40 stories of horrific murders and it is more gory than the first book. Many of the suspects were electrocuted for their crimes. Most of these stories occurred in and around Wichita Falls, TX and were stories that people had asked me to write.

     For two years, I poured over court records, confessions, police reports and newspaper articles, having stacks of manilla folders in every corner of my home that stood at least two feet tall. You would have been appalled if you walked in my house because at any given time, I had papers sprawled out all over the couch, or on the floor, usually with a cat lying on top of it all, thinking he or she had to protect it. I don't know who feels stranger, me because I have since packed away all of those papers and manilla folders since I am through with the book, or the cats because they can't find something, anything to lie on now that it is all gone.

     Now what do I do? What do the cats do? For me, it's the end of fours years of a habit. Every day I would do research or write, or look for photos, or correspond with a descendant of either a murderer or a victim. For the cats, it means they are now looking for something else to lie on. They haven't been on the couch for days. Tabatha has taken to lying on my purse on the floor instead and Tiger has taken his place back in the window. I now sit twittling my thumbs, feeling like I should be doing something. I guess I will have to clean the house, something that has often been neglected because I have been sitting at the computer all day every day, writing for two years. Maybe the house can wait. I really need to come up with another project!

     I have an idea for a new book. It too, will take some time, but a few times over the last year, people have looked at old postcard images that have been posted on one of my Facebook sites called  Wichita Falls Texas History and said that I should put them all in a book. So, I think I will start gathering old postcards and photos of buildings and businesses that are from the downtown area and put together a photo book about Downtown Wichita Falls. I think I will call it, "Thanks for the Memories, Downtown Wichita Falls, TX Photos" or something like that. (Thank you Sue Bradberry for making that comment!) What do you think about this idea?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Downtown Darkside Tour and My New Book

     I haven't blogged for awhile so I thought I would mention some things that have been going on over the past few weeks.
     This past Saturday night, we had a Downtown Darkside Tour. It was one of the biggest groups that we have ever had with 24 guests. It was a great group, they asked lots of questions and were very inquisitive. Some of my guests have been using an app for their Smart Phones called, "Ghost Radar" by Spud Pickles. I will have to say, I have always been skeptical, I am a "prove it to me" kind of gal, but after this past Saturday night, I am believing more and more each time I do a tour.
     While standing on the corner of 8th and Ohio, I started to talk about the old Hearn Hotel which was a beautiful hotel in its day. It is where the Farmer's Market is today. The first story that I tell is about a murder that is in my first book of Sewell Fields who killed John Reagan. As I was talking, I heard one of my guests gasp! It wasn't until later that she told me that as we walked up to that location, her Ghost Radar spoke the word John, even before I had said the name.
     O.K.. I know, John is a common name and it could be a complete coincidence. Well, how about the word Circus? We had walked over to the railroad tracks and I was telling a story about a railroad officer who was killed by a hit and run driver while blocking the tracks, as the train was being loaded with circus animals. The word circus appeared on her phone. Coincidence? I am beginning to believe that it is not. What are the odds that the word circus would appear on her app during an historical tour where you would never think that the word circus would ever be mentioned?
     The same strange thing happened on the Riverside Cemetery Tour a few weeks ago. A guest had the app installed on her phone and it and it said the words "Elephant" and "Hunter" which are words that you wouldn't think of hearing doing a cemetery tour. But, on my very last story, I mention both of these words in my story. This app has made me a believer, maybe. If you use this app on one of my tours and get unusual words appear that I actually say during the tour, please post it here.
     My new book, "Murders in Northern Texas 1926-1975," will go to the publisher this week. I will be doing my first book signing in a very unusual place. On July the 9th, the First Annual Sheriff's Office Citizen's Academy Alumni Association Car Show will be held at the Holiday Inn by the Falls. I will be doing a book signing at the show (and please bear with me because I am helping to put on the show) from 10-2 and 10% of my sales will go to the Alumni Association who is trying to raise enough money to purchase a county officer's down and volunteer firefighter's down memorial to go on the courthouse grounds. This is something that our town has needed for many years. We have a city police and city firefighters memorial but we do not have one for our most deserving county fallen.
     The car show will have lots of custom and classic cars, trucks and motorcycles and we even have classes for vintage and custom law enforcement vehicles and fire trucks! There will be a people's choice award which is determined by the vehicle who collects the most donations, so even if you don't buy my book, please come by and make a donation to your favorite vehicles!
     I am also hoping to do a book signing at the library as soon as The Friends of the Library and I can decide on a date so stayed tuned to my Facebook page for all of the announcements about my book -Click on this link and then click on "Like" How Did They Die? Murders in Northern Texas 1926-1975
     Please share my blog with your friends on Facebook or through your email and my Facebook site!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Some Very Unusual Things Happened on the Riverside Cemetery Tour

