The Souls That Linger at Miss Hattie’s Place in Belton
The house known as Hattie's Place has witnessed many passing years. The house today may seem lacking in character but make no mistake, this building definitely has soul. Some might say, souls!
Built in the 1920s, the house has survived many events to include Prohibition but yet still holds an important place in Belton's history.
Following Dangerfield Highway, known now as 2nd Street, brought you to the community of Dangerfield. The five-and-a-half acre community was home to a main house which served as a brothel, with five surrounding mini-houses, a Speakeasy, and an illegal bootlegging operation supported by the local sheriff at the time.
Current owner, Nikki Starks, fell in love with the place at first sight.
"It actually called to me very strongly. My daughter and her family lives here (Belton). We (business partner, Marvin) were traveling from Colorado Springs to Key West for business. Marvin hurt his back so we ended up having to stay here. I would pass this place driving into town. I thought I could make it a pretty house again", said Starks.
Starks originally planned to make the property an eight bedroom, seven bath Bed and Breakfast which combined the original house with a house donated by First Baptist Church in Belton. Since 1994, Starks has been making renovations to the property but she has fallen ill recently and the property is being prepared to be sold.
During a break (from renovating) an older black man walked down the driveway. He was over 6 feet tall, very skinny, and walked bent over. Very polite. He wanted to know what we were doing with Ms. Hattie's place. He is the one who told me about this place. He said Ms. Hattie was a real fine woman. She helped her community a lot.
Ms. Hattie operated the Speakeasy located in the back field of the property. On any given day, music, card playing, alcohol drinking, and dancing could be heard echoing throughout the property as regulars celebrated life.
"I have heard music playing from the field from their (the investigators) equipment but I could not hear it with my own ears," said Starks. "All the investigator's psychics have described the scene and the spirits that are still here the same; that is how I know that this is real. I was not a non-believer. I have a very open mind about all this. Once I started sitting in the investigations, I became very convinced. People who think they know this is not possible are the ones who aren't willing to come to an investigation."
For the past two years, Starks has permitted over 40 different paranormal investigation teams to witness the wonderful history that can still be heard today.
"I lived here (Hattie's Place) and I could hear things upstairs going on. I didn't know if it were squirrels or what. And I didn't go up to the top floor very much," said Starks. "They are friendly spirits. They love telling their stories to visitors and they will give you a hug around your shoulders and you'll feel it."
Ms. Hattie is just one of several spirits that still inhabit the property.
For more information about Hattie's Place or investigation sessions please contact Nikki Starks at 254-760-0028.
Elizabeth, madam of the brothel, was a very refined lady. Her work and private rooms were located on the top floor of the original house. She is known for her curiosity and her overwhelming floral perfume can often be smelled throughout the house, especially when visitors are present. She can also be seen in a white dress looking out the top floor window peering toward the building nicknamed "The Crib"
Jacob, Elizabeth's bouncer and male companion, lived in a room on the left side of the second floor of the main house. He was a nice looking, well-dressed young man who took care of the ladies of the brothel.
Hattie's 14-year-old son, his name is unknown, was shot to death in one of the rooms of the original house by the sheriff. The sheriff believed the boy knew something he wasn't suppose to know regarding the sheriff's illegal operations. The boy's body is believed to have been rolled up in a rug and buried near the white church located next to Nolan Creek.
William, the spirit who happened to be attached to the donated house, was an older man and made his life as a sea captain. He was not local but from the east. He is accompanied by his grandson who drowned in the creek.
Virginia, one of several residences of The Crib, was a young redheaded Irish woman. She came to live in The Crib after she was abandoned in Belton. Elizabeth discovered her involvement with Jacob and demanded she slit her wrist or be beaten to death. Virginia bled to death in the original bathtub located in the back room of The Crib.