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Haunted Atchison - Most Ghostly Town in Kansas


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Haunted Atchison

Haunted Atchison, courtesy Atchison, Kansas Website

A house is never silent in darkness

to those who listen intently;

there is a whispering in distant chambers,

and earthly hand presses the snib of the window,

the latch rises.

Ghosts were created when the first man

woke in the night.


-- James Matthew Barrie, "The Little Minister"



Atchison Postcard

Old Atchison, Kansas Postcard



Atchison is proclaimed to be the most haunted town in Kansas, so much so that a haunted homes tour is available on the Atchison Trolley. This old town once played host to over 1600 wagons per day as settlers made their way west enroute to the gold fields of California in the 1850’s. Some of these early settlers have apparently chosen to stay in Atchison in a ghostly form. The town is full of stories about ghostly sightings and other paranormal events.


AtchisonTrolley.jpgLocated in northeast Kansas, Atchison is situated on the bluffs along the Missouri River and is one of one of the most scenic and historic towns in Kansas. Brick streets climb hills and wind along river bluffs, offering sweeping views of the river valley beyond. Grand Victorian homes with carriage houses recall glorious days when wealthy lumber merchants and railroad magnates walked the streets.


The town of Atchison is so haunted that the Travel Channel has done a special segment called Haunted Town that depicts many of the haunted places in Atchison, including Sallie's House, Benedictine College, and more.



The Hauntings


Atchison Street - This road, once known as Ferry Street, travels down a steep hill toward the Missouri River. Long ago locals would board the ferry at the landing at the bottom of the hill. When it was still referred to as Ferry Street, a woman traveling down the road in a buggy lost control of her horses, became unhitched from the animals and plummeted down the street into the freezing river. Trapped inside, her drowned body was never recovered. Today, men walking along the riverbank have heard a woman calling them to join her in the murky water below.



Gargoyle HouseGargoyle Home, 819 N. 4th Street -  More often referred to as the Waggener House, this turn-of-the-century home was built in 1884-1885 by B.P. Waggener, who was a lawyer and politician in the Atchison area in the late 1800’s. While gargoyles are usually erected to scare off evil spirits, legend has it that Waggener accumulated his wealth through a deal with the devil and the gargoyles were constructed in honor of the pact. It is said that the house is afflicted by an evil curse. One homeowner, who attempted to remove the gargoyles, fell to his death on the staircase. A segment on the Travel Channel reported that Kansas City Ghost Hunters, while visiting the home, picked up the presence of ghosts on their special equipment and reported having felt a presence in the house. This house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 3, 1974 and is located at 819 N. 4th Street.



Jackson Park, Atchison, KansasJackson Park – A woman by the name of "Molly” is said to haunt this park. Supposedly, moaning and terrifying screams can be heard throughout the park around midnight. According to one legend, Molly was a beautiful young woman who was found dead in the park the day after her prom. She was found hanging by her neck to a park tree in a hollow with her clothes badly torn. Allegedly, she and her date had argued the night before and when Molly exited the car, her date drove off leaving her in the park. It was never determined if her death was by her own hand or was a murder. Though, some suspected that her prom date killed her, no one was ever charged.


Another legend of the park's haunting states that Molly was a black woman who was lynched by a white mob years ago. Rather than the eerie screams of a young prom girl, the cries instead come from the brutal slaying of an African-American Molly. In any case, the area today is known as Molly’s Hollow where couples go to "park." In addition to Molly’s chilling cries, many witnesses also claim to have seen a ghostly figure hanging in the tree where her body was discovered.



Nellie Trueblood, photo courtesy of Trueblood Civil War Collection, Scott Neilson, Denver, CO.North 3rd Street Home – This home was once inhabited by an elderly, single schoolteacher named Nellie Trueblood. Legends told say companionless and bereft she died in the house. When the house was sold, the new owners began to make renovations, evidently to Nellie’s chagrin. It is said that when crews are working within the house they report seeing gleaming balls of light measuring 18-24 inches, which hover just out of reach. If approached, the lights quickly move away. Frightened the work crews quickly abandon the project before the restorations are ever completed.


We heard from Nellie's Nephew, Scott Neilson from Denver Colorado in 2012.  Neilson says that his Aunt was far from bereft, and that she actually died at the Atchison Hospital in 1958.  Neilson added though "I'm not surprised to hear Nellie may haunt the 3rd. St. home. But that haunting would not be at all negative, beyond a possible desire for the old home to remain as it always was. She came from a large family and there was a lot of love in that old home."



Riverview Drive Home  – Several strange occurrences have been reported in this house such as the television and stereo mysteriously turning on at full volume and noises from rooms where no one is occupying. On one such an occasion, the resident thought the noise was her dog and called out to him. However, instead of the dog responding to her call, an elderly woman ghostly spirit entered the room. Wrapped in a shroud, the spirit smoothed a place on the bed and sat next to the resident. Screaming, the resident ran from the room to be answered by the slamming of the attic door behind her. Another strange experience has occurred to several guests who have stayed within the house. Apparently, when guests stay in this home they are instructed to place their luggage at a space at the top of the stairs, which leads to the attic.  However, the spirit seemingly doesn’t like the suitcases stored in this area because the luggage is often found tossed to the bottom of the stairs.



