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"THE ATTACK OF THE DEVIL VAMPIRE BAT MAN OF THE MARSHALL HOTEL"
By TAMILIA EASTER JACKSON
A little ways back in time the Once grand Marshall Hotel in Marshall, Texas was supposedly home to the Devil Bat Man. This creature part man part bat is thought to have lived deep inside of the then ruins of the grand old hotel.
In the 1970s, the hotel was sold to East Texas Baptist University and the first three floors were used briefly as a boy's dormitory. After that, it closed for good.
During the years that followed a large colony of giant bats moved into the upper most floor beneath the large crumbling sign. While most people were unaware of the presence of these bats in the Marshall, Texas area at first, word spread quickly about the towns new residence.
On hot summer nights until late Autumn many of us would go out and watch the thousands upon thousands of creatures of the night that would take hurried flight to stalk their prey.
And circulating amongst us was the story about how living deep inside the shadows was the dark sinister creature we called the Devil Vampire Bat Man Of Marshall, Texas. We imagined him to be much like Kiefer Sutherland in "The Lost Boys" the 1987 American comedy-horror film about two Arizonan brothers who move to California and end up fighting a gang of teenage vampires film.
Many people would tell the story around Wiley College everyday of this bat man thing that they saw. And also many of us would gather into large groups to go out and look for the vile creature when ever we had the chance.
Rumors would tell that he did not fly out of the high top windows until all the last golden yellow rays of sunlight had faded. And though we knew it all to be untrue we all would wait in excited frenzy of anticipation to see if in the rush of flapping wings this dark lord of the East Texas sky would be seen diving out into the night.
As stories go it was said that he only could be seen on moonless nights. And that he was not living or dead.
One young lady I knew swore to us all, as she screamed in the night that the Vampire Devil Bat man had scratched on her 3rf floor window and begged to be let in. And yes some of us laughed it off as a active imagination. I too smirked when people would tell me these things. And that is until my mother told me how she had seen a giant dark creature driving home late one night past the old hotel, with giant wings and called the police to report it.
The Not So Haunted History Of The Marshall Hotel
The Hotel Marshall is the tallest building though not the tallest structure in Marshall, the seat of Harrison County, Texas.
The building was constructed about 1929 and is noted for its art-deco elements.
Though in actuality it draws from several styles that were popular at the time.
The hotel was originally called "The Marshall" and was one of three (The Kaufman in Kaufman and The Gibraltar in Paris) of the Pethybridge Hotel Co. ventures in East Texas.
The Hotel Marshall that is standing today is not the original Hotel Marshall. The original was located directly next door. At one point there were three buildings on that block.
The once beautiful Capital Hotel (for which a historical marker stands), the smaller, original Hotel Marshall, then the many in town believed to be really haunted by the Devil Bat Man, Hotel Marshall is now being painstakingly totally restored.
On March 8, 1929 the property that Hotel Marshall now stands on was sold for $30,461.30 to S.B. (Sam) Perkins. Construction of the building was pushed to be completed by the annual Regional Rotary Club convention.
Bobby Manziel, a Tyler, Texas, oil man, bought the Hotel Marshall on July 28, 1956. He renamed the hotel after himself and unexpectedly died a year later. Mrs. Manziel sold the hotel to Earl Hollandsworth for $225,000 in 1957.
Hollandsworth planned a major renovation for the hotel in the 1950s. He put up $125,000 to help finance it. The Chamber of Commerce raised $100,000 and local citizens gave another $100,000. The local businessmen made a deal with Hollandsworth to loan $250,000 to finance the remodeling.
The building between the Hotel Marshall and the Capitol Hotel was torn down. A swimming pool and patio were put in its place.
The hotel was one of the major attractions in East Texas in the mid 20th century; complete with an elaborate red carpet, bellhops, valets, and a shoeshine stand in the basement. The building was the center of the city's social scene during the late 1940s.
The Rotarians, Kiwanis, and Lions Club met there every week with the day of the meeting on a rotating schedule. Many of the African American performers who entertained them were forced to ride the freight elevator rather than the main elevator to the Roof Garden.
The patio was the site of many fashion shows. The Marshall Club is, perhaps, the greatest example of this period of the building’s history.
The Marshall Club was a private social club for some of Marshall’s most affluent families. The members of the club had a special part of the hotel designated for them: the mezzanine. A Christmas party was held every year as well as two to three other parties throughout the year. The most common activity, bingo, was played every week. The members financed the club themselves, allowing it to be extremely elegant.
While the 1958 remodeling elevated some of Hotel Marshall's luster it also created problems. In earlier times the hotel had two stoves, one for the Roof Garden and one reserved for room service.
Hollandsworth removed one of them and replaced it with a hot plate in the newly created coffee shop. This increased pressure on the kitchen to get food out fast to both guests and shop customers. Two elevators would have been perfectly adequate if one had not been used as a freight elevator.
On nights when there were events hosted in the hotel, the lobby could get very congested.
Another problem was that the remodeling placed the thermostats in the halls instead of the rooms. With the opening of motels in Marshall, Hotel Marshall’s dominance began to buckle. Businessmen began to complain about no return on their investments in the hotel.
Management was changed almost monthly, hampering the clockwork precision a hotel should have. The social center began to drift away as the rich and middle class families abandoned the city center for suburbs such as Jasper Heights and Bel Air. The coffee shop's hours were reduced and the Roof Garden was closed.
Businessmen began to suggest motels over the Hotel Marshall, due to the chaotic conditions of its management. This final blow forced the hotel to close its doors.
East Texas Baptist University purchased the hotel in 1973. It was to be used as a dormitory for boys, until the completion of a new dormitory.
With the new dormitory completed the Hotel Marshall was once again abandoned.
