(Frank) Just in time for Halloween, Around Kansas shares some spooky stories – starting first with the book “Ghost Towns of Kansas” by Daniel C. Fitzgerald, and the story of a ghost that some say still haunts the Statehouse in Topeka. Then enjoy poem from Ron Wilson and we’ll end with a creepy story about the Sallie House in Atchison. Stay tuned – if you dare!Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.
(Frank) It’s Wednesday, early morning again. I’m Frank. (Deb) And I’m Deb and it is almost November, October is almost gone. (Frank) I know and that’s too bad. October is my favorite month of the year. (Deb) Mine too. You know my favorite part of October? (Frank) What? (Deb) Pumpkin lattes. Dog gonnit, I wanted one so badly this morning, I just couldn’t find a parking spot. (Frank) I know. Week after week we keep saying coffee… please…we could stop and get it you know… (Deb) Really I know we could. (Frank) We’re busy and we just get here in time to sit down and do this of course. (Deb) I know. (Frank) Stars and all that. (Deb) It’s early too. And so we need to arrange to have somebody have the pumpkin latte waiting for us or whatever. (Frank) Maybe one of the ghosts will go get something here today. (Deb) That’s right. (Frank) This one right here. (Deb) Yea. (Frank) This is our Halloween show here today. (Deb) So, Happy Halloween everybody, have a great one this weekend. Are you dressing up Frank? (Frank) Oh, probably. I’ll come as me, that’s scary enough. (Deb) Yea, we were gonna put on masks this morning, but then we decided, hey this is pretty scary and if I had not put any makeup on, you would have really been terrified this morning. (Frank) Yea. (Deb) That’s one reason I run late, it takes awhile. (Frank) Well, you know, last week was the second time that the Jayhawk Theatre showed the Rocky Horror Picture Show. (Deb) Oh yea. (Frank) And let me tell you, a lot of people showed up in costume. And if you haven’t seen the Rocky Horror Picture Show for some time, cause this was the 40th Anniversary of it, anyway it will be on again next year, so come see it. (Deb) You know, adults love dressing up better than kids do I think. (Frank) Oh yea, it’s become a big, big business for it, costume places and party shops and all that. (Deb) It sure has. I dressed up like a gypsy one year and I actually…we were going with the kids trick or treating, my sister ran over my foot and I wound up in the emergency room dressed up as a gypsy. And I will never forget the x-ray tech is…he’s x-raying my foot and he just keeps looking, you know like this. And I said, “I don’t normally look like this.” And he said, “Hey lady whatever works for you, you know.” It’s like, something like… (Frank) Just fix it or else. (Deb) Yea really. Yea, just fix it. I’ve got fortunes to tell. You know, so get me back on the road here buddy. (Frank) Yea, so anyway today…we’ll go ahead I’m sorry… (Deb) Well, we’ve got some great stories for you today. Go ahead. (Frank) They’re gonna be ghost stories today. So, we hope that you enjoy this and we become part of your Halloween. (Deb) So, Frank, you’ve got some great ghost stories from NOTO. (Frank) Well, yea, yea. The WREN studio is in the NOTO Arts District. It’s wrenradio.net, oldies. Anyway, shortly after we moved in, it’s an open studio and it’s in the arts district so we had art up on the wall. And I would come in and about midway down the wall there would be…one of the pictures would be kind of askew, so I would straighten it. And then I would go back and make coffee and come back and it would be tilted again. Well, I don’t like to see pictures, I must have been Jesse James or something, so I’d straighten it. And this happened time after time after time, that that particular picture would be askew. And so I thought, well…so I rehung it and the whole thing and it still continued to happen. And it’s like something weird is going on here. We had a ghost show on at one time, and they had a medium as a guest and she walked in the door and just stopped. And she said, “There’s a man back there.” And one of our guys was there and said, “Yea, hi it’s me.” And she said, “No not you. There’s a guy back there by the coffee.” Okay, so we were all going, hmmm really? And she thought maybe his name was Howard. (Deb) Howard the ghost. (Frank) Howard the ghost. (Deb) Our next show. (Frank) Yea. But we haven’t seen him now in some time, so it must be that we’re used to him or he’s used to us or he just wanted us to know, Hey welcome to NOTO or whatever. But it was kind of creepy there for awhile. (Deb) Oh what a great story.
