By Will Johnson
GRAPELAND – There is a house at the southern end of Grapeland that has a checkered past to say the least. While the rock house now sits empty, the legend it has left behind continues to grow.
Halloween seemed like the best time to share this story. You can either choose to believe it or not but for just a minute let your mind wander and think about some of the events that happened there.
I heard about this house, years ago, when my family first moved to Grapeland. Legend has it, as the railroad industry began to boom in the late 1800‘s, it brought with it a whole bunch of unsavory characters.
Some of the “old timers” in Grapeland will tell you that as kids they were told of a train robbery just outside the city limits. The train robbers allegedly holed up in this old stone house because where it was located, you could see for miles and miles in any direction. The house had been built before the turn of the century, but its original owners had passed away and left no heirs. As a result, the house sat empty for many years.
The thieves were going to split up the stolen loot and go their separate ways. Unfortunately, they began to argue amongst themselves and one of the men was killed. Supposedly, the others buried his body on the land, hid part of the loot somewhere in the house and left.
After the folks in Grapeland heard this story, they began to search for the loot. It was never found, but stories of weird goings on began to filter through town. People began to say the ghost of the murdered train robber walked the grounds and the corridors of the house looking for his share of the money. No one ever found the money and the house sat empty.
Legally, the house belonged to the state. As the country was struggling to emerge from the Great Depression, a land speculator named John Warren was able to “acquire” the house and property attached to it. He moved his wife and two kids into the house and there they lived for about five years.
Everyone in Grapeland thought the man was a crook and true to form, he allegedly swindled a large amount of money from a “well-to-do” family in Crockett. Taking the money, the man skipped town, left his wife and kids behind and was never heard from again, allegedly.
Instead of moving, Mrs. Warren and her two children stayed on in the house. She never worked but always seemed to have money and the newest items that were available through mail order. Rumors began to swirl that she had killed her husband and kept the money. However, because of it checkered past no one really bothered/cared to investigate.
Several years passed and the rumors began to die down. However, in the summer of 1937 something happened to drive the family out of the house and out of this part of the state. One afternoon, Mrs. Warren walked across her property to visit one of her few friends. As the two women were talking, Warren heard her children scream from across the pasture and ran to see what was happening.
Fearing that one of her children was hurt, she ran from her neighbor’s home and met the kids in the pasture as they were running away from the house. According to the neighbor, the children looked terrified and were screaming “Daddy’s back!!”
In the few minutes afterwards, the neighbor said she overheard the kids say “Daddy and some man are in the kitchen and they don’t look good.” The neighbor and wife went to see what caused the children to flee.
Carefully entering the house, Warren and her friend went to the kitchen and saw it torn to shambles with a tea kettle steaming in the middle of the floor. Warren asked her children if they had done this but they said no. The two women continued to look through the house and came upon what appeared to be a huge pool of blood soaking into a rug in the living room.
The very next day the Warren family moved out and the house sat empty for several more years. Eventually another family moved into the house in the late 1950’s. The family set about to fix up the old house and restore it to its original state. As they began to settle in and remodel the house, everything seemed fine and the family began to make several friends throughout the community.
Inevitably, strange things began to happen in the house. Objects would be moved, disappear and then re-appear in a different location. Shadows could be seen where there was no light to cast a shadow. Odd stains would appear on rugs where nothing had been spilled. The family’s children reported hearing voices arguing loudly, and every now and then, the family would awaken to the sounds of gunfire. Finally, after the kids had threatened to run away because of the house, the family packed up and moved.
One last, or perhaps the latest, chapter in this story involved a hunter from Louisiana named Beau Perkins. About six years ago, Perkins came to the area because he heard about the hunting in Houston County.
Now while he was out hunting, a rainstorm passed through the area. The only shelter he could find was the old abandoned stone house. He and his dog ran to the house to get out of the rain. Deciding to make the most of the dry confines, Perkins decided to explore the house.
He walked upstairs and looked around the second floor. Seeing nothing interesting, Perkins shut the door at the top of the steps and walked downstairs. When he got to the bottom of the steps, he heard his dog growl and saw the hair on the dog’s neck begin to bristle. Barking wildly, the dog made as if to run up the steps and then stopped and began to whimper. Perkins looked back toward the top of the staircase and saw the door knob begin to turn. The door opened and then closed, not once but twice. Perkins wasted no time, grabbed his dog and ran out into the rain.
You can believe this story or not. I can’t verify any of it but the last part. The guy who was hunting, Beau Perkins, lived two doors down from my grandfather. I knew him for years and years and used to visit his home in Shreveport when I was there. When Perkins came to the Grapeland area to hunt, he had a full head of dark hair.
Two months later it was white. He did not know anything about the house until after he told me his story and then when I told him what I knew, he thought that part was just made up. He never seemed to tell me the full story, but he swore until the day he passed away two years ago that what he did tell me was real. Happy Halloween!!!!!
Will Johnson may be reached via e-mail at wjohnsonmessenger-news@.com