Goat Man of White Rock Lake

In northeast Dallas, Texas is the beautiful, suburban White Rock Lake. The north part of the lake is a state park and in the southern part are expansive waterfront estates. Surrounded by a 9 mile jogging trail and bike path, the park is an idyllic urban oasis visited by thousands of people every day. Fishing, jogging, biking, families having picnics, sailors piloting their sailboats, lovers stealing kisses under a shady oak tree, boys and young men playing football and small children feeding the ducks present a picturesque, idyllic, Norman Rockwell slice of Americana.

Creepy, haunted Cox Cemetery by
White Rock Lake.
All, however, may not be as it seems, for White Rock Lake has its dark stories. There is the creepy cemetery dating from the mid-1800's which is rumored to be haunted. There are the deaths by drowning in the lake with some of the bodies having never been found. At least one person has committed suicide at the lake by hanging himself from a limb of a large tree by the water's edge. The drowning in a boating accident in 1927 of beautiful 19-year-old Hallie Gaston led to the story of the Lady of the Lake. In 1934, a small plane crashed into the lake, killing every passenger. In 1941, 27-year-old John Howard, a world record holder for underwater swimming inexplicably drowned in the lake. Is it any wonder there have been numerous reportings of strange goings on in the area?

Runners talk of strange "cold spots" frequently encountered near the area where J.C. Hacker drowned in 1938. He was one of the victims whose body has never been recovered. Even in the hot Dallas summer months, there is one particular spot that always feels coolish. Perhaps though, the strangest story of them all is of the Goat Man of White Rock Lake.

In the 1960's, I was busy growing up in Garland, a town "just down the road a piece" from the lake. I went to a church located 2 miles from the lake. I heard all of the ghost stories and I heard about the Goat Man. My teenage friends and I spent many Friday and Saturday nights slowly cruising around the lake. A couple of times I somehow even convinced a girl to spend some time with me parked in a dark corner of the park steaming up the car windows. I never saw the Lady of the Lake and I never saw the Goat Man, but a couple of times I did see and have a nice conversation with Officer Daley of the Dallas Police Department. He told me to button up my shirt, get my butt out of the park and take the girl home. My side of the conversation consisted of, "Yes sir." I may never have had an encounter of the supernatural kind at White Rock, but to this day, the stories persist with a few more people over the years giving eye-witness accounts of encounters with the Goat Man.

The last reported sighting of Goat Man
was on this spooky road.
According to these accounts, the poor creature is half-man, half-goat. He is about 7 feet tall when standing and is covered from head to hoof in coarse, brown hair. He has 2 horn-like protrusions coming out of his head, his feet are hoofs like a goat and he has the body and face of a man. It's skin has a jaundiced appearance and he has long, gnarled fingers with grotesque fingernails.

Most often he is seen early in the morning when he comes running out of the woods toward an individual jogger or biker. He sometimes throws trash or even muddy tires at the person. With a fierce look on his face (some have reported his eyes to be red), he turns and seems to vanish into thin air. He doesn't seem to have ever physically hurt anyone, but the fright he gives has made more than one person swear off White Rock Lake forever.

Strange Case of the Traveling American Mummy

In 1913, a down-on-his-luck one-legged hobo named Anderson McCrew was riding a freight train through Marlin, Texas. Nobody knows for sure exactly what happened; maybe he was hopping off the train to stay a while in Marlin and slipped jumping down or maybe he was leaning out of the empty railroad car feeling the wind in his face and lost his grip, but whatever happened, he was found dead the next day on the tracks with his other leg severed by the train.

His body was taken to a funeral home in Marlin to be preserved until a relative could be found to claim it. Not knowing how long that would take, the undertaker did his job so well that "Andrew" McCrew's body was mummified. It was placed in the window of a local store on the main street through town in the hopes that someone passing through would recognize him. Sadly, nobody ever did.

A year later, a carnival passed through town and since nobody had claimed Andrew's body and nobody had stepped forward to donate the funds for a burial, the carnival owner was allowed to purchase Andrew for the amount owed to the undertaker. For the next 40 years, Andrew, dressed in a moth-eaten tuxedo and sitting in a folding chair, toured all over America. Billed as "The Petrified Man" and the "Eighth Wonder of the World," thousands of people saw him, pointed at him, took pictures of him and talked about him, but nobody laid claim to him.

Eventually the carnival began losing money and had to sell some of its possessions. Andrew and his chair were sold to an individual who kept him in a shed in their back yard. He would be brought into the house occasionally for parties, but he spent most of his time for the next 15 years quietly sitting through the seasons in the shed.

Anderson McCrew's grave
Elgie Pace, a nurse who lived in Dallas, took possession of Andrew when her relative passed away. Thinking the mummy, who she called "Sam," deserved a proper burial, she cleaned away the dust, cobwebs, and bird droppings and stored him in her basement until she could save enough money for the internment. From all accounts, Andrew did just as well in the dark, damp basement as he had everywhere else.

Four years later, Elgie just happened to be passing through Marlin and heard about Andrew. Upon further investigation, it was determined that she, in fact, was indeed in possession of the one-legged, then no-legged hobo Anderson McCrew. The amazing story was printed in a Dallas paper and Frank Lott, a mortuary owner, donated his services so Andrew could finally be buried in 1973, 60 years after his death.

Andrew McCrew's grave marker.

Even then, the strange case of Andrew McCrew didn't end. Don Mclean, the composer and singer who gained fame with his iconic song, American Pie, heard the story and found out that Andrew had finally been buried, but with only a small temporary funeral home plaque to mark his grave. Don wrote a song, "The Legend of Andrew McCrew" Hear the song and donated all of his earnings from it to purchase a proper headstone. Eventually, two stones were purchased, engraved, and placed on Andrew's grave. Even his main headstone is different from the norm as it is inscribed with his year of birth (1867), year of death (1913), and year of burial (1973).

Elgie Pace wrote the words. Don McLean
paid for the stone.
Anderson McCrew, his travels and wait now over, rests peacefully in Dallas' Lincoln Memorial Cemetery. There are no flowers on his grave and he rarely gets visitors. After the life he had after his death, I think he's perfectly fine with that.