Kearny & 5th Street Home – According the former owners of this house, a friendly ghost lingers here. While there are many unexplained events, such as the sounds of someone walking throughout the house, this ghost is seemingly very helpful. At one point, the ghost helped the man of house into his dinner jacket. Thinking his wife had helped him he turned around to thank her, but no one was there. On another occasion, when the couple was returning home from a trip, the wife mentioned that she would love to have a cup of tea when she got home. Upon their arrival home, a teakettle was hissing and a cup, saucer, tea bag, and spoon were sitting on the counter.



Riverview Drive & R Street Home – When this home was purchased by the current owners, it came completely furnished including several paintings on the wall. Making changes to their new home, the new owners removed several of the paintings, wrapped them carefully, then placed them in the basement for storage. However, the very next day, every single painting was back in its original location.



Sallie's House in Atchison, KansasSallie's, the Heartland Ghost, North 2nd Street Home – Sallie, the "Heartland Ghost,” is said to haunt this house that once belonged to a local doctor. The tale of Sallie’s ghost has been featured three times on the popular 1990’s paranormal television show Sightings, as well as Unexplained Mysteries. Long ago, six-year old Sallie grew terribly sick during the night with severe abdominal pains. Sallie’s mother rushed her to the doctor’s house, where his family lived on the upper floor and he operated his practice on the main floor.


Sallie’s mother listened as the doctor diagnosed young Sallie with a severe case of appendicitis, requiring immediate surgery. The little girl panicked at the sight of the surgical tools and the doctor was forced to hold her down to give her ether.


However, in his haste, the physician did not allow the anesthesia to take its full effect and began operating. Sallie awoke during the initial incision and began fighting and wresting against the pain. Before she died, she was said to have looked at the doctor with both fear and loathing, and remains within the house to this day.


In 1993, the house was rented to a young couple who reported that Sallie made an almost immediate appearance, playing frequent pranks such turning electrical appliances on and off, turning pictures upside down, and scattering their child’s toys about the nursery.


Shortly after these harmless pranks, the ghostly activities turned malevolent, with the young husband suffering from frequent attacks. The couple also experienced a number of small spontaneous fires throughout the house. In fact, when the Sightings crew was at the house filming for the upcoming show, a red welt appeared on the stomach of the man and then began to bleed. The man, who described a severe drop in temperature prior to the attacks, would often be left with a number of long bloody scratches.


At their wits end, a psychic was consulted who informed the couple that there were actually two spirits within the house. The psychic indicated that it was not Sallie who was responsible for the malevolent activities, but rather a ghostly woman of about 30. While Sallie may have been responsible for the harmless pranks, it was this older woman who was the evil one. Allegedly, this mysterious woman was, at first, fond of the gentleman who lived in the house and tried to get close to him, while at the same time, attempting to drive a wedge between he and his wife. When she was unsuccessful at this, she began to attack the husband.


Finally, after the husband felt a strong shove from behind that nearly sent him over the stair railing, the couple could no longer take it and moved from the house.


Since, this couple has moved, later residents have reported no activity occurring in the house.


In addition to being featured on the popular TV series Sightings, the Sallie House Haunting was also made into a made-for-TV movie called Haunted Heartland that first aired on Showtime.


Ghost, Scary, Halloween T-ShirtsLegends of America Visits Sallie's House


On November 13, 2004, we had an opportunity to visit Sallie's House with local Atchison resident Jerry Talbert. Obtaining permission from the home's current owner, we entered the house along with Jerry's crew, who were carrying boxes of sophisticated electronic equipment. Newly remodeled, the home sported brand new carpet, paint cans about the home, and the sound of a radio playing faintly from the upstairs rooms.


The first sign that perhaps there is still some activity in the house occurred when I was the first to climb the staircase to the upstairs rooms. Suddenly, the volume on the radio increased fivefold. In no time at all, Renae, a member of Jerry's group, appeared behind me, "Did you turn up the radio?" "No, I responded." The volume had increased before I ever had a chance to reach the third step. Later, one of Jerry's crew picked up an odd noise on a voice recorder that might have been described as a little girl's voice, and another member reported having felt being pinched.


The psychic that Legends of America brought along described; that while the house still has some type of presence, it has little activity. She did get a sense of anxiety in one upstairs room. Of the many pictures that we took along the trip, only one suggests the possible sign of something unearthly. On the staircase where I had stepped when the volume increased on the radio, an orb appears in the photograph. While this might be contributed to the use of a digital camera, the coincidence is interesting.


Update from Jerry Talbert, April, 2005: Legends of America originally visited the Sallie House with Jerry Talbert, an Atchison resident in November, 2004. Jerry and his crew have continued their investigations and reported recording audio of several sounds in the house during their 60 hour investigation. These include audio of little girl singing and playing, one that sounds like little boy, one of a man, and another of at least one woman, maybe two. Other recordings include the sounds of coins hitting a wood floor, footsteps, thumps, growls and whispers. Often when the crew is talking, other voices have been heard interacting with their conversations. Jerry concludes that the house is still haunted, though there is nothing left that is evil. He continues by expressing his opinion that whatever malevolent presence was there when the young couple lived at the house, left when they did.



More Atchison Hauntings Next Page



Sallie's House Atchison, Kansas

Sallie's House Stairs with Orb, November, 2004, Kathy Weiser.


Sallie's House, Atchison, Kansas

The back of Sallie's House, November, 2004,

Kathy Weiser.


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