KATY MAGAZINE I OCTOBER 2019
By Natalie Cook Clark
After two centuries, Katy has developed a rich history, complete with
legends and ghost stories passed down through the generations. While many unexplained happenings have been debunked by paranormal experts, some stories still push the limits of reality. Real or not, you decide. Regardless, it's fun to explore the lore that makes up Katy's history this time of year.
The Historic Katy Train
As one of Katy's most iconic landmarks, the Katy Train on 1st Street has been the go-to
location for many senior pictures shoots. But did you know rich legends and hauntings surround the old train? Many believe ghost/spirit orbs, often thought to be the souls of people, appear as soft lights in Katyites' pictures.
Don't get scared away from the train just yet, Katy!
"We can most likely call this case closed," says paranormal investigator Paul "Elvis" Amos of Cryptozooligical Paranormal Investigations. "We checked out the Katy Train, we did capture a lot of orbs, but dust can make it look that way. In truth, I think the train is dusty."
Possible 'Romantic Ghosts" at the Train
Fiona Broome, a popular paranormal author, investigator, and psychic, visited the MKT Katy Train in the early 2000's. She reports seeing some orbs near the back of the train. However, what's most intriguing about her encounter was what she described as a "romantic couple" she believes to haunt the location.
"The impression was so vivid," says Broome on her popular Hollow Hill website. "I could sense the couple as soon as I got out of my car. He’s a man in a brown suit with lapels trimmed in braid. She’s taller than him, especially with the tall, perky hat that she wears. And, she holds his arm as they stroll around the depot."
"I like to think that they’re remembering a time when they took a romantic journey by train, perhaps to some still-wild part of the Southwest, or a second honeymoon in Kansas City or Chicago, during a more genteel era," says Broome.
So if the train is indeed haunted it's most likely a pair of friendly ghosts reliving a past romantic stroll. Continue your photo sessions at the Katy Train, but don't count on Casper photo bombing. Any ghostly encounter is highly unlikely.
Katy Cemetery Legends
Considering Katy's age and growth, rumors about haunted cemeteries have built up for generations. While these ghostly stories usually get shared this time of year, always keep in mind that cemeteries are places of rest and must be respected. Follow posted signs and do not trespass at night.
A Moving Blue Light
This cemetery, like most old cemeteries has a great and long history. Known to many as the "Blue Light Cemetery," these grounds are the final resting place for many of the area's
original families. Monuments to many of the German immigrants from early Katy settlements are found here. The cemetery is located at the northeast corner of the intersection of Highway 6 North and Patterson Road.
In 1879, the Bear Creek German Methodist Church was built on an area that proved to drain poorly. So in 1902, the congregation moved the church here to sit on three acres donated by Fred and Katherine Brandt. A portion of the acreage was laid out as a cemetery. Drainage continued to be a problem, however, and in 1915 the church was destroyed in a storm, but quickly rebuilt.
The church was moved in 1940 to a new location as construction started on the Addicks Reservoir. The church is now known as Addicks United Methodist Church. The cemetery remains in its original location to this day. The legends describes a glowing blue orb traveling through the grounds at night. To the best of our knowledge, no one has captured footage of the orb. People still carry on the long tradition of parking near the cemetery at night and look into it (without entering).
"I grew up hearing about that blue light," says Jerrilyn Rheman. "I've driven by the cemetery but have never seen a blue light. Still it's fun to tell the story to others and celebrate a fun local legend."
The Witch's Grave
The Magnolia Cemetery has been around since 1900 and is the resting place for many of Katy's founding fathers and civil war soldiers. A walk among its tombstones reads like a map of the city, with many familiar names of main streets and landmarks scattered throughout Katy.
One tombstone attracts a lot of attention, and that is Barbara Snyder's grave, a German immigrant who passed away in 1911.
Snyder's grave is the legendary "Katy Witch Grave" that frequents lists of things to visit, especially any top haunting lists this time of year. Is it the creepy epitaph on her tombstone?
Remember me as you pass by, As you are now, so once was I: As I am now, you soon shall be,
Prepare for death and follow me.
Legend has it, if you read the words at her grave, you must pay, or risk bad luck for the rest of your life. There have also been tales of visitors seeing the image of the witch behind them in mirrors. However, there is no proof to any of this.
"Of course we visited the Magnolia Cemetery," says Amos. "We did an EVP session and didn't see anything. I think it's just a fun legend."
