A glimpse into the haunted history of Lawrence, KS: The Lawrence Ghost Tour

8:00 pm.  After dark.  October 26th, 2013.  The Saturday before Halloween.  Ghosts are diligent, haunting places year-round.  But people seem to think it only happens in October.  This is the most popular time for the Lawrence Ghost Tour, as well.

There were some vivid historic accounts of the Quantrill Raid, and some tidbits on a couple of haunted houses that used to be brothels. Apparently a buxom redheaded apparition appeared at the foot of a husband and wife’s bed undulating scintillatingly. The wife attempted to wake her husband, but he was in some type of sleep paralysis and missed the whole thing. One of the neighbors called the police because she thought an intruder was in the house. This was the first stop after leaving the Eldridge, the point of departure.

IMG_1843The Eldridge has many ghost stories, especially involving the fifth floor, room 506 in particular.  We were shown a photo of the lobby, where a ghost can be seen standing in the elevator.


IMG_1844Sigma Nu Fraternity House.  Kansas Governor Roscoe Stubbs lived there in the early 1900’s.  He returned from a trip one day to find his wife sitting in a rocking chair and his young lover hung in an upstairs room.  Legend has it, Virginia, the young woman who hung herself still haunts the building.


IMG_1846Pioneer Cemetery.  Some people on the tour claimed their cell phones and photographic equipment would not work inside the cemetery.


The last stop was the Children’s Cemetery at Haskell.

An all-around informative tour without any over-dramatics, just a lot of great history and ghost stories. I went with a couple of skeptics. However, there were several people who bought ghost-hunting apps on their phones part-way through the tour and seemed to be having a good time with them.


For more information about this and other Kansas Ghost Tours: http://www.ghosttoursofkansas.com

Lawrence Cemeteries: Oak HIll Cemetery

“What are you doing today?”

“I’m going to walk around in cemeteries.”

“Be careful; people do all types of things in cemeteries.”

This conversation with my mom had me wondering if I should paint my nails black, put on some makeup, and don a ritual robe to fit in with all the people I might find at the cemetery engaging in bizarre and unnatural rituals that day.  Am I listening to the right music?  Should I put on a Cure album or something by The Sisters of Mercy when I drive into Oak Hill Cemetery so the throngs of miscreants reading Baudelaire and smoking clove cigarettes don’t eye me suspiciously?

No, just act natural.  Be true to yourself, I thought.  And I pulled into the cemetery with Donna Summer singing “MacArthur Park” on the stereo, driving through the winding, circular roads, until I found a spot to park that wasn’t blocking one of the lanes.

Before I was struck by the beautiful, sloping hills, trees, and varied burial markers, I couldn’t help but notice that the cemetery was only occupied by a groundskeeper, someone jogging, and a woman on a yoga mat with her dog.  No strange professors with shifty eyes dressed in Victorian suits lurking amongst the graves with hunchbacked assistants, no covens of witches chanting and drinking blood, nothing like that.  What a let down!  Or, perhaps a relief.  You can’t be too careful these days.

For instance, there may be crazed, deranged history buffs who frequent Oak Hill Cemetery to see the graves of famous Lawrence residents like Lucy Hobbs Taylor, who was the first woman dentist in Kansas; or poet Langston Hughes’s grandparents; or the Quantrill Raid Monument, which memorializes those who lost their lives in the raid on Lawrence, who were the reason why this cemetery was built in the first place, because their first burial ground, Pioneer Cemetery, was too far from town, inaccessible, and difficult to upkeep.  Historians and history buffs are a strange lot, perhaps even moreso than librarians or archivists, and you never know what they’re capable of.  Especially in a cemetery.

But if you dare walk in Oak Hill Cemetery, the following is some of what you might see:












Quantrill’s Raid Sesquicentennial

August 21, 2013.

I don’t normally read the newspaper, but today’s headlines caught my attention.

IMG_1415Realizing that I’d missed the re-enactment on Twitter earlier in the day (#QR1863) of Quantrill’s raid, I decided to finally go on the historic sites scavenger hunt outlined in this flyer I’d picked up at Watkins Community Museum of History a few weeks ago.


1. The Miller Home:

IMG_1417As stated in the pamphlet, this house marked the first point of attack in the raid.

2. Plaque on New Hampshire:

IMG_1419Now the site of a parking garage, in 1863 this was the site of an encampment of recruits that was attacked by the raiders.

3. Eldridge House:

IMG_1421The Eldridge was one of the raiders’ primary targets.  It was a headquarters for the Kansas abolitionist/free-state movement.  Room 506 has a cornerstone from the original hotel and is reported to be haunted.

4. Griswold House:

IMG_1426This marker is at the entrance of an alley, between Louisiana and Indiana Streets, in a particularly beautiful part of Lawrence.  It reads, “Here Griswold, Baker, Thorp, and Trask were shot Aug. 21, 1863.”

5. Bell House:

IMG_1427Until recently, a friend of mine was living in this house.  I didn’t realize it was significant to Quantrill’s raid until today, but it’s gorgeous on the inside with a simple design.  This was the home of county clerk Captain George W. Bell, who, in 1863, was killed while rushing to the city’s aid.

6. Plaque on Vermont:

IMG_1428On Vermont St. between 7th and 8th.  A church stood here at one time, where the bodies of the slain were taken after the raid.

7. Pioneer Cemetery:

IMG_1432Located on the west campus of The University of Kansas, Pioneer Cemetery was the original burial ground of those killed in Quantrill’s raid.  Later, most would be moved to the Oak Hill Cemetery.

8.  Oak Hill Cemetery:

IMG_1434This monument reads: “Dedicated to the memory of the one hundred and fifty citizens who defenseless fell victims to the inhuman ferocity of border guerrillas led by the infamous Quantrell in his raid upon Lawrence.  Aug 21, 1863.”