Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Curse of the McDow Hole

This is the second story in a series of posts on paranormal Texas history. Hope you enjoy the tale.

In the 1850's, Charlie and Jenny Papworth settled into a cabin near a creek in Alexander, Tx. One day, Charlie left on a 200 mile trip by wagon. While he was gone, Jenny and their two children stayed in the cabin during the day. In the evenings, they would stay with their friends, the McDows. One night, Jenny and the kids did not arrive. By the following day, the McDow's and other neighbors became concerned and checked the Papworth cabin, only to find small signs of a scuffle and some blood on the floor. During their search, they discovered one of the young children hiding under the bed. The community organized a search party, but weren't able to locate Jenny's body. One member of the community, an obnoxious man named Brownlow, accused the local Indian tribe, the Comanche Indians, of killing her. Local members of the community began suspecting Brownlow himself, especially when one of his belongings was discovered near the Papworth cabin. However, no one could ever prove that Brownlow committed the horrible crime.

After a few problems with Brownlow and the town, Charlie and his son left the cabin forever. However, that's when the hauntings began. A neighbor, Keith, and his son stayed at the cabin one night and heard scratching at the door. Upon opening the door, he saw Jenny Papworth and her baby. She screamed and disappeared, scaring the two so much that they left through the back window. The next resident of the cabin, a skeptical man named Charlie Atchinson, lived there for a short period. Local men arrived one day to find the doors and windows blocked from the inside. Upon breaking in, they found Charlie lying dead, on the floor, with a horrified look on his face. Years later, two young men took up a bet with the Saloon bartender that they could stay at least three nights at the cabin without running away. When the locals checked on the boys in three days, they found bullet holes in the walls and discovered that the brothers had run away.

Many other people witnessed the ghost of Jenny through the years. In 1890 a young man fired his gun at the ghost who was approaching him after he'd crossed the creek near the McDow place. Engineers and travelers of the local train witnessed seeing Jenny multiple times, standing near the tracks, just holding her baby. Two boys fishing at the McDow hole saw her apparition rise out of the water. Jenny and her baby were even reported to appear at the foot of Brownlow's deathbed, after which he finally admitted to the killing. Locals continued reporting countless sightings of the apparition at McDow hole throughout the years. Presumably, the ghost of Jenny Papworth has never found rest.

So what do you think? Do you have any ghost stories from your area? If so, I would like to hear about them


  1. Illinois is full of ghost stories. We have tons of haunted places. One is the Iroquois Theater fire (now the Ford Theater) A friend of mine works in the city near it. One of her co-workers was driving by the old theater and saw a bunch of people in they alley in period costume. When he got to the bank and asked if a specific play was going on, he got a lot of weird looks and was told it was something completely different (totally different time period, costumes, etc). Apparently what he saw has been reported many, many, many times and matches the way the people were dressed the night of the fire that killed. It's such a sad story. 570+ people died in that fire.

    There's also an old, abandoned factory in the town I grew up that was rumor to be haunted (lots of homeless, satanic sacrifices, murders, etc, etc, etc happened there after it closed). They eventually "reclaimed" the factory and turned it into luxury condos. People would move in and then move right back out after hearing and seeing ghosts, people screaming, footsteps, etc. They can't keep homeowners. The place is listed as one of the most haunted spots in Illinois.


  2. Julie,
    Those are great stories! Thank you for sharing!

  3. Great story, and I'd never heard it. Always interested in anything about Texas.

  4. That was a spooky story and hopefully the poor woman can rest if indeed the man confessed to her killing is the killer.

    I don't know of any "ghostie" areas here in southwest Florida but I wouldn't be against checking out some long as there are others with me! (I'm chicken by myself!) ;-)

  5. My husband and I drive through that area going to church every week, we will be on the lookout for Jenny and her baby. That is a little too close for comfort!

    1. Where could I find Mcdows Hole, directions? My friends and I want to visit

  6. Anonymous,
    Yes, I know the area well. Be careful! I've also heard of strange lights at night around there.

  7. Connie,
    I'm a scardy cat too about such things.

  8. I am sure there are a few ghosts around where I live, but I never heard of any. I don't know that I beleive in ghos. But I like to keep an open mind.. Not that I have seen anything, but a time or two have felt somthing or someone...

  9. North Morton Hall at Northern Arizona University was originally built to be an insane asylum. I don't think it was ever used as one. There's a dungeon in the basement complete with heavy metal door and iron shackles. I don't know if they are still there, but I saw them in the nineties, nearly eighty years later. That's not the creepiest part of Morton Hall though.

    A girl hung herself in one of the dorm rooms. She still haunts the dormitory and is known as the Blue Lady. Her room is never rented. Half of it is blocked off with a door marked storage. The other half has a sink and a window but the main door to the room has been removed.

  10. Kat,
    That is a terrifying tale! Has anyone written a story about it? That would make a good one!

  11. You can Google it. The Phoenix Cardinals stayed in Morton Hall for their summer training camps. I don't know if they still do. They reported problems with copy machines. One of the tv stations did an interest report on the hall and the Cards one year. There were lots of stories floating around when I was there. I don't know if anyone has written about it, but there's a lot to work with that's certain.

    As far as scary places go, schools at night are at the top of my list. I'll tell you about them another time.

  12. I've passed thru Alexander Tx. numerous times. Always wanted to stop and ask someone in town where the location was. Just wanted to check it out. I heard from my Grandmother, they routed the train around the area. the track used to run next to the cabin. the conductors would see a woman holding a baby while standing on the tracks. her scream was as loud as the train whistle. they would stop the train and search for the two for hours. when they figured it was their ghosts, they no longer wanted to run the train through there. My Grandmother told me she took my mom and her 3 sisters there one night and did witness a ghost hovering over a foggy creek bottom. GOOD STUFF!!

