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FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 2015  05:49:13 AM

Gatesville family opens haunted house for tours

Email   Print   Share By Heather Graham-Ashley, Sentinel News Editor
October 25, 2012 | Leisure
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Amanda Acosta and her mother, Janet Ward, hold a book about Coryell County families that featured Elisha Kinsey’s family, and a photo of the Franks family. The Kinseys and later the Franks lived in the rock house before Ward’s grandparents purchased it in 1925. The house originally sat on 700 acres of farmland, on which Elisha Kinsey built a schoolhouse for his seven children. Heather Graham-Ashley, Sentinel News Editor
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Amanda Acosta stands in her bedroom, from where she recently heard unexplained heavy boot steps on the outside second floor balcony off the room. There was no one out there, but both Acosta and her dog heard the footsteps. Heather Graham-Ashley, Sentinel News Editor
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An upstairs bedroom that Amanda Acosta said most people do not like. Acosta added that the closet especially makes many people uncomfortable. The family mostly avoids the room. Heather Graham-Ashley, Sentinel News Editor
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Amanda Acosta stands on the second floor balcony, where she has heard unexplained footsteps walking across the balcony. Heather Graham-Ashley, Sentinel News Editor
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he living room, like the rest of the house, features anitque furniture from gerenations of the family. It was in this room on Sautrday night that a motion detector lit up, although no one was in the room. The switch on the device was later found to have been switched to “on.” Heather Graham-Ashley, Sentinel News Editor
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Janet Ward and Amanda Acosta’s 1874 rock house off FM 929 in Gatesville is home to various unexplained occurrences, noises and shadow figures. Heather Graham-Ashley, Sentinel News Editor
GATESVILLE - As Fort Hood units and area community members are putting the finishing touches on their haunted houses in preparation for Halloween, one Central Texas family will simply be opening their doors to the curious for a glimpse at their haunted home.

Janet Ward and her daughter, Amanda Acosta, share their 1874 rock home outside of Gatesville with four dogs, a parrot and a plethora of spirits.

The family is scheduling tours of their haunted home through Halloween.

Shadow figures, heavy footsteps, the sounds of slamming doors and unexplained clouds of dark gray mist are nothing unusual to the mother and daughter.

“We just got used to it,” Ward said.

I spent a few hours with the family last weekend and toured their haunted abode.

Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how one looks at it, the spirits did not make an appearance during my visit, but I did receive the fright of my life in an upstairs bedroom.

After talking with Ward and Acosta, I received a tour of the home. Acosta and I walked through each room as she related stories about the home.

We entered the first of two bedrooms upstairs and I mentioned the cool breeze that seemed to flow through the large room while noting the house does not have central heat or air and all the windows were closed. As I was leaving the room, Acosta said that bedroom makes most people uneasy, but did not know why.

Immediately after she said that, a timed air freshener in the room sprayed; I screamed and ran behind Acosta, shaking uncontrollably. It was humiliating, but I was getting a private tour of a historic home I have long-admired.

The house was originally home to Elisha and Amelia Kinsey and their 17 children. According to Coryell County historical records, Kinsey was a farmer, a Soldier for the Republic of Texas, a Coryell County commissioner, one-time owner of the Gatesville newspaper, and a primitive Baptist.

He died in 1898 and was originally interred in Sugar Loaf Cemetery, but his remains were re-located to the Killeen City Cemetery when Fort Hood was established in 1942.

After the Kinsey family moved from the home, the Franks family took up residence. Both families are documented in various Coryell County historical books.

Ward’s grandparents purchased the home in 1925, and the residence has remained in her family since then.

Her aunt and uncle lived in the home in the 1960s, and Ward and her family were frequent guests.

She said, at the time, she did not recall anything paranormal or unexplained happening from her time spent at the house as a young girl. Upon further thought, and after her experiences with the unexplained later, she did remember some strange noises and a bizarre encounter in the bath.

“I was 7 or 8 and taking a bath,” Ward said. “Something touched my shoulder, and I turned and there was no one there.”

She then realized the bathroom door was locked and she was alone in the room.

Ward moved into the home in 1990 with her children.

