In the spirit of the season I am republishing a number of my paranormal articles from my old column. Enjoy!
Originally published February 17, 2011
Most people enjoy a good ghost story. Whether it be a creepy tale told around the campfire, an old yarn spun by grandma, or a collection of stories in a book, people are fascinated by the paranormal. The recent rejuvenation in paranormal interest through a number of popular reality TV shows has allowed people to open up about their experiences and more stories are being brought to light, including many in Oklahoma. With its colorful past, both wonderful and tragic, this surge in paranormal interest has caused Oklahoma to be seen in a new perspective.
Oklahoma has a history that many outside the Sooner State don’t realize. It’s a cross-section of Americana from Native Americans, to the Civil War, to gun-slinging outlaws, to land rushes, to railroads, to cowboys, cowgirls, and Wild West shows, to tornadoes, to historic Route 66. The rough frontier life mixed with pioneers from a variety of different backgrounds, including displaced Native Americans, gives the state a unique blend of adventure and misfortune. The following is a brief glimpse at what this Oklahoma history offers its paranormal community.
While most people remember the famous battles of the east, the war between the states reached out to Oklahoma as well back when it was known as Indian Territory. Ft. Washita, established in 1842, was used as a regional headquarters by the Confederacy after the Union had abandoned it. General Douglas Cooper who commanded the Confederate troops at Honey Springs is buried at Ft. Washita in an unmarked grave. A number of dark masses and shadows have been seen moving all about the area while mists have risen up near the old Confederate cemetery. Apparitions of Civil War soldiers fade in and out, sometimes as a single entity and other times as a group. There’s also the grave of “Aunt Jane” whose mysterious tale has a number of variations.
The city of Guthrie, the original state capital, is likely the most haunted city in the state, containing enough ghost stories to fill volumes. Once just a stop along the Santa Fe Railway, it burst into a city of 10,000 overnight with the 1889 land run. With the massive influx of new people, so also came saloons, bordellos, and crime. To this day, the Blue Belle Saloon still exists with Miss Lizzie’s Bordello (now a collection of shops) above it, but patrons and workers of the past still linger including the apparition of a man throughout the saloon, the image of a dark-haired woman who is believed to be Miss Lizzie, and the sound of a girl crying, possibly one of Miss Lizzie’s girls who served there as a business arrangement with her family. Other Guthrie haunts include the first territorial jail, the Santa Fe Depot, the Logan County Memorial Hospital, the Stone Lion Inn, as well as a number of other local establishments.
The Skirvin Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City had some of it’s haunts make national headlines in 2010 after visiting NBA basketball teams were spooked in their rooms before facing the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Skirvin’s legend of Effie is well known – an attractive chambermaid was said to have had a child with William B. Skirvin, but she was secretly stashed away on the top floor of the hotel until her depression overwhelmed her and she threw herself with baby in hand from the window. There is much debate as to whether Effie truly existed, but players from both New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls claimed to have experienced paranormal activity at the luxury hotel.
These brief paragraphs are just a smattering of all the tales that abound in Oklahoma. New ones keep being unearthed all on a recurring basis as people become more comfortable sharing their experiences and letting the paranormal community investigate their claims. As these stories come to light, Oklahoma’s colorful past may just become it’s ghostly future.