Published on October 26, 2021
By Jan Edwards
It’s Halloween again – time for stories of ghostly visages and visits. Most of us have told ghost stories around campfires or the first bonfires of the season.
This time of year, you can visit several locales around Brazoria County that tell ghostly tales. A lot of them have been documented in Katherine Munson’s “Ghosts Along the Brazos.”
But a couple of our stories have gone far beyond our county lines - like the Ghost light of Brit Bailey on Bailey’s Prairie. Many writers have written about this light because so many people believe they have actually seen it. It has affected the electronics in their cars, they say. To this day, when conditions are right, people say they still witness Brit trying to locate his missing jug.
Then there is another tale almost as famous, a tale of the Fiddler on the San Bernard, a ghost story closer to my home. Leon Hale wrote about this phenomenon, although he never heard the Fiddler play.
Bertha McKee Dobie (J. Frank Dobie’s wife who hailed from Velasco in Brazoria County) also wrote about the Fiddler.
This story has been told in several different ways. I guess the definitive way for me is that two old commercial fishermen lived on Fiddler’s Island on Music Bend (so named for the strange music emanating from this place) on the San Bernard River. One of the fishermen also played a fiddle for local dances.
Once, the tale goes, this fisherman got a clip of a melody stuck in his mind and wanted to remember the rest of the song. So, he started playing the part he remembered. And he played it over and over again until his partner had enough, planted an ax in the Fiddler’s back and shoved him and his fiddle into the San Bernard.
From time to time, people hear strange music at Music Bend in the river where I live. In 20-plus years, I’ve only heard the Fiddler twice. It’s very creepy music. It sounds almost like synthesized violin music that keeps repeating the same strain.
One October,Gwen Zettle and I heard the music while my husband, Roy, and Roy Zettle were hunting bait for the night’s fishing. It gave me goosebumps and made the hair on the back of my head stand up.
While we live on Music Bend, Fisherman’s Isle is just downriver from where Fiddler’s Island was. Fiddler’s Isle is no longer an island due to one of the past owners filling in one side of it so they could park their shrimp boats.
If you visit me, you’ll see a hand-carved sign, welcoming you to Fisherman’s Isle. And there is a Fiddler playing on that sign. There are many new folks moving down here who don’t know about our ghost, so we use the sign to keep his memory alive.
There are several scientific explanations why the Fiddler still plays from time to time, and you can believe them if you like.
All I know is that I’ve seen a ghost of a little girl in broad daylight, have taken pictures of hundreds of ghost orbs at sunset and have heard the Fiddler play.
So, if you live down here when the harvest moon spills its gold on the river, fog starts to gather, and the smell of sulphur permeates the air, don’t be surprised if you hear the Fiddler tuning up.