(Frank) We’re back in the Twilight Zone here. This is our Halloween Show on Around Kansas. We never did introduce ourselves. I’m Frank. (Deb) I’m Deb. (Frank) And we’re here every Wednesday morning, hope you are too. So, we’re doing ghost stories today and there are a lot of ghost stories all around the state. Of course there are all around the world. But this is Kansas, so anyway, you have a book… (Deb) Well, I found this book, this is a classic in Kansas, “Ghost Towns Around Kansas.” And it was written I think in the ’80s. And Dan Fitzgerald who did it had done research on all these towns. So, you know me, I love tying the history in. So this does a a great job of tying the history. You know without history, there’d be no hauntings because it’s all about what happened in the past. And that’s why you have ghosts. So, for those like me who like to just explore the state, this is a great guide to places that used to be or were there for a short while and there’s nothing but foundations left. And a reminder, you have to be careful, a lot of this is on private property. So, you can’t just go without permission onto people’s private property. But there’s so much that you can see from the road, or that you can walk around or that you can just experience. And I do love old, creepy, abandoned buildings. And you can go on Facebook. There’s so many groups now on Facebook. I live on Facebook. But there’s Abandoned Kansas, Abandoned Missouri, you know all these states that just have some awesome photographs, and some great stories. So let’s take a look at this one. As soon as the Kansas Territory was opened for settlement in 1854, towns sprang up like mushrooms first along the Missouri border, then steadily westward along trail routes, rivers, and railroad lines. Many of them barely got beyond the drawing board and hundreds of them flowered briefly and died, victims of the “boom or bust” economy of the frontier and the vagaries of weather, finance, mining, agriculture, railroad construction, and politics. “Ghost Towns of Kansas” by Daniel C. Fitzgerald is a practical guide to these forsaken settlements and a chronicle of their role in the history of Kansas. It focuses on 100 towns that have either disappeared without a trace or are only a shadowy remnant of what they once were, telling the story of each town’s settlement, politics, colorful figures and legends, and eventual abandonment or decline. The culmination of more than ten years of research, this book was published in 1988 and remains a classic. It is a distillation of the author’s immensely popular three-volume work on the state’s ghost towns, now out of print. Condensed and redesigned as a traveler’s guide, it is organized by region and features ten maps and detailed instructions for finding each site. Twenty of the towns included are discussed for the first time in this volume. The book also contains more than 100 black-and-white photographs of town scenes. With this guide in hand, travelers and armchair adventurers alike can journey back to the Kansas frontier to places like Octagon City, where settlers signed a pledge not to consume liquor, tobacco, or “the flesh of animals” in order to purchase land at $1.25 per acre from the Vegetarian Settlement Company. Today the only remainder of Octagon City is a stream named Vegetarian Creek.
(Deb) And we’re back. And Frank’s got a great haunting story for you next from the Capitol building right across the street. As Frank has said, we’re here at the Dillon House and the Dillon House may have a few ghosts of its own. But we’re gonna talk some about the Capitol ghost. And you know the Capitol took a long time to be built. They built the east wing of the Capitol first. Cyrus Holliday actually donated part of the land, I believe for that. But it took a long time and then of course the Capitol has just gone through this big refurbishment. If you haven’t seen the Capitol, it’s your building, come and see it and it is spectacular. It’s really wonderful. And it’s got several ghost stories actually. So, but one of the ones has a connection to the Dillon House where we are right now. (Frank) Somewhat, yea. Yea, yea. Oh wait a minute, coffee?? We don’t have any yet. That’s our ghost. (Deb) Hear that thumping? Hear that thumping in the building? (Frank) Yeah, anyway, yea we’re in the Dillon House now, it wasn’t here at the time, but in 1901, unfortunately a worker fell from the dome. And so anyway Hiram Dillon who was one of the Dillons that eventually built the Dillon House, had a story that was in the Capital Journal at the time, and so it’s kind of one of those things that…is he still there???? (Both) Come see. (Frank) Even after an incredible renovation, some things remain unchanged in the Kansas Statehouse. One of those is the ghost of a laborer who lost his life building the ornate structure. Some of the night security staff and maintenance workers swear they have heard eerie sounds and echoing footsteps. They say chandeliers sway with no breeze. Most reports of such sounds are during rainy, stormy nights. Around 1890 one worker was assigned to fastening plates on the dome of the building. According to some, he stretched his body too far to reach a bolt, lost his balance and plunged to the ground floor where he instantly died. Jack Dillon was the son of Hiram Price Dillon, who built the Dillon House where Around Kansas is filmed. Jack told a newspaper reporter in 1901 that neighborhood children were afraid of the capitol at night, afraid of seeing the ghost. From the porch of the his home on Harrison St, Jack suddenly stopped mid-story, and said, “There, you can hear the ghost at work now.” The reporter said, “Everyone listened intently and sure enough a noise like someone tapping on the dome could be heard.” “That’s the ghost,” said Dillon. “He’s there at work every night.” That worker has been heard throughout the decades, hoping to finish his job and maybe claim his monthly pay. Walk by on a rainy night and listen.
