By DELANIA TRIGG, Register Staff Writer
Gainesville Daily Register
Tales of a murderous woman, an elusive prisoner and a vengeful doll kept guests captivated at the Morton Museum of Cooke County’s Ghostin’ Around Gainesville recently.
The popular Ghostin Around series often includes a walking tour of downtown Gainesville landmarks. This year’s event centered on the museum’s own preternatural history. Ghostin’ Around was held Thursday through Saturday.
The first session of Ghostin’ Around Gainesville had guests walking in to the darkened museum as quietly as polite school children. Inside, the dozen or so participants found Morton education director Jayleane Smith — dressed in the garb of a pioneer woman — seated beside a table.
Speaking almost in whispers, Smith set the scene for a haunting inside the museum — once home to Gainesville’s fire department and city jail. She invited guests to suspend their disbelief and to embrace the brooding atmosphere of the building.
“I want you to let the building wrap its arms around you,” she said.
The only other sounds were the occasional rush of a passing car and the intermittent whistle of trains. Smith told her audience, she sometimes spends time alone inside the museum during the day but shuns solo nighttime visits.
She described the building after dark, adding the sounds of doors opening and closing sometimes punctuate the otherwise “deadly quiet.”
Smith attributed some of the unexplained noises to a wooden box which contained relics related to her tales.
“I had heard stories of a mysterious box in the museum,” Smith said. “The items in the box (reportedly) caused grief and trouble so someone put them in a box within a box.”
Each of Smith’s stories was connected to an object inside the box.
The items included a small china doll, a pair of antique scissors and a lock. The doll, Smith explained, belonged to a little girl brutally killed along with her brother on a Comache moonlit night.
The scissors — or a pair like them — were used by a mysteries female visitor to murder two Gainesville citizens.
The lock couldn’t contain the restless spirit of a man named Tommy Lone Deer whose ghost still walks the street in front of the museum, Smith said.
She noted afterward her stories were woven from local lore.
“The stories are bits and pieces of history about people who really lived in Cooke County,” she told the group.
The Morton Museum of Cooke County isn’t the only local building associated with alleged hauntings.
Other venues linked to paranormal events include the Santa Fe Depot, elegant homes in Gainesville’s historic district, the Otts Home Furnishings building and the Butterfield Stage Theater.