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Ghost Story

Updated on November 21, 2009

Ghost in the Graveyard

This is where I got my information from.
This is where I got my information from.

 I got this information from the book "Ghosts in the Graveyard: Texas Cemetery Tales by Olyve Hallmark Abbott

Twilight releases imprisoned shadows in this windswept graveyard of West Texas. Weaving shades of history of such a place will help form the tale.

In the early times Indian and Mexican settlers farmed the area. Abundant water came from nearby San Solomon Springs, but the town of Balmorhea was not laid out until 1906. The syllables in its name were derived from surnames of the three founders, Balcom, Moore, and Rhea. Fair enough. Apparently, they didn't want to flip a coin.

The location of this town of less than a thousand people is on Toyah Creek, Farm Road 1215, and U.S. Highway 290, just southwest of Brogado in southwestern Reeves County.

Visualize a "boot hill" kind of burial site, such as western movies offer. This gives you a picture of Balmorhea Cemetery. It's lonely out there; at least it would seem so to visitors. We can't speak for the ghosts who reside in its caliche, rocky soil.

No vegetation grows, which does not explain why locusts and other insects survive. They appear to communicate with each other when folks come to pay respects to their loved ones or to attend funerals through the years. Leaving flowers on a gravesite offers beauty that otherwise is not present, except for three poplar trees citizens have planted. If shadows appear, they come from something other than the trees.

Terry Patrick, who lives in the area, told me the feeling that creeps over her has never changed during the times she has attended family burials. Even while driving down the poorly marked, dark country roads toward isolated Balmorhea Cemetery, she anticipates the feeling, always with anxiety.

A person can be buried in this cemetery sans coffin. That is true. If the burial takes place within twenty-four hours of death, a shroud and a six-foot chasm are the only requirements. Shrouded in sheets like "Casper the Friendly Ghost" would be legal.

One section of the cemetery is for whites and the other for Mexicans, with the feet of the latter facing south to their homeland of Mexico.

Many members of the same families are buried there, with dates going far back into the nineteenth century. Descendants place flags at sites on appropriate holidays, and an uncle in Terry's family has hand-dug graves many years for relatives and friends.

Terry says she is not the only one to hear strange sounds - whispered conversations seemingly emanating from beneath her feet. Locusts may burrow in holes in the ground, but this is not the humming she hears.

The "hardy" stock of folks in the area knows of the sounds.

They visit the graveyard and simply accept the whispering -as a kind of phenomena. They also experience a chilling sensation throughout the area.

The causes of death of those interred in Balmorhea may be the answer. Several victims of the tornado that destroyed Saragosa in 1987 are buried there. Other victims of tragic deaths rest we hope they rest in this land.

On one occasion Terry heard a child's distinct laughter, and another whispered in reply. She was bewildered because no children had accompanied her and other adults on that day. However, a relative showed Terry a small plot, telling her it may have the answer. It was a double grave with a stone wall surrounding it.

Years before, a distraught mother became drunk at a local bar and drove herself and her two little daughters off a mountain road. The children were killed, but the mother lived and later moved away.

The father began constructing the stone wall immediately following the funeral. For several nights after working late into the evening, he was found asleep on their graves the following mornings. This continued until he completed the wall. Even today, toys and notes can be found on the grave, after twenty years.

Hallowed though Balmorhea may be, it is surely haunted ground.

 

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