(Ron) Kansas is sometimes called “Tornado Alley,” along with Oklahoma and Texas. And those were the very same states where the great cattle drives happened in the post Civil War era when the legend of the cowboy came to life. Imagine being on the trail drives in those days without weather radio, weather radar and all the modern communications we have. This is a serious poem that I wrote. It’s titled, “Terror on the Trail.” It was cloudy and dry that hot day in July, as we drove cattle up the trail. We were needing rest in our dogged quest to drive ’em to the Kansas rail. But in the western skies, where we turned our eyes, a cloud bank started to build. Then the clouds turned dark, we saw lightening spark as the black clouds grew and filled. The air was muggy, Hoss’ eyes went buggy, the cattle were restless and flighty. As the clouds drew near, the boss made it clear this storm is gonna be mighty. Then the sky turned green like nothin’ we’d seen, the air was so still it was eerie. With nary a bicker, we pulled on our slickers even though we were bone tired and weary. Rain started a fallin’, the cattle were bawlin’ and the clouds started whirling around. We hear a distant roar, then the noise seemed to soar, til it filled our ears with the sound. To our terrified stare, from the devilish air, a black rope dropped from the skies. With a roar like a train, it plowed cross the plain, tossing men, dirt and cattle like flies. It’s a cyclone boys, the boss yelled though the noise. Now it’s every man for hisself. My horse spooked despite my rebuke as I rode him off a side hill shelf. The cattle stampeded, and ran unheeded as brave men rode for their lives. Critters ran pell-mell in the face of this hell, in a desperate race to survive. Then the roar started fading, and the sounds started trading some rain drops for the cyclones roar. The rain came in torrents to the riders abhorrence, like an ocean tide pounding the shore. Then we saw the rain stop, with a few stray raindrops, all of a sudden the sky was clear blue. But the path of the storm and the death it performed came fully into our view. Dead cattle and a horse, along the storms course gave the killer storm mute testimony. Two cow hands were dead and 21 head of long horns plus one cow pony. We grieved for our pards and though it was hard, we buried them there on the plain. Then I mounted my stead and resumed the deed, of gathering the herd that remained. Now we made Abilene, but the sights that I’ve seen will stay in my nightmares without fail. For I saw bodies fly that hellish day in July, when a cyclone hit out on the trail.
(Frank) And we’re back again. Our ghost went to somewhere to get us some pumpkin latte this morning. (Deb) Oh I love it. (Frank) Yea, yea, yea. But not only that but we kinda freaked out cause we heard some rumblings and figured out that’s the guys upstairs they were talking this morning. Anyway, this is our Halloween show and I hope you’re enjoying our silliness this morning. We have a good time here anyway. (Deb) You know I have done a couple of ghost investigations with my good friend Beth Meyer. She used to have a ghost investigation business and has written a couple of books on haunted Kansas. So, look up her stuff. Beth invited me to an investigation at Constitution Hall one time and it was when she first got into the business. And so we’re sitting down there in the dirt in Constitution Hall on Kansas Avenue. And I actually had a conversation with Franklin Crane. It was really interesting. He’s been dead for at least a hundred years. So, it was really, really interesting. So, a lot of people are into that. Of course the town that has the biggest reputation in Kansas is Atchison. So, have you ever been up to do one of their haunted tours? (Frank) I have not, but I have heard they are quite spectacular. (Deb) I haven’t either, so that’s on my list. And I’ve got, I know that they’ve been on TV, I’ve seen some of the documentaries or some of the ghost specials you know, about Atchison. So, lots of really interesting things up there. And they have really capitalized on their ghost population for tourism. So, let’s take a closer look. Browsing through old newspapers can turn up some pretty interesting stories, especially appropriate for this time of year. Atchison, Kansas has capitalized on its ghostly inhabitants and its haunted tours are sellouts around Halloween. Thousands of people flock to the city hoping to catch a glimpse of a real ghost. The Chamber of Commerce won’t guarantee that spirits show up on every tour, but just maybe. Perhaps the most famous haunted site, the Sallie House, has been the subject of television, movies, and a documentary. Stories like this one, from more than a hundred years ago, may have helped build the city’s haunted reputation. A man had “lately” died, the paper reported, and strange noises began to fill the house. Neighbors were sitting with the dead man’s family in a half basement room, off of the kitchen. A stairway led from this room. Suddenly, strange noises were heard coming from upstairs, from the room in which the man had died. Then there was a noise on the stairway; a noise of some object bumping from one side to another, and descending. Then the door opened and a man’s head rolled into the room. The people sitting in the room fled in terror, and cannot give much of a description of the head. Not surprisingly, the family stayed with neighbors and refused to go back into the house. The article concluded by saying, Last night four stout young men, armed, stayed in the house, intending to sit up all night. We have not found a follow-up report. Perhaps those stout young men from a hundred years ago are still there, waiting, for a head to roll down the stairs.
(Frank) Happy Halloween everybody. (Deb) Happy Hauntings! (Frank) Yes, so I’m Frank. (Deb) I’m Deb. (Frank) And we’ll see you somewhere Around Kansas.
Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.