So, when I have just about any free time at all, I’m generally out riding. I spent today putting 275 miles on my Harley. One of the things I love about riding the back roads of Texas is that there seems to be no end to the various decaying structures to explore and photograph. Here’s just a few:
What’s left of an old 1850s “sulfur spring” called Piedmont Spring Resort that was famous for curing just about any ill. At one point, this spring had a four-story 100 room hotel which attracted dignitaries from around the US who would pay to sit in a spring that smelled like farts.
While this motel is still renting rooms, I can’t help but think this place is a horror movie waiting to happen.
North Zulch, Texas
And no, there’s no South Zulch.
Views: 15456 A friend and I were out on an extended motorcycle ride when we unexpectedly came upon an abandoned mansion in Galveston, Texas. After exploring and taking photos, I came pack home and began doing research on the mansion. The history of this mansion and the land its built upon is quite unique. This […]
Views: 6253I have to admit that I felt a bit like Lara Croft while getting my shots for this photo essay. Last night I read that there was supposed to be a large family tomb that had been built over, but is still somewhat accessible in downtown Houston. Of course this rumor caught my attention and so I began […]
Views: 8502Near downtown Houston, there is an enormous graveyard full of slaves, confederate solders, members of secrete societies and even a mass grave containing the jumbled remains of victims from the 1867 yellow fever outbreak. This purportedly haunted grave yard has designated places for “Paupers, Negroes, Families and those that committed suicide or died in […]
Olivewood Cemetery is located just off I-10 and White Oak Bayou right next to a store called Party Boy. The neglected grave yard is supposedly haunted.
With exposed human remains of ex slaves and thicket covered graves, it is no wonder Houstonians have spun ghost stories about this place for generations.
There are a number of unmarked graves in the cemetery. Before the land was purchased in 1875 by Houston’s first black alderman Richard Brock (who is buried in Olivewood), the land had been used as a slave burial ground.
Pivotal leaders if Houston’s post-emancipation African-American community are buried in the Olivewood Cemetery. For instance, Rev. Elias Dibble (pastor of Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church) is buried in Olivewood. Rev. Dibble had lived as a slave before becoming the first black Methodist minister in the country.
Basically, Olivewood represents a Who’s Who of influential African-American Houstonians in the post-slavery era of Texas. Businessman James B. Bell, attorney J. Vance Lewis, the first principal of Jack Yates High School (which was the 2nd black school in Houston) James D. Ryan and “the singing dentist” Milton A. Baker are all buried in Olivewood. Incidentally, Dr. Baker wrote Houston’s official bicentennial song.
Work is being done to reclaim the historic cemetery from nature. By chance, I got to speak with a descendant of one of the people buried in the cemetery, Charles Cook. Cook was at the cemetery by himself mowing and doing some weeding. I spent some time talking with him about the history of Olivewood and filmed the last bit of our conversation. Cook happens to be on the Board of Directors for a 501c3 nonprofit that is trying to restore the cemetery. They have a PayPal donation button. I encourage you to give what you can
A now-defunct City of Houston newsletter called “City Savvy” had this to say about the alleged hauntings:
Over the years, there have been numerous reports of mysterious after-dark sightings and strange movements within the graveyard.
Louis Aulbach, a Finance and Administration division manager, heard those stories while working on his soon-to-be-completed book, “Buffalo Bayou: An Echo of Houston’s Wilderness Beginnings.”
“But I remain skeptical,” he said. “It seems people think a cemetery should be haunted, so they make it so. But if they want to scare themselves silly with stories, it’s up to them.”
Cathi Bunn, a paranormal investigator, began exploring Olivewood in 1999. One moonlit midnight, Bunn said she videotaped the ghost of Mary White, buried in 1888, hovering above her headstone.
Intrigued by the anecdotes, Williams stayed late Halloween night, 2004.
“Only haunting I saw were from two big field mice,” she said.
Haunted or not, Aulbach said the important thing is for people to know about Olivewood and its significance.
As noted above, at least one ghost hunter believes to have caught an actual Olivewood ghost on film. In the photo, you can see what looks like fog. This mist is purported to be the ghost of Mary White.
The cemetery features obelisks, statuary, curbing and interior fencing. The burial ground also includes examples of pre-emancipation burial practices, including upright pipes (symbolizing the path between the worlds of the living and the dead), ocean shells as grave ornaments and text containing upside down or backwards letters (as used in some West African cultures to signify death).
If you are interested in some of the remnants of Houston’s black history, check out my photo-essay of Freedman’s Town in the Fourth Ward – which is the location of our nation’s most serious race riot.
Views: 9098 Huntsville, Texas locals refer to the road that leads to a small 1800s graveyard as “Demon Road.” Supposedly, some people report seeing hovering red lights traveling down the road. Others report that have been pushed and shoved by invisible hands on their way to the cemetery. At the end of this road lies Martha Chapel Cemetery. Doing […]