By James Pylant. Softcover (2014), 276 pp., illus., indexed.
It began in the 1800s. In the Texas town of Mineral Wells, people drinking the strange-tasting water claimed to be cured of insanity, rheumatism, and terminal illness. Discovery of the phenomenon beguiled thousands of tourists, curiosity seekers, and the afflicted who desperately sought cures.
Yet, the town that promoted its “crazy water” attracted eccentric citizens, including wealthy Will and Anna Johnson, who, unable to cope with the deaths of their children, spared no expense in preserving the bodies for entombment in a mausoleum; paperclip inventor David Galbraith, the builder of a house in the shape of a honeycomb; and influential mortician Bob Beetham, who gained power by keeping the town’s secrets.
In Texas Gothic, author James Pylant also uncovers the mysterious life of beautiful and ambitious Mineral Wells resident Corinne Griffith. After becoming a famous star of the silent screen and one of America’s richest women, she made a shocking courtroom claim that she was not the “real” Corinne Griffith.
Under the looming 14-story Baker Hotel, Mineral Wells thrived with visits from movie stars; yet, the “crazy water” beckoned exploiters and predators. Texas Gothic reveals true tales of the town’s forgotten past: murder, white slavery, prostitution, and mysterious deaths.