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 a ghost tour.
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 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.
Author of Haunted Austin
Monica Ballard has been a tour guide for Austin Ghost Tours since 2005, and a paranormal investigator with Haunted Texas since 2010. In that time, as tour guide and investigator, she has been a witness to extraordinary phenomena. She has appeared on numerous podcasts, radio shows, and featured nationally on TV shows.
Monica shares Austin Ghost Tours’ commitment to lifting the veil between dimensions and assisting others in understanding what lies beyond. The goal is to separate pop-culture myth from astounding reality.
John of House Maverick, First of His Mane, the Untrimmed, King of the Vandals and the First Magicians, Khal of the Great Ghost Tour, Wielder of Chains, and Maker of Monsters.
The Areas Of My Expertise:
|magician||tour guide||maker of monsters|
|martial artist||web developer||inventor|
|collector of deadly things||calligrapher||photographer|
|rain forest explorer||barista||designer|
Alexandra is a full-time professional tour guide, taking folks through cities all across America and Canada. In her spare time, she dabbles in Shakespeare, writing, swing dancing, and admiring Austin’s street art.
She’s spooked by ghosts, but like any of her fears, such as heights, she meets them head on, whether that be parachuting out of a plane or conversing with the spirits of the dearly departed. As a wise woman once said, nothing in life is to be feared; only understood.
Stephanie is a museum professional, an archeologist and sixth generation Czech Texan from La Grange, Texas. Growing up in a historic and haunted house, she is familiar with ghosts. While she has always had the curiosity to learn more about hauntings, she never really got the chance to do so. Her strong interest in Texas history and archeology lead her to end up with a masters degree in Museum Science. She worked as a field archeologist for various cultural resource management (CRM) firms and as a collections assistant at museums and an archeological research laboratory in Texas. After several years of working as a seasonal field archeologist, she decided to return to museum related work. This lead her to landing a position as a gallery assistant/docent at the Texas Capitol Visitors Center where she conducts tours at the visitors center, the Texas State Cemetery, the Governors Mansion, and occasionally the Texas State Capitol. One day, one of her co-workers at the visitors center (and long time AGT tour guide Elizabeth) announced that Austin Ghost Tours was looking to fill a spot for a new tour they were starting in SW Austin at Arbor Trails. The chance to learn more about the paranormal had finally come. Upon signing up as a convict character for the tour, it didn’t take long until she experienced a haunting. Since then, she has been actively researching stories, taking part in paranormal investigations, assisting with creating the virtual tour platform and hosting tours, and produces the Haunted Texas and Beyond Podcast. In her spare time, she is a DJ and writer for an online radio station RenegadeRadio.net.
Dennis Foley is a 25 plus year veteran of public radio and television broadcasting. Working with the likes of PBS, NPR, APM, MPR and PRI media organizations his work as a professional audio recorder, sound designer and program producer have spanned many years. He now operates his own broadcast consulting business, HomeWork Productions & Sound Design.
His experience and talents have been utilized by Austin Ghost Tours & Haunted Texas as their EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) Specialist. In all of his years as a technical audio professional he has never been more profoundly moved than when his recording equipment began picking up disembodied voices that were never present at the time of the original recording.
Bibi has happily been an Austinite since 2005. She studied photography at the Art institute of Austin. She spent many of those years doing creative portraits and later event photography for the Oasis on Lake Travis. She’s always had a love and curiosity of the spirit realm and beyond. With Austin Ghost Tours and Haunted Texas and Beyond the adventure of being the camera’s eye to your virtual experience is exciting. I am a traveler, with you on this uncharted territory of virtual tours. Let’s discover our earth community together.