Sunday, November 22, 2015

Claiborne House, Part One

As promised, here is the first part of the weekend when Aunt Belle and I ran away from home:
Jefferson, Texas, is a town that superbly fits one word: quiet. At least it is pretty much that way when there's not a huge festival in town. A couple times a year, Aunt Belle and I run away by ourselves to visit somewhere we can relax from the stress of our daily lives, plus check out the ghosts, of course. Jefferson is filled with B&B's, and we've stayed at several of them. I believe the Claiborne House was the most active haunted B&B we've encountered in this town.

Aunt Belle in Front of Claiborne House
The house was built between 1862-66, and Captain Claiborne purchased it in 1871. It has wonderful porches on it, as well as a swing and chairs to sit in and unwind. Captain Claiborne still hangs around, as well as several other who have decided it's a wonderful place to roam.
Today's owners, Ann and Jerry Leblanc, bought it two years ago without being informed it was haunted. 

Jerry and Ann LeBlanc
They are both a lot of fun to talk to, and they have no qualms about discussing the various pranks the ghosts in the house pull on them and their guests. When I first talked to Jerry to make our reservation, we ended up on the phone for a long while discussing the hauntings. He also informed me that he believed they had a portal and said someone he had in once closed it for them. I asked him if he felt it was still closed, and he informed me that he wasn't really sure. So I offered to bring some things to close it and keep it closed, and he agreed enthusiastically.
The only room available on the Friday the 13th we wanted to stay was one of the carriage house rooms, over the garage. I went ahead and booked that one, instead of the Browning Room, which we really wanted. We shopped in town a while after we arrived, then decided to drive by the Claiborne House to see where it was, knowing that we wouldn't be able to check in that early. However, Jerry happened to be outside and we introduced ourselves. During our discussions, he informed me the people who had reserved the Browning Room had cancelled and that he would upgrade us to that room with no extra charge. He also said that if we wanted to go ahead and check in, we could, and he would give us a tour. We were thrilled, since the room was in the house and downstairs.
Jerry showed us around the grounds and home, and even the vacant upstairs rooms. The moment we got out of the car, we started feeling paranormal energy. Aunt Belle wandered off onto the grounds, and when she returned, she said, "The gardener say hello."
"Oh?" Jerry asked. "I thought I was the gardener."
"The man I 'met' says he's the gardener," she said. "His name is Herman."
Jerry knew, of course, from our previous conversation that we were psychic mediums, so he just laughed.
We also toured what Jerry called his "man cave," in the lower garage. There were several cats roaming in there and the grounds, and Aunt Belle and I love cats, so we had lots of petting to do. 
 Aunt Belle and Claiborne House Cat

Jerry also had some birds in there, and they were fairly upset because he had covered them before we came in. He uncovered them, and they were happy to quit their complaining. We identified a couple ghosts in there, a man and a woman. Jerry agreed he'd had lots of occurrences in there. He had a rempod that he had purchased, and it activated a couple times over by his closet in the room.
Jerry and Rempod
The upstairs of the house was somewhat inactive, but we did feel one ghost. She kept following us around but wouldn't stand still long enough to get an identification on her. In fact, most of the ghosts on the ground and in the house moved quite a bit. They definitely weren't lazy.
The most intense encounter we had that afternoon happened to Aunt Belle. I was in the kitchen talking to Ann and Jerry, and again, she had wandered off. She enjoys getting off to herself, or even just the two of us, so we do that a lot. She came back into the kitchen, and I could tell something had happened.
"What did you see?" I asked.
But she spoke to Jerry and said, "Do you have a man who haunts the downstairs? He's fairly tall and very nicely dressed, although he's wearing clothing from the late 1800's."
Jerry gasped. "Captain Claiborne! It has to be him. You saw him?"
She nodded yes, and said, "He's a really strong presence. I saw him as a full bodied apparition."
"I've got a picture of him," Jerry said excitedly. "In here, on my computer."
He led us into an office area off the kitchen and started searching on his computer. Then he pulled up one photo and pointed at it. This time, Aunt Belle gasped.
"That's him," she said. "That's who I saw."
I asked Jerry to email me a copy of the photo.

Captain Claiborne

We had a few more encounters, but I'll have to leave them until next time. However, I highly recommend the Claiborne House for anyone who wants to stay in a lovely place, haunted, of course. They're on 312 South Alley Street in Jefferson, Texas. You can call them at 903-665-8800. They've also got a web site at, and you can see the lovely rooms there. Another recommendation is that beautiful Browning Room. You can see it on the web site. Just remember, you'll be sharing the Claiborne House with unseen guests!
The writing's going slow. It always does this time of year, since I'm prone to spend time prowling the internet looking for Christmas gift bargains. Those emails I get listing pre-Black Friday bargains this year distract me. I've already bought a couple gifts, and I'm watching the price drop on some others. Yep, I'll be one of those people in the Black Friday crowds, especially since I've got my eye on some things at Walmart.
I am getting a little bit of time in on the short story (which, knowing how I write, you can believe just won't stay short). This coming week, though, had a lot of time designated for backing pumpkin pies and pumpkin rolls. Yum! Plus I need to get those homemade noodles done, and our turkey injected with the Cajun spices to it will marinate well before Thursday.
I doubt I'll see y'all until next weekend, so I'm wishing everyone of y'all a wonderfully Happy Thanksgiving, filled with food and lots and lots of family. I'll be counting my blessings, one of which is my fantastic readers and the friends I have made through my writing. Sending loads of good wishes and rainbows your way!

