By, Macy Goodnight; Our great state has an extraordinary history, with many a tale to be told about the characters of bygone days. Oklahoma is such a great place to live that some have refused to leave! Some of these spirits invite you to come and find them but ask that visitors always be respectful and make sure to abide by each location’s rules and hours of business. There is much to learn from the ghosts of Oklahoma’s past.
The Stone Lion Inn – Guthrie
The Houghton Family’s beautiful and elegant home was completed in 1907. At the time, it was the grandest house in town. Shortly after they moved in, their seven-year-old daughter, Irene, contracted whooping cough and was accidentally overdosed with medicine by the maid. Her passing was heart-wrenching for the family. In the 1920s, the family fell on hard times, and they moved to Enid to run a mercantile. In order to retain their Guthrie home, they leased it to a mortuary, and Smith Funeral Home operated on the premises for eight years. In 1986, Becky Luker purchased the home as only the third owner in its history and moved in with her children. It was not long after that her seven-year-old son began telling of strange occurrences in his bedroom closet, with toys being rearranged and even a sighting of a little girl sitting on the floor. He talked about “the ghost girl” often. Now, the home is a bed and breakfast that guests can stay in overnight, with stunning bedroom suites and the warmest hospitality. Becky hosts murder mystery dinners on the weekends, with one of her guests playing the theatrical victim each event night. She writes all of the stories herself; some garnered with inspiration from local lore. Multiple paranormal groups have investigated the home, including national television shows, such as Ghost Hunters. Overnight guests have reported an array of experiences from their stays, including being woken from slumber to a child tapping them on the cheek, and their toes being played with. Phantom footsteps and smells have been experienced, as well as shirts being tugged on with no culprit to be found. Could it be little Irene’s ghost causing mischief in the home, or maybe lingering spirits from the funeral home? Book your weekend getaway or a murder mystery dinner with friends, and find some answers for yourself at www.stonelioninn.com.
Cain’s Ballroom - Tulsa
This iconic spot has been a cultural hub in the city since the 1930s. Originally built as a garage in 1924, the building was purchased in 1930 by Madison W. “Daddy” Cain, and was named Cain’s Dance Academy. Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys’ first radio broadcasts on KVOO took place here, and they performed regularly at the venue between 1934-1942. In 1976, the building was purchased with a renewed interest in revitalizing the building as a concert venue, and Cain’s Ballroom was born. The Dance Academy was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.
Bob Wills passed away in 1973, but some people believe he loved Cain’s so much that he still frequents the old dance hall. Manager Brad Harris makes sure to say, “Goodnight, Bob!” every night before he leaves. Brad has experienced some things that have made him believe something or someone is lingering in the building. One day, a delivery of beer was made, and the cases were neatly stacked near the bar. Brad walked away briefly, and when he returned, the cases were placed down on the floor on their sides, no longer stacked. There was no sound. He has seen apparitions out of the corners of his eyes, and has heard crowds of people talking when no one is left in the building after a show. Numerous paranormal research groups have done investigations in the building, and Brad recalled that one group captured and audio recording of a young girl that said, “I want to help.” No one knows for sure who is haunting the building, but many people have experiences that validate that there are “others” in the building. Presently, Cain’s is not hosting regular shows, but are having smaller concerts with limited seating and free online streaming series. Visit www.cainsballroom.com for more information on current events.
Military History Museum – Broken Arrow
In 1942, Dr. Onis Franklin, and his son, Dr. S.E. Franklin, established the first modern hospital in the town at 112 North Main. The hospital served the community until the late 1960s and ultimately ended up in the hands of the City of Broken Arrow. The Military History Center was opened in 2013, and the collection has grown exponentially. Docent Supervisor, Dennis Hoch, has a few spooky stories to share, including a bone-chilling experience with a mannequin in the museum. He recalls the day he was working near the uniform display, where the mannequin’s head was facing toward the wall. Dennis looked down, and when he looked back up again, the head was turned towards him, as if watching him work. On another occasion, he and another docent were speaking to each other in the front of the museum. The back door opened, which normally is kept locked. Dennis and the docent, curious about who had entered, walked down the hall to investigate. Midway down the hall, they saw a figure cross in front of them into one of the galleries. They followed, only to find that there was no one there. Sounds and rattling can be heard frequently from the basement, which used to house the morgue in the old hospital. Crooked pictures on the walls cause frustration for staff, who constantly must straighten them. A light in the basement cannot be turned off, despite all efforts, including cutting power. The collection of artifacts in the museum is exceptional, with hundreds of items from all eras of military history. Are there spirits attached to the relics in the displays, or are there lingering souls from the old hospital? Visit them anytime, Tuesday-Saturday, from 10 am to 4 pm, and see for yourself. More information at www.okmhc.org.
Thomas-Foreman Home - Muskogee
A truly notable and remarkable exhibition can be found in this historic city, with a foundation built in the days before statehood, when there was nothing but open prairie as far as the eye could see. Judge John R. Thomas built his humble farmhouse-style home in 1898. He was a federal judge in the wild west of Indian territory and is recognized as the father of the American Navy. His daughter, Carolyn, married Dr. Grant Foreman in 1905, and together, they lived with the Judge until his death in 1914. Judge Thomas was shot and killed during a prison riot at McAlister, and his body was brought back to the home to lie in state for his funeral. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. The Foremans were authors, historians, and scholars who traveled the world and acquired an assortment of art, souvenirs, and photographs throughout their travels. An immense library of books was also amassed over the years. In the life of the home, only the Thomas-Foreman families ever resided there, and their incredible, eclectic collection is like a time capsule, with artifacts spanning decades of history. Dr. Grant Foreman passed away in the home in 1953, and Carolyn died in her bed in 1967 at the age of 95. They had no children. Roger Bell, a local historian, is passionate about preserving the history of the location and the spirits he believes still linger there. The haunting of the home is well known by locals, and many paranormal studies have been conducted onsite. One day, Roger and a visitor were touring the home, when they heard a loud noise in another room. A picture that had been hanging on the wall earlier had flown across the room and landed in the middle of the floor. Residual aromas of tobacco and perfume have been experienced on multiple occasions, and there have been claims from witnesses that Judge Thomas’s rocking chair will move on its own. His picture hangs just above over a large bookshelf, and his piercing eyes seem to follow visitors around the room. Judge Thomas had an old leg injury from the civil war that disabled him, and he possessed a large collection of canes. There are claims that some have heard the thud of a cane moving across the wooden floors. Once, a volunteer was facing the bookshelves that are covered with a clear acrylic casing. She noticed the reflection of a woman wearing a white dress behind her, and when she turned to speak to the woman, there was no one there. A trip to the Thomas-Foreman house is an extraordinary experience with something most everyone will enjoy and learn from, especially for those interested in ghosts. For more information, visit their website at www.thomasforemanhistorichome.com.
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