One of the longest and most intriguing tales of the Sooner state involves a woman who masqueraded as a man.  Various versions have been shared but all have the same basic tale:

"One of the most interesting stories associated with Fort Gibson National Cemetery is the tale of Vivia Thomas. Legend has it this high-spirited daughter of a wealthy Boston family met and fell in love with a handsome young lieutenant at a ball following the Civil War. After several months of courtship, they announced their engagement, but shortly before the wedding he left, leaving only a note that he desired to go West in search of adventure. Broken-hearted and bitter over the abandonment, Thomas went in search of her lover. After learning that he was stationed at Fort Gibson, she set off on a journey of revenge. She cut her hair, dressed in men’s clothing and joined the Army. The disguise worked, as the former fiancĂ© did not recognize her. One night as he was returning from a visit with his Native American girlfriend, she ambushed and killed him. Despite an intense investigation, the murder went undiscovered. However, Thomas grew remorseful and began to visit his grave late at night. Eventually she contracted pneumonia from the continued exposure to the cold and collapsed near his grave, dying a few days later. Rather than condemning her actions, her army colleagues were so impressed with her courage in coming alone to the frontier and carrying out a successful disguise that they awarded her a place of honor for burial in the officer’s circle." (http://www.cem.va.gov/cems/nchp/ftgibson.asp)  Her grave is  in Section OC Grave 2119.

Of course, in such a ceremony all are notable by their service, their valor, or their leadership.  If you pause to find Vivia, stay long enough to tip the head to :

"Medal of Honor Recipients
Private First Class John N. Reese Jr., (World War II), U.S. Army, Company B, 148th Infantry, 37th Infantry Division. Paco Railroad Station, Manila, Philippine Islands, Feb. 9, 1945 (Section 2, Grave 1259-E).
First Lieutenant Jack C. Montgomery, (World War II), U.S. Army, 45th Division. Padiglione, Italy, Feb. 22, 1944 (Section 20, Grave 963).

Talahina Rogers - Cherokee wife of General Sam Houston - Section OC, Grave 2467
Captain John P. Decatur - Section OC Grave 2101
Major Joel Elliot - Section OC Grave 2233
Nelson P. Fonseca - Section 14 Grave 675" (ibid.)

But - who was she?  She is listed in the Post Cemetery Records for Fort Gibson, Indian Territory showing a death date of January 7, 1870. (Ancestry.com. U.S. Military Burial Registers, 1768-1921[database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.  Original data: Burial Registers for Military Posts, Camps, and Stations, 1768-1921; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M2014, 1 roll); Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, Record Group 92; National Archives, Washington, D.C.)  No other identifying information is indicated in the record.   

There are other deaths without such details and that appeared to be the standard practice for those considered non-military.  So that leaves her place of burial to offer clues as to  
the truth of the basic story and the strength of the legend to stand the test of time.

MAY THEY REST IN PEACE: Another Urban Legend Bites the Dust - UPDATE

The cemetery has now been opened, the final graves appear to all be gone, and only the memories of those who lived, died, and grieved there remain.  The city park has expanded, walking trails go past the old cloistered corner with its sentinals of scraggly pines.  If you walk or run in the area, slow down and remember those who once rested there.
For many years, an urban legend floated among community members that the cemetery on the northwest corner of the Eldon Lion's Park in Bethany had to be haunted - it was overgrown, shady, and secretive. It looked the part.   It was the cemetery associated with the St. Joseph's Children' Home.  Bizarre tales emerged fed as much by anti-catholic sentiment as any real fact; but some times in perpetuating urban legends that is enough.  Recent televised explorations of sanitariums in Kentucky and Ohio have added a new word to the lexicon of urban legends.   The term 'death tunnel' is spoken  in hushed sounds as if nefarious acts were to be associated with such a feature of an institution.  Thee truth is less attractive and far more practical.  In some settings such a hidden avenue for the removal of the dead was a necessity.  It provided them some last privacy and, in settings such as hospitals and orphan care facilities, some protection to those who resided in the facility as well.  It was also very practical when the location was one where long winters or protracted rainy seasons might preclude being able to bury a body in a timely manner.  There is some indications that such a feature was at the Bethany location, according to sources who wish to remain anonymous.  However, long before the facility closed, it was sealed shut and had not been used in decades.  The people who had been buried there - the orphans who had died of fevers, the nuns of old age, and the older people who had come there to end their days - were respectfully interred.  When the facility closed, the nuns and priests buried there were transferred to another burial site.  If any graves remain in the tiny shady corner, let them rest in peace.   As you pass, whisper a tiny prayer and grant them respect and dignity.