      This weekend, we had quite a few guests who wanted to do some "ghost hunting." While I am always curious what might turn up in photos that were taken during the tour, I am too busy just trying to keep up with everything that is going on around me, telling the stories and interacting with the people on the tour. For the most part, people are snapping photos while they are hearing me tell the story of a Civil War soldier, or former mayor or the Kemp family and it isn't until they get home and view their photos on a computer that they discover the unusual things that their photos hold.  
     Friday night though, several of our guests took photos that were very unusual to say the least. Carl Rose snapped two pictures, one right after the other. The first one turned out so strange! It came out with a bluish green color to it and you can clearly see a "mist" in the photo. He saw it on his screen and thought it was strange, so he took another photo right after it within seconds, of the very same place. The second photo turned out perfectly normal. These photos can be seen on my website here Click on the link at the top that says, "Photos Taken During Tour."
     Mark and Annette Lancaster were also taking shots around the cemetery that night. Mark is with the Sons of Confederate Veterans GEN. W. R. SCURRY Chapter here in Wichita Falls. Several weeks ago, Mark's chapter put Confederate flags on 120 grave sites in the Riverside Cemetery in honor of Confederate Memorial Day. Seeing these flags waving all across the cemetery is really a sight to see. I don't know what prompted the results from his photo, whether it was coincidence or not, but as I was telling the story of Levi Boone McMurtry, who was in Quantrill's Raiders during the Civil War along with Frank and Jesse James and Allen Parmer, an unusual orb showed up in the trees near McMurtry's grave. This photo can also me seen on my website.
   The strangest thing that happened though was on Saturday night. Mary Kilgo downloaded an app on her Smart Phone that was called, "Ghost Radar" which, if you ever watched "Ghost Adventures" this is similar to the machine that Zak uses that speaks words. Well, I will have to say, I was a skeptic. I didn't see how an app on a phone could pick up on anything at all. But, in the beginning, the app kept putting up the names of Bob and the Dan throughout most of the tour. O.K. so, it pops up a couple of names, not that unusual.  Another time, it said, "company eat" and I am pretty sure it meant "Company E" as in a military unit. At the time we were surrounded by military headstones. Later, it said "elephant" and then "trophy" and "hunter" which seemed very odd to Mary until I actually said all three of those words in my last story. Now I can see maybe this app coming up with the word trophy and possibly hunter but elephant? How often does the word elephant come up in ones conversation? I was completely convinced at this point. If you want to try this app out, you can find out more about it here
     One last photo that I cannot explain is one that Jeff took. He aimed his camera down the pitch dark road with no light of any kind around it and a big, bright, white blob appeared in the photo. Just like Carl Rose did, he immediately took another photo to see if it would show up in the second photo which it did not.
     Whether or not you enjoy ghost hunting, you will enjoy the Riverside Cemetery tour. If our guests choose to use any ghost hunting equipment, they do it discreetly and do not interfere with the other guests who are with the tour. I promise that everyone will learn things you didn't know, hear stories that you only knew bits and pieces of and leave with a greater respect and love for the cemetery than when you got there!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

New Blog Site

     Every business site says that a business should have a blog, so here I am! The last few weeks have been a whirlwind for me, trying to get the third part of my Historical Tours started. I started working on the Riverside Cemetery "Ghost" Tour in November of last year and having worked it all out with the insurance requirements, I finally caved into to the city's demand to charge me a percentage of my gross profits and I signed the contract.
     The weather has not been very cooperative. There have been several times that the winds were so high that it would have been dangerous for us to be out in it. So since the start of the cemetery tours, I have only been able to do 3, with another one tonight.
     The very first cemetery tour was a really large group with a lot of prominent people ranging from city organizations to law enforcement. They were really hard to read, but I believe that they had a good time.
     The second group was a small group. Barry Levy, the City of Wichita Falls Public Information Officer wanted to film the tour so that we can eventually do a whole show about the tours for the public information channel. He brought along six kids ranging in ages from 9-12. I was really worried about having six kids on the tour, thinking that they would really be disruptive. Well, I will have to tell you that they were the best group of kids I have ever met in my life. After I would tell a story while at a headstone, they would ask questions and really challenge me. They really wanted to learn! I was so impressed with them
     My group last week wanted to do more "Ghost Hunting" and they came prepared with their equipment. They too were very inquistive and asked a lot of questions along the way. They found an app on their iPhones where you could download an EMF meter and it kept going off at some of the stones.
     Tonight, we have a group of Hirschi High School Alumni. A group of about 15 men and woman. This tour ought to be fun because they all know each other and might be more apt to interact then a group of total strangers. Some are coming from Amarillo and the DFW area to attend the tour tonight.
     My reason for starting this blog today was because I have one person who is completely upset with me because I have started giving tours in the cemetery at night. I tried to explain to her that it is done all over the country with the more famous one in New Orleans. Not to mention Austin, Galveston, Ft. Worth, San Antonio and all over Georgia and Alabama. But, she is still upset saying that "it is a sacred place and should be treated that way."  What she doesn't realize is that every time I tell a story at a gravesite, that the whole group is paying their respects to that person. We thank them for what they did for our town, or we say how sorry we are that they died. 
   I just don't handle negativity very well and writing is my way of release. I don't want to upset anyone by giving these tours. I wanted to start a business to earn an income to pay the bills just like every other person on this earth. I wanted to do something that I enjoyed doing. I LOVE Wichita Falls history and started my Darkside Downtown Historical Tour last year. This year, I have added a daytime tour and the cemetery tour. The downtown tours don't allow me to talk about the same people that I talk about at the cemetery. I truly love my new job and I hope that it doesn't offend anyone by what I am doing. If I can teach just ONE person something new about Wichita Falls, that they can in turn teach to someone else, than I feel like I have done my job!
Be sure to visit our website at Historical Tours of Wichita Falls, TX
Watch this blog for more topics of interest to come!