There once was a crystal orb on the top of the tombstone and visitors claimed it would levitate off. The orb has since been removed due to the number of student pranks, and now rests at the Katy Police Department. Legend or truth, this visitor couldn't leave without donating coins of my own for our Katy Witch.
Magnolia Cemetery Haunts
Barbara Snyder's grave isn't the only "haunted" spot in the cemetery.
Laurie St. Cyr founded KT Paranormal visited Magnolia Cemetery in 2009. She began investigating strange occurrences to be the cool mom with her son and his friends who were interested in ghost hunting.
"Over the years, if they were interested in this stuff, I could make sure that they were safe and investigated it properly," explains St. Cyr.
With most of their team consisting of students, Laurie made sure a set of safety rules were always followed. They were never to break any laws, trespass on private property, or investigate anything deemed potentially evil.
The group is mostly inactive now as the students all graduated. But they were responsible for investigating many local Katy haunted legends.
"We went to investigate the cemetery, and of course the "witch" grave but we didn't get anything there. It wasn't until we were all out of the cemetery and on the other side of the fence that some of us were shocked to see a little boy," says St. Cyr. "He had a red ball cap on and was about three. He was playing around a collection of three flat tombstones and kept ducking around them like in a game of hide and seek. Then he would sit up on one and swing his legs like little kids do."
An alleged image of the little boy ghost seen and photographed by Laurie St. Cyr
Mystery Woman in White (or Gray) on Clay Road KT Paranormal also investigated the popular legend of a lone woman in white seen at Greenhouse and Clay Road. Legend has it the woman can be seen when drivers turn off their headlights and take the sharp turn near the bayou (not recommended to our readers for obvious safety reasons).
KT Paranormal investigated the local haunt prior to the development of the location today.
"The turn is sharp and I don't recommend doing it with your lights off. Safety is always number one for us," says St. Cyr. "We did investigate this and at the turn we did see a woman in white. It was very brief and one of the students with me noted that she looked like she was dressed from Little House on the Prairie."
Reports of sightings occur frequently at this location but visitors must take caution and be safe while driving. Most sightings occur when people are not looking.
A few months ago a mother and daughter from Katy reported seeing a strange sight on that road.
"We were driving and turning near the gas station when I saw a woman walking towards the station in black pants, black top, and a gray jacket," says the mother. "She looked like an older woman to me."
She commented on the woman to her daughter who claimed that when she looked back she saw a young woman in a grayish, white dress. Strange? Or a fun illusion on a dark road.
Haunted Homes in Katy
Cryptozoological Paranormal Investigations claims to have identified several haunted houses in Katy. Many houses in "Old Katy" have noted unexplained happenings but even residents in newer (compared to Katy's age) developments have reported unusual experiences too.
C.P.I. investigates the unexplained in Katy and surrounding areas in Texas.
"We try to debunk everything. We normally can, and most of the time it's a hot water heater or AC unit, etc.," explains Amos. "Most of the popular Katy locations we went to we found nothing. The best paranormal Katy experiences we've had were in private residential homes, which we obviously can't say who or where they are."
A Cinco Ranch Haunting
"We did have an experience at a home in Cinco Ranch where a young couple was experiencing a menacing poltergeist. They had objects moving around the house and sightings of a shadow figure. I was in the attic with the husband and we both saw a dark shadow figure. That stuff sticks with you," says Amos.
In this case the family's haunting story has a happy ending.
"We worked with the family and they are no longer affected by the shadow figure that used to bother them. We want to help people. This is why we do what we do."
As Amos points out, the vast majority of "unexplained sounds or experiences" can always be explained by a natural cause. Still it's fun to wonder this time of year.
Mayde Creek High School Ghosts?
One of the biggest local paranormal investigations took place at a Katy high school. In October of 2011, St. Cyr's group was summoned to investigate paranormal activity that seemed to be happening at Mayde Creek High.
"At the time I worked for the district so people knew what I did with my son and his friends on the side. The administration, at the time, asked us to come conduct an investigation and of course we were thrilled to do so," says St. Cyr.
KT Paranormal investigating Mayde Creek High School. Photo courtesy of Laurie St. Cyr
More Activity at Mayde Creek Than Any Other Investigation
St. Cyr's process is to set up video equipment, meters, and also set aside dead time: a time allotted (once the team is set up) to wait and observe to see if any paranormal happens.