St. Joseph's Children Home, Bethany, Oklahoma

Top image is late 1960's shortly before it closed at the Bethany location.

The sport fields between Route 66 and the front of the institution, as they appeared in the 1940's.

St. Joseph's Children Home, Bethany, Oklahoma c1927

n is top

St. Joseph's Children Home, Bethany, Oklahoma c1912


A Brief History based on an entry in the Bethany Centennial History Book (2009)
Marilyn A. Hudson

Just three years after Oklahoma statehood, 27 ½ acres of land were purchased to create the “St. Joseph Orphanage Asylum and Industrial School.”  The land was excellently situated near the half-way point of the new “El Reno Interurban” rail line connecting Oklahoma City and Yukon. With 60 acres by 1913, early promoters noted the gardens, truck produce, farming, and livestock of the orphanage would advertise the rich farming potential of the area.[1]  The facility grew to include various tracts of land and included   the “north farm” where the present day St. Francis Center for Christian Renewal and Resurrection Cemetery are located.
Overseeing this scale of a charitable endeavor in the Roman Catholic Church of Oklahoma required strong leaders.  The Very Rev. Bernard Mutsaers, James Maney, and His Excellency the Right Rev. Theophile Meerschaert, Oklahoma’s first Bishop, proved to be those leaders. The Rev. John M. Kekeisen, late of Newkirk, assumed the position of first director of the orphanage. Other Directors were Fathers P.P. Schaeffer, James Garvey, and A.A. Isenbart.[2]
On August 1, 1912, Sister Mary Scholastica, Superior, and Sisters Mary Anthony. Mary Raphael, Mary Ambrose, all Sisters of Mercy, arrived to receive the children. On October 6, 1912, Bishop Meerschar performed a solemn service of blessing celebrating the new facility.
In 1921, Father P.P. Schaeffer, foresaw a need for infant and elderly care.  The Article of Incorporation at that time to “St. Joseph’s Orphanage and Home for the Aged.”  Father Garvey, starting in 1928, used a popular annual parish picnic to raise funds to reduce the orphanage indebtedness. The result was that by 1934 the mortgage on the orphanage was fulfilled.
Over the years, the large brick building set on a gentle knoll, saw a gymnasium added, a chapel, and classrooms.  It was central to many of the charities of its day for Catholics in Oklahoma and the people they helped.  The history of the Oklahoma Catholic Charities also begins at St. Joseph, as they were headquartered at the orphanage until 1926.
Over the next sixty years, the orphanage would see many changes in its structure, outreach, and workers.  More than seven orders of women religious served there (Sisters of Mercy, Sisters of the Blessed Carmelites, Benedictines, Missionary Sisters of the Most Blessed Trinity, Sisters of St. Joseph, and the Divine Providence Sisters)[3].  
In 1965, the Children’s Home relocated to an area off Eastern Avenue in NE Oklahoma City with a modern set of dormitories, cafeteria, and chapel.[4]  Changes in society were making orphanages less common[5]. In 1973, however, the original facility, empty for three years, sold to become the general offices of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church.[6]
From its opening in 1912 to 1955, St. Joseph provided care for some 5,000 children.[7]   Many were like the child a Sister Providentia recalled.   A tiny girl, neglected by her family, asked the Sister if it was true they “really received three meals a day…”[8]  Happily, the St. Joseph Orphanage could and did provide three meals and much more.

[1] “Orphanage plans more buildings” Daily Oklahoman. 4/14/1912; special thanks to James Weinmann , Heritage Room Director, Catholic Pastoral Center, Archdiocese of Oklahoma City.
[2] “Diocesan Charities Office Has Cared for Thousands.” Southwester Courier: Golden Jubilee, n.d., pg. 96-97.
[3] “St. Joseph’s Children’s Home.” The Sooner Catholic. Sunday, Sept. 5, 1976.
[4] “Empty Orphanage a Tranquil Store of Memory.” Daily Oklahoman. (5/27/1973, pg. 22).
[5]  “Necessity for Orphanages has virtually disappeared.”  Daily Oklahoman (12/26/1974), pg. 87).
[6] “Church to move headquarters to City.”  Daily Oklahoman (8/7/1973, pg. 11).
[7] Quoted in “St. Joseph’s Children’s Home”. Sooner  Catholic, Sunday, Sept. 5,1976.; “Empty Orphanage a Tranquil Store of Memory.” Daily Oklahoman.  (5/27/1973, pg. 22).
[8] St. Joseph’s Children’s Home.” The Sooner Catholic. Sunday, Sept. 5, 1976.


