Haunted Jefferson: The Legend of Diamond Bessie Moore

Posted: August 5, 2011 by BJ Wragg in East Texas, Paranormal Community, Regional Hauntings, Texas, Uncategorized
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To further investigate why Jefferson Texas is considered the third most haunted city in Texas, we are going to dig into the legend of Diamond Bessie Moore, whose real name was Annie Stone. It is said that Bessie can be seen at night walking the streets of Jefferson and down by the river looking sad and bewildered and that she frequents some of the local bed and breakfasts and has specifically been associated with the Excelsior House hotel.

She was a petite, well educated, very attractive woman, with fair skin, jet black hair and beautiful blue eyes, who wore lavish gowns and expensive diamonds and was reputed to be a famous prostitute since the age of 15 who plied her trade in New Orleans, Cincinnati Ohio and Hot Springs Arkansas. The diamonds, she had gotten from generous customers and she wore proudly.

Diamond Bessie

Annie "Diamond Bessie" Moore

She came to Jefferson, Texas on a train via Marshall from Hot Springs with her husband Abraham Rothschild whom she had met there. It was rumored they were not husband and wife but, records have been found to prove they were in fact married, in the state of Illinois. It is a fact they did register as Mr. A. Monroe and wife at Brooks House in town. Where he addressed his wife as Bessie. Because of this, the townsfolk put the name Diamond Bessie on her. They could be seen strolling down Main Street and along the river together during their stay and throughout the town as they visited the area. With Jefferson being a bustling river boat port, not much is known about why they were in Jefferson but, it was felt that he hatched the plan to kill Bessie and sell her jewels sometime before coming into town.

Rumor also had it that he forced Bessie to prostitute on frequent occasions to bring him $50.00 a day to support his alcoholic habit. There were also rumors that Bessie was pregnant and trying to get Abe to legitimize the marriage and that is why he killed her to save his family from a scandal of a child born of a prostitute. Who knows why a man does what he does except to say that facts indicate that they had a very violent relationship. He was arrested once before in Cincinnati for beating her on the street. Yet, autopsy reports confirmed that she was not pregnant at the time of her death.

On the morning of January 21, 1877 Abe bought a picnic lunch. He and Bessie were seen heading down the Marshall Road out of town, and crossing a bridge into Cypress Bayou by Mr. Frank Malloy. Several hours later Abe returned alone. When asked about his wife at Brooks House, he claimed she had stayed to visit friends in Cypress Bayou. He was seen at breakfast alone the next morning and wearing some of Bessie’s diamond rings. On Tuesday the 23rd Abe boarded a train for Cincinnati with Bessie’s luggage in tow.

February 5th an African-American woman by the name of Sarah King was out collecting firewood when she came across the decomposing body of a well dressed woman, the remnants of a picnic around her, with a single gunshot wound to her head.

Abe was arrested in a hospital later that same month, where he was admitted for shooting out his eye with a BB gun due to an increasing alcoholic paranoia and an attempt at suicide, which ensued after he returned from Texas and was extradited back to stand trial. It seems Abe was the son of a rather prosperous Cincinnati jeweler and a family member of the European Rothchild’s. When his true identity came out, the trial became a rather big news story. The family hired as many as 10 high-priced attorneys to defend him, in an attempt to avoid scandal. Although he was convicted of the crime, where the evidence was said to be ironclad, his sentence was reversed at a second trial in 1880. When he was acquitted the citizens of Jefferson were dismayed as they had found a soft spot for the sad story of Bessie. After the acquittal Abe faded into obscurity.

Abe Rothschild

The townsfolk buried Diamond Bessie ,on whom they had pinned the name, in an unmarked grave in what is now Oakwood Cemetery. It was said that years later, an elderly man with a patch on his eye came to town asking to see where she lay buried. He thanked the caretaker for seeing that she was given a proper burial and paid him a sum of money to help maintain the grave. Rumor has it that it was Abe sorry for what he had done trying to make peace with Bessie’s ghost. Years later, in the dead of night a gravestone appeared for Diamond Bessie adding to the legend. It was found out later that E.B. McDonald had placed it there along with a fence surrounding her grave. It is also known that on the anniversary of her death each year, flowers mysteriously appear on her grave even to this day.

Needless to say, the tale of Diamond Bessie is well known to locals, as is a number of other local visitors who never left town. But that is another tale all together.

We will further explore another local legendary haunted tale, the one of the Excelsior House Hotel. It seems that Bessie does a lot to add ambiance to the Jefferson streets even today. It could be why the streets are cooler in some spots than others. Maybe, just maybe she tries to get your attention and get to know you. Who is to say for certain?

Till next time, Sleep, tight!

For more information on the Murder and Trial of Diamond Bessie Moore see  the link below.

 

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diamond_Bessie

Jefferson Texas Visitors Information

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