"At Mayde Creek High School, we experienced the most activity of any of our investigations," says St. Cyr. "We got pictures of orb movement. On camera, we got something that moved across the stage and took sixteen minutes to do so. In the foyer by the office, one of us took a picture and saw a shadow just outside the principal's office."
Computers Turning On Randomly
While at Mayde Creek, St. Cyr's paranormal team also walked by a row of computers that suddenly turned on.
"At the time I thought that was strange but I decided to talk to the technology staff at the high school to see if any back-ups were scheduled for that night," says St. Cyr.
Unexplained electronic activity is a common sign of paranormal activity according to paranormal experts. St. Cyr says the school confirmed that there were no back-ups set for those computers and there was no reason why they should have turned on.
"I know we didn't touch them or even get close enough to bump one accidentally. That was strange."
Setting Limits and Debunking Rumors
"We were invited several times to a home where multiple murders had taken place and I turned down the offer every time," says St. Cyr. "Our first priority after safety is to debunk anything. Then if we can't, it's fun to be curious and open to what is out there."
To learn more about St. Cyr's team, visit their Facebook group, KT Paranormal.
There are a couple other Katy-based ghost and paranormal investigating groups who have taken interest in explaining the unexplained.
The True Katy Witch
While the "Magnolia Witch" has been debunked and known as a fun local tale, Katy has had one witch come to town. Former Hutsell Elementary students recall a tale of a witch visiting their school every Halloween in the 1980's. Her name was Matilda.
The impromptu tradition was started by beloved Katy educator and school namesake, Sharon Rhoads many years ago. One year at Halloween time, Rhoads wanted to have fun with her students. She took fabric and items from the classroom and created a witch's costume. Her special "visit" to surprise students evolved over the years with all of Hutsell looking forward to her visit. The kids sang a special Matilda song (written by Jeannette Hayes of Hayes Elementary) and they loved the anticipation of awaiting Matilda's arrival. Imagine the kids' excitement when their favorite Halloween witch traded in her broom one year and arrived at the school by helicopter!
Matilda the Witch no longer visits the school, but the memory lives on. Rhoads (as Matilda) delivered a unique, Halloween excitement. Today, the Hutsell staff, former students, and a community still recall the Katy witch who managed to helicopter her way to Hutsell Elementary.
Rhoads (acting as Matilda) and arriving at Hutsell Elementary.
UFO's Visiting Katy?
Not all fun Katy legends center around ghosts and witches. Katy made headlines back in October of 2017 when a resident stopped his car at Highland Knolls and Grand Parkway to take video of what he believes is a UFO. The story of his sighting aired on ABC.
Upon researching further into this story, I found that Katy is a hot-spot for many recent UFO sightings especially around I-10.
Mutual UFO Network map shows a great trend of UFO sightings near Katy.
More UFO Sightings
Amos may have spotted his own UFO in Katy.
"It was late at night when I stepped outside to get some air. I saw two cars coming down the road when all of a sudden a red and white light came out of the tree line and shot up and disappeared. Both cars stopped and obviously saw it too, so I wasn't alone. I can't explain what I saw," said Amos.
A City of Mystery
Old Town Katy is full of mystery and unmarked grave sites you wouldn't be able to find unless you knew where to look.
"There was an old hidden cemetery, a mass grave from yellow fever, somewhere near Avenue D and 5th Street," says St Cyr. "You can find it on some old Katy maps."
"Many of these fun tales are passed down from generation to generation," says Katy resident Adrienne Davitz. "When we were kids our parents taught us that ghosts aren't real so we grew up watching scary movies and having fun with Halloween. We used to drive around the old cemetery behind the gas station by the Merrel Center each Halloween just to look."
"I think talking about such tales are fun and promote our history," says Rheman.
A Ghost Hunting Guide to Safety and Respect
Don't go Alone - Take someone, or a group with you. This is for safety but also to validate anything you may experience.
Visit Accessible Areas - NEVER trespass.
Be Respectful - IF a location actually does have links to anything paranormal (this is mostly not the case) be respectful, especially near a cemetery or someone's final resting place.
Research - Do your homework. What experiences is the area known for? When and how can you best visit the location?
Don't Leave Your Mark - Always leave any location as you found it.
Safety First - Be safe and use common sense. Never drive at night without your headlights, be mindful of where you park, etc.
Did we miss something?
If you know a legend, haunt, UFO sighting, or scary Katy story that should be shared here, tell us! Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Or post your feedback in the comments below.