Story and Photography by Sarah Naron
Dr. Heidi Hoke, PhDHH, ND, CHt., and her husband, David, reside in a home in Mineola which has been in her family for nearly 50 years. Built in the early 1900s, the home was designated a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark in 1982.
According to Dr. Hoke, the home was constructed by Owen Pinkney Pyle, a native of Arkansas who relocated to Mineola.
“He was a big muckaluck in politics,” she said. “He was kind of a political advocate for the farmers. That was his heart’s purpose – the treatment and the good of the farmers.”
Dr. Hoke said that Pyle, a lawyer and mayor, played a major role in the establishment of both the Texas Farm Union and the National Farmers Education and Co-operative Union.
“He was actually pals with James Hogg, who, at the time, was his next door neighbor,” Dr. Hoke said. “The Hoggs lived in, like, a little shanty. It was kind of funny, because there was this grandiose house next to this little shanty that this future governor and multimillionaire lived in.”
When Hogg’s home burned down, Dr. Hoke said, “he told O.P. Pyle, ‘I’m leaving this place, but I’m building a house just like yours.’ They ended up in Houston, and they struck oil. So, they built their place. From then on, they had more money than God, and they really didn’t know what to do with it.”
According to David, when Hogg’s daughter, Ima, inherited her father’s fortune, she formed the Houston Philharmonic Orchestra and spearheaded the first movement to improve mental healthcare for women.
Dr. Hoke said the aforementioned activities were just part of the philanthropy provided by Ima during her lifetime.
“I tried to do a one-page biography of her, and I couldn’t do it,” Dr. Hoke said. “I could not condense all that she did in one page. One sentence of everything she did exceeded a page. That’s how prolific she was in advocacy. Her diversity was absolutely overwhelming. She used her money for wonderful things, and it seemed like the more she spent on stuff, the more she made. She just kept spending money and making money and spending money and making money.”
David added that Hogg – who received 36 marriage proposals, but never accepted any of them – passed away at the age of 97 after falling from a taxi in London.
Other prominent figures in the history of the home – officially recognized as the O.P. Pyle House – included Susie, the wife of O.P.
“She was a bit of a female maverick,” Dr. Hoke said. “She was quite independent. She was 4’11 and weighed 91 pounds, and she was just a firecracker.”
According to Dr. Hoke, Susie was a great deal younger than her husband, and following his death, she was left to raise their young children alone.
“It was very difficult for her,” Dr. Hoke said. “So, she sold the house and moved away.”
The home was eventually purchased by the Thorpe family, who Dr. Hoke described as being “very religiously conservative.” The family resided in the house for 50 years, and its patriarch, E.A. Thorpe, was an attorney and utilized what is now the Hokes’ living room as his law office.
“When we restored the house, we found his books,” David said. “We have his books displayed in this room, so we call this the library.”
According to David, Thorpe was in a corner of the room when he passed away. Although his body was, of course, taken and interred, the Hokes claim that his spirit remains in the home – specifically, in the library.
“He lived, studied, and died in this room,” Dr. Hoke said. “So, this was his room, and he likes to hang out in the corner. That’s where he stays. You can almost feel him watching you constantly.”
According to David, Thorpe is not the only spirit sharing the home in the present day.
“When we first got here, we would often hear footsteps running around and the like,” he shared. “We would hear footsteps running up the wall and going into the attic.”
David said a friend of Dr. Hoke’s, who was a medium, paid a visit to the house and made a connection with a spirit who identified himself as David Akin.
“He explained that when he was a live, the house wasn’t here,” David Hoke said. “We figured out he lived in a corner of the land. He looked after an old lady, and in return, she looked after him.”
In doing research on Akin, the Hokes discovered that he hailed from Georgia and was a veteran of the Civil War who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“So, the question was asked, ‘Oh, are you the one that we hear running around in the house?’” David said of the encounter between the spirit and the medium. “He said, ‘Yeah, but I really don’t care about the house. I’m here to protect the land.’”
While Akin was initially “very noisy and boisterous,” David said he has since “become very calm and quiet” and is heard only on an occasional basis.
According to Dr. Hoke, she and her husband have heard unexplained noises “that are obviously not human.” She spoke of one night when she woke with a migraine and went to sleep in the living room after taking the necessary steps to treat her headache.
“I heard distinct hooves going up the wall,” she said. “Aside from the stereotypical description, they did sound like goat hooves. They were smaller hooves; they weren’t, like, cow hooves. There were four of them, and I could hear them.”
Located directly above the living room, on the home’s second story, is the couple’s bedroom.
“David was up there asleep,” Dr. Hoke said. “When I got up the next morning, I brought him coffee, and we were sitting in bed. We were talking, and I hadn’t told him the story.”
