The Writer

Across from the Waco Public Library at 1801 Austin Avenue stands the historic Cooper House, home of the city’s Cooper Foundation. The house features ornate gables and represents Waco’s quintessential Victorian home. The house was constructed for Madison A. Cooper, Jr., a local businessman, philanthropist, and writer. Cooper wrote the now famous and highly romanticized Sironia, Texas, a 1,700-plus page, two-volume series drenched in scandal and based on Cooper’s own Waco contemporaries.

According to popular legend, Cooper’s spirit still works in his upstairs office – the rotunda – of the old house. The room is exactly as he left it, down to his spectacles, just waiting for the writer to begin his next project. Sometimes, late at night, passersby and workers at the mansion report seeing his office lights turn on, as if he is working late on another piece. The stairs leading to his high office creak randomly, day and night, and other odd noises, such as Cooper’s mumbling voice, occasionally sound from the room. Others claim he sometimes walks the house at night, as though looking for something never to be found.

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The legends and folktales in Cotton Bales, Goatmen & Witches: Legends from the Heart of Texas, compiled by Bradley T. Turner and accompanied by photographs from Mark Burdine, bring to life the whispered stories and forgotten secrets that illuminate the darkest recesses of the Texas psyche from the distant past to the present day.

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