www.thegrove-jefferson.com                          August 2004                                      ISSN 1558-3252

This is a tiny little free subscription ezine for friends of The Grove - it is by request only. In other words, we NEVER arbitrarily add email addresses. We also NEVER sell or share email addresses with anyone else, for any reason at any time. We hate SPAM as much as you do!

Hello from the front gallery of The Grove! We've put almost everything on hold to sit out here because the weather suddenly turned cool! It's wonderful! I'm not quiet sure how, but the temperature dropped from 90-something down to sixty-eight, and we're loving it. Since August isn't here yet, there's no doubt that it's going to get hot again. For now, though, we'll take this little preview of fall.

Believe it or not, I FINALLY finished the book "Spirits of Jefferson and the Pineywoods". It's been a lot of fun to write, and I hope that everyone likes it. I found some VERY interesting ghost stories from some of the places in town, including some places that you might never suspect have ghost stories. Look for it around the August time frame, although I don't control many aspects once I turn the manuscript over! :(

If you've toured The Grove, you know that we refer to our porches as "galleries" - you can sit on the Front Gallery, or walk down the Side Gallery. This comes from the fact that the house has an influence of Creole Architecture, which was infused by its builder, Frank Stilley, in 1861. Frank was from Louisiana, and added that influence to the house, so we continue to use the French/Cajun terms in his honor.

The same is true for many things in town. In fact, Jefferson sometimes seems to have more in common with Louisiana than it does with Texas. One example is the river that you may have crossed while coming to town. Its name is the "Big Cypress", but instead of being called the Big Cypress River it is referred to as Big Cypress Bayou, using the term for river - "bayou" - that is found in Louisiana.

And speaking of the Big Cypress Bayou, something very exciting is happening. An ecosystem project has been approved which will comprise the Big Cypress Bayou Fish and Wildlife Restoration Project. Basically, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is overseeing the project with input from the city of Jefferson. Look for walkways and wetlands down there, and an addition to the city that will add a new dimension for visitors.

I also wanted to mention that on your next trip to Jefferson, be sure to stop in at the Chamber of Commerce when you first get to town. Phyllis and Judy are not only two of the nicest people in town, but they're also just about the most knowledgable, and they can help you with whatever you're looking for. You can even give them a call as you are planning your trip. Phyllis can also tell you her own ghost stories from The Grove. All of the phone numbers and contact info is on the chamber website, www.jefferson-texas.com, or you'll find them on Vale Street, just a rock's throw from The Bakery restaurant. But please, don't throw any rocks to test my theory.

What's the gossip? Well, Matt's Restaurant won't be coming back, no matter what talk is going around. There has been a lot of hopeful speculation by locals & visitors alike. We have a lot of wonderful restaurants in town, and Matt's was a nice addition. After the last GroveZine, I got several emails lamenting its passing. Believe me, I miss it too, especially the Cowboy Chicken Fried Steak, smothered in chili, onions and jalapenos. The good news is that the Hamburger Store has just introduced such a dish, and it is delicious - take my word, because I did the personal research. Add a plate of fries, and you've got one heckuva meal. While you're there, don't forget to scribble on a dollar bill, and have them tack it to the wall.

Licea's Mexican Restaurant is moving to the motorcycle shop on Polk Street, giving up his well-known address on Walnut. We love Licea's Mexican Food, and usually stop in at least a couple of times every week, so it will be a new experience to visit them at their Polk Street location. Be sure to check it out when you get back to town.

A lot of people ask about the first experiences that we had at The Grove, and one of the things that happened straightaway was on the second weekend that we spent here. We'd moved our bedroom into the "new room", the room that is now our den, and we were getting dressed for dinner out with friends. I was ready first, so I stepped out onto the side gallery. Suddenly, I heard the distinct, loud pacing of footsteps across the front parlor. At that time, there was little furniture there, so I assumed that our friends had knocked on the door without us hearing, and just let themselves in. I stuck my head back into the den and said, "Craig and Marcie are up front - I'm going to go tell them that we'll be ready in just a minute." I walked through the side gallery, still hearing the pacing up front, then rounded the corner of the stairwell expecting to see our friends. Instead, there was only an empty room. When I checked the front door, the deadbolt was thrown - there was no way that anyone could have come into the front room. Still, I had heard footsteps there as sure as I'd heard my own walking in the side gallery. While that wouldn't be the last footsteps that we've heard at The Grove, they were probably the most memorable.

Speaking of the "New Room" - the room added in 1870 between the kitchen and the original part of the house - we had something very interesting happen there during a tour of The Grove during a tour. We were taking a group through this past month (July) and one of the ladies in the group had an experience there. I won't use her name or the specific date, since I didn't think to get permission to before she left, but here's basically what happened. She was listening to our information about that room, when she felt a person standing beside/behind her, as if someone has come up just over her shoulder. You know the feeling that you get in the grocery store if you're standing in line and someone comes right up behind you and stands a little *too* close in your personal space? It was a feeling something like that. Anyway, she looked around and immediately spotted the other people in her group, so she knew that it wasn't them. At that point she was more than a little concerned that a stranger was standing so close to her. After taking a step away, she turned to see who it was, but there was no one behind her - it was just one of the spirits of The Grove, making an appearance during the tour!

Sometimes odd things happen at The Grove that we simply can't explain. One of those occurred about a week ago while Tami was sitting up in the parlor reading. She looked up from her book and glanced across at the couch and chair, and was thinking back a couple of months ago to Pilgrimage. She was remembering all of the people who came through the house, and how happy we were to get to share the history of the place with everyone. When she looked back at the book to resume reading, it was upside down. Her hands never left the book, and she hadn't moved from the chair. Moreover, she had just finished a paragraph. Her eyes glanced up, and then back down to find that the book had reversed itself. How and why, we don't know. It just happened. So many things that happen here seem like practical jokes from the spirit world - hopefully, they're happy with us and are just having a good time.

If that wasn't enough, on today's tour we had another ghostly experience. We were in the Blue Room, which is the game/music room of The Grove, and I was telling the story of the Lady in White when one of the girls on the tour jumped - something cold had brushed across her back! She was standing in the doorway to the stairwell, and there is no air conditioning in that room, so no matter how much we tried to find a physical explanation, we couldn't. Her mother felt the back of her shirt, and it was cold to the touch. It was an interesting, impromptu addition to the tour, no matter which of The Grove's ghosts had caused it.

Well, that's this month's edition of the GroveZine. We're very happy to get to share some of the current goings-on around the house. For some reason, supernatural activity during the tours has picked up - hopefully we'll have a few more tales for you by the time the next month rolls around. See you then!


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