Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
Over this past year, a new family moved into a historic house on Sherman Avenue. As they were moving in, they noticed a chalk drawing of a little girl on a porch brick.
Finding the picture cute and thinking it was done by a child of the previous resident, the family decided to name the girl “Sally.”
As the family continued to move in, odd things began to happen. Boxes were being opened and the contents removed, and boxes already opened were repacked. Additionally, boxes left at the bottom of the stairs to be taken up to the second floor the next morning were already taken up when the family woke up.
“The family started to say, ‘Sally did it. Sally put it away,’ and it was a running joke in the family,” explained Bronwen Pence, Friends of the Frontier Army Museum Frontier Tribute Trail director, at her FFAM Haunted Fort Leavenworth Tours stop Oct. 25.
Six months later, the mother and daughter were putting away groceries, and they left some 25-gallon water jugs on the porch to bring in the next day. The next morning, the mother woke up to find her daughter already gone having headed back to college and the water jugs brought inside.
“She sends a text message to her daughter and says, ‘Thank you so much for bringing the jugs inside. I appreciate it,’” Pence continued. “Her daughter texts back immediately. ‘Oh mom, it must have been Sally. I didn’t do it.’”
The mom laughs, puts her phone down and goes about the day. Two hours later, the mom gets another text from her daughter that says, ‘Mom, what are you talking about?’
“(Mom) scrolls through her texts,” Pence said, “and the text that she saw, from her own phone said, ‘You’re welcome, but my name is Anna.’”
This was one of several modern and firsthand ghost stories told during the walking tours Oct. 25 and 26. The 10-stop tour, with many stops consisting of more than one story, began at the Old U.S. Disciplinary Barracks and was attended by more than 700 people from the Fort Leavenworth community and beyond. At each stop, attendees gathered around a roaring campfire, an aspect one attendee appreciated.
“Every single one of these houses I wanted to go in. I love to be scared. I love the fright,” said tour attendee Matt Androes. “Halloween is my favorite holiday.”
FFAM board member Tracy Martling, tour coordinator, said she thinks the reason the event draws so much attention each year is because the installation has so many ghost stories to tell.
“You never get the same experience year after year,” Martling said. “We have great storytellers that have been doing this for years that have developed quite a reputation for telling amazing stories that raise the hairs on your neck.
“I hope (attendees) experience the thrills and chills of hearing these stories, get to experience the historical significance of the stories and the people they’re told about, and most of all, we hope that they are happy that they spent the night with us,” she said.
Each year, the money raised goes toward the restoration of museum artifacts, the Frontier Tribute Trail and scholarships among other FFAM causes, said Corie Weathers, FFAM public relations volunteer and walking tour guide.
“There is a lot of really great history in the museum, so a lot of the proceeds that we get tonight will go toward the museum,” Weathers said. “There are only a few installations that are actually considered haunted, but (Fort Leavenworth) is so historic and so old that it’s got a lot of really good stories.”
Other firsthand tales included Tanya Berg’s own accounts while living at 611 and 612 Scott Ave., and Carlos Munoz’s own experiences while living at the “Rookery.” Additionally, like Pence, Anne Munoz told recent activity experienced by the current residents of 2 Sumner Ave. Other traditional tales included stories that happened in the old USDB, and No. 1 Scott Ave.
Capt. Todd Rossbach, Command and General Staff Officer Course student, and his wife Beth said they both appreciated the modern, firsthand stories more than the old stories.
“It was personal experience, so it’s more believable,” Todd Rossbach said.
“I think they are all things that happened, but it’s more believable when it’s more current,” Beth Rossbach added. “I feel like it’s the telephone game. I’m sure stuff changes over the years when it’s from a long time ago.”
Overall, the Rossbachs said they enjoyed the tour.
“Something on the tour that was nice is there were other aspects of the Fort Leavenworth history like some of the generals that lived in the house,” Todd Rossbach said. “It helped bring some of the other history that we wouldn’t have learned about apart from the ghost stories.”
“Every post that you live at, you try to learn some things, but (the ghost stories) make (Fort Leavenworth) unique,” Beth Rossbach said. “A lot of my non-military friends think it is so frightening that we live here because we’re near a prison. They don’t even know about any of this stuff.”