Vol. 1, Issue #20 Oct. 27th - Nov. 9th, 2006

Haunted Oklahoma
By: Aharen Richardson
Artwork By: Dylan Bradway

Voices by Dylan BradwayIn nearly every Oklahoma town there are stories, lingering tales filled with dastardly deeds, tragic happenstance, murder and the macabre. Stories of ghosts who haunt abandoned hospitals, cemeteries, aged bridges, Indian burial ground, Forts, burned-down estates, schools, derelict orphanages, lonely highways, and hanging trees abound in our state. The victims of wrongful death exact their revenge on the minds of the living, haunting our thoughts and our dreams, their dark legacy infecting the very locations of their death.

For example, at Fort Gibson the ghost of Vivia Thomas still lingers among the barracks repenting her murderous sins. Vivia was a young lady from Boston who became enraged by the rejection of her ex-fiancé, a Union officer, and followed him into the depths of the West. Cutting her hair and dressing in men’s clothing, Vivia disguised herself as a man and enlisted in the Army at Fort Gibson. There she learned that her lover had taken up with another woman. Every night Vivia followed him to his lover’s house. Finally, Vivia waited for her ex-fiancé and shot him with a rifle, leaving him to die. Her revenge quickly grew cold and as she realized what she’d done. Night after night she sat at Making Waves by Dylan Bradwayhis graveside, mourning her innocence and the life she took. Legend has it, her frozen body was discovered one January morning in 1870 still dressed in her uniform. Today you can find her grave in the Fort Gibson cemetery near the Circle of Honor, a lone marker set apart from the others that reads Vivia Thomas, January 7, 1870.

In Guthrie there is a large house located on College Avenue that was once a home for boys. Now a private residence, it’s a stately brick and columned three story estate with a piercing bell tower. It is haunted with the lingering ghost of a man who committed suicide by hanging himself in the tower. Besides this desperate soul, there is the ghost of a woman who tended the boys who had the misfortune of living there. She physically and mentally tortured the children until she was finally reprimanded. Rather than face the embarrassment of the children’s victory, she murdered them, six in all. The boy’s screams can still be heard in the early morning hours, and the murderous presence of the nurse as she stands watch over the entrance can still be felt.
Also, in Guthrie is the legendary Black Jail, the first federal prison in the Indian territories of the Midwest, built in 1892. You can imagine the terror the prisoners faced as the new prison implemented solitary confinement as a method of rehabilitation. The dark, dank cells that still exist today are a testament to the misery that once existed there. Gangsters of the Wild West such as the Dalton Brothers and the Bill Doolin gang served time there, as well as James Phillips who was imprisoned for murder. James was going to be the first white man hanged at the prison, but instead he “died of fright” (according to the doctor’s report) while watching the construction of the gallows he was to be hung by. His ghost still haunts the prison grounds along with the miserable spirits of the other prisoners who met their demise within the prison walls.

Costume by Dylan BradwayThere are numerous Historical sites in Oklahoma that have less than peaceful histories and are hotbeds for ghostly activity, but it is the little known spots of horror that are truly creepy. There are at least five accounts of “Cry Baby Bridge” in Oklahoma; bridges named for the horrific deaths of infants. Near Alderson there is a bridge over the North Boggy Creek where a young girl disposed of the children she conceived after her father repeatedly raped her. At night you can hear the cries of the murdered infants. Another version of this story is located at a bridge in Pryor where a baby drowned during a picnic. And in Moore, “Crybaby Lake” is a small pond where a couple accidentally drowned their child. At both locations you can hear the quiet cries of the infants still lingering among the marshes. In Schulter, a woman crossing a bridge lost control of her car and ran into the Deep Fork River, killing herself and her baby. At night you can see the mother searching the river banks for her baby guided by its soft cries.

Deep in the woods of Bartlesville is the Labady Mansion. Still haunted by the murder of four people in the early 20’s, the house has burned down and only the foundation is left. The ghosts that inhabit it are very active and often a fire will begin to blaze on its own in the fireplace. And in Skiatook lies Hillside cemetery from the late 1800’s where a woman, rumored to have been hung for witchcraft, is buried. Demons are said to haunt her grave and anyone who disturbs them will be punished. In Hammon, the Kiowa cemetery is alive with the ghosts of an Indian sitting on his horse inside the gates. And in Idabel is the Kulli Tukilo Methodist Church. Its church bells ring on their own, eternally calling the faithful. In old Jefferson City, near Indian burial ground, is the hanging tree still haunted with the image of a hanging man. If you drive there at night and flash your lights, a thick fog will settle around you before the silhouette of the hanged man will appear.

Sounds by Dylan BradwayIn Oklahoma City there are several well known haunted places. Carey Place is where a little girl was murdered. She lived at the Hatchet house, identifiable by the hatchet shaped cutout in the shutters. Her body was found on the driveway of a near by house and moved to her porch. Both are painted red to disguise the blood stains. The Skirvin Hotel is haunted by Mr. Skirvin’s mistress, a maid from the hotel, who was locked up in the top floor of the hotel after becoming pregnant. She flung herself and her baby out the window, and she still roams the hotel floors, seeking peace. The Oklahoma City Zoo is known to be haunted by an unknown ghost that resides behind the Aquatics building, along with the Belle Isle station, now a shopping center haunted by the ghosts who lived in the old Belle Isle tower. But the most mysterious haunting in the Oklahoma City area is at Kitchen Lake Bridge on 119 and S. Air Depot where the remains of a burned down house still sit and include a chimney that still smokes. Mutilated animals are often found in the forest nearby, as well as smoldering piles of ash. A woman who practiced black magick is said to have lived in the house before it burned down inexplicably and many believe her soul still resides there.

These are only a few of the tales of ghostly murder and mayhem that linger throughout our state. For a complete list of haunted sites in Oklahoma you can visit the web and do a search for haunted Oklahoma, or Oklahoma ghosts. But don’t just research haunted places, visit them if you dare. And remember that trespassing is illegal.

Haunted Resources: www.prairieghosts.com/hauntok.html, http://www.ghouli.com/GHOSTSTORY/HauntedOklahoma.htm, http://theshadowlands.net/places/oklahoma.htm

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