According to Dr. Hoke, while her husband was getting dressed for the day, she noticed “these huge, big scratches down his back.
“And I said, ‘David, what is that on your back?’” she recalled. “And he said, ‘WEll, I thought that was stinging last night in my sleep. I thought I vaguely remembered that happening.’”
Dr. Hoke said that the side of the bed on which her husband sleeps is the one closest to the wall she heard the sound of hooves climbing.
“My inclination is that the thing – whatever it was – was being scared off,” she said. “We’ve never had any trouble with it since. No more scratches, no more hooves. But that kind of thing will happen very often.”
Other frequently heard noises in the house include the sound of heavy boots – such as those worn by military guards – pacing the third floor.
“Mediums have said there’s somebody constantly guarding that,” Dr. Hoke said.
“The initial count was – apart from David Akin – there were 18 major spirits,” David added.
Dr. Hoke said she believes that the number of spirits residing in the home has increased since the passing of her parents, who purchased the home in 1972.
“My mom and dad loved this place,” she said.
David said that the spirit of Susie Pyle has also been encountered.
“We were out shopping, and unannounced, a couple of Heidi’s friends decided to drop in on her,” he shared. “When we were catching up with them, they said, ‘We came over and were knocking on the door, and no one was answering. We looked in the window, and we could see a woman standing there, just looking at us. She wouldn’t react, so we gave up and left.’”
Upon their next entry into the house, David said, the friends spotted a photograph of Susie and identified her as the woman they had seen in the window.
Other goings-on in the home has been attributed to the wife of E.A. Thorpe.
“I office in her sewing room, and I get a lot of activity in there,” Dr. Hoke said. “She gets angry. I’ve had really mysterious things happening to my fish. I have three little aquariums, and I don’t think she likes them in there. I’ve had fish deaths – many, many fish deaths.”
“And disappearances,” David added. “They’ve evaporated.”
“No body, just the fish is gone, and there’s nothing there,” Dr. Hoke explained. “And the lid is on; there’s no way it could have jumped out. The fish is gone.”
One of the more sinister residents was discussed heavily during the home’s appearance on the Travel channel show ‘Trending Fear’ earlier this year. The person to which the spirit belonged, David said, was Captain J.H. Randall.
“He was in charge of prison gangs that were brought in to build the railroad,” David explained. “He was sort of a thug, and he killed people and set dogs on them and shot them if they didn’t work hard enough. All the prisoners called him Boss Man.”
Boss Man’s preferred dwelling place, David said, is in the apartment building located behind the main home, which was originally built to serve as a carriage house.
“He portrays himself as a demon,” David said. “People have encountered him as dark shadows. We’ve had ghost hunting groups out here, and they’ve caught pictures of him.”
David expressed the belief that Boss Man made his way onto the land prior to the construction of the house, when there was a church and a rectory located on the property.
“We think the priests, in their rituals, opened up a portal, and he came through,” David said. “Interestingly, the rectory burned down.”
“Everything that’s been on the property except for the house has burned down,” Dr. Hoke interjected.
“So, there was no way back,” David said of the fire which consumed the rectory after Boss Man’s entry. “But unperturbed, he said, ‘Well, I like it here.’”
The rampant paranormal activity, according to the medium who conversed with the spirit of David Akin, is allegedly due to the existence of a doorway into another dimension on the property.
“If you walk around the grounds, you’ll see that we’ve laid out stones,” David said. “Many people – the sensitive – have sensed vortexes; they sometimes describe it as an energy field or a veil.”
Akin is said to have communicated to the medium that “‘the veil is here, surrounding the house. You can cross over from one dimension to another,’” David explained. “Often, these spirits will do that. There’s some bad, some good, and David Akin has the greatest pleasure of taking out the bad spirits. So, he protects the land.”
Dr. Hoke said that prior to the church, the rectory, and the homes that occupied the property at different times, the plot of land was known as Patton’s Pastures and was owned by the Patton family, one of the two families responsible for the founding of Mineola.
“On this land, there are 500 unmarked graves,” David said.
“Patton was actually paid under the table to allow all these bodies to be buried on his land,” Dr. Hoke said.
In addition, David said, slaves and chain gangs who were brought to Mineola to work on the railroad were housed around the land.
“It was so bad, they called the area Sodom,” he said.
Despite its somewhat troubled past, the O.P. Pyle House functions today as a place of health and healing. From the home, Dr. Hoke operates the Vitae Pondera Institute of Integrative Health, as well as the Vitae Pondera College of Natural Medicine, both of which she is the founder.
For more information on the O.P. Pyle House or Dr. Hoke’s practice, please call 903-569-9913 or 561-613-7569. Dr. Hoke may be reached via email at email@example.com.
The O.P. Pyle House is located at 123. N. Line St. in Mineola.