TRIVIA FROM OLIVIA: Port Arthur, Texas and the Brownies



And if they were brownies, that meant I wasn’t really awake at all. They were a type of fairy that visited people in their dreams. Situating my blankets, I settled my dream self against the headboard and faced the brownie closest to me. “What can I do for you?”

He grinned and hopped down from the footboard onto the bed walking across my leg to get nearer to me. “You assume we need your help?”

I shrugged. It was an assumption, true, but I was a Neutralizer. What else was I to think? “I certainly didn’t call for you.”

Another brownie, this one a little chunkier, started laughing, banging his spear against Beck’s chest of drawers with each guffaw. “We do not come when asked. We come when necessary.”

“Maybe it’s just because I’m still asleep, but I don’t really understand.”

“You’re in danger.”

Those words were spoken by all fifty-something of them. Their voices all sounding in unison was a little creepy, especially since this was a dream. “I can take care of myself.”

“It will swallow you up. If you don’t get out now you’ll go under.”


Just before the turn of the twentieth century, a man by the name of Arthur Stilwell was in the process of building a railway to connect Kansas City to the Gulf of Mexico. His original plan was to purchase the Houston East and West Texas Railroad and then to create a port terminal in Galveston, Texas. Stilwell’s plans changed when, as he recounts in his autobiography:

I was warned by my nightly advisors not to make Galveston the terminal of the Kansas City Southern Railroad, because that city was destined to be destroyed by a tidal wave.

You see, Stilwell claimed that from about the age of four he received messages from spirits that he called “brownies.”

As a child, he would warn his mother that relatives would be visiting days before the persons would actually arrive. He also pointed out his future bride when he was just 14 years old, and in fact within five years Jennie Wood became his wife.

As to the railroad, Stilwell said that the brownies advised him to end the railroad at Lake Sabine and to build the terminal at the site that is present-day Port Arthur. He followed their instructions, “not deviating from the plans revealed.”

Just five years later, the hurricane of 1900 devastated Galveston Island, killing around 8,000 people.

On April 7, 1924 Time Magazine featured an article titled “Brownies” which related the guidance Stilwell received from his nightly visitors. Other authorities at the time, including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, believed Stilwell might truly have been psychic. I even located for auction a copy of one of Doyle’s books which was inscribed to Stilwell: "Yours in the great cause of Spirit-/Arthur Conan Doyle,/May, 31/22”

You can learn more about Stilwell and the city of Port Arthur, Texas at the Museum of the Gulf Coast.

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