DARK SPRING - Unsolved OKC Murders

Spring times are supposed to be about life and renewal and second chances.  Once upon time in central Oklahoma City the spring was dark and filled with visions to cause nightmares.
The first body parts showed up in April 1, 1976, in an abandoned house at 325 NE 8th in Oklahoma City, utility workers exploring an abandoned house found the head and body parts of a 18 year old Cathy Lyn Shackelford. At the time, however, she was unidentified and was labeled a 'Jane Dow'.   

Fast forward to April 19, 1979 when several grisly discoveries are made between mid-April and the first of May. All around the 300 block NE 10th and 200 block NE 7th in Oklahoma City.  The  second known victim was named Arley Bell Killian.

A strange gap of seven  years followed before another find was made.  On March 6, 1986, the body of   23 year old  Tina Sanders was located at 507 N. Lindsay.  A fourth has been suggested but unverified.

There are interesting similarities which might provide links to similar crimes and bring closure to this cold case. All the women were Native American, they either lived on the streets and/or worked as prostitutes, and were all probably killed within the same one mile radius where their bodies were found. The killings were in the spring, they were not rushed, and due to the ease with which the body parts were created and discarded, the killer had to have been familiar with his surroundings (the Stiles Circle - Lincoln Terrace neighborhood; now generally covered by the Centennial Expressway and the OU Health Science buildings and related structures).  Each body had an incision in the lower lip, massive body mutilation and dismemberment, and certain parts of the bodies were never found.

The chronology of the murders -1976, 1979 and 1986 - indicate there may have been a pattern at work.  Another killing (5) might have occurred in 1982-1983.  Just as possible, however,  the killer could have been in jail, in the military, or out of state on some job during the seven year break.  It is likely other killings, as of yet to be found,  may be fit that pattern.(Oklahoma Cold Cases) It would be atypical for such a killer to have such a long 'cooling off' period but not impossible.

Some suggest that another body was found April 22, 1995 and pulled from missing head, hands and feet, from a shallow grave 50 miles west of the city.   Authorities were said to note 'similarities' in the manner of the dismemberment. (Encyclopedia of Unsolved Crimes, 2009,p. 291) The time period is shortly after the Murrah Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma City and that story was the major news for several days and no report was found to confirm that suggestion.

In 1993, the combined efforts of Andra Medina, Sgt. Norma Adams, Norman forensic sculpture Betty Pat Gatliff, and well known Oklahoma based anthropologist , Dr. Clyde Snow brought closure to the first Jane Doe.  DNA identified her as Shackleford ("DNA Tests Identify '76 Slaying Victim". Steve Lackmeyer, Oklahoman, Nov. 30, 1993, pg.1).

There were also some 'interesting' bodies in eastern Oklahoma, not for from the I-40 corridor in Shamrock 1975, Wellston 1985 and Broken Arrow 1989. Also possibly other locations in 1985 and the early 90's.    Body parts or dismembered bodies of young women who apparently went missing unnoticed and unidentified.  The 1960's through the 1990's were especially violent with serial killers springing out of their dank worlds to grab headlines through gory acts: Kemper, Bundy, Rader and so many others.

What happened to the killer? Where did he go?  One notorious killer confessed to some of these deaths but the confessions are considered by most as suspect, the last minute greedy attempt by a sociopath to get attention.  If that is true, then chilling questions remain. When the region was razed by bulldozers and new building rose over the bloody grounds, what secrets were lost?  Are there other victims  out there - somewhere? Victims of this monster who stalked the streets to prey- at leisure -  on women struggling just to survive?

Oral History Collections Highlight Women’s History Month

(March 17, 2011 Stillwater, Okla.) – Great resources for Women’s History Month with an Oklahoma focus are just a click away. The Oklahoma Oral History Research Program (OOHRP) at the Oklahoma State University Library hosts three online digital collections documenting the contributions of women in Oklahoma.

