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Time Will Tell: The Cursed Four-Faced Clock

I am an author and paranormal enthusiast who has published numerous books and articles on the subject of true unexplained phenomena.

The county courthouse located in Gonzales, Texas.

The county courthouse located in Gonzales, Texas.

The Timekeeper

The courthouse in the Texas town of Gonzales is well-known for its architectural beauty. Standing three stories tall, the limestone and red brick building boasts an impressive array of fancy arches, columns, ornamental towers, balconies and, most notably, a clock tower that features four faces. The latter finishing touch was added so that those passing through town would be aware of the time, no matter which way they happened to be traveling.

The structure, which was opened in 1896 following two arduous years of construction, was situated adjacent to the county jail. With the capacity to hold up to two hundred prisoners at any given time, it was the place where those serving out their sentences waited patiently for the day when they would be released back into society. For the worst among them, it would be their last stop before facing final judgment. Not all, however, went willingly into that dark unknown.


An Ominous Warning

All was well and good in Gonzales until 1921 when a man named Albert Howard was condemned to death for his role in a brutal murder. During his days spent behind bars, he would stare out the window at the clock that was steadily counting down the time leading up to his date with the executioner.

As he nervously awaited his fate, Howard never missed an opportunity to plead his case. Swearing that he had been wrongfully convicted, he proclaimed to fellow inmates and guards alike that he would someday be vindicated.

Howard was adamant that everything needed to set him free and clear his name could be found within the workings of the clock. According to him, it alone held the key to his innocence.

As the end crept up on him, the convicted killer seldom took his eyes off of the oversized timepiece. He stared at it so long and hard that those who were tasked with overseeing his care were almost tempted to believe his claims that he and the clock had merged into a single entity.

On March 18, 1921, Albert Howard's day of reckoning finally arrived. As he was led to the gallows, the prisoner gave those he considered his unlawful captors one last chance to turn back before it was too late.

When his ultimatum was rebuffed, he turned his attention to the crowd that had gathered to witness justice being served. Rather than asking for forgiveness, he laid a curse on the town by way of the clock with which he believed his spirit had become eternally intertwined.

Howard declared that, starting from the moment he drew his final breath, the four clock facings would never again show the same time. Since it would no longer be a reliable source of time keeping, the device could never again be used to count down the hours remaining in the life of a doomed prisoner. He would see to it from the fires of hell.

A four-faced clock.

A four-faced clock.

Mark My Words

After Howard said his peace, he was escorted to the gallows and summarily hanged. Two years later, the electric chair replaced hanging as the state's chosen method of execution, making his the last to take place in Gonzales. Though few had taken his outburst seriously, this event marked the beginning of his vengeful threat coming to pass, if only by default.

Although the clock was no longer used by prisoners to gauge the time they had left on earth, it remained a treasured landmark. That being said, residents couldn't help but notice a minor problem with the four faces that had been in perfect sync for twenty-five years. Coincidentally or not, soon after Howard's admonishment, each one of them began displaying a different time.

It the years to come, the clock was reset numerous times in hopes that its working parts would resume their synchronicity. The attempts never made a whit of difference. The hands moved at their own pace, despite exhaustive efforts to put them right.

To add to the clocks mystique, it was struck by thunderbolts numerous times in the years after the curse was placed; something that had never happened prior to Howard's threat of retribution.

Curiously, no other area of the courthouse ever sustained damage during these assaults by Mother Nature. It became apparent over time that, for some reason, the four faces were suddenly acting as lightning rods.

In the late 1990s, Texas native Henry Christian paid a tidy sum to have the clock repaired. As part of the process, the inner workings were removed and restored to like-new condition. After the meticulous operation was complete, the improved version made its debut. For reasons no one could explain, the faces still stubbornly refused to show the same times.

The jailhouse has been shuttered since 1975. Today, it houses a museum dedicated to days gone by. Although it no longer holds those who found themselves on the wrong side of the law, few who are familiar with the locale believe it to be vacant.

Some visitors to the site have claimed that they witnessed flickering lights while touring the facility. Others say that they heard voices echoing all around them in areas in which they were the only ones present. The sound of cell doors being slammed shut when they are clearly open is another often reported phenomenon.

The four clock facings still loom over the town of Gonzales. They remain a valued part of the area's history even though the times they display are to be taken with a grain of salt. Their puzzling inability to function properly is, to this day, attributed by many to an inmate whose dying vow ensured that time, at least that shown on the courthouse clock, is not something on which anyone should rely.


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