The Buffalo Gap Historic Village is scaring crowds for its 5th annual haunted village tour.
The village consists of 18 different historic monuments from the Abilene and Buffalo Gap area as far as Snyder. Each building has stood for the last 50 years of the West Texas Frontier, 1875-1925, and each has reports of being haunted. The Buffalo Gap Historic Village will conduct two more haunted tours beginning at 8 p.m. Oct. 22 and 29. Admission is $10 per person.
The most haunted, the Hill house, was built in 1875 and belonged to Marshall Tom Hill, who lived with his wife and two kids, Belle and Terry. Site manager Heather Reed said after Marshall died, his daughter Belle lived in the house until she too passed away. She is said to still haunt the house.
“Pretty much on a daily basis, something happens, usually to our maintenance guy, only because he spends the most time in the building, and he’s the one who’s moving things,” Reed said. “We have doors open and door shut. The most common is people find buttons in their pockets, or our maintenance guy will find buttons on his tools. People have been tapped on the shoulder inside. Never anything malicious, just a reminding you that they’re still here.”
Reed said that the goal of the haunted village is to bring members of the community out to experience history in a new and unique way.
“They’re coming out for fun, but then they really get engaged because all of our stories are rooted in historical fact with the site,” Reed said. “Then they become intrigued and we get to see them come back during the day and really experience it and love the site the way we have.”
A team of about 10 volunteers helps every year, starting to make the tour their own through ideas and stories. Reed said the Haunted Village increases in quality every year as volunteers embrace the history and make the annual event a family tradition.
Mark Young, a member of the Mesquite storytellers, has been participating for three years. He said he initially came with a friend and his wife, and after experiencing the hauntings, knew that he had to be part of the Halloween event.
“It’s a great place in the daylight. In the night it’s a spooky place, and that just enhances the stories,” Young said. “If you’ve ever tried to tell ghost stories anywhere else, the surrounding kind of can squash it. Here it just enhances it. So I do like that. There’s no place out here at night that’s not eerie.”
Hardin Simmons University student Blake Rogers, who plays the part of a twisted doctor, said that volunteering at the village has helped him to realize he wants to teach college history after he graduates.
“A lot of college professors come over and teach over here,” said Rogers, a freshman history major from Lockhart. “I could be a history teacher and also work at the village at the same time. It’s not even really work; it’s like getting your own private tour. And it’s like you’re helping the growth of buffalo gap as well.”
One of several fundraisers for the Historic Village, the haunted village raises funds to buy more artifacts and keep the current ones in a good state. Reed said that the village has around 15,000 to 18,000 artifacts in storage that they have to keep preserved. Some of the buildings need renovation, but require millions of dollars in funds.
“This is the community’s history,” Reed said. “These are their artifacts; these are their ancestors. Our job is to preserve them for generations to come. The people who live here, it’s their family’s history, and we’re in charge of protecting it.”