Haunted Kansas

Ghost Stories and Other Eerie Tales

Lisa Hefner Heitz

Who's that? Is someone there? A whisper of air brushes your cheek. Then all is still. Maybe it was just the wind. Or maybe it wasn't. . . .

Maybe you've just been visited by the late Ida Day lurking in the basement of Hutchinson's public library or the widow Tarot staring forlornly from an upstairs window at Fort Scott, or the phantom Earl floating behind the scenes in Concordia's Brown Grand Theater. And maybe the horrific Albino Woman truly does haunt Topeka, turning romantic nights into nightmares. . . . maybe.

“Finally, a book not about Dorothy, the Yellow Brick Road, or being bored silly, but one that tells us what we've known all along—Kansas is a spooky place.”

—James J. Fisher, Kansas City Star

“Heitz has carefully crafted and cleverly recounted the state’s best tales, legends, and ghost stories. Whether you are a believer or not, this book will haunt your memory with the eerie, the pathetic, the tragic, and the bizarre. A delight to read and contemplate, Haunted Kansas inspires us to think differently about our state and adds a new dimension to Kansas literature.”

—Thomas Fox Averill, author of What Kansas Means to Me

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Pursuing the stories behind these and other spectral manifestations, Lisa Hefner Heitz has traveled the state in search of its ghostly folklore. What she has unearthed is a fascinating blend of oral histories, contemporary eye-witness accounts, and local legends. Creepy and chilling, sometimes humorous, and always engaging, her book features tales about ghosts, poltergeists, spook lights, and a host of other restless spirits that haunt Kansas.

Heitz's spine-tingling collection of stories raps and taps and moans and groans through a wealth of descriptions of infamous Kansas phantoms, as well as disconcerting personal experiences related by former skeptics. Many of these ghosts, she shows, are notoriously linked to specific structures or locations, whether it is an eighteenth-century mansion in Atchison or a deep—some have claimed bottomless—pool near Ashland.

The evanescent apparitions of these tales have frightened and at times amused Kansans throughout the state's long history. Yet this is the first book to capture for posterity the lively antics of the state's ghostly denizens. Besides preserving a colorful and imaginative, if intangible, side of the state's popular heritage, Heitz supplies ghost-storytellers with ample hair-raising material for, well, eternity. Maybe that person breathing softly behind you has another such story to share. Oh, no one's there? Perhaps it really was just the breeze off the prairie.