How to Buy a Haunted Hotel

(No, we have no idea how to sell a haunted hotel, so stop asking us.)

Step 1.
Have a parent who was psychic. Maybe you don’t have your mother’s “gift,” but you’re open-minded, even curious about ghosts, spirits, and specters. Extra points if you are, in fact, a medium.

Step 2.

Develop your interest in the paranormal, like writing books on haunted Texas towns.

Step 3.

Decide that you and your spouse, as empty-nesters, need a hobby that would be fun yet challenging.

Step 4.

Find a realtor.

The Magnolia Hotel before restoration.
The Magnolia Hotel before restoration. Photograph by Llamar Vasquez of Llamar Vasquez Photography, Seguin, Texas.

Yes, it’s just that easy! Erin Wallace did all of this with her husband, and wrote a detailed account of their path to buying the historic (and haunted) Magnolia Hotel in Seguin, Texas. Being a thorough researcher, Wallace committed to finding as many stories from archives, county records, and family histories.

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The first version of the Magnolia Hotel was a simple, two-room cabin built by Texas Ranger James Campbell in 1840. Campbell was the law in Seguin, and included a basement that he used as a jail. Soon afterwards, Comanches murdered and dumped him in a shallow grave.

The Indian raid shelter.
The Indian raid shelter. Photograph by author.

Joseph Johnson bought the cabin and converted it into a stagecoach station. His addition included a limecrete structure with only three rooms, and was dubbed the Magnolia Hotel. This is allegedly home to the spirits of a fortune teller, a servant, and a cowboy who took his own life.

In 1850, the next owners added a 10-room structure, becoming the hotel as it is known today.  Fancy for the frontier, the hotel witnessed an Indian raid in 1855. Campbell’s old subterranean jail made do as a hideout for scared guests. The hotel saw its share of prostitutes, Texas Rangers, and traveling salesmen — at least one is known to have committed suicide there.

The Magnolia Hotel’s spookiest tale comes from the axe murder of twelve-year-old Emma Voelcker in 1874. The authorities prosecuted family friend Wilheim Faust who was staying in the hotel. Faust was convicted, and unburdened himself by confessing to two other murders. The murderer was later assassinated by an unknown assailant. Was it a conspiracy?

After the endangered landmark was rescued by Erin Wallace and Jim Ghedi in 2013, they commenced restoration, but were constantly disrupted by paranormal activities. Apparently, ghosts hate remodeling too.

Mysteries of the Magnolia Hotel book cover.