I suppose it’s apropos to visit a haunted location during the month of October, but none more so than visiting the most haunted house in the Lone Star state: The Grove, located in Jefferson. It’s a place that will make your skin tingle just by doing some research prior to your arrival.
History of The Grove
Also known at the Stilley-Young house, The Grove goes back over a century to a time during the heydays of the 19th-century. The land was originally given to Frank Stilley, a cotton benefactor who recently wed Minerva Young from the Fox (tobacco) Plantation. Construction began on a new home for the young couple, paid for by the bride’s father, and exhibited features from the Greek Revival.
Ownership of the home passed to two different families over the years, finally being purchased by Charles and Daphne Young, an African-American couple who were born into slavery. Not long after the abolition of slavery, Charles was apprenticed as a barber, who had appreciated the finer art of customer service by providing his customers with their own personalized gold plated shaving mugs. In 1908, the family experienced personal tragedy when their son, James, hung himself from the back porch of the house. Charles died in 1938 and left the home to his oldest daughter, Louise, who took care of her mother, Daphne. Her mothers greatest joy was tending to the flower garden she had always loved.
Louise Young lived the rest of her life in the home and those who say they knew her, said that she lived in constant fear of something. It was an easy assumption because neighbors recall her having every interior door and window fitted with locks and bright lights installed to highlight the property outside. She reportedly contacted the police on a regular basis, complaining of someone prowling and told them she had seen shadows roaming around outside. The police never found anything or anyone. Later on in life, she lived in only two rooms, refusing to go into the rest of the house.
- A lady in white, presumably Minerva Young, is seen taking the same path throughout the house.
- A man in the garden roams around through the lily beds, seemingly impatient as if he’s late for an appointment.
- We were told of a mischievous spirit in the den, who is particularly fond of the ladies, often felt patting them on their rear end.
- A black man has been seeing lying in the street in front of the house, but when approached, disappears.
- Glowing white figures seen on the porch.
- Numerous voices, footsteps, loud wails from the attic area, a constant feeling of being watched, and moving objects have also been reported, including mirrors that fall from their location and dropping to the floor without breaking.
My experience on the Tour
Our tour started promptly at 2:00 p.m. and we were greeted at the entrance by Mitchell Whitington, who owns the house along with his wife, Tami. While we sat on the front porch, he gave us a history of the property, the house, and former owners. He saved the ghost stories until we got into the living room, or parlor as it was known back in the day.
See that wingback chair in the corner by the light? Originally, I was standing in front of it as the rest of the group circled around the rest of the room. Mitchell was to my left (in front of the fireplace). He continued giving us more history of the house and the ghosts who haunted this room. Most of the furniture in the this room is original, first belonging to Frank Stilley and his wife Minerva. I’ve provided yellow arrows to indicate the orbs seen in the room.
While standing in front of the chair, Mitchell continued to talk about the furniture, and for some reason, I got goosebumps. I didn’t say anything at first, but as Mitchell began talking about the specific chair I was standing in front of, my eyes got wide. He mentioned that the corner was the place where most of the ghostly activity occurred, stating that Minerva Young frequently sat in this corner and her spirit had actually been seen sitting in the chair. I immediately moved to the other side of the room (because I was just a tad nervous), and took the photograph seen above. He stated that people who have visited and sat in the chair have felt cold spots and got goosebumps as well. That was the only confirmation I needed.
As the group moved to the dining room, I snapped another photo of the chair.
You can see here that the orbs have moved.
Mitchell pointed out that each of the rooms inside the house depict a different era and how each of the previous owners would have decorated. He and his wife have restored the rooms as they would have been during their time. Seen below is the dining room and a few more orbs.
The framed picture you see in the right corner is of Minerva Young.
We moved into, “The Game Room,” which was rather small. Mitchell explained that the house was built without any closets, because back when the original house was erected, owners were taxed on how many rooms they had and closets counted as rooms because they have four walls and a door. This is the reason many people had armoirs. The picture below was seen in the left corner. Yes, there are even more orbs.
It was actually an armoir owned by Frank and Minerva that was broken up and used as the front part of a closet. You can clearly see the door, the sides, and up above was actually the back part of the armoir.
We then moved down the hallway and into the sitting room and finally the kitchen. See Pictures below.
From all of the historical ghost stories Mitchell told to the group, he said that he and wife mostly see Minerva, who is most actively seen not only sitting in the chair in the living room, but also walking from outside of the house, passing through the game room and into another room to what was once the children’s bedroom. Mitchell explained that his office is located where the Frank and Minerva’s children slept, but unfortunately, it’s the one room where he said he wouldn’t let us see because it’s the messiest. He did tell us that he is a writer, so personally, I can understand the office being messy.
I enjoyed my visit to The Grove and actually felt comfortable being inside the house, except for getting goosebumps while I stood in front of the chair. I think the most unnerving experience was visiting Oakwood Cemetery earlier that afternoon, prior to our tour of the house. You can read about what happened here: Haunted: Jefferson, TX.
So, if you like real haunted houses and interesting ghost stories, you should definitely make it a point to stop by The Grove for a tour. You won’t be disappointed. Please note that tours are only available on Saturdays at 2 p.m. and Sundays at 11 a.m. and you need to make reservations beforehand. Tours cost $6.00 per person. Mitchell was an exceptional host and provided interesting history about the house and also about the town of Jefferson.
To learn more about The Grove, please visit their website: http://www.thegrove-jefferson.com/