GALVESTON, TX

Following The Great Storm of 1900, virtually every large building, still standing, was used as a temporary morgue.

Following The Great Storm of 1900, virtually every large building, still standing, was used as a temporary morgue.

 

OK, guys and gals.  Grab yourself a beverage and hold on for the ride!  Galveston is, without a doubt, one of the most under-valued paranormal hot spots in the country! My week there was filled with incredible happenings, tons of spectacular history and helpful, informed, great people!  The intense paranormal activity… created by a tumultuous, turbulent and horrifying past! This will be the first of several articles on Galveston because, after much consideration, there is no possible way to share everything with you, without publishing a book!

The original site of Maison Rouge which was established in 1817 by Jean Lafitte and his buccaneers.  He was asked to leave the US in 1821 and burned the original home and village prior to leaving.  The present structure was built in 1870 over the original cellars and foundations.

The original site of Maison Rouge which was established in 1817 by Jean Lafitte and his buccaneers.  He was asked to leave the US in 1821 and burned the original home and village prior to leaving.  The present structure was built in 1870 over the original cellars and foundations.

This island was originally populated by a rather unfriendly cannibalistic tribe!  They ate their enemies because they believed they could acquire power this way.  Enter stage right: the infamous, swashbuckling, sometimes pirate sometimes privateer, Jean Lafitte of New Orleans fame, received a charter to settle the island.  Only problem… the natives.  No worries!  Jean Lafitte had cannons and guns and the natives had none.  The natives were wiped out. Men, women and children killed except when who women proved useful to... shall we say, entertaining Jean and his men.  

Galveston grew so fast and was so prominent that the very first Federal building in Texas was the Customhouse in Galveston, TX.

Galveston grew so fast and was so prominent that the very first Federal building in Texas was the Customhouse in Galveston, TX.

With that “problem” solved, the island began to prosper and by 1825, the Port of Galveston was established, and quickly became one of the largest seaports in the US!  In fact, the port was so strategic that during the Civil War, the Union simply could not allow the Confederates to hold the port and, thus, the First Battle of Galveston was fought.  Victorious, the Union occupied the city and the port, but they would not hold it long.  Determined to regain this strategic port, the Confederates attacked and regained it 2 short months later.  Though casualties were not extensive, compared to other Civil War battles, they inundated the Confederate Hospitals which were already housing other casualties.  In the spirit of the day, hospitals treated Union and Confederate soldiers, alike, and many of those spirits still remain!

Dating back prior to the Civil War, this stretch of The Strand has seen it all: fires to floods to fighting in the streets.  The red brick building at the right of the picture was being used as a Civil War Hospital, housing recuperating Confederate Soldiers, before The First Battle of Galveston.

Dating back prior to the Civil War, this stretch of The Strand has seen it all: fires to floods to fighting in the streets.  The red brick building at the right of the picture was being used as a Civil War Hospital, housing recuperating Confederate Soldiers, before The First Battle of Galveston.

Soon the Civil War ended and prosperity grew in Galveston.  It was the largest city in Texas!  Galveston became home to the tycoons of the South and extravagant mansions and buildings popped up all over the little island that, at its' highest point, stood only 8 feet above high sea level.

Galveston was a bustling merchant city with large, ornate mansions being erected in droves by the wealthy merchants.  Ashton Villa is one of the few remaining mansions erected prior to the Civil War and has extensive paranormal activity!

Galveston was a bustling merchant city with large, ornate mansions being erected in droves by the wealthy merchants.  Ashton Villa is one of the few remaining mansions erected prior to the Civil War and has extensive paranormal activity!

Well, when you have an island no more than 8 feet above sea level in the Gulf of Mexico, which is a booming metropolis, I’m sure you can imagine what happened next…

There has been a great deal of research into what went wrong and why warnings weren’t issued, but the next 24 hours were to change Galveston’s history and landscape forever.  It was 1900 and the day dawned bright and sunny.  Families lazily strolled along the beach enjoying the pretty weather and watching the abnormally large waves coming ashore...

Galveston's Sacred Heart Church is a stunning architectural piece that survived The Great Storm of 1900, though it did take extensive damage.

Galveston's Sacred Heart Church is a stunning architectural piece that survived The Great Storm of 1900, though it did take extensive damage.

In the dark of night The Great Storm of 1900, with all its force and fury, swept ashore and in 12 short hours, ¼ of the island’s population was dead or missing. Estimates range between 6,000 and 12,000 people were killed in, what would today, be a Category 4 hurricane.

In the wake of The Great Storm of 1900 businessmen were determined to revitalize industry in Galveston.  Construction began on the Hotel Galvez in 1910 to attract tourists back to the region.  The locals felt building such a fine hotel was a big step in moving past The Storm.  This hotel has quite a few ghosts including Civil War soldiers, children and even mobsters!

In the wake of The Great Storm of 1900 businessmen were determined to revitalize industry in Galveston.  Construction began on the Hotel Galvez in 1910 to attract tourists back to the region.  The locals felt building such a fine hotel was a big step in moving past The Storm.  This hotel has quite a few ghosts including Civil War soldiers, children and even mobsters!

As the devastation was surveyed, the city found that most of the island's structures had been wiped out.  The structures still standing were turned into temporary morgues.  Ferrys took the bodies out to sea for burial.  The bodies floated back up on shore. Funeral pyres were built and lit to dispose of the overwhelming quantity of human remains. They burned for months with the stench of rot, decay and burning bodies, overwhelming the remaining residents. Many victims of the storm were never found and the remains of those who perished in The Storm are, occasionally, still found. (The island you see today in no way resembles the island in 1900.  It has been raised 14 feet and a large sea wall installed.)

Some structures made it through The Great Storm with minimal damage.  Bishop's Palace, pictured above, was one of those.  It, however, did not make it through without its own share of ghosts!

Some structures made it through The Great Storm with minimal damage.  Bishop's Palace, pictured above, was one of those.  It, however, did not make it through without its own share of ghosts!

In terms of loss of human life, The Great Storm of 1900 remains the largest natural disaster in US history.  And, though The Great Storm was, by far the worst, it was not the last.  In subsequent years hurricanes have continued to wreak havoc on the island and many more have perished at the hands of Mother Nature.

Hmmm… so now we have the perfect trifecta: brutally murdered natives, Civil War soldiers dead before their time and an unexpected, horrifying and absolutely massive loss of human life.  I simply cannot imagine why so many transient spirits roam this island looking for peace in their afterlife.  Can you?

The Moody Family of Galveston are known for their philanthropic work in the community.  This was true even during The Storm when the doors of Moody Mansion were thrown open to shelter those in need and save lives.  Though Moody Mansion was one place I did not find any paranormal activity, I recommend visiting if you are interested in history and/or architecture.  And, just because I didn't find anything, it doesn't mean it isn't there, after all... one person was killed during the construction of the home!

The Moody Family of Galveston are known for their philanthropic work in the community.  This was true even during The Storm when the doors of Moody Mansion were thrown open to shelter those in need and save lives.  Though Moody Mansion was one place I did not find any paranormal activity, I recommend visiting if you are interested in history and/or architecture.  And, just because I didn't find anything, it doesn't mean it isn't there, after all... one person was killed during the construction of the home!