The Witch's Grave in Katy, TX
By Joan Whetzel
By Joan Whetzel
One day, while doing a search for haunted graves and cemeteries, I ran across a few short stories about The Witch's Grave in my town - Katy, TX. Intrigued I read the stories. They were basically the same story, retold. Since then I have searched and searched to find the truth behind the story. Some of what I found seems to disprove the story. Other aspects of the story couldn't be proven one way or the other. It still makes for an interesting story, though.
The Urban Legend of the Katy Witch's Grave
The story reads, almost word for word, like this one:
"There is a cemetery in old town Katy that is over 150 years old where a supposed witch is buried. On top of her tombstone is a giant solid granite/marble sphere weighing around 200 lbs. If you read the inscription on the tombstone and look away, when you look back the sphere would have fallen out of place. Some reports say they have seen the sphere float and glow before it falls to the ground. Katy police have removed the sphere in hopes to keep kids away. It is also rumored if you read the inscription you will have bad luck the rest of your life." (Forgotten USA. Katy - Witch's Grave)
History of Katy, TX
The area that is now Katy, Texas - once a part of the hunting grounds (buffalo and migrattory birds) for the Karankawa Indian tribes. The earliest white settlers moved to the area, which they named Cane Island Creek in 1872. However, in 1895, a new town platted, named Katy, supposedly after the M-K-T railroad that ran through it. The town soon became a rice farming hub. There are still a few rice farms in the area, and a rice drying and grain elevator company in town, and the town has been holding a Rice Harvest Festival every October since the 1970s.
Well, since the Legend of the Witch's Grave says the grave is in a cemetery that's over 150 years old, it automatically disproves itself. The City of Katy has only been in existence since the late 1800s, about 117 years (as of this writing, 2012). The cemetery in question, in fact, doesn't have any graves older than about 100 years.
The Location of the Grave
The cemetery discussed in the Legend, appears to be the Magnolia Cemetery, located on Franz Rd. in Old Katy. It is a privately owned cemetery, on the westernmost outskirts of town. There are plenty of older graves, many of them being those of the town's founding fathers, and not a single headstone listing a date of death prior to 1900.
The Grave Stone
Commenters on the The Place of Scary Haunted Places, "Witch's Grave - Katy, TX" site, identified the grave in question as belonging to Barbara A. Snyder, who was born in 1834 and died in 1911. Interestingly enough, her son-in-law, John Wise (b.1861, d.1919) shares the grave stone. Her name, birth date, and date of death are carved on the right side and his are chiseled into the left-hand side of the grave marker. On the front of the marker, is an eerie epitaph, which may be feeding into the Legend. It reads:
"Remember me as
you pass by.
As you are now
so once was I.
As I am now you
soon shall be.
Prepare for death
and follow me."
Is It True? Or Is It Urban Legend?
There's a mixed batch of opinions on truth of the Legend, according to the comments left on The Place of Scary Hunted Places site. One lady vehemently defended the deceased woman, stating in bold font, all caps "SHE WAS NOT A WITCH!" and chastising the person who wrote the piece for their cruelty.
Another observed that the Katy Police Department, who were supposed to have removed the marble ball from atop the obelisk shaped grave marker, did not in fact have this sphere in their possession. One person stated that they heard, from a third party, that some teenagers took the ball. Any way you look at it, there is not, currently, a 200 pound marble sphere atop the grave marker.
As for the strange events said to occur when reading the inscription? One person went with some friends at midnight on a Friday the 13th, just to visit the grave and read the inscription. The weather changed a bit, becoming extremely windy, a black cat crossed their path, and some bats flew out of some bushes nearby (was it really bats or could it have been birds?). Being suitably freaked out, they left in a hurry. Now this group had the added creep factor of being in a cemetery after dark, and the Friday the 13th, black cat, and bats flying superstitions playing into their experience, which may bolster some people's belief in this being, in fact, a witch's grave.
One person noted that she did not believe the woman was a witch, but that it was simply a fun scary folk tale to tell on a dark, night. She went on to point out that the rather sinister epitaph added to the spookiness of the story.
Another person stated that the grave marker had cradled a sphere on top at one time, and that the Katy Heritage Museum now had it. The Katy Heritage Society did not comment when I asked about it.
I have been to the grave site, as you can tell by the photos. I've read the epitaph - during the day time - and nothing happened. I guess, one of these days, I'll have to go back and read it after dark and see if anything happens. I'll let you know what happens when I do. For right now I'll to the readers to decide whether this is a haunted place, an actual witches grave, or merely an Urban Legend.
Katy Heritage Society. History of Katy.
The Place of Scary Haunted Places. Witch's Grave - Katy, TX.
Find a Grave. Barbara A. Snyder.
Find a Grave. John W. Wise.
Wikipedia. Katy, TX.
Forgotten USA. Katy - Witch's Grave.
No, I still have not gone up there at night to read the epitaph and see what happens. I have, however, revisited the cemetary during the day light hours. People have been paying this gravesite a visit apparently, leaving behind a few momentos: a single red rose, a white candle, and some loose change deposited in the well that appears to have held the legendary marble ball. Interesting, to say the least. There were a few coins in the well before, but now the well is nearly full.