“When we first moved in, I heard heavy footsteps and doors slamming,” she said. “I just got used to it.”

Shadow figures soon joined the noises. At first, the shadow figures seemed to be testing her reaction by appearing only fleetingly and out of the corner of her eye. Slowly, they became more brazen.

“I was watching TV and saw something out of the corner of my eye,” Ward said. “I turned very slowly and saw the full-body silhouette of a woman wearing a long skirt, a long-sleeved Victorian blouse and her hair was pinned tightly.”

She has seen the silhouettes of the woman in long-sleeved Victorian-era garb, a man in a wide-brimmed hat and a medium-sized dog walking through the house.

Ward said she has never seen the man and woman together, but sometimes the dog would accompany one.

Ward said she has only seen dark silhouettes and no real defining features, and she does not know who the man, woman or dog could be.

“I used to think the spirits were people who lived here,” Ward said.

No one in her family, with the exception of an uncle by marriage, has died in the house, but Ward has learned that spirits at a location do not necessarily have to have passed away at a place to find their way back to that place.

The shadow figures have never bothered her. They simply walked the same path every time, across the downstairs of the house toward the front door.

“They never paid any attention to me, like they didn’t even know I was there,” Ward said.

There was one frightening experience when Ward felt as though she was being chased across the house by something she felt was intent to hurt her. She ran from the enclosed back porch into her bedroom, and slammed the door. Since that day, Ward has kept the door from the back porch closed.

Acosta said she and her brother always wondered why Ward suddenly began keeping that door shut. Until 1997, no one in the family discussed the strange occurrences in the home.

Ward did not want to frighten her children, but finally mentioned her own experiences that year, after she felt they were old enough. It was a relief, as Acosta and her brother had seen and heard the same things.

The haunting is not bad for Ward and Acosta. They are comforted knowing there is something after death, and that those they love are still around.

“We have them all around us,” Ward said. “I feel so much more at ease with death and dying now.”

Signs of contact and reassurance from her deceased mother and

best friend have only added to her ease.

Ward knows that not everyone would be so receptive to ghosts or a haunting, but she knows what happens in her home.

“I don’t care about trying to convince people,” she said.

Recorded electronic voice phenomenon, strange mists and noises in the home have all been documented by friends interested in the paranormal, as well as investigators.

The home is a curiosity to many in the area because of its longstanding history within the community; and now even more so, because of its haunting. Recent television exposure of the unexplained events has only added to that curiosity.

The house was recently featured on A&E Television’s “My Ghost Story,” and it has been investigated by state and national paranormal groups. The most recent investigation happened Saturday night.

Acosta said the most interesting occurrence that night was a motion-detector light, one of many set throughout the darkened house for the investigation, that came on and stayed on in the living room.

No one was in the room. The crew stopped to investigate and discovered that someone or something had switched the device to “on.”

Flipping switches are not the only mischief created by the ghosts. Ward’s watch once went missing for years, only to reappear in a window sill behind her parrot’s cage. It was inexplicably sitting up, as if on a display stand.

It seems nothing shocks either of the two women. The goings on at their home are simply part of what makes it home.

“I feel safe here,” Ward said. “It’s my home.”

Those interested in touring the home and possibly experiencing some paranormal activity can call Acosta at 223-4848. Tours are $5 per person.

Haunted Houses n Fort Hood

For those looking more for the obvious jump out and say “boo” scare, some Fort Hood units and organizations are hosting haunted houses.

The 41st Fires Brigade will offer competing haunted houses 7-10 p.m. tonight and Friday at Buildings 10001 and 10004

(across from Bennett Clinic, 31st & Battalion). There is a $6 charge for entry into both haunted houses. Price reduced to $5 if you bring a can of food (to be donated to the Killeen Food Care Center). For more info, visit

U.S. Army Operational Test Command will host a haunted house 6-8:30 p.m. Friday in Trailer 12 at the crossroads of Station Avenue and Warehouse on West Fort Hood.

Fort Hood’s BOSS program is sponsoring a haunted house 7:30-10:30 p.m. Saturday through Halloween night at BOSS headquarters, Bldg. 9212. Admission is $3 per person or $10 for a Family of five or fewer.
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