Tour Tells Grapevine’s History Through Local Legends

Grapevine city hall is decorated with a statue of the night watchman who guarded Main Street in the pioneer days.

Grapevine city hall is decorated with a statue of the night watchman who guarded Main Street in the pioneer days. (Photo Courtesy of the City of Grapevine)

GRAPEVINE, Texas – Few cities are as proud of their history as Grapevine, Texas. Be it historically accurate railroads, a functioning 19th century farm, or Main Street, the city pays close attention to the historical significance of each location. In keeping with this theme, D’Vine Wine on Main Street began offering The Night Watchman’s Tour to tell the city’s visitors all the local legends and ghost stories.

The town has a surprising host of characters that “haunt” it, and each tells a little bit more about the city’s past. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, the tales are all interesting, even if some are less believable than others. The tour acknowledges that “there is no guarantee of actually seeing a ghost or spirit in any visible form” and ask that “you confirm that you are of suitable mental health to safely participate (sic).”

This is the first year that the tour has existed. D’Vine Wine started the tours in October after their sister location in the Fort Worth Stockyards had success with a similar attraction. You’ll have to go on the tour to hear the ghostly details of the stories, but we can share some of the historical facts you can learn about Grapevine by participating.

Grapevine was founded in 1845 by famous Texan, Sam Houston. The statues along Main Street are all of real people. There is the sidewalk judge statue at the north end representing the old men who used to sit and judge all those who passed by. Children roller skate at the corner of College Street and Main–representations of the Foust children next to the family funeral home. Finally, the night watchman who would patrol Main Street and ensure each shop was locked–think pioneer mall-cop–is forever embodied in a statue on top of city hall.

One of the most interesting and historically confirmed stories involves the two duelling puppets that come out of the clock-tower at noon, three in the afternoon, and nine at night. These characters are based on real people who lived in the 1800s. Two would-be train robbers, Nat Barret and Willy Majors, both heard that the Cotton Belt train would be coming through Grapevine carrying around $60,000, and both made their own plans to rob it before settling down to a nice retirement.

They happened to meet in a bar the night before the robbery, and after having a few drinks too many, they revealed to each other their prospective plans. A fight broke out, and the two men left the bar bickering. No one knows who won the eventual duel; thus, the winner of the clock-tower duel is always random.

Did you know that Holy Grounds, a coffee shop on Worth and Main, is the only store in Grapevine that famous bank robbers Bonnie and Clyde actually tried to rob? Another victim of the Bonnie and Clyde gang was the First National Bank of Grapevine, although Bonnie and Clyde were not present at the time of the robbery. Now a jewelry store, the bank across Worth Street from Holy Grounds was once robbed by gang members Odell Chambliss and Les Stewart. Once caught, Chambliss and Stewart offered to help Grapevine police capture Bonnie and Clyde the next time they came to town. Unfortunately, the police staking out the home that the duo planned to rob were discovered when Clyde saw an officer’s shadow in the supposedly empty home. Clyde unleashed a hail of bullets on the residence before fleeing with Bonnie.

The tour offers a chance to learn a little about the history of landmarks such as the calaboose (prison) and Wilhoite’s garage, while offering a haunted twist. We may never know what is truth and what is legend when it comes to the Night Watchman’s tour.

To see this article as it was originally published in the Grapevine Faith RAWR, click here.

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