Galveston author Denise Sandoval knows there are people who will read her book and think she might have a screw loose. She does not care. She knows what she knows, and she owns what she has seen and the experiences she has had.
Denise firmly believes her experiences to be her truth. She will not lose any sleep over naysayers, but some readers might have a change of heart when they read about some of the paranormal experiences Sandoval describes in her book, Galveston Ghost Tales.
“I wrote my book in seven days…it was on hold because of COVID. Now it’s time for me to share my story with the world,” says Sandoval, a member of Church of the Living God located out on Seven Mile Road. “I’ve never been so happy because I’m doing what God has called me to do.”
Galveston Island is perhaps one of the best places in the nation for people who enjoy or are fascinated by the paranormal. The island was home to pirates, deadly Civil War battles, bootleggers, and most notably (and tragically), the site of the most devastating natural disaster in U.S. history.
The 1900 Storm was (by today’s classification) a category 4 hurricane with a 15.7 feet storm surge that decimated the island, claiming as many as 10,000 lives and causing an estimated $20 million in damages ($652m today).
One of the most heartbreaking stories from that tragic day centers on the children and nuns of St. Mary’s Orphan Asylum. The orphanage was operated by the Sisters of Charity and consisted of two large two-story dormitories, one for boys and one for girls. It was located on the beach behind sand dunes with balconies facing the ocean.
When the hurricane hit, the 10 resident nuns gathered all 93 children in the girl’s dormitory (the newest of the two structures) for safety. As the severity of the storm became clear, the nuns took clothesline and each tied it around their waists, and then attached the line to the waists of between six to eight children each, promising not to lose them in the rising flood waters and whipping winds.
But the building was no match for the storm’s great wrath, and the dormitory was chewed up and spit out like toothpicks by the monster storm. Only three boys from the orphanage survived, somehow ending up in a tree together. Afterward, they spoke of the bravery of the nuns, all of whom perished.
When the storm passed, a grisly discovery of mutilated bodies, animal carcasses, and unimaginable horror awaited those who survived. Sandoval is among a number of ghost hunters and believers in paranormal activity who maintain they have seen and heard the ghostly echoes of many of those lost souls who—for whatever reason—cannot or refuse to accept their fate.
Today, a Walmart stands on the spot where St. Mary’s once stood. Sandoval, who worked at the store, says it was not uncommon while working to experience the playful hijinks of some orphans or the curiosity of the nuns who have not crossed over.
“My book is about 1900 Storm aftermath of St. Mary’s Orphanage and the spirits that linger inside the Galveston Walmart; nuns that roam the aisles and children playing all over the store,” she explains.
“I have encountered my own paranormal activity around me. These are true stories.” Sandoval says her book “takes you inside the Galveston haunted Walmart.”
The self-published author says God called her to write the book, and she obeyed. “God gave me the gift of discerning of the spirits. It’s supernatural insight. I’m also a dreamer. God shows me things in the spirit realm. Matthew 22:14: ‘For many called; but few are chosen,’” she quotes from The Bible.
“In 2000, I had an out-of-body experience. The Lord took me to heaven, and I heard the most beautiful music…God told me I was going to be a writer. As I was coming back to my body, I said ‘no, not yet, no, no,’ and then I woke up. I was sweating, and my heart was racing.”
She considers herself a “seer,” and she is happy to guide others on a tour of “the other side” through her books. “So many people died in the 1900 Storm,” Denise muses. “Galveston has lots of spirits, lost souls that linger not everyone sees or hears, and some may be touched.”
Sandoval says she never considered herself a writer, “but the Holy Ghost helped me to write this book. I didn’t know where to begin, but I would look out my window, and I would tell myself, ‘You have the mind of Christ; you can do it.’” Her second book, Galveston Orphans Home: The Caretaker, is complete, and she hopes to release it soon.
“I will leave you with this,” she says. “No matter where your path in life takes you, always remember that Jesus loves you.”
Galveston Ghost Tales by Denise Sandoval is available on Amazon. $20.99 paperback, $9.99 e-book. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.