Those who did not participate in the Sealy Area Historical Society’s Ghost Tour on Oct. 28 missed a rare opportunity to see the old Sealy Rice Mill on Front Street in its original condition. The mill is a three-story structure that still contains most of the equipment needed to mill rice. Built in 1949, the facility produced 15,000 barrels of rice per day and shipped rice to Germany and Cuba. The mill also produced rice that was sold to the retail market under the brand “Sealy Rice.”
There were five tour times and more than 200 participated. Some traveled to Sealy from Katy, Tomball, Houston, Livingston and Killeen as well as from all of the nearby communities. A few of the tour participants were in town to attend the Texas Dance Hall Tour and hail from California, Illinois and South Carolina.
Local residents portrayed the “spirits” of some of Sealy’s early residents and told the history of the person and of the building where they were stationed. The spirit of Walter Virnau Sr. was played by his grandson Dwayne Virnau. Virnau and his half brothers, John and Ralph Bollinger, had the mill constructed by Frank and Raymond Vykoukal.
There was also a stop on the tour next to the Saddleback Saloon, the old Preibisch building, located on the northwest corner of Main and Fowlkes Streets. At this location, Mark Stolarski portrayed the spirit of Joe Pyka, an earlier owner of the Preibish building, who with his wife Minnie opened a bar known as My Place in 1944. The Preibisch building was constructed in 1887 and is well known for paranormal activity.
Tours of the buildings located on the Sealy Area Historical Society’s grounds on East Main Street were also included. Angela Leschper played the spirit of Irma Hackbarth Datweiller as she stood in the doorway of the Hackbarth home that was built in 1880. The home was moved to the museum grounds in 1989.
To aid tour goers in getting in touch with the spirits of those who have gone before us, Diane Gremmel, a noted psychic, gave her impressions of spirit activity in the various tour locations. Also on hand was Peter Haviland, an experienced paranormal investigator. Haviland showed videos of paranormal activity he has recorded while investigating “hauntings” and also demonstrated some of the tools of his profession.
Even though it was a chilly evening the spirits were still active and tour goers enjoyed the hayrides and discussions with the psychic and paranormal investigator.