Ghostly lore offers more than fears

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Kathleen Maca, author, historian and columnist of ghost stories, has always felt at home in a cemetery.

Spending summers with her grandparents in Oklahoma, she accompanied them to local cemeteries to clean and decorate graves, leaving flowers and other items there.

“We were going to clean the graves, and I loved it,” said Maca, who lives in the Clear Lake area. “After all the graves were decorated and cleaned, my grandfather would walk me around and tell me stories about every person in the cemetery, because he knew just about everyone in town. “

It wasn’t something most kids her age did, but Maca was more fascinated than scared, and it turned out to be a better entry into a long-standing passion for history than her textbook. .

“Cemeteries aren’t just names and dates, they’re like storybooks,” she said. “There is a story behind every stone.

Maca, originally from Houston, would later use this experience as a genealogist, writer and historian after spending 20 years in the advertising industry. His first book, “The History of the Galvez Hotel,” explored the hotel’s place in the Galveston tradition.

Bay Area resident Kathleen Maca is the author of books on ghosts, cemeteries and Texas history.

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Maca is an authority on the region’s darkest stories. For eight years she has guided tours island cemeteries, and for the past three years Maca has led treasure expeditions through haunted sites.

Ghost stories aren’t just gruesome and fantastic, she said.

Her books, “Ghosts of Galveston”, “Galveston’s Broadway Cemeteries” and the children’s book “The Ghostly Tales of Galveston” are like maps of local folklore.

The ghost stories can be linked to events such as the 1900 storm and other hurricanes, three major yellow fever epidemics and the civil war, Maca said.

The more frightening, the better.

She prefers her ghost stories to be based on history, facts, and real people and places.

Maca interviews older residents, looks at genealogies, police records, and old diaries before telling the stories.

“I wrote two books on ghost stories, and when I wrote the first I was adamant that I would only include stories of people who actually lived and not just made up names.” , she said. “I thought it would be a lot more fun to just include stories where the places still exist so you can visit them.”

Then she leaves it to the reader.

There is a more recent story that arose out of an incident involving the suicide of a young woman on the sixth floor of a mental hospital in the 1980s at a site now occupied by the Galveston Railroad Museum.

Another, older, about the ghost of a man hit by a train that now circles the museum.

“I read the newspaper articles, so this part is not made up, but whether or not he really wanders the halls of the museum – people may believe it or not, but the man existed and he was hit by a train, “she said.

In Seabrook, the Casa Mare Girl Scout Camp is the site of a former mansion where a loving young woman who lived there jumped from a balcony to her death. According to the tale, the woman’s ghost remains under the fresco of a star, the site where her body landed.

Le Galvez is a treasure trove of stories.

One of the most popular tales is that of Audra, a loving bride who committed suicide by hanging herself during her stay in the 1950s.

There’s the one on Sister Katherine and a group of children from a Galveston orphanage who perished in the 1900 storm and are said to be present at the hotel.

“(Sister Katherine) is supposed to be patrolling the field and watching people,” Maca said. “Basically, she would be there to keep people safe; so it shouldn’t be scary.

These stories contain elements of mystery, the unexplained and the unknown, and that’s what people are reacting to, Maca said. Through her writings and tours, she understands the entertaining value of ghosts and hauntings.

“I think we love the adrenaline of this one,” she said. “I do ghost tours everywhere I travel just because they’re so fun, and a lot of times I don’t believe what they say, but they’re really entertaining.”

But Maca also hopes the stories spark interest in the story, because she thinks they say something about a location.

Galveston is unique, she said, in that the ghost stories and hauntings are more than a side spectacle. The storm, yellow fever, and the battles of the Civil War all became an intrinsic part of the region, and the ghosts followed.

“A lot of Galveston ghost stories revolve around the fact that so many people died in the 1900 storm in just a few hours,” she said. “That’s a lot of deaths all at once, and the people who had to deal with the consequences of that – just thinking about it is scary. This part has nothing to do with ghosts, but it evokes all of those scary feelings.

There are more dead in Galveston than alive, Maca points out.

“I’ve been asked when I’m going to run out of topics, but you can’t,” she said. “It’s pretty amazing that for a small island there is an endless amount of history and stories to uncover, and for me that’s an ongoing challenge.”

Maca believes the human brain is trying to make sense or find recognizable patterns from things like seeing a face in a concrete wall or seeing a shape in a cloud. She also wonders about the possibility of energetic impressions, where a moment will be replayed through a high residual energy.

Only time will tell, Maca said, if something like the current pandemic will set the stage for future generations to find historical context in tales of hauntings and ghosts, or transferred energies.

Maca is a logical observer of the supernatural or the inexplicable. She said she didn’t believe all the ghost stories she heard, but believed that something existed in the inexplicable.

“I’m always intrigued that when you study science they say energy doesn’t die – it just transfers to something else, like when you burn wood or something,” she said. . “If a person is basically energy when they die, doesn’t that energy have to go somewhere? I will never tell someone they haven’t seen something they think they’ve seen. How do I know they haven’t? “

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