Fort Leavenworth is a United States Army facility located in Leavenworth County, Kansas, immediately north of the city of Leavenworth in the upper northeast portion of the state. It is the oldest active United States Army post west of Washington, D.C., having been in operation for over 180 years.
The fort occupies 5,600 acres and 7,000,000 square feet of space in 1,000 buildings and 1,500 quarters. It is located on the Frontier Military Scenic Byway (U.S. Route 69 and K-7 corridor).
There are several old officer houses on historic Fort Leavenworth that are haunted, faces can be seen in the back of the fireplaces and strange noises can be heard at night. It is believes that these manifestations are the ghosts of inmates who were executed at the United States Disciplinary Barracks and the ghosts of those buried in the National Cemetery located just beyond the prison walls.
The Chief of Staff’s Quarters
Located at 624 Scott Avenue, the Chief of Staff’s quarters continue to host a teat party in the parlor. Though apparitions have not been sighted, several people report hearing the sounds of a tea party coming from an otherwise empty parlor.
Former Site of the St. Ignatius Chapel
The original St. Ignatius Chapel was located at 632 Thomas Avenue. In 1875, the original church and rectory burned to the ground, claiming the life of a young priest there on assignment. The building material was salvaged to build the residence that exists there today.
Some of the scorched bricks can still be seen making up the fireplace in the dining room of the house. Etched into these bricks are names, including that of Father Fred. Residents of the home have claimed to see Father Fred walking through the home in his vestments. He is most often seen walking up and down the stairs in the kitchen and dining room. In this 1970s, his robed figure appeared in a Polaroid photograph taken during a dinner party.
A new church was erected after the 1875 burning at the corner of McClellan and Pope. However, on December 16, 2000 in the early hours of the morning, it burst into flames and was completely destroyed.
The General’s Residence
Located at 1 Scott Avenue, the General’s residence is said to continue to host General George Armstrong Custer. He is often seen roaming the first floor of the old residence; it is said his spirit lingers because Fort Leavenworth was the site where he was court-martialed in 1967 for leaving his command and mistreating his troops.
The hearing was held in the command general’s quarters. Custer was found guilty and given a year’s suspension without pay. He was afterward reinstated and rejoined the Seventh Cavalry in September, 1868 where he served until the notorious Battle of Little Big Horn in 1876.
Old Disciplinary Barracks
The Disciplinary Barracks are made up of twelve towers along the wall of the Fort. Before the barracks closed, not all of them were manned. Closed off, the only way you could get into the tower was to talk along the wall from another tower. Guards often reported seeing something moving inside the tower, despite this challenge. Long ago, a soldier committed suicide in the tower by shooting himself in the head.
The control tower is reported to having received phone calls from Tower Eight, even though the tower was abandoned and vacant. When the line was picked up, there would only be static on the other end. One story states that a patrol car reported seeing someone standing in the tower pointing a rifle in their direction; no one was in the tower.
Guards also report hearing the sounds of walking and knocking on the trap door entrance to the towers when no one was there.
Building 65 was the prison hospital at one time. Legend has it that fourteen German prisoners of war were executed in the elevator shaft; often, guards report hearing screaming coming from the old elevator shaft. On the third floor, an area primarily used as storage, a ghostly man in a wheelchair was often seen being pushed by another ghostly figure. A new barracks was built in 2002, and operations at the old barracks ceased.
The Officers’ Quarters
Located 605 McClellan Avenue, the Officers’ quarters is said to host a previous resident. A ghostly apparition of a man with a moustache and goatee is often seen appearing in the fireplace in the middle of a burning fire. As the fire dies, his face is seen lingering near the back of the fireplace. The same image is often seen in one of the bedrooms, and one in the bathroom with an old-fashioned razor and shaving cream. Other times, loud footsteps are heard traveling up and down the stairs, doors are heard slamming shut, and scratching noises and loud crashes can be heard throughout the house. Residents also report icy cold spots in various parts of the home.
The Rookery is a duplex located at 12 and 14 Sumner Place. It is the oldest house on the base and is said to be the home of several spectral presences. Built in 1832, the residence has been occupied continually since it was erected. It is reported as the most haunted house in the state of Kansas due to the high number of ghostly residents. The most prevalent haunt is that of a woman with long hair who rushes at people with her fingernails clawing in attack. She is said to have been a victim of violence long ago, and her ghostly presence lingers within the Rookery.
The apparition of an elderly woman is often seen chattering in the corner. A ghostly young girl is often seen throwing a tantrum. As residents try to sleep in the home, they report being aroused from slumber by an old man in a nightshirt with bushy hair.
The houses in Sumner Place are haunted by a kind woman in a black woolen dress and shawl. It is believed that this woman was, at one time, the nanny or housekeeper who lived in the attic of one of the old homes. Her ghostly presence is said to look after families in the area; she tries to help them with domestic chores, such as doing the dishes and making beds. She is also drawn to children, attempting to soothe and calm them when they are upset.
One child told his parents of a nice lady who would come read by his bedside before he went to sleep. Shortly after, a book was found in the child’s room that was not the property of the family. This spirit, however, feels that babysitters and grandmothers are competition. Her animosity causes babysitters and grandmothers to feel a firm push out of the upstairs nursery by unseen hands.
At one time, the residents of 16 Sumner Place became so perturbed by her benevolent presence that an exorcism was had on the home. Indeed, the lady in black left the residence, only to relocate next door to 18 Sumner Place. Witnesses believe they see her figure silhouetted against the attic window.
The National Cemetery
The National Cemetery is home to the ghost of a woman by the name of Catherine Sutter. She is reported seen walking around the tombstones of the cemetery. In the fall of 1880, Catherine, her husband, and two children stopped at the Fort on their way to Oregon territory. One day, her husband sent the children to collect firewood. They never returned.
It is believed the two children wandered near the river, where they were swept away by the current. A search party attempted to find the children for three days, but the children were finally given up for dead. Catherine and Hiram Sutter stayed at Fort Leavenworth through the winter, as though their children would come searching for them. Catherine was seen walking through the snow in the grounds of the Fort, calling out to her children. She contracted pneumonia and later died that winter. She was buried in the National Cemetery.
Distraught with grief, her husband, Hiram Sutter returned to his home in Indiana that spring. A short time later, Hiram Sutter received strange but glorious news. His children, Ethan and Mary, were alive and well. Swept into the river, Ethan and Mary were rescued by a tribe of Fox Indians. The Indians were harboring Ethan and Mary through the winter until the spring, when they would be returned to Fort Leavenworth.
Catherine still wanders the grounds of the National Cemetery, forever unknowing of the safety of her children, still searching believing them to be missing. Wearing an old calico dress and black shawl, Catherine is often seen carrying a lantern and desperately calling out to her children. Other times, only her voice can be heard, calling out from the darkness for her children.
It is also reported that the ghost of Chief Joseph, a proud Nez Perce Indian leader, roams the cemetery. He was incarcerated at Fort Leavenworth in 1877. Additionally, Civil war soldiers are also reported as walking through the woods nearby the National Cemetery.
The Sheridan House
The Sheridan House of 611 Scott Avenue is said to be haunted by the vengeful spirit of Mrs. Sheridan, wife of General Philip H. Sheridan. In 1869, General Philip H. Sheridan left his wife on her deathbed to pursue business interests in Chicago.