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The ghosts that haunt Granbury, Texas, are good for tourism

Granbury Ghosts and Legends Tours are popular among people interested in the town's wild Texas history. The spirits of John Wilkes Booth and Jesse James, who both spent time in the town, are among those rumored to haunt the town.
BY CHRIS JONES Modified: October 18, 2012 at 1:06 pm •  Published: October 28, 2012

Boo! Ghosts of the past are said to be present in the town cemetery, happily roaming the town square buildings and adjusting window shades at the Nutt House Hotel.

The hotel, owned by Melinda Ray, is open for business and records 102 years of continuous operation.

Visitors are often amused at the hotel's name, but it's the real thing.

Jesse Nutt and his brother Jacob Nutt built the hand hewn stone hotel on the town square. Though blind from childhood, the early entrepreneurs are said to have turned thirty dollars into a successful business career — beginning in 1867.

Granbury, friendly and prosperous, is located in Hood County, 41 miles southwest of Fort Worth on U.S. 377. A steady tourism business is built on their wild and wooly town history.

Granbury Ghosts and Legends Tours are very popular and Frommer's Travel Guides lists the tours as among the best in the country.

Granbury, called the jewel of the Brazos River Valley, is a prime destination for heritage tourists. The Granbury Square was the first in Texas to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Famous names such as John Wilkes Booth and Jesse James spent time in Granbury, and their spirits are said to roam their former haunts.

“Guests at our hotel tell of hearing footsteps, or finding their towels moved or the shades opened,” Ray said. “We have a lot of fun here and it's just pesky stuff with the benevolent spirits.”

Ray said she thinks the hotel spirit is Mary Lou Watkins, 1918-2001, the grand matriarch of Granbury historic preservation and owner of the Nutt House Hotel for 41 years.

A statue of Mary Lou ringing her dinner bell is featured in the town square. She was known for her chicken and dumplings, hot water cornbread, and black-eyed pea salad.

Julia Pannell, historian and volunteer guide at the 130-year old home where the Dora Lee Langdon cultural center is located, said the city lends itself perfectly to tales of ghosts and goblins, because decades ago it was a nitty-gritty, exciting place.

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