Various failed restoration projects came and went in the 1980s and 1990s; none of which were complete. By 2000 the letters of the Hotel Marshall sign were deteriorating and toppling down onto the roof. And in that time of great disrepair the thousands of bats moved in.
The north face's seventh floor balcony and second floor balcony’s light posts had been removed, the windows were busted out, and the Roof Garden had been striped of its mural.
The prominent and well respected Jerry Cargill purchased the building and has begun renovating the hotel with help from local investors and aid from the city commission.
The Marshall is now open for business as a venue for events such as weddings, But also the great news is the memory of the Devil bats of Marshall, Texas are said to be totally all but gone.
THE CURSE OF THE DEVIL BATS ATTACKS IN MARSHALL, TEXAS
During this time they always rolled up the sidewalks at 8 pm.
Lisa Lee Harp Waugh told me her curious story about how while talking to a customer at her successful restaurant Jitterbugs which she would keep open until 3- 4 AM back in the early 1990's.
He spoke to her in whispers with a great fear in his eyes as he stuttered out the words about how he and some friends broke in to the Marshall Hotel and found the Devil Vampire Bat Man asleep on the 6th floor. He described it as hanging by only two toes in a precarious curled up sideways position.
He said they saw it open one red blood shot glowing eye as it hissed at them.
In a great panic of blinding fear they all stumbled and fell as they ran out screaming over the large amounts of bat guano and rubble.
"We were screaming just like little frightened 6 year old school girls who just had their candy stolen on halloween night." He told Waugh before two big crocidile tears ran down his face. And then his hands begin to shake as he clenched his hot coffee as he sobbed into the night.
Waugh says many who frequented Jitterbugs would come in and speak of the bat haunted Hotel and it's supposed monster tenant.
These many tales of the Devil Vampire Bat Man encounters and sightings were heard all over town. Many of the stories told to Waugh at this time seemed what she believed to be too over the top. But she figured as most of the people in town did also, and that in reality it was nothing more then just a made up story the guys of Wiley College told the girls to get them to go out and cuddle in the night with them.
One Waugh's good customer Joseph Baker came running in to the restaurant covered in blood and live bats.
It seems he was riding his cherry, mint green Harley motorcycle down Hwy 59 when he drove through a large swarm of giant bats that clung to him and bounced off his body as he turned on Travis Street.
In great panic and intense overwhelming fear he hurried and raced along as the bats continued to bounce off of him as he got to North Washington Street.
Several still live bats were clinging to him and digging into his skin as he dropped his precious bike on the pavement which was now covered in the dark red fresh blood of the hundreds of bats he plowed through.
In front of Jitterbugs the bike fellmaking large sparks as it slid to the door, and waugh tells that you could smell the carcasses of the dead bats burning and smoldering on the muffler.
Baker then ran into Waugh's restaurant screaming with dead and live bats falling and fluttering from his body.
Waugh commented in the telling of this to me that this was the first time she had seen a big biker dude like baker reduced to tears.
Baker told Waugh and those in the restaurant that late night that he thought he had seen a strange giant creature or half man crawling on side of the road at the Hwy exit then the bats out of the sky attacked him as he rode.
Debbie Fuller use to frequent Jitterbugs and Waugh told me about her account of seeing hundreds of bats perched hanging over her head on the power lines as she walked into Jitterbugs complaining that bat guano pelted her as she walked to the front door.
Fuller told Waugh it was down right paranormal how these bats hung around town in such strange ways.
She would come into Jitterbugs and would go on and on how strangely they would perch in the trees like vultures waiting for someone to die.
Fuller really believed the bats were following her and no one else.
She was said to be by many townsfolk to be driven insane by this very thought.
She told Waugh and anyone that would listen that these bats were the sign that someone would be doomed and they would die a tragic death very soon.
As Fuller's fears grew worse some people would tell that someone said they saw her screaming and falling to the ground on Burleson street encircled by thousands of bats attacking her. But Fuller denied this publicly, but in private she told a much different story to Cindy Barr.
To Barr, who to who alone she claimed the Devil Vampire Bat Man came and told her she would be the next to die. For several weeks Fuller ran all over town making it known that the Devil Vampire Bat Man was out to get her.
Barr told the tale that Fuller said she had broken into the old Hotel Marshall one day. After having a dream that the thing that lived their had summoned her to him to tell her of many things. Fuller never told her what happened as she crawled through the bat guano, But Fuller said it forever changed her life.
Debbie Fuller died in a horrible car accident her head was severed from her frail young body. they say it bounces and rolled down the highway for several yards. In her large handbag they said they found a note that said the Bat Man is out to get you written in her own hand. They also had been said to have found a wooden hand carved stake, a hammer and gallon milk jug filled with blessed Holy Water in the trunk.
She died alone on Hwy 80, late one hot night. Many in these parts said when the spoke of her strange death that the car was covered in dead bats. And when they pulled her limp body in the last grips of a horrible un-natural death from the car they also found a not so dead bat clenched tight in her fist.
They buried her and most of the town mourned until and on that very day of her funeral and burial the thousands of bats from the Marshall Hotel all flew and swarmed over the cemetery at sunset.
One eyewitness the cemetery grounds keeper said they flocked to her grave which was proven to be true for many people went and saw it covered with hundreds of pounds of bat excrement the next day.
The never ending story of poor Debbie Fullers ghost being sighted is often told. Many say they have seen her and it usually just her headless body walking down Hwy 80 looking for her head. but the strang thing is you often will see real live bats right before you encounter her.
Many people tried to identify these bats as Mexican freetailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis). In description the bats of the Marshall Hotel can only be described and pictured as being really big. They are often told to be as equal or if not bigger then the size of full grown Fruit Bats.