“Gathering oral histories provides an opportunity to pursue answers to questions left silent in what little archival material exists for these women, said Juliana Nykolaiszyn, assistant professor, OOHRP. “We invite you to explore the following websites and meet women who blazed trails, overcame obstacles and continue to inspire a new generation of women in Oklahoma.”

Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame Oral History Project

Since 1982, the Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame has recognized women who served as pioneers in their fields, made significant contributions to the state of Oklahoma, championed other women or women’s issues, or served as public policy advocates for the issues important to women. In 2007, the Oklahoma Oral History Research Program at the OSU Library started interviewing inductees of the Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame in order to fill a gap in primary source documents concerning women in Oklahoma. This website includes brief biographies, interview transcripts, interview audio, video selections and links to other resources.

Women of the Oklahoma Legislature Oral History Project

During Oklahoma's first 101 years (1907-2008) only 77 women were elected to the Oklahoma Legislature. Forty-six of these remarkable women have now shared their stories as part of the project. Taken individually, these interviews reflect the careers and interests of the legislators; taken collectively they constitute a narrative of the role of women in the Oklahoma Legislature over time. This website includes lesson plans for teachers, transcripts of each interview, downloadable poster of women legislators and links to resources on women and politics.

Dust, Drought, and Dreams Gone Dry: Oklahoma Women and the Dust Bowl

Prior to the start of this project in 2000, many interviews had been conducted with people who remembered the whirling winds of the 1930s, but they presented a primarily male perspective of this event. Again and again men spoke of their wives and their mothers as being the glue that held their families together during these incredibly hard days. Between 2000 and 2002, the OSU Library located and interviewed more than 100 women individually or in groups about what they recalled from living during the period of 1932 to 1940 in the area of Oklahoma typically identified as the epicenter of the Dust Bowl. This website includes interview transcripts, interview audio, along with a bibliography of the Dust Bowl era.

These oral history collections are projects of the OOHRP. Formally established in 2007, the OOHRP at the OSU Library has collected and preserved firsthand accounts from individuals who have played a part in Oklahoma’s history. The Program explores the lives and contributions of Oklahomans from all walks of life. To learn more about the OOHRP call 405-744-7685, email liboh@okstate.edu, or visit http://www.library.okstate.edu/oralhistory/.

Oklahoma State University is a modern land-grant system that cuts across disciplines to better prepare students for success. Oklahoma’s only university with a statewide presence, OSU improves the lives of people in Oklahoma, the nation, and the world through integrated, high-quality teaching, research and outreach. OSU has more than 35,000 students across its five-campus system and more than 23,000 on its Stillwater campus, with students from all 50 states and 118 nations. Established in 1890, OSU has graduated more than 200,000 students who have made a lasting impact on Oklahoma and the world.

Contact: Bonnie Ann Cain, APR
OSU Library




In Cheswick, PA in 1904 over 100 men were killed when an explosion ripped through the Hartwick Coal Mine igniting gas and trapping the  miners.

Oklahoma mines tended to fill with gas too and these ' windy tunnels' - exploded from sparks, lamps, and other accidental ignitions.  Roofs collapsed under the strain of thousands of tons of rock and dirt being bored by ax, pick and dynamite (Coal Mining Disasters). 

1892 - Jan. 7, Krebs, I.T. - 100 men killed, 150 injured
1902 - June, Dow, I.T. - 10 killed in the Milby and Dow Company Mine.
1906 - Jan., Poteau, I.T. -  14 men killed
1908 - Aug, Haileyville, OK - 31 miners die in coal mine fire Mine #1 near McAlester in eastern Oklahoma
1910 - April 1 - 6 men die in Great Western Mine # 2
1910 - Oct 19 - Buck, OK - 2 men killed in #6 mine (*)
1912 - Feb. 23,  20-40 men reported dead in coal mine explosion.

Additional mining accidents occur in the 1920s and 1930's, but safety measures improved and there was generally less loss of life.

(*) - One book on ghost stories, Haunted Homeland, cites 'Mine # 6' in Buck, OK but mis-dates the event and mis-identifies victims.

