Our History told by our Founder, Jeanine Plumer

The idea’s apparition
Initially, when I decided to start a walking tour company in Austin, my intention was to give tours about Austin’s unique history – historic downtown walking tours. While researching the old buildings downtown, the building occupants would mention with surprising frequency unexplained events taking place that they attributed to a … ghost. I would nod my head and pretend to listen, but really, I had never thought about ghosts in my life. Still, every now and then on a tour, I would mention that the building dwellers believed they had a ghost. When I mentioned that, the people in the tour group invariably lit up with interest. It became obvious: they wanted to hear ghost stories! It was then I decided to collect Austin’s ghost stories and create Austin Ghost Tours (AGT).

Pursuit of the truth
Of course the first question to ask is who is haunting the building? It came to my attention that pretty much everybody believed their ghosts came into existence through some sort of drama. Each suicide or murder seemed to be over lost love. Every building was at one point either a brothel or bordello, a speakeasy or gambling hall. Austin’s colorful famed gun fighter Ben Thompson was haunting every bar in the city. What ended up floating around with the ghosts were lots of urban legends, no real facts.

I decided that if I was going to tell these stories, I was going to tell the real story. After all, we don’t REALLY know what is happening, but perhaps by telling the truth I would stay on the good side of the spirits.

What I unearthed
What I discovered, of course, changed my life. Whatever you want to call these energies – ghosts, spirits, or souls – they seem to be remnants of people who have lived, died and continue to reside. Why they choose not to leave, or whether they’re unable to, we don’t know.

What you believe is your choice, but I can tell you without a doubt, there is something happening around us everywhere, barely discernible, but very much there. After interviewing thousands of people, it is clear what ghosts can do is astonishing. They can turn lights on and off along with televisions, cell phones, fire alarms, and water faucets. They can open and close doors, windows, and shades. They can move objects of all sizes, make phone calls, move furniture, knock on doors, ring doorbells and even talk to you. These occurrences are just some of the phenomena taking place in Austin’s buildings populated by the living and other-worldly beings. Point to ponder: a majority of people who have an experience that they believe to be a ghost do NOT feel fear.

When researching who these people might have been in life, I soon discovered that the residual energies that remained were not famous Austinites, the infamous, or those who were “bigger-than-life” in any way. The spirits that remain are regular people like you and me. It is the woman who was widowed at a young age and opened a millinery shop on 6th Street to support herself and her children. Every morning for much of her life she sent her kids to school and went downstairs to open her business. Some part of her spirit is still doing that. It is the man who began working as a porter at The Driskill Hotel at age 16, the fourth generation in his family to do so, tending to guests into old age – and beyond. It is the woman who entered the Confederate Women’s Home when she was 65 years old and died there at the age of 90. Every day for 25 years she walked the hallways – and still does today.

My concluding belief is that most ghosts remain because of life. The life they lived makes a stronger imprint than the process of their death.

– Jeanine Plumer

Founder of AGT & author of Haunted Austin

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Keep the spirit alive.

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