‘Woman in White’ materializes in Wellington | RecordCourier.com
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‘Woman in White’ materializes in Wellington

by Linda Hiller

The population of Wellington, Nevada – 30 or so miles southeast of here – is anywhere from 400 to 800 people, depending on who is being counted.

Lately, a few residents there agree that number should increase by at least one.

It started a few weeks ago, with three separate sightings of a “woman in white,” walking down by the Walker River near town, and though an evening stroll by the river may seem like a ho-hum occurrence in a small town, this woman is different. She’s kind of see-through.

The first sighting was about three weeks ago, when two people in their car saw a “woman in white” on their way out of town one evening. The next day, one of the pair was talking to neighbor Frank McBryde, who owns the nearby Hoye Mansion, and casually asked him a question.

“Frank, are there any ghosts in town?” the man queried.

“I told him, ‘Ghosts? Sure there are ghosts,'” McBryde said. He and his wife Judy have had their own bouts with “unexplained goings-on” at the historic Hoye Mansion Bed and Breakfast Inn.

She’s seen again. The next sighting was that night, when a second person had the occasion to see a lovely “woman in white” as he was heading out of town. This time, she was about to cross the highway there by the old school, not far from the first river sighting.

The driver of the car stopped for her, and as she crossed in front of his car, he says his headlights went out as she passed, and then came on again after she was safely across the road.

It wasn’t until he had a second experience seeing the “woman in white,” that he got the courage to tell someone about the experience.

And again. The next night, a third couple in their car saw a figure in white walking by the river, and as it happens in a small town, word of the three sightings started to get around. Each of those who had seen her were able to tell their story and share their spine-chilling experience.

That’s when McBryde got more involved. Knowing it might be an interesting story for people to read, he called The Record-Courier and related the tale.

“Hey, did you hear about the ghost people are seeing here in Wellington?” he asked.

Interviews were scheduled, pictures were planned. Could we get a picture of her? What were the chances of that?

But one by one, schedules changed, feet got cold, and pretty soon the fear of the unknown got the best of witnesses who decided they’d rather not alienate the “woman in white,” much less appear foolish to other skeptical townspeople.

“I can understand it,” McBryde said after the third re-scheduling. “They just don’t want to talk about her, and they’re getting scared. You can come talk about our ghosts, though.”

Haunted mansion? And Frank and Judy McBryde do have stories to tell about living in the 120-plus-year-old Hoye Mansion, and dealing with what they can only name as “ghosts or spirits.”

“When we were fixing up this place, oh, about five years ago, we took down the light fixtures in the bedrooms to replace them with ceiling fans, and we carefully laid the old fixtures out upstairs in the attic, spacing them neatly so they wouldn’t break,” Frank said. “Then one day, I went up there for something, and the fixtures were all in a pile by the stairs. Judy didn’t do it. I didn’t do it. There hadn’t been anyone else in the place, and ever since then Judy won’t go up in that attic. We haven’t moved the fixtures since.”

When they tried to sell the lamp fixtures and other items from the refurbishment of the mansion, which had stood empty for three years, their “Yard Sale” sign kept getting turned upside-down, Frank said. The light fixtures remain in a pile at the top of the attic stairs.

From time to time, strange noises occurred in the spacious two-story mansion. Appliances wouldn’t work, pounding sounds were heard, outside doors were left open, lights went on and off, and the answering machine wouldn’t record calls when the McBrydes were not home.

One morning, Frank had an experience that made him explode verbally, yelling at the house’s invisible occupants.

“It was 2 a.m. in the morning, there was a full moon, and I was up to go to the bathroom,” he said. “I always got what I call ‘chicken skin’ when I walked by the bottom of the stairs, which is where the psychics had said they felt a presence, and there had been a lot of banging and crashing that night. I was fed up with the appliances failing and all the things going wrong in that house, so I got mad and I yelled and cursed and said that if they didn’t stop doing bad things, I’d burn the house down and they’d have no place to live. From then on, things really quieted down.”

“Oh, we hear noises from time to time, but it’s still a wonderful house to live in and we don’t feel frightened,” Judy said. “Except, I still don’t go in the attic, and never, ever at night.”

Then there’s the couple from Yerington who stayed in the John Wayne Suite. The second time they were there, they left at 5 a.m. and said they won’t be back.

“They said there had just been too many strange things happening in there, and they couldn’t take it anymore,” Judy said. “We haven’t seen them since.”

‘Hollywood’ Hoye Mansion. McBryde, who was a union projectionist in Hollywood for decades and lived through the magic era there, knows movies and movie stars. Pairing his passion for Hollywood with Judy’s talent for decorating, the couple created rooms in their bed and breakfast that are reminiscent of the movie industry – the John Wayne Suite, the Jean Harlow Room, the Mark Twain Room and the Tara Room.

It is this last room that people who say they have ghost-sensing abilities have found the strongest vibrations, the McBrydes say.

“One night last June, we had some people staying in that room – it was the only room occupied that day – and they went across the street to the CB Bar for a party that night,” Judy said. “Frank and I went to bed early, around 8 or 9 p.m. – our bedroom is right under the Tara Room – and we kept hearing the most God-awful thumping and bumping up there like they were rearranging furniture or something. It was all I could do not to go up there and tell them to quiet down. The next morning, they came down and said ‘Thank-you so much for telling us about that party across the street – we stayed until midnight and had so much fun!’ Frank and I just looked at each other – they hadn’t even been up there in that room when we heard all the noises.”

Who could she be?

There is one candidate for the identity of the “woman in white,” and her name is Mary Hoye.

John and Mary Hoye came from Ireland and arrived in Eagle Valley (Carson City) before going to Smith Valley in the mid-1800s. They operated outposts and way stations, eventually settling on the Walker River in what is now Hoye Canyon, southwest of Wellington.

Late in the century, due to loss of traffic from the drastic decline of mining activity in the area, the Hoyes relocated to Wellington Station, where the two-story mansion now stands.

The Hoyes also built the Wellington Mercantile next door, and more than a century and a few decades later, both buildings still house bustling operations.

The Hoyes were very successful in business, and Mary was known for “the fine table” she set in the dining room. John and Mary only had one child, a son born in March 1865 who died at the age of 5 of “Child’s disease” in February 1871. John died 19 years later in 1890 at the age of 53 and Mary operated the business for several years after that. In 1907, her failing health led her to lease out the property, and in 1915, Mary Hoye died at the age of 80, and is buried in the Lone Mountain Cemetery in Carson City.

With Halloween season here, Wellington residents might want to look closely behind the costumes of tall Trick-or-Treaters out on All Hallows Eve …