MINING DISASTERS: 1892 Krebs, Indian Territory

Krebs # 11
It was cold that January 7th in 1892 and a cold winter raced across the Indian Territory.  It was to be the last day for many in the Osage Coal and Mining Company mine shaft #11.   Mining was dangerous business no matter what time or place.  Workers from mining regions were brought in to work the mines for their expertise and skill. They were brought in from Ireland, Scotland, Sweden, Russia, Italy, Wales, England, and Poland.  Miners from Pennsylvania and Virginia also came in to the region as well.  The mine had a reputation for being poorly managed and maintained. Under trained workers labored long hours in unsafe conditions. It has been suggested that immigrants were encouraged to come work in the Territory just for that reason. Poor English skills meant few demands and opposition to conditions.  On that cold early January day, 100 men were dead, 150 others wounded, and the region had seen its worst mining disaster of all time.  Nuns closed the local school so they could visit house to house to care for the injured or comfort those who had suffered loss.

A list of the causalities here.  It was not until 2002 that the victims of this disaster were memorialized with a public marker. It is clear, however, that the impact was memorialized in the hearts and soul of the area for decades.


In the landscape of Oklahoma legends and myths one tale continues to rise to the top and be repeated periodically.  A scanning of websites with the story produces at least a dozen sites repeating the tale of the ghost of the house which now holds the Stone Lion Inn.

Sans any stories of hauntings prior to the early 1980's, the house had been a home and once a funeral home.  The charming and heartbreaking tale of a little girl who stayed to play in the halls and stairs of the old house were shared with the sadness of life cut short at such a young age.

The childish ghost was said to be Augusta Houghton, the 8 yr old daughter of Fred and Bernice Houghton.  She had died from an accidental overdose of cough medicine given by a nurse or maid.  The story assumed a life of its own, repeated despite local researchers indicating they could not find a record of such a death.  

Independently researchers from OKPRI and Cullan Hudson, author of Strange State came to the conclusion the specter, if there, could not be Augusta.   Owner, Beth Luker, would later admit to making a mistake in naming Augusta, but by then the story had assumed a life of its own. Repeated by writers and paranormal researchers without fact checking, the story became enmeshed in the folkloric weave of the state.

What was the truth?

Searching US Federal Census records revealed in 1900 in Guthrie, Logan Co., OK a family living at 702 Noble Avenue.   Fred E. Houghton (1854-1943), his wife Bertha (1872-1958), his children Grace (1885), Gladys (1896), Alma (1899), Augusta (b.1892, Sept), and Frank E. (1900) were enumerated on the census.

In 1910, the family is living at 1016 W. Warner Street (the location of the present inn).  There is no Augusta listed on the 1910 census, although children Grace, Gladys, Alma, Frank E., Adolphe (1903), Dorthy (1907), Russell (1908), and Irene (1910) are listed.   

In 1910, Augusta was no doubt the young  18 yr old woman listed in the Wichita, Ks census of students attending Mt. Caramel Academy.  

The family is found again on the 1920 Census for Logan County and is enumerated in 1930 in Enid, OK, where daughter Alma had married into the Suddeth family and is listed with son David at the West Main address.

Rootsweb, a genealogy website, indicated a family history record for a Coralee Augusta, daughter of Fred and Bertha Houghton, born Sept. 17, 1892 and who married in 1913 a William Houser.

The only child NOT carried over through the ever expanding family listed on the US Federal Census was daughter Irene, listed as newborn in the 1910 census when the family lived at 1016 W. Warner, Guthrie.

A death record has not been located for the Irene Houghton listed on that 1910 census and so caution should be exercised.   One website assumed she died the same year as the census because of the -0- listed by her age but that was often used for children/infants under the 1 year mark.  There are questions to be answered because an infant could not be the 'child' presence noted by so many 'research teams.' She is not listed on several genealogical websites, although they site the census record where she is listed. And strangely, Coralee Augusta is not listed on several such websites despite citations referring back to the census of 1900.

If Irene was the 7-8 yr old who died, then a death record or grave should exist for her from the 1917-1918 time period.  Since the family is enumerated on the 1920 census in Guthrie, then the likely place of death could be there.  However, she had older sisters who were already married and could have been living elsewhere with them during the census.  Assumptions cannot be made until verified by documentation.

The urban legend of "Augusta" is a classic example of the need for real, in-depth historical research to ferret out the truth from the tall tales and guesswork.



