Another one out of Kansas but this time the ghost are dancing and living it up in an old saw mill.
Printed on Sunday the 10th of February 1889 in the Kansas City Times out of Kansas City, Missouri
THEY HOLD HIGH CARNIVAL IN AN OLD
The Story of John Thompson’s Tragic Death as Told by an Eye Witness of the Sad Occurrence.
Written for the Kansas City Times.
LAWRENCE, KAN., Feb. 8 – The city, for more than five years past, has had within its limits many haunted buildings that have led many to believe that ghosts were a reality and disembodied spirits are free to act, and often materialize and assume the form of human beings.
The old Delaware mills that stand on the north bank of the Kaw river has during these years caused a great deal of comment among the skeptics who are slow to believe in modern ghosts as they come down to us from the past. In this communication we will not stop to discuss the possibilities or probabilities of spirits whether in the flesh or out, or everyday talk, as it exists in the historic city to-day.
In 1862 Orlando Darling, a native of Vermont, came to this place and with the assistance of a banker erected a sawmill on the site where the Delaware mills now stand. Darling was an enterprising business man and knew almost no bounds to his ambition, and with the contract he had with the banker gained wealth and influence and soon amassed property, all of which was put to good use.
At that time on the north side of the river was an immense body of timber stretching away over two miles from the river and many miles above and below the mills. As there were no mills in the country at that time consequently there was no completion in the lumber trade, and fabulous prices were paid. The business grew to such an extent over a dozen and a half men found employment in and around the mill. Among these, about a year after the mill had been in operation, was a young man about 25 years of age by the name of John Thompson, an Illinoisan by birth. This man was intelligent and had many friends, and was a special favorite with the proprietor of the mills.
In early lie he had trained with that class of pioneers who are favorable to dancing the sports connected therewith. A country dance was not complete without a full supply of intoxicants which added in the direction of merriment and gave life and power to social hops. It was late in the autumn of 1862 when on one of these country dances was on a hill about one mile away from the mill under the supervision of this man Thompson, who was elected to an office of this kind armed himself with drink.
When the evening arrived for the dance, Thompson started with at least two dozen of his associates for the evening party. When they arrived on the ground there was a mixed number of gentlemen and ladies, who were well saturated with drink. It was not long before a row occurred, in which Thompson fell from the effects of a bullet from a revolver in the hands of a young mane name of Crone. Thompson fell to the ground and expired almost instantly. His remains were brought to the mill that evening and lay in state about twenty-four hours and viewed by hundreds of his friends. His body was sent east to friends for burial. Crone, the murderer, was arrested and confined in the county jail for several months, but was afterward relieved on conditions that he would enlist in the United States army, which he did, and served until the close of the war. A year or two later Darling’s mill was converted into a flouring mill and remained such for several years, when the proprietor failed and left the country for California. The property then changed hands and after two or three transfers became the property of the Union Pacific railway, and , since then, or about five years ago, it has been abandoned and been used as a harbor for tramps.
Since these mills became the property of the Union Pacific railroad company great stories have been told by many who claim to be eyewitnesses to nightly visitants in the form of spirits under the captaincy of this man Thompson, who spent his last days on earth in and round this old building. These ghosts are said to be noisy by the immediate neighbors living near the mill; these spirits, to the number of thirty or more, meet about 10 p.m. and then clear the room of all lumber and other material lying around loose in the third story of the building. They then commenced their gymnastics with yells and shrieks that would cause a demon from the infernal regions to give an audience for a few moments. After this programme is filled then come musical instruments of a heavenly order, for transcending anything ever heard of before. This music continues until about 1 p.m., when a general roll call ends the performance.
These nightly visitations and apparitions have cause a terror and almost a general stampede among those having property within rifle shot distance of these mills. The existence of the building has been threatened time and again, but the demons who hold sway in the mill keep a vigilant guard over the property. The citizens on the north side of the river have repeatedly warned the officials of the Union Pacific railway company that this old building has lived beyond its usefulness and its safety is not secure and at any moment it is liable to be in flames, notwithstanding the strong guard of spirits that many suppose are there in the evening. The above is a plain statement of the old haunted mill that for four or five years has been a specter to all the inhabitants’ thereabout. The truth of these strange manifestations we are not prepared to vouch for as there is room for speculation. The tragedy, as it happened at the time, is truthfully recorded above by the writer, who was a witness to all that happened on the evening above referred to.