Scary ghosts in Kansas reside in the many historic places where murder and other tragic deaths occurred. These resident ghosts and other paranormal entities have terrified visitors for over a century.
In 1927, a husband and wife (the Koetts) bought a farm on what is still private land (and not open to visitors) on the outer perimeter of Great Bend. Not long after settling in, a nasty spirit began attacking them in the house and around the farm. Mr. Koett told the San Antonio Light newspaper in an interview that the entity was tall and dark, able to float up and over the fence like a mist. Inside the house, pictures swung on the wall, furniture was moved all around, and the family heard phantom footsteps tromping up the stairs.
One night, a visiting family friend heard moaning coming from a closet and was terrified when a tall, thin figure came out of the closet into the room. Upon seeing the man, the dark entity stormed towards him. The man was knocked unconscious and awoke with a bloody nose, and the intruder nowhere to be found.
Another encounter with the spirit happened when the local sheriff responded to a desperate call for help. His deputies were terrified when the dark figure emerged from the house. They shot at the shadow as it started towards them. The figure halted and let out a blood-curdling shriek before rapidly floating over the six-foot fence. The next day, the spirit reappeared and taunted the men by wailing, appearing, and disappearing around the property; later that day, the deputies discovered the beaten bloody body of the Koetts' dog. They assumed the creature had killed the canine. This seemed to be the last straw for the Koetts, who abandoned the farm. It's said that the mysterious black figure most likely still haunts the property.
Historic Eldridge Hotel
Located in Lawrence, the Eldridge Hotel is like a phoenix rising from the ashes each time it has burned down. It's no wonder the phoenix is the town seal. Located in a city rich in history and violence, it was first built in 1855 to house emigrants who believed that Kansas should not become a slave state. The building was burned in 1856 by pro-slavery supporters. It was rebuilt by Colonel Shalor Eldridge, who promised to replace the hotel as many times as necessary. In 1863, the hotel was again destroyed during a raid by the Confederate guerrilla group led by William Quantrill. Known as Quantrill's Raid, the attackers leveled the city and killed more than 150 men and boys.
Once more, Eldridge stayed true to his word, and the hotel rose from the ashes. In 1925, due to disrepair, the hotel was rebuilt. In the ensuing decades, the hotel went through several more ups and downs, and today is a premiere historic hotel and a symbol of survival and revitalization. And apparently, the Colonel stuck around to ensure his guests enjoy their stay.
However, the Colonel can be a bit mischievous. In Room 506, the Colonel's favorite place, he locks the door from the inside with the dead bolt. The Colonel's personal chair is kept in storage, but hotel workers who visit the storage room report seeing the Colonel sitting comfortably in it.
Some of the other ghostly activity includes:
- Luggage moved around
- Sound of doors slamming
- Vanishing apparitions
Built in 1879 in Beaumont, the Beaumont Hotel was the perfect location for stopovers of the stagecoach and later the railroad. It also became one of the coolest hotels, since it had its own airstrip where pilots and passengers could pull right up the hotel front door to grab a meal or refreshment and then be on their way. The hotel's glory days have been restored with its Beaumont Airport along with an RV Park. The ghosts are still hanging around, perhaps waiting to catch the next stagecoach, train, or plane.
During its early years, the hotel saw some raucous days as an overnight trail stop. At one point, it was said to have entertained men in search of the upstairs girls who were fun and fancy. According to the story, a married lady of the evening fell in love with a visiting cowboy, and in a fit of jealous rage, her husband killed the cowboy lover. Zeke, as the murdered man is known, apparently still wanders about the Beaumont Hotel's second floor.
Commonly reported incidents, according to The Ghost Hunter's Field Guide, include:
- Furniture moves about.
- Radios turn on by themselves.
- People hear spurs jingling in the hallway.
- The shadow of a cowboy stands near the stairs.
Fort Leavenworth was built in 1827 and is one of oldest continuously active forts in the U.S. It's also the oldest settlement in the state of Kansas. And, to make this fort even more ghostly, it is considered the most haunted Army Post in America. Almost every building and space has reports of ghostly apparitions or phantom sounds.
One area at the fort with a lot of paranormal activity is the 12 towers along the wall of the Old Disciplinary Barracks. Long since abandoned and sealed off, there have been many ghost sightings. One sighting is of someone moving about inside Tower Eight, where a soldier committed suicide. In another incident, guards making their round in a patrol car reported seeing a person in the tower pointing a gun at them. Others have seen sentries walking along the curtain wall between the towers.
Tragedy and death are frequent events that happened at the fort. A priest, Father Fred, died in a fire that consumed and destroyed the St. Ignatius Chapel and adjoining rectory. Some of the charred bricks were salvaged and used to build an officer's house. The priest's ghost appears there quite often. Phantom footsteps on the staircase are a common occurrence. Dressed in his official cleric robes, Father Fred enjoys being in the kitchen and dining room. In fact, a photo take of a dinner party in the 1970s captured his robed figure.
