Searching for the Ghosts of Maple Street

Over Memorial Day weekend, the funeral home at the northwest corner of Maple Street and North County Road was demolished to make room for a senior living home. This home was originally built by Henry and Jennie Baccus, around 1930 (Mrs. Baccus was Frisco’s first female postmaster and she headed up our census). The home was expanded to include a funeral home business, run first by the Tom Byrum family and then later by the Benton Staley family.

The home has been boarded up due to occasional squatters, and because of its funeral home roots, it is often referred to as that “haunted house” on Maple Street.

Other than Main Street, Maple Street
was the most traveled street in Frisco during the school year. While Maple Street is recognized as the birthplace of the Frisco school district, many do not realize it was also the birthplace and home of the “undertaker district” for seven decades. The first Frisco undertakers were cabinet makers by trade, including W.J. Wagoner, operating initially out of
his livery stables around 1904 at 5th and Main Streets, and then from his barn on Maple Street, before completing the main house in 1911. The barn still stands as one of the oldest structures in Frisco

Mr. Wagoner sold the mortuary business to Fred McIntire and Mr. McIntire’s brother-in-law, Carroll Montgomery, who had built the brick building at 5th and Main Streets in 1911 (where The Blushing Bride Boutique now resides). They ran a hardware store in the front and an undertaking business in the back. They brought in a licensed embalmer and also purchased Frisco’s first motorized hearse.

These businesses were next sold to Tom Byrum in 1924. First operating out of the western half of the bank building at 4th and Main Streets, continuing as a combination hardware store and undertaking business (in the space next occupied by Curtsinger’s Drug Store), it was next moved to the brick home purchased from the Nash family at 4th and Maple Streets in 1932. It became Frisco’s first true funeral home, complete with a funeral parlor and embalming room.

The Byrums lived on the east side and operated the business from the west side of the house, complete with a viewing parlor, offices and embalming room. This was about the time children started talking about the “haunted house.” Its reputation for ghostly inhabitants came from schoolyard lore and endless pranks of the Byrum children. (No one from the dozens of past records or interviews will admit to confirmed paranormal activity at this “haunted house” or at the previous Maple Street mortuaries).

Sammy Vaughn, the daughter of past mayor, Sam Lane, says her brothers often spent the night at slumber parties with the Byrum boys. A favorite prank perpetuating the home’s ghost stories involved children hiding in caskets and popping out at visitors. This practice stopped for a few months, as one of the Lane brothers became locked in a casket (or did a ghost trap him)? He was blue from the lack of oxygen when found, but they had a new ghost tale for the schoolyard.

A few years later, Mr. Staley, his wife Maureen and children moved back to Frisco from Waxahachie. The Staleys bought the business and moved into the Byrum house in 1949. They operated the funeral home until 1971. Mr. Staley served as mayor of Frisco from 1954 to 1960 and served as the founding president of the Lion’s Club and the Frisco Youth Center. Mrs. Staley served as president of the Frisco Garden Club.

The Staley kids continued the Byrum kids’ legacy. Slumber party guests climbed in caskets and screaming, ghostly sounds were made by Ann Haggard Roach and Grace Bolin Hosp. Ms. Hosp once stayed in the Staley home due to a family medical situation, and she slept in a bedroom directly next to “the departed on display.” She admits she was a little skittish, but she quickly became accustomed to it.

After being taken in by the Staley family during his teen years, Jimmy Vaughn lived in the bedroom above the embalming room. He said it was unnerving to come home late at night and fumble past a body in the dark while looking for the stairs.

The Staleys sold the business in 1971 to the Pembertons, who used the west side of the house for a year as their funeral business until they built a new one in 1972, still in operation (under different ownership), across from the Central Fire Station. The Staleys continued to live in the house until 1988.

The Staley house was a maze of additions to the original Baccus home. Due to their gracious hospitality, these rooms became home over the years to many short-term boarders. The Staleys lived in the house until Mrs. Staley passed in 1986 and Mr. Staley passed in 1988. The house was then sold to the Pelt family.

After Mr. Staley’s death, sightings of a man wearing a straw hat and carrying a shovel around the funeral home were reported. Old-timers speculated it was Mr. Joseph Barrie, a longtime grave digger for the Staley Funeral Home, returning to his place of employment.

Jerry Cobb talks of ghostly pranks of the 1950s at Bethel Cemetery off Cobb Hill Road. Mr. Cobb was driving Jerry and his brothers home late at night and their headlights caught a ghostly figure sitting on one of the graves. Someone had propped up a very realistic scarecrow, complete with jeans, a plaid shirt and a hat. Jerry says he and his friends moved that scarecrow around town frightening other residents.

(A special thank you to Katy Almon, the daughter of Frisco’s second undertaker. Miss Katy, the “matriarch of Maple,” is a Frisco historian and longtime community volunteer. She provided much background for this article).