Every Friday and Saturday night, a group of people move from place to place around the Square. But these intrepid people aren’t looking for cocktails. They’re searching for spirits of a different kind.
Since 2012, storyteller Shelly Tucker has been leading tour groups around the Denton Square, telling stories she’s accumulated of ghostly encounters and showing photos of the history of the square. Commonly referred to as “The Ghost Lady”, she has so many stories of paranormal activity that no tour is exactly like another. Currently, her tours depart at 8 p.m. from the new hub on the Square, the Discover Denton Welcome Center.
I had the opportunity to go on one of the Denton Ghost Tours with Ms. Tucker. Full disclosure – I have experienced paranormal activity myself. Plus, as a history buff, getting to see the old photos and hear the stories of the events that shaped the Square as it stands today is fascinating to me.
Ms. Tucker first told us of “Charlie”, who “decorates” the Downtown Mini-Mall, playing tricks on customers and employees of the Mini Mall. Charlie is known to create mischief, from turning lights on and off to moving items around the shop.
She then took our group down the street to Recycled Books, where she told how patrons of the secondhand shop had experienced books flying off the shelves. But that was nothing compared to the stories of the tenants in the apartments and offices surrounding Recycled Books. The landlord claims that not one tenant has reported not experiencing some sort of activity, whether it be footsteps, disembodied voices speaking, doors shutting and, in one instance, some sort of spirit that actually did a tenant’s dishes. (That ghost is permitted to visit me, any time.)
The building that houses Recycled Books originated as the Wright Opera House where, rumor has it, one of the actors committed suicide in his dressing room. This restless spirit may be to blame for supernatural occurrences in the office spaces around the building, stories of which range from just a feeling that something is off to broken lightbulbs in the corridors.
Andy’s Bar is another place on the Square known for its ghostly encounters. The establishment, which operated as a speakeasy during Prohibition, is in the oldest building standing on the Square. From the little girl in a blue dress that they call Sarah to gangsters playing poker upstairs in Paschall Bar, it is said that it is not if you witness a spirit, but rather when.
One of the most disturbing stories was of the ghost that might haunt the north side of the square. Following the death of A.H. Fortenberry (the last Caucasian to be killed in the Indian Wars in this area), Tarleton Bull allegedly killed a Comanche Indian and Dr. Ross, who ran the drugstore at the time, hung him in his store for 10 years. After passersby took many “trophies” from the body, the skeleton was thrown out in the back alley. With many frightening occurrences happening still today in the building, Ms. Tucker wonders if a Comanche spirit isn’t still wandering the area, looking for revenge.
We ended our tour at the Courthouse on the Square, which was built in 1896, and she told the story of the slave who became the courthouse janitor, Zachariah. Zachariah lived to be well into his 90s and only perished from a bout of Spanish flu. To this day, the security guards see what are commonly called “orbs” to paranormal investigators on his camera screens. There was also the story of two women who went to the museum. One stopped in the restroom and while she was doing her business, heard someone enter, wash their hands, and leave. But upon asking her friend, her friend claimed that no one had gone in or out in the time that she was in there. The two women then ran screaming from the building.
Each story told was fascinating and gave a good dose of Denton history with a lot of great storytelling. Although there is quite a bit of speculation on the source of these hauntings, each person comes away with a new awareness of what might be around them.
You must have a reservation to go on a Ghost Tour. They are $15 for adults and $8 for children and can be booked at ghostsofdenton.com. So this Halloween season, take your chances and go on a Ghost Tour of the Denton Square…if you dare.