The other officer's houses haunted as well. One house has a dapper male ghost sporting a moustache and goatee. His face has appeared in a burning fire. Long after the fire died out, his face lingered in the back of the fireplace. He's quite active, banging about the house, walking up and down the staircase, slamming doors, popping up in the bathroom ready for his morning shave, and appearing in one of the bedrooms.
Other ghostly encounters include:
- The ghost of Catherine Sutter, who lost two children in the nearby river, is still searching for them. Reports of her silhouette carrying a lantern and her disembodied voice crying for her children are commonplace.
- An angry female ghost in the Rockery lunges at people as though to claw them with her long fingernails.
- Mrs. Sheridan is still angry at her husband, General Sheridan, for leaving her on her deathbed to go on a business trip to Chicago. Her irate ghost frequently appears in the Sheridan House.
- The National Cemetery at Fort Leavenworth has several resident ghosts including Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce Nation and various Civil War soldiers.
Fort Riley was established in 1853 in Junction City to secure the peace and protect travelers along the Santa Fe Trail. It was named after Bennett C. Riley, a major general who was well known as a negotiator. Today, Fort Riley is home to 25,000 troops and civilians, and several active ghosts.
Many apparitions appear here including a troop of riders who gallop across the post. The men pull up and dismount their steeds near the former site of General Custer's home. Eyewitnesses claim they've heard the phantom neighing of horses and even felt the ground shake under the thunder of galloping hooves. It's speculated that the riders are the ghosts of troops who returned to Fort Riley when Custer went AWOL to check on his wife during an epidemic.
Perhaps the two most frightening ghosts at Fort Riley are cavalry officers playing polo. The soldier who saw these ghosts said that one ghost only had a skull for his head and warned him to run for his life. The soldier obeyed the order!
Today, Building 150 on Huebner Road, located in the Historic Main Post Neighborhood, is haunted by a woman who often calls out, "Hello?" to anyone working in the building. Wet footprints appear leading from the kitchen into the living areas and into the carpeting of the office. The footprints are smaller than modern feet, and there is no water nearby, like a stream or pond. One soldier staying in the house woke to his baby crying and saw a white lady comforting the infant.
Other ghostly happenings include:
- Sound of phantom boots in the hall
- Smell of burning pipe tobacco
- Sound of giggling children late at night
The Kansas Historical Society in Edwardsville features the story of an 1878 phantom train. Twelve railroad workers from Edwardsville traveling on a handcar were hurrying back to town trying to beat an approaching storm. As they pumped the handle faster and gained speed around a curve, they saw an approaching train rumbling down the tracks, heading for them. The brightness of the engine headlight momentarily blinded them. The acrid smell of the smoke they saw billowing out of the stack filled their nostrils.
The terrified men jumped from the handcar and pulled it off the tracks just as the train rushed past, but instead of traveling down the track, the phantom train turned and disappeared into the thick forest. Dumbfounded, the men reported the incident to the authorities, but no one could explain what the men had witnessed.
This grand old dame in Wichita made her debut in 1922 and was a stopover for anyone and everyone traveling west. The basement had a speakeasy, which was the place to be in Wichita during Prohibition. Apparently, one ghost chose not to leave, as noted in the book The Ghost Hunter's Field Guide. It seems a man named Clarence checked in with his wife. At some point during their stay, Clarence discovered his wife was having an affair with another guest of the hotel. In a jealous rage, Clarence shot his wife and then committed suicide.
Clarence's ghost is credited with many of the ghostly antics including:
- Moves personal items of visitors
- Calls room service from unoccupied rooms
- Generates phantom footfalls in hallways
- Manifests in hallways to scare visitors
Clarence isn't the only resident ghost at the hotel. Various EVPs captured during paranormal investigations include the voices of children, especially a little girl. Lights in guests' room turn on and off, and guests find furniture and other objects in the room rearranged.
Hollenberg Pony Express Station
Hanover's Hollenberg Pony Express Station is a National Historic Landmark. Established in 1857 by Gerat and Sophia Hollenberg as a waystation for travelers on the Oregon-California Trail, the station was also used by the Pony Express from 1860 to 1861. Today, visitors to the site have witnessed all types of paranormal activity.
Some of these include:
- Phantom horse neighs
- Sound of approaching horses
- Disembodied voices
- Apparitions of Gerat Hollenberg
- Items moved and rearranged
Spooky Haunted Places in Kansas
There are many historic sites in Kansas that are teeming with ghostly residents. With so many paranormal choices, you're sure to come across one place that presents you with a ghostly experience.