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Author chronicles Denton's strangest historical headlines in new book

 

By Shaina Zucker

 

03/13/08 - North Texas Daily

Alien spacecrafts, ghosts and buried treasure are not only found on the pages of fiction books, but also within Denton city limits.


Chad Lewis, a paranormal researcher and author, compiled bizarre headlines from Texas newspaper archives to create his book, "Hidden Headlines of Texas."


The strange stories that he uncovered, many of which took place in Denton, were written between1860 and 1910.


"I think the book combines not only the weird and the paranormal, but also Texas history," Lewis said. "There are things like strange deaths and strange creatures but also weird characters like the well-known hermit that lived in the area or the heaviest man in the world who walked around a Texas street. Just all kinds of oddities."


The book is part of his Hidden Headline series, which includes similar books he's published about the strange happenings in Wisconsin, New York and California.
Lewis has also written a series called the Road Guide to Haunted Locations with his research partner Terry Fisk on paranormal activities.


Fisk met Lewis several years ago at a conference. Together they founded a company called Unexplained Research.


"When we do our research, we try to find eyewitnesses to collect as much history and information as we can," Fisk said. "We spend a lot of time going through old records to see how much truth is actually in these stories."


Lewis and Fisk spoke to many historical and genealogical societies while writing their books to see if people and places from the stories were still in existence.
 

"Chad and I work well together because we have personalities that compliment each other and we come at it from two different approaches," Fisk said. "Chad's background is more in the sciences, like psychology, and my background is more in religion and philosophy."


Fisk said he usually brings in mediums or psychics to see what kind of information he can gain from a haunted location while Lewis uses scientific equipment like electromagnetic field detectors.

 

The team was recently on the Discovery Channel show A Haunting and ABC's World's Scariest Places to talk about their research and discoveries. Lewis said they also shot a weeklong video with South Dakota public television in summer 2007.


While researching haunted locations, Lewis said he began uncovering many strange headlines and thought it would be a good idea to put them all in a book.


In Lewis' Texas Headlines book, there are about 250 stories along with photos from the era and other small facts to help guide the reader.


"I think that the book provides somewhat of a time portal for what it must have been like to live in Texas back then," Lewis said. "You get a feel for how they wrote back then, the different language they used, the different writing style and their sense of humor."


Lewis said he republished the articles as they were originally printed, and, as a result, many of them are racist, bigoted and/or sexist.


"I wanted it to be like you just picked the paper off of your porch," he said. "I wanted it to be exactly the way it would have appeared back then."


Denton's archives contained several interesting newspaper headlines, including a nearly seven-foot-tall mule and a meteor that cast a shadow over the town.


"One of the things that we wanted to check out was an old story of a buried treasure near Denton, which the whole town was in an uproar to find," Lewis said. "We had to try to contact researchers to see if anyone ever found the treasure or to see if maybe we should bring a shovel when we come."


Lewis will be talking about the story of the buried treasure and many others from his book at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Emily Fowler Central Library at 502 Oakland St.


"I'll be giving more details on the location as to where these treasure hunters believed it was so many years ago," Lewis said. "And to the best of our knowledge, the treasure is still out there waiting for someone to find it."


Lewis said he and Fisk are always looking to collect new stories about the paranormal and the strange.


"People love the weird and the unknown," Lewis said. "If people are interested, they should come out on Saturday to hear stories or tell stories. Either one is great."


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