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The Sallie House – The Most Haunted House in Kansas?
October 8, 2022
Atchison’s Sallie House may be considered the most famous haunted house in Kansas. We delve into it in this, the second in our Halloween series of haunted houses. (This house is NOT for sale).
Built between 1867 and 1871, the brick home was the residence of Michael, a native of Ireland, and Kate Finney. Michael died in the house in 1872, and it was passed down to the couple’s son, Charles Finney.
After graduating medical school and setting up his practice, Charles also took up figure skating. He was both a skilled figure skater and roller skater who often dressed in drag during his act. He won many competitions before giving up the sport after being denied entrance to an all-male skating competition due to his gender-bending act.
Charles then devoted all his efforts to his medical practice, and was by all accounts a proficient physician.
In 1914 he was elected mayor of Atchison and served for two years before being forced to step down in 1916 due to a scandal involving the sale of alcohol.
The Sallie Event
Charles used the whole bottom floor of his house at 508 N 2nd Street for his medical practice. The front served as office space and examination rooms, while the doctor and his wife and son lived upstairs. Although no records of a patient named Sallie exist in Dr. Finney’s records, as the story goes, one day a frantic mother came running into the office holding her 6-year-old daughter, Sallie. The child was in severe abdominal pain. Dr. Finney diagnosed appendicitis, and believing the appendix would soon burst, immediately began surgery. He grabbed his scalpel and began cutting Sallie before the anesthesia had taken full effect. Sallie’s screams resonated throughout the block, then suddenly stopped. She died on the operating table – her last memories believing a man was torturing her.
The House Next Door
It should be noted that the house next door to Dr. Finney’s also is connected to the Sallie House hauntings. The house next door was built in 1889 by James Finney, the older brother of Charles. James deeded it to a woman named Johanna Barnes, a divorced mother of three and pregnant with a fourth child.
Johanna had been previously institutionalized as “violently insane,” and gave birth in 1899 to Frank Barnes while in the institution. Eventually she was released to the care of Dr. Finney and returned to the house next door to him.
On September 24, 1906 Johanna attempted suicide. She turned on the gas stove and laid down with Frank, who was five years old at the time. Both were overcome by the fumes, but while Johanna survived, little Frank did not.
Hauntings at the Sallie House
After the events at both houses, locals have long believed the homes were haunted. The Sallie House hauntings grew more ominous, however, in 1993, when the house was rented to a young couple, Tony and Debra Pittman, and their infant son. Their dog seemed to growl at nothing, most notably near the upstairs nursery, cold spots were felt throughout the house, and things started moving on their own. Matters took a turn for the worse when fires broke out in the house and a series of attacks on Tony began. Tony, who claims to be a clairvoyant, felt scratches on his chest and abdomen. Debra and the baby never came to harm as they identified more with Sallie rather than the more sinister spirits that may occupy the two properties.
Paranormal activity that has been witnessed by visitors to the Sallie House include video cameras that stop working, moving objects, bruises on their bodies, and new batteries that completely drain. There has even been books and videos about the house.
So Who Are the Ghosts?
Some say the spirit of Michael Finney, the original owner who died in the house shortly after its completion, may be the culprit. Others believe the insane ghost of Johanna Barnes stalks the properties. Still others say Sallie, or even young Frank, show their presence on the old Finney land. A few even have come to the conclusion that it is Dr. Finney (d.1955) himself who haunts the Sallie House, angry about his skating and mayoral careers that were cut short.