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Jefferson, Texas

While researching this historical hotel in Jefferson Texas, things seem to be a bit strange indeed. While, officially, the hotel takes no position or conveys information about the alleged paranormal activity, many of the staff will gladly tell you of their personal experiences with things they have witnessed as well as other guest’s encounters within its walls.

While there seems to be no official record of when the hotel opened, all information that was obtained in my research leads one to understand that The Excelsior House Hotel has been in business since 1855. It has been host to many  famous guests including Ulysses S Grant, Jay Gould, Oscar Wilde, Lady Byrd Johnson and rumor has it Steven Spielberg. As a matter of fact several of the rooms are named after its famous guests.

The Excelsior House Hotel

While the story of Diamond Bessie is a tragic one it seems that this murdered lady still regularly visits the Excelsior. Many guests have even left the hotel in the middle of the night, refusing to return due to the activity there. There are numerous claims about Bessie’s presence in the hotel including: that she has been seen in the upper hallway, pulling the covers from your body as you sleep, and even that she is said to steal the diamonds off of sleeping women’s fingers.

Another report involves the Jay Gould room, which is said to be the most haunted of the hotel. Reports of a rocking chair that will not stop rocking, cigar smoke that can been seen and smelt, a headless man that appears right outside the doorway of the room, as well as a woman in black carrying a child and a little boy.

Rumors abound in town about how Steven Spielberg and a film crew once stayed at the Excelsior. According to these unverified rumors Mr. Spielberg stayed in the legendary Jay Gould room. Checking into the hotel, he went up to the Jay Gould room with bags in tow. He then tossed his briefcase on the Victorian chair and it flew back at him immediately. Sometime after midnight he was awakened by a small boy that asked him if he was ready for breakfast. By 2:00 a.m. he awakened his film crew and fled the hotel; saying he could not sleep for the rocking chair that would not stop rocking. Oddly enough, this reportedly happened just before the release of his blockbuster movie Poltergeist.  Although I can find no evidence to the fact that he actually stayed in the hotel as is claimed.

While one guest reported phantom smells of perfume wandering the downstairs area, the night clerk said it was not the first time something like that had happened and was reported.

Main Lobby of the Excelsior House

So, with the chance of seeing and gaining evidence of a full bodied apparition in this quaint New Orleans style hotel with court yard, plantation type breakfast and fancy iron works seeming to be a pretty sure thing, this investigator is looking forward to checking this one out. I will definitely be reporting on my findings as soon as I do.

Jefferson, Texas seems to be the happening place for many ghost stories, and bumping into the past, on a pretty consistent basis. I have personally visited many times and love the area. Walking through town one truly gets a feel for a much simpler time. The spirits abound and the people are friendly. So, let us know if you decide to visit. We will look forward to everybody’s personal experiences while visiting there.

Till next time! Sleep tight!

http://www.theexcelsiorhouse.com/

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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

Want to step back in time? If so and you live in the East Texas area, consider taking a trip to visit Jefferson Texas, listed as the third most haunted city in Texas as well as the fifth oldest city in Texas. Let me give you a little bit of the background of the city and maybe you will see why it is considered haunted.
The rich history of the town begins in the 1800’s when Jefferson was a mecca for riverboat traffic and a prosperous and influential city. It was one of the state’s biggest and busiest river ports and was reported to be the biggest west of the mighty Mississippi.The city was dubbed Queen of the Bayou because of the proximity to the swamps of the Cypress River.

Jefferson, Texas

Clock in Downtown Jefferson

Walking down the streets of Jefferson today is just like stepping back into time and the atmosphere is one of a much gentler era, one where manners and grace once were abundant. A time where everyone knew everyone else, the yards were filled with laughter from kids playing, and music could be heard on a warm summer night from one of the hotels or saloons. Upon walking down main street, you will get a sense of what life might have been like back then. Even on its busiest days of the year however, it is strangely a quiet place seemingly cut off from all the noise and bustle of modern life. Big oak trees surround the area and a gentle breeze seems to always be drifting through. The river is not a far walk from town, and that brings me to one of the reasons it is haunted. I will not go into great detail about some of the reported tales in this article but I will give you some information to pique your curiosity.
The most famous haunting is that of Annie Stone better known to townsfolk as “Diamond Bessie Moore”. She was murdered just outside the city and is said to still roam the streets, river bank and one of the hotels in town. You will see many things about her throughout the town, as she is now somewhat of a celebrity and they are proud to tell you the story and direct you to the spots where she has been seen. There is also the Excelsior House (Hotel) where she has been sighted and many strange things happen if you were to be staying in one of the rooms or wandering the halls at night.

The town has a surreal quality about it, as you can hear the clip clop of the horse and buggy that makes its way through the town, on the cobblestone streets, and a the lonesome whistle of the haunted train the “General Lee” as it makes its rounds telling the history of the town as it goes.

General Lee

General Lee

So whether you want to experience a time gone by or try and catch yourself a glimpse of a ghost. Try checking out beautiful Jefferson, Texas. If your really up for an adventure into the paranormal book you a room at one of the downtown hotels or a bed and breakfast. In my next article,  we will examine details of the hauntingly  sad tale of “Diamond Bessie Moore”.
Until then… Sleep tight.