— By DAVID MAY
Different people over time have seen her, each describing her in the same way, or least very similarly. She is not supposed to be there yet, apparently, she is.
It does not seem her intent to scare people off, yet she has. By accounts she is friendly in her ghostly presence.
Who she is and the reason for her presence are the questions for which there are no answers, for now. It is the mystery of the haunted house on the hill, known today as Angel’s Nest Bed & Breakfast at 1105 Palo Pinto St. on Weatherford’s west end.
Former Weatherford bank president and wholesale food distributor C.D. Hartnett built the Queen Anne-style mansion in 1896. The 10,000-square-foot, four-story home has 29 rooms and is distinctive for its three-story turret. It features a wine cellar/basement and classic high ceilings throughout. Some of the rooms are separated by 10-foot-tall pocket doors, and stained glass windows cast a cascade of daytime colors on the first-floor’s dining and living areas. The house became known as “Denver” to the locals, a place invited guests could escape to in the hot summers, as its perch atop the hill made for cooling breezes throughout the massive residence.
Present-day owner Candice Dyer said she was never one to believe in ghosts, spirits, the paranormal. But that has changed, based on what she has heard and what guests have told her. Dyer was reluctant to publicize the presence of a spirit in what is both her home and business. She was worried the stories would scare off future guests and make her way of earning a living disappear.
She feared, “People are going to call me looney tunes and label the house haunted and it’s going to cost me business.”
Dyer and her husband purchased the property in the early 1980s, looking to start a hospitality venture. They began renovating, repainting and re-landscaping, shaping the property into what is today a beautiful home and yard covering 3.5 acres. They divorced in 1995.
She continued on with business. The strangeness began, she said, one night as she was in her basement office doing paperwork. At first, the only sound emanating within the massive house was that of pencil lead scratching across Dyer’s business ledger.
But she began hearing something else, the sounds of what Dyer said were like someone in high heels walking across the wooden boards on the first floor.
“My first thought was, ‘Who is up there,’ and my second thought was, ‘How did they get in?’” Dyer said. “They had to be up to no good, and I am just furious.”
She said could hear the clicks going down the hallway to the different rooms and eventually to the living room.
“I was thinking they will leave soon,” Dyer said, believing her home was being burglarized and whoever was upstairs would take something and go. “I am not going to confront anyone.”
Dyer picked up a phone and called 911, telling the dispatcher what was going on upstairs. The dispatcher said she would send an officer. The dispatcher even had some fun with Dyer, making a spooky “Wooooooooo” sound over the phone.
Dyer began to dismiss the noise and suggest she must have been hearing things and that no officer was needed.
“What if no one is up there?” Dyer said she asked the police call taker, fearing some embarrassment. “She said, ‘That’s ridiculous, I’ll send an officer.’”
She said the walking sounds continued until a few minutes later, stopping when Dyer heard the front door’s keypad accessed and an officer enter. Of course, there was no one else inside and no sign that anyone had been.
“It made me feel kind of silly,” Dyer said.
She said neighbors had told her previously the house was haunted. “I just let them think it was,” she said.
A second experience had Dyer beginning to wonder if the neighbors were right. She said it wasn’t long after the first experience that, right at nightfall, she heard a crashing sound upstairs. She had an alarm system with a panic button installed, and she pressed it. She said she ran outside the house and hid behind a bush until police arrived. They went in and found that the crash came from the laundry room. Everything placed on two shelves was knocked off onto the floor.
There were no signs of animals who could have been responsible, Dyer said, and if so how or why would it have knocked everything off two shelves? No one else was in the house.
“I am not too easily scared,” Dyer said. She said if there was a spirt inhabiting the home, they would have to learn to live with each other. “I thought there might be something here but I’m not going to leave.”
Still, Dyer to this point has only heard things, but not seen anything – and to this day she says still hasn’t. But a visual encounter would happen, with a yard man who was in the house waiting for payment. He said he was startled when, while looking into a living room mirror, he saw a woman – not Dyer – walk behind him.
“My first thought was he had watched too many scary movies,” Dyer said.
The man described the woman as appearing in a peach, or pinkish, hue wearing a long-sleeved, high-neck formal dress. He said she had dishwater blonde hair worn in a bun and was wearing gold-rimmed glasses. He said he saw her twice.
His description would later be important to Dyer.
She said in the years that followed different guests would report unusual noises and sightings of the same apparition. But she said she never put together the descriptions of the phantom female by different people until one time when it came from a couple who seemed the two most likely to see things that aren’t actually there.
“They had body piercings and tats and were under the influence of something,” Dyer said. “They were smoking weed, because I could smell it.”
Dyer said she left them alone, though, because they were outside on their room’s balcony and figured they were minding their own business and doing no harm.
So it would have been easy for Dyer to scoff at the woman’s claims the next morning about “visiting with the lady of the home she met on the balcony,” Dyer said.
The free-spirited houseguest said she and the spirit had a several-minute conversation – albeit one sided since the guest said the woman just “stood there and listened.”
Yeah, right. Except for one thing – the visitor then describes the woman to Dyer. The same dress, the pinkish hue, dishwater blonde hair worn in a bun and gold-rimmed glasses.
Dyer has a spooky revelation. “They have all described the same person.”
Encounters – which could be reasonably explained or not – would continue, and scared some of the bed and breakfast guests off.
Dyer tells a story of a very recent honeymooning couple. The man was a Sailor who she said was large, standing about 6-foot-4. They left the house in the middle of the night, drove down the street and awoke Dyer with a phone call.
“I think you might be in danger,” the man told Dyer, suggesting she get out of the house and adding that they would be back in the daylight to get their bags and belongings.
The man assured Dyer he and his bride were sound asleep when a crash sent them sitting straight up in bed. He told Dyer something entered the room through one of the turret’s third-story windows. Dyer said that was impossible since the windows were painted and caulked shut and locked down by screws.
The man could not be convinced that something, a presence, had not entered their room, and they were not coming back that night.
She has had paranormal investigators come into house. Though they have not seen the woman, they told Dyer they believed there was a presence, and commented about the presence of orbs, explaining what they are – spirits – and what their different colors mean. The ones seen at Angel’s Nest were white orbs, which are said to be good spirits, as opposed to the dreaded red orbs.
The question is who is this presence that has made itself visible? Dyer said some think it could be Hartnett’s first wife, Kate Byrne. They married in 1878 in Whitesborough and had two sons, but she died in 1881. But, as mentioned earlier, the home wasn’t built until 1896, and Hartnett remarried in 1883, to his first wife’s sister, Savina Byrne. They had four children. Dyer wonders if the first wife, Kate, who died so young and left behind the two young boys, possibly never left the family. Would she have followed them to the Weatherford mansion and then never left?
Word has gotten out about the haunts on the hill. Dyer said one guest arrived and demanded to see a ghost or she would cancel her reservation.
She said once two other ladies spent some time as guests in the house and upon checking out told Dyer they wanted to tell her who they were, but that they were well known in the field of ghosts and the unexplained and said her house had a presence. They smiled and left.
Dyer admits to thinking of selling the home at times and moving on to other things. She said running a bed and breakfast can be “very confining.”
In the meantime, consider booking some time at Angel’s Nest Bed and Breakfast. The rooms are spacious, beautifully decorated with an adjoining balcony and hot tub and come, possibly, with an interesting encounter of a ghostly kind from a kindly ghost.