T. M.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Aunt Belle and Friday the 13th

Aunt Belle and Dancer (explained below)
I think I learned something new this past few weeks. It's been several months since Aunt Belle was able to come visit. She and I are both caretakers for our husbands, so sometimes it's hard for us to get together. This October was the first October in a long while that she hadn't been here for a few days. As y'all are aware, that month is when the Veil thins and make communication with the other dimension easier. All during October, I kept waiting for a rise in activity here at my house, but it didn't happen.
Finally, Aunt Belle felt comfortable enough about leaving for a short vacation in November. As we discussed possible dates and a short trip, she said to me, "Do you realize there's a Friday the 13th in November?"
"Cool!" I told her. "Can you get away then?"
"I'm going to try. We haven't been back to Jefferson in a while, so how about we go there?"
I agreed, and although our first B&B choice was closed for repairs, I called my friend and fellow author, Mitch Whitington, and asked him for a recommendation.
"You know I want somewhere actively haunted," I said to Mitch.
"Claiborne House," he said without hesitation. "Right now, it's the most haunted B&B in town."
I made our reservation, then started thinking about it. Our conversation confirming Aunt Belle wouldn't be able to visit in October took place around the first part of that mongh, during the final preparations for our Spirit Fest at the Beckham Hotel. I think my ghosts here at the house listened in on the phone, which they do consistently. Instead of causing mischief during October, I believe they saved their energy for the week during which Friday the 13th fell.
Sure enough, my ghosts were more visible that second week in November, and the spirit activity even increased. In fact, there was one really strong spirit (not a ghost) whose energy was as intense as any I'd ever felt before. On the Monday before Aunt Belle arrived, I saw him standing in a little hallway that leads into our master bedroom. He was extremely clear, except I couldn't see his face. He also spoke to me, and I ran to the phone to call Aunt Belle.
"Your dad's here," I said. "I've been feeling this really strong paranormal energy from someone around here lately, then I saw him today. He's wearing a blue and black and white plaid shirt, and he was standing in that little hallway at our bedroom door. When I asked him what he wanted, he said, 'I'm waiting here to see Al.' Your daddy always called you Al, and that's the type of shirt he wore a lot. So I know it's him."
"It's about time," she said.
"Why's that?" I asked.
"He's never come back to see me before. And yes, it has to be him. He always teased me by calling me Al."
"Well, he's here now, waiting on you."
"Tell him I'll be there on Wednesday."
I really didn't have to tell him, because I could tell he was listening in on the phone. And the first two photos on this blog are the ones I took of Aunt Belle and our rescue dog, Dancer, the day she arrived. They were taken about ten seconds apart. Her daddy was definitely in the room!
Of course, Aunt Belle is really and truly my aunt, so that makes her dad my grandpa. Her dad and my dad are half-brother and –sister. She's only four years older than me, and we grew up next door to each other. The next house down the road and across the holler was where my great-grandmother (Aunt Belle's grandmother), Grandma Alice, lived. I don't remember Grandma Alice's husband, Grandpa Will, since I was only two years old when he died. However, Aunt Belle was really close to him. She spent nearly every day with Grandpa Will during her early childhood, until he died.
Why am I talking about Grandpa Will? Well, he played into the ghost story that happened here.
When Aunt Belle got up after her first night here, I asked, "Well? Did Grandpa talk to you?"
She sort of frowned. "He didn't really talk to me, but come here and I'll show you."

Grandpa Will in 1947 at the Cantner Homestead

In the Molly Belle Suite, she pointed to a picture she had laid on one of the dressers. "That's Grandpa Will. I know you don't remember him, but I sure do. Something told me to bring that picture with me, and last night I laid it here. I woke up about two p.m. and heard someone talking. I looked over, and Daddy was standing there with two women. He was pointing at the picture and telling them who it was. I'm pretty sure the two women were Alice and Belle, two of my aunts."
"But he didn't talk to you?"
"No," she said in a disappointed voice. "But then, I went back to sleep pretty quickly."
Grandpa only said one other thing to her the rest of the time she was here. We did glimpse him several times, and one of those times was in the living room where we were watching TV. There was a blond woman on there, talking about her company's wonderful insurance.
"I wonder if that woman knows how unattractive she is?" I asked Aunt Belle.
She burst out laughing. "Daddy just said, 'She's as ugly as a mud fence.' I haven't heard that saying for a long time. That was definitely Daddy we just saw standing over there."
Aunt Belle had to leave on Sunday, but we did spend our overnight at the Claiborne House on Friday the 13th.

Aunt Belle at Claiborne House

And yes, we encountered several ghosts. I'll report on some of those next week, although it may take more than one blog to tell about all of them. I even have some photos the owner shared with me.
See you then!
As to the writing, I'm working on the short story still. I cleared my plate while Aunt Belle was here, not even checking in on my email and Facebook pages as often as usual. But I'll work on it again this week. I've decided I really need to get my mailing list filled out, so I'll be giving this story away to people who sign up for it. If you're already on it, I'll send it to you, also. It will be a few weeks, though. I have to get a neat cover from Angela after I finish it.
Thanks to all of you who are buying Silent Prey, and also leaving reviews. Both the buys and the reviews are really helpful. I appreciate them from the bottom of my heart, and it's so very much fun to share my books with y'all!

See y'all soon.
T. M.

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