HOUSTON AND HOUSTONIANS 83
ing was put up I never heard. It must have been at a very
early period in Houston's history, or else it must have been
constructed of very inferior material, for When I first became
acquainted with it, in the late fifties, it was almost a ruin,
having one side almost completely demolished and the other not
The truth of the adage about giving a dog a bad name was
never better exemplified than in that old building. For no cause
on earth some one started a report that the house was haunted.
All specific information and all details were wanting, and yet in
an incredibly short time you could not get a negro or a boy in
Houston to go near that house after dark. I link the negroes and
boys together in the preceding paragraph, for when it came to
believing in ghosts or any other superstition they were in a class
peculiarly their own.
Now, there was an exception to this fear of ghosts in the person
of John Steel, son of the man who afterward killed Colonel
Kirby of Hempstead. John was a great big, healthy boy, and
was as game as a gamecock. He was not afraid of anything,
living or dead, and talked so contemptuously about our haunted
house that it made us angry. Finally Charley Gentry bet him
five dollars that he would not go into that house and remain
there until daylight alone. There were some other conditions,
among them being that John should read a certain book. How
I remember that book! It was called "The Night Side of Noe
ture," and was a compilation of the most horrible ghost stories,
all sworn to and authenticated. I borrowed it afterward, but
took care to read it only in the daytime.
John agreed to everything, and when the fatal night came we
escorted him to the house, avoiding the Episcopal graveyard in
doing so. We had an old chair for him to sit on and left him
three candles. He was really the only cool and indifferent boy
in the crowd.
We went off and hid among some coffee bean weeds near the
side of the road and watched for developments. We could see
the light shining through the cracks in the door and also in the
wall of the old house. We waited and waited, but nothing happened.
One of the boys crept up and peeped in and came back
and reported that John was sitting there reading and smoking
a pipe, "just like old folks."
Charley Gentry began to get anxious about his five-dollar bet,
and realized that something had to be done. Finally he anounced
that if anybody would go with him he would get something
that *ould move John out of that house in a hury.
One of the boys volunteered and they left. They were goae a
long time, and when they returned we all realized that sme-
Young, Samuel Oliver. True stories of old Houston and Houstonians: historical and personal sketches / by S. O. Young.. Galveston, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth24646/. Accessed July 14, 2014.