Wondering through an antique mall I chanced upon something I had not seen since a tiny child.  A small class container with an ornamental lid.  It was similar to the one which had sat on my grandmother's dresser.  It was explained to me that when she was a girl, ladies would brush their hair and then they would pull the hair caught in the brush out and collect it in the small container. This hair would be saved until enough had been collected to create small padded forms to add height or build the illusion of thicker hair for a French bun or topknot.

This got me to thinking of all the other hair care customs from over the years. Brushing hair 100 times before bed.  Washing hair with eggs. Rinsing hair in vinegar or lemon juice.  Bangs.  Never brushing wet hair. Curling hair with scraps of cloth, bobby pins, or brush curlers.  Home permanents. Using  DRY shampoo (sprinkle in and brush out).  Saving orange juice cans to use as curlers. Ironing hair straight.  Never cutting hair and adopting a bald look.   Only wearing long hair as a child. Always having short hair as a mature woman.  Only wearing hair loose as a youth.  Never wearing hair loose as a mature or married woman.

The great mystery here is - why in the world did women do all these things?  Hair is pretty personal yet we as a gender have allowed others to dictate how we wear our hair, how long we wear our hair, what colors our hair should be, and a dozen other choices.  Why?    Clean hair worn in a manner that pleases the individual donning that hair, and not society or elements in society, should be the goal of every person.  What I might like or dislike should not be the determinate for another's style.  So why go into a salon and get the same hair 150,000 others have gotten that week?  Just to fit in? Just to conform?    I had an ancestor who belonged to a sect in Northern Ireland called the 'Croppies' because they kept their hair cropped.  According to family legend, he was allowed to not adhere due to the respect in which he was  held by many people.  Be a wise woman, or man, and find that which suits you and your lifestyle.  Let there be no mystery here - even if there is a lot of history - hair freedom once and for all!


Having enjoyed a class in the history of photography, when I saw this jewel in a second hand shop, I decided to pick it up for my collection of 'unclaimed' portraits.  It is unique.  This innovative cardboard photo holder has a long tailed bird embossed (it may be a peacock).  It is from an old studio in Norman, Oklahoma (OrenBaun's).  There is no name on the holder or the photograph to identify the woman.  The image/holder is the size of a smaller bookmark so would have easily fit in an envelope or a jacket pocket (to be held close to the heart?).  The woman appears in her late twenties or early thirties.  The high coat collar and hat are similar to styles worn between 1910 and 1918.  Who was she and who did she send the photo and the soft smile to so many years ago?

Shady Lady Ghosts and Others

Here are a few of the locations brought to my attention.  If you have a story of a fallen, shady, or merely unsteady lady associated with a hotel, mansion, or drawing room, please contact me.

Tombstone, Arizona
The place called 'Big Nose Kate's, in the heyday of Tombstone when they licensed about 3,000 ladies of the night.  Her real name was Mary Katherine Harmony and she haunts her place.

Flagstaff, AZ
The Museum club , built in the 1930's, may be haunted by past owner Thelma and her husband.

Hotel Monte Vista, has a story of two women from the 'red light district' to the south who were a) murdered in one of the rooms, or b) were thrown from the windows in one room. The room is the 'Gary Cooper', named for one of the Hollywood actors who would stay there while filming nearby.

Jerome, AZ
The 'Inn' boasts a shady lady who remains to taunt guests and staff named ,'Jennie'.  Once a booming mining town with heavy traffic in sin some inhabitants may linger.

Dorrington, California
In the hotel of the same name, the love of the builder is said to still haunt the place in a calico dress from her time in the 1870's.

Jersey Bridge, California
A Spanish woman was said to have been lynched there in 1851 during the summer.  She had murdered a man who made unseemly advances toward her and local town folk took exception. A men's club in a nearby town had her skull for many years for secret rituals - so no wonder if she walks!

Grass Valley, CA
In the hotel Holbrooke, a blond ghost is said to walk.

St. Louis, MO
Bissell Mansion Resturant, a womann is said to haunt the building in a white gown and an otherworldly glow.

Chicago, IL
A woman in red had been reported in windows and photos in the Excalibur Club in downtown windy city. She appears to be in her 30's-40's and may be wearing clothes from the time of a deadly fire nearby in 1915.

