Ghost stories. Every community has a crybaby bridge, a haunted house. Every school has a creepy hall and a legendary death. Hospitals are notorious for hauntings and let’s not even get into old orphanages and insane asylums.
Deep in the dark solitude of night, the hint of ghostly spectres can scare the bejesus out of a person. Maybe those things that go bump in the night are the footsteps of a restless spirit. Or, OK, maybe it’s the furnace kicking off. Either way, it’s an adrenaline rush. That is the fun of a ghost story. It is what you make it. And with the right stage, it can become just about anything.
We pulled together some of Oklahoma’s most famous stories. Many of these places are private property, condemned or otherwise dangerous to visit. Visiting comes with strict penalties and you can bet this time of year most are guarded by a watchful police officer or two. So it would be best not to enjoy these ghost stories first hand.
School spirit: Ghost of OSU
Three police officers were patrolling campus one night. One officer was checking out a building where art department offices were. The building was previously the women’s dormitory. Throughout his patrol he heard footsteps on the floor above. Every time he climbed to another floor the footsteps were heard on the next floor up. Until he reached the fourth and top floor of the building, where he had expected to find a cleaning person. The footsteps stopped. Then he heard the footsteps at the end of the hall moving toward him. They came closer and closer until he moved to one side of the hall. With his back to the wall he could see inside a classroom. As he heard the footsteps walk past him he could see the writing on the chalkboard in the classroom flutter as if an object had moved in front of it. He ran from the building and told his two friends. The two other men decided they had to see it for themselves. Unable to talk the first police officer into returning to the building, they went without him. On the fourth floor they heard banging and crashing from an office. They sat on the floor across from the closed door and recorded the thumps and bumps until something hit the door with all “its” might. The men drew their weapons and ran from the building.
Dead woman’s crossing: A territorial murder
The story goes … July 7, 1905, Katy DeWitt James and her 14-month-old baby were put on a train by her father, Henry, in Custer County to visit a cousin in Payne County. She had filed for divorce the day before on the grounds of cruelty.
Katy wrote regularly to her father, so when the letters stopped, Henry hired a detective to find his daughter.
The detective searched Clinton and then moved on to Weatherford where he found that Katy had stayed with another woman that she had met on the train. The woman was a known prostitute, named Fannie Norton.
Norton’s brother-in-law reported to the detective that the two women and baby had left in the carriage and were to return in three hours. However, two hours and fifteen minutes later, Fannie returned alone and parked the buggy in the barn.
Witnesses reported seeing a buggy with two women and a baby disappear into a field and reappear with only one woman and the baby.
Fannie drove the buggy to a nearby farm where she found a small boy. She gave the baby, dressed in a bloody gown to the boy and told him to take her to his mother until she came back.
The detective caught up with Fannie in Shawnee, where she poisoned herself after being found.
After rewards were posted by everyone from Katy’s father to the governor, two men came forward having found a body.
The skeletal remains were identified as Katy’s from the clothing, which was still intact, a hat and a gold ring on her finger.
Katy’s husband was questioned but had an alibi. The divorce never went through, the husband was awarded custody of the baby and Katy’s estate.