The Cowboys and Outlaws that Haunt the Stockyards Hotel

The Cowboys and Outlaws That Haunt the Stockyards Hotel

109 E Exchange Ave, Fort Worth, TX

Step into a time when cattle and cotton were currency at the Stockyards Hotel in Fort Worth. Billed The Old West at its Best, the long list of famous guests who have spent the night here is impressive.

An equally long list of reported ghost encounters at the Stockyards Hotel is why this building is at the top of our list of most haunted in Fort Worth. Spend the night in the room once occupied by infamous outlaws Bonnie and Clyde. Let us know if it’s true that their ghosts are still hiding there, keeping a lookout for the law.

Fast Facts about Stockyards Hotel

  • The Celebrity Suite has lodged legends like Chuck Norris, Garth Brooks, George Strait, and Tanya Tucker.
  • Open since 1907, the hotel was a beacon for rich oil tycoons in its early days.
  • True to its roots, the decor maintains an Old West charm with saddles, cowboys, and historical artifacts on display.

Is Stockyards Hotel Haunted?

Known as a premier destination for outlaws and cowboys since it opened more than one hundred years ago, it’s not surprising the Stockyards Hotel is said to be haunted.

There’s no mention of ghosts as an attraction on the hotel’s website, but a simple internet search yields a clue. Multiple guests have left Tripadvisor reviews claiming to be kept up at night by paranormal activity in their room.

The Ghosts of Bonnie and Clyde

The star attraction at the Stockyards Hotel is suite 305, named Bonnie and Clyde after it’s most infamous guests.

The bank-robbing couple stayed in the room while they were on the run in 1933. Notoriously gunned down together about a year later, have their spirits returned to this hotel as a safe haven?

According to Strange State, the bathroom faucet has been known to turn on and off by itself. But what would cause one or both of the bank-robbing outlaws to cling to a hotel room after death? Let’s explore a theory as to why one of the love birds could be so attached to the Stockyards Hotel.

The Bonnie and Clyde room can be compared to a miniature museum for the pair, with a .38 revolver said to be owned by Bonnie on display alongside newspaper clippings. Then there’s the most surprising artifact: one of Bonnie’s poems.

Oddly enough, not only was Bonnie part of the most notorious criminal gang of her time, but she was also a poet. Before she turned to a life of crime, she won school prizes for her spelling and writing.

Her final poem reads:

They don’t think they’re tough or desperate

They know the law always wins

They’ve been shot at before,

But they do not ignore

That death is the wages of sin.

Some day they’ll go down together

And they’ll bury them side by side

To few it’ll be grief, to the law a relief,

But it’s death for Bonnie and Clyde.
Bonnie Parker

Bonnie knew her journey with Clyde would only end in their deaths. The pair are accused of killing 13 people in a murderous rampage to resist arrest. She assumed and hoped when death arrived, it would result in her burial next to her true love. That’s not the case.

According to a article, Bonnie’s grief-stricken mother demanded Bonnie be buried separately. In 2018, her remaining blood family members led a push to have her remains relocated next to Clyde Barrow’s grave. Red tape and financial limits got in the way, and the couple is still buried nine miles apart at different cemeteries today.

Rather than face the afterlife alone, is Bonnie’s ghost still waiting to be reunited with Clyde? Where better to hide out than their former love nest?

Hauntings on the Second Floor

Skimming the surface of hundreds of Stockyards Hotel reviews on Tripadvisor, there are several separate accounts of hauntings occurring on the second floor of the building.

One review reads:

I was awakened at 3:00 am on the dot (I looked at the alarm clock) to something that hit the wall. I laid there for a little bit and the lampshade slammed into the wall again and then went perfectly still. I was frozen in fear. I could not move and I could not speak. I was scanning the room with my eyeballs because that was the only thing I could move. Then all of a sudden, someone pressed down on my right knee and the lampshade slammed into the wall again ... HARD and then went perfectly still again.

According to Strange State hotel staff often hear reports of women who feel as if someone has just crawled into bed with them. Another room has a TV and radio that turn on by themselves.