  13. i have many friends whom go to "McDows Hole", until this day i have not once gone but i am looking to go soon but all my friends say not to go because of Jenny. I am very into ghost and all those haunted places and i am looking foward to see this. I dont live far from there and excited to see my reaction!!!! GOING TO HAVE A BLAST!

  14. I am researching the old McDow Hole ghost story in an attempt to separate fact from fiction. I am looking for any witnesses that may have actually seen the ghost. 120 years of sightings means something must be real. Please contact me by email at, thank you.

    1. It's not really that hard. Get an R.V. and 'stay' in Alexander, TX It's best based on any religious observance to bring at least 7 religious clerics, priests, rabbi's? Don't go ALONE! It's best to bring a paranormal team as well.

    2. I for some stupid reason yelled out to Jenny saying I was the on who did this to her son, and was scratched by something on top of the bridge going across the creek

    3. you all poke at something you dont understand.
      jenny follows me everywhere i go and she has never hurt me, nor do i get the feeling that she will.
      a medium told me that she will follow me for the rest of my life and will watch my children grow. she said that Jenny would be there when i leave this world to bring me to where ever it is that i am headed.
      Jenny wanted to be heard, she wants you all to listen to her. How would you like it if every time you looked up, there were people standing on your front lawn trying to snap pictures or video.
      the best way to get results? a whole mess of people. good, sincere people who can connect with her on an emotional level. Jenny isnt a circus act or a Zoo attraction...she is a human being who had a great injustice done to her.

  15. Michael D. Lucas May 16, 2013 at 11:12pm I take State Highway 6 past Alexander, TX I 'felt' Jenny also along FM 914, and State Highway 6. She is a very upset spirit. I feel a stifling around Alexander, TX. Alexander, TX 'used' to be a railroad junction of the long defunct.. Stephenville-Texas-North and South, and Texas Central Railway that went all the way from Waco, TX to Dublin to Gorman, all the way to Cross Plains, TX. Alexander, TX is one place for real paranormal activity with the McDow Hole and Jenny Papworth! Wish Ghost Adventures would check them out! Zack, Nick and Aaron would pee in their pants!!

  16. I am try to find the exact location of McDows Hole. I find nothing on searches beyond "about 3 miles north of Alexander."
    I was by there today and believe it to be near where 520 crosses Green Creek but not sure and don't know if it is up or down stream from there or how far or for that matter if this is correct. Does anyone know for sure?

    1. When I went it was upstream I believe we didnt go far, some of our group go to scared

  17. Jenny Follows me everywhere i go.
    I investigated her land for a week solid with a fine-toothed comb.
    i gathered an entire hard drive's worth of EVP's, countless personal experiences and a few questionable photos. the voices on the violent EVPs were not that of a woman but something demonic or intimidating.
    "get the F* out of here"
    "what is this shit"
    "i will hurt you"
    "die you little shit"
    were only some of the things said to me when i called out those responsible for Jenny's death.
    a medium stopped me at the store, almost in tears and pleaded for me to talk to her. Being a paranormal investigator and true believer in the paranormal, i was obligated to listen.
    "jenny papworth" she said to me...obviously i froze.
    i had never met this woman and do to the fact that i was standing in Houston,TX i knew that this was about to get real.
    " jenny wants me to tell you thank you for everything you did to help spread awareness of the injustice her family suffered."
    my jaw hit the floor and my heart jumped into my throat.
    " jenny wants you to know that she will always be with you and that she has become quite infatuated with you Joshua..."
    understand that i never gave this woman my name...i was freaking out in the middle of a grocery store at this point.
    "jenny will watch you grow, watch you grow old and even watch your children grow. rest assured she will be waiting for you on the other side and i assume you both will have a few things to talk about."
    she went on explaining how there have been many cases of spirits actually falling in love with members of the living realm and that this has shaped up to be one of those cases.
    The hair on the back of my neck was standing up, i had goosebumps and the chills struck me cold.
    "i don't want you to be afraid and neither does Jenny instead embrace the fact that through your generous actions, jenny has found purpose and meaning to her time here on the planet after the departure of her living vessel."
    Now, more than ever i see flowing cloth out of the corner of my eye. i smell flowers at random even when working around pungent odors and even get a sense of security when my day starts to go downhill. it is almost as if i was blind to it before or chalked it up as my imagination. now when i see it, i don't question it, i don't try to debunk it...i just know she is here and she is keeping her end of the promise. my end? you may ask...well that's why i am here. i take every opportunity i have to talk about her and tell people what happened to her.
    i hope this information has been useful, understand that spirits are still as much human as you or I. Best results are yielded when you treat them as such, not as a tool for your amusement.

  18. I was taken to see her when I was 16 (I'm 53 now), and that's not what she looks like. I saw her quite clearly from about 50 feet away (with 2 others), so it's pretty much etched in my memory. I don't frighten easily...but it scared the living hell out of me, and still does to this day.
    Until the internet came out, I had never heard the Papworth story, nor Jenny's name, nor for how long it had been seen.....I just knew several people from Stephenville who had been seeing the ghost of a woman in a creek bed their entire lives. In fact, I had a whole family tell me all about it beforehand, though I went into the situation (still) a bit skeptical. It's no huge secret to anyone down there (or at least not circa 1980), and I assure IS quite real.
    I'm actually surprised there aren't a thousand published accounts....but then again, I guess I'm really not. A few years ago I made the mistake of giving a very detailed, specific and literate account of my exact 'ordeal'' to a quite well-known author on the subject, only to later read that I had been misquoted and the account dramatically embellished, quite horribly, like a "C-movie" script. People...right?
    Anyhow...that's my honest 2 cents. It's nice to see all these years later that a few people are still interested in the story. Believe it.....