Santa Fe, NM
Lo Posada claims the ghost haunting them is Julie Stabb who was severely depressed after the death a child that she stayed in her room, the present # 256, until her death in the 1890's.
La Fonda Hotel claims until the 1990's a woman in white hung around their place and may have been a bride murdered shortly after  her wedding.

Cloudcroft, NM
A  young ghost named Rebecca is said to haunt the lovely hotel.


St. Joseph's Children Home, Bethany, Oklahoma c1914

Unidentified girl feeds some of the chickens kept on the 'farm' of the Children's Home, c1914

1912 Blessing of St. Joseph Orphanage, Bethany, Oklahoma

The St. Joseph's Children's Home, or the St. Josephs Orphanage and Industrial School as it was also called, was dedicated Oct. 6, 1912 by Bishop Theophile Meerschaert.  It has been home to at least seven religious orders who supervised its ministry and work with children and the elderly. These orders included: the Sisters of Mercy, the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, the Sisters of the Most Blessed Trinity, Carmelites, Benedictines, Missionary Sisters of the Most Blessed Trinity, and four 'strong and colorful priests' - Fathers John M. Kekesisen, P.P. Schaeffer, James Garvey, and A.A. Isenbart (The Sooner Catholic, Sept.   5,1976, pg. 6).  The original property included 32 1/2 acres purchased partly by the Disocese and partly through a gift from James Maney. In 1913, additional acquisitions expanded the land to 60 acres, and then in 1919, 45 more acres were added a few miles north. This last would later be known as the "north farm",  and would be sold to form the St. Francis Center for Christian Renewal on NW Expressway.  The facility removed from the Bethany location in the 1960's and it was sold in the early 1970's to the International Pentecostal Holiness Church for their denominational headquarters.

St. Joseph's Children Home, Bethany, Oklahoma 1914

The orphanage was just a few years old when this photo was taken.  The surrounding areas were still a combination of flat plain and black jack oak forests. The facility was designed according to the latest trends in orphan care by combining living facility with industrial trades.  Children in this time period were encouraged to learn and practice skills. They planted, cared for and sold crops to support themselves.  Self-sufficiency was the goal of such institutions across the country.   In time, the facility expanded to provide elder care as well allowing generations to mix.  The build still stands - with some significant upgrades in exterior/interior structure- as the headquarters of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church and adjacent to Southwestern Christian University.


ELIZABETH, EFFIE, AND WHO ELSE?: Hunting Down A Multi-State Legend

In Oklahoma City she is known as 'Effie'.   A poor woman who loved not wise but too well and found herself pregnant with a married man's child.  She a) either killed herself , b) was imprisoned by the married man, or c) was murdered.   She has been said to haunt the Skirvin Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City since the 1920's.

In Goldfield, Nevada there is the story of "Elizabeth" associated with the historic Goldfield Hotel, who was a poor woman who loved not wise but too well and found herself pregnant with a married man's child.  She a) either killed herself , b) was imprisoned by the married man, or c) was murdered. 

It should be remembered that in Oklahoma City when it was opened as the result of the Land run of 1889, there were 'working girls' on the next train into town.  "Big Annie" Wynn Bailey was a strapping girl in her mid-twenties fresh from the lucrative mining towns of Colorado. She saw opportunity and bought land, opened businesses in the heart of "Hell's Half Acre".  Soon she controlled much of downtown Oklahoma City through real estate and a system of well placed bribes.  

These "girls" as the prostitutes were sometimes called were a social subgroup with their own status, traditions, and behaviors.   Did they also share a common 'folklore' of cautionary or fear tales to warn each other, and potential customers?

So who came first, "Emma" or "Elizabeth," or perhaps some yet to be discovered woman?  It would be interesting to see how many of these tales of 'fallen' women with names beginning with an "E" might exist, identify when they first emerged, and discover if there movement could be tracked.

Other famous 'soiled doves' include Jerome, AZ's 'Julia' and 'Maggie' in Cripple Creek, CO.  Over all the motif is similar to the cautionary tale of the 'Cry Baby Bridge', which I feel is a transference of the  old Irish song, "Mary of the Moors."

NOTE: Anyone with knowledge of a story about a 'fallen women', 'scorned woman,' or 'compromised maiden' associated with a  hotel or other town site, please contact me for an upcoming work.

I Write Like...

I write like
H. P. Lovecraft

I Write Like. Analyze your writing!

Expanded and Revised Edition

Expanded and Revised Edition
Coming Soon!