Author, historian, and newspaper columnist, William Edward Syers (1914-1987), was a Native Texan who lived in Austin and Kerrville. A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, Ed Syers served as editor of The Daily Texan while a student there. Critics have called him “a walking encyclopedia of Texas heritage.” His long-running feature column about the state’s history and lore, Off The Beaten Trail, appeared in most major Texas newspapers during the sixties and seventies, and was compiled into a best-selling three-volume book edition, which exhausted seven printings.
To Syers, the supernatural was an inherent part of Texan heritage. “You cannot separate culture from deep-seated, unspoken beliefs,” he would declare. “We are many cultures, each with our particular folklore. The supernatural is part of that. This book needed doing.”
Of his eight works, two of them novels, seven are devoted to Texas. While Off The Beaten Trail was acclaimed as “perhaps the most diverse and authentic collection of Texana ever assembled,” his best-selling state guide, Backroads of Texas, now in its fourth edition, was cited for its “awesome knowledge of Texas in a style reserved to novelists.” His historical novel, The Devil Gun, was called one of the most powerful novels to come from the American West.
In search of stories, Syers traveled more than 100,000 miles in his pop-up camper van, covering virtually every road in Texas. “I want the feel of the land,” he explained, “not a change of wallpaper.”
And when asked whether he expected his book on the supernatural to achieve acclaim, Syers said, “With the imaginative—say, the young at heart—yes. I don’t know about the skeptics, but then skeptics don’t have much fun. With this book, I did.”