Texas is not lacking in haunted places and hotels, with the nefarious activities that occur among the living, seem to have almost as many ghostly residents with interesting, albeit sometimes horrific, stories to tell. One such inn is the Magnolia Hotel in Seguin, one of the state’s oldest towns situated on the Guadalupe River in San Antonio County. Its story has been featured on many paranormal TV shows and it popped up in the news this week when a surveillance video showed what some described as a ghostly mist.
The formerly rundown building, located at the corner of S. Crockett St. and Donegan and currently being restored by owners Erin and Jim Ghedi, began in 1840 as a two-room log cabin built by Seguin co-founder and Texas Ranger James Campbell. While Campbell was killed that same year by Comanches in San Antonio and his body never found, it’s said that his ghost haunts the grounds. Those grounds include a second limecrete building built in 1844 behind the log cabin that became the original Magnolia Hotel. The following year, a two-story hotel was constructed with 10 rooms upstairs and the limecrete building became slave quarters. One legend is that slaves announced the arrival of stagecoaches by ringing a bell that was allegedly from the original Alamo, but it has never been confirmed.
Texas Rangers, Native Americans, slaves, the Alamo … no shortage of sources for ghosts at the Magnolia Hotel However, the most famous one involves a young girl and a serial killer.
In 1874, a guest named Wilheim Faust stole the hotel owner's horse and rode to nearby New Braunfels intending to murder his wife. He entered the house where she was staying, owned by a family named Voelcker and killed a woman in a bed. Unfortunately, it was 12-year-old Emma Voelcker sleeping where his wife normally slept. Faust then found his wife and attacked her with an ax – she survived but was blinded for life – before riding back to Sequin and spending the rest of the night in the Magnolia Hotel. Later arrested and charge with Emma’s murder, Faust was taken to a jail in New Brainfels where he confessed to two additional murders before being shot and killed through a window by an unidentified vigilante. While she did not die in the hotel, Emma Voelker’s ghost is said to be one of those that haunts the Magnolia Hotel and the dastardly Faust is probably there too, one of at least 13 a ghost expert claims to have found.
Is it an apparition of Emma in the August 5th security footage? The description of the video by the uploader points out a “spinning white vortex” and a “black mist” entering what is referred to as a “smoke-room.” While it suggests that the space was once occupied by a cigar-smoking James Campbell, that’s questionable since the Texas Ranger died before anything but the log cabin was built, and the hotel was erected next to the cabin, not over it. Other ghosts that could be responsible include a traveling salesman who committed suicide there, a young woman who died waiting for a lover who never arrived or three orphaned children who allegedly died there.
Or it could be condensation from an air conditioner or smoke from a living person in the room, as some of the video’s commenters have suggested. Whatever it is, it will be good for helping Erin and Jim Ghedi pay for the costs of restoring the lovely hotel -- they're now hosting regular guided ghost tours of the Magnolia.
Haunted or not, the Magnolia Hotel is a interesting piece of history in a beautiful part of Texas.