To discover what could be haunting the second floor of Stockyards Hotel, Ghost City Tours did some digging into old newspapers and found a second love story that ended tragically in the hotel.

”Junior” The Tortured Rodeo Cowboy

In the 1930s, a young man named C.D. Junior Colwell was at the height of his fame as a daring rodeo cowboy. He was a frequent guest of the Stockyards Hotel.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram is littered with articles about his victories and daring stunts, naming him one of the principal money winners in the Merrick County Fair and Rodeo. He survived close calls on the bulls he rode. One article from 1936 said his bull caught the cowboy in his horns and spun him around like a top.

Junior had a wife named Ada, and their marriage had a dark side. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, in 1934, Ada was criminally charged for shooting Junior in the arm. He survived, and the couple remained together.

Junior had a secret; he too faced criminal charges. Breaking the law had recently caught up with him. He was out on bail accused of robbery and swindling an amount of money that would equal about $40,000 today.

One night in 1938, Junior couldn’t stomach the thought of going to prison for his crimes. According to an article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, his wife Ada testified that Junior had held a gun to her head in their room for 30 minutes, hesitating with his plan for a murder-suicide. She told the court, He told me that he loved me and was going to take me with him.

Eventually, Ada escaped and ran down the second-floor hallway. Junior ran after her, firing bullets through the air that narrowly missed other guests. When Ada was safely out of sight, Junior turned the gun on himself.

Junior left a suicide note on his bed that read, I love everybody, good luck to the cowboys.

Is the spirit of Junior still on the second floor today? Perhaps he's mistaking the women he's disturbing in hotel room beds as his beloved wife Ada?

According to the book Ghosts of North Texas, when the hotel is very quiet late at night, the sound of footsteps can be heard in the hallways along with the jingle of a cowboy’s spurs.

Junior isn’t the only person that took his own life in the hotel during that period. Ghost City Tours found two other incidents in the Fort Worth Star-Tribune of high-profile male guests ending their lives inside the Stockyards Hotel.

Suicides at The Stockyards Hotel

A few years before Junior’s suicide in 1935, a weighmaster at the Fort Worth Stockyards poisoned himself. Jasper C. Lawson was 45 at the time of his death. His family said he had quit his job several days earlier.

Nearly twenty years later, in 1957, a rodeo performer and judge fatally shot himself in a room at the Stockyards Hotel. Before he died, he held the Mexican Championship for Bulldogging and riding for three years.

Is there a link between these tragedies and the rumored hauntings?

Prank Calls to the Front Desk From A Ghost?

One of the wilder claims of paranormal activity at Stockyards Hotel centers around phone calls made to the front desk. According to Haunted State the phone will often ring at night, but no one is on the other line.

In one instance, a hotel employee reportedly was able to trace the origin of the call to the lobby of the Stockyards Hotel. When he looked over to the lobby to see who might be calling, no one was there.

These instances are commonly blamed on the ghost of a former employee named Jake. Many believe he also haunts the elevators of the hotel. Ghost City Tours searched the hotel’s history and could find no historical record of an employee of the Stockyards Hotel named Jake apart from similar ghost stories.

History of the Stockyards Hotel

The property on North Main and East Exchange started as the Stock Yards Club Saloon and Billiard,, in 1904. Each year, owner Colonel T.M. Thannisch built additions. The expansions eventually became a three-story hotel.

When the Stockyards Hotel opened in 1907, it was the jewel of Fort Worth and thrived during the area’s 1920s - 1940s boom. By the 1980s, a lack of upkeep put the hotel in a rough state. New owners acquired the property in 1982 and began a restoration process to renew its title as an upscale cowboy boutique hotel.

Stockyards Hotel Today

Several country music artists and big names regularly stay in The Celebrity Suite, that features a private outside deck with a hot tub.

Today, the Stockyards Hotel is known for its Texas-style hospitality and comfort. History buffs will enjoy the antiques on display through the building that remind guests of the old West..

If you opt to rent the Bonnie and Clyde room, let us know if you experience anything paranormal. We’d love to know what the notorious bank robbers of the Great Depression are up to these days.

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