Tucked away in the northeastern corner of Kansas, Atchison remains a fairly small town of an estimated 11,000 residents. But recent local lore has given the town an even bigger presence on the map.
Atchison has accumulated national attention for its alleged paranormal activity and haunted locations — so much so that it has its own tourism initiative specifically for the paranormal. From visits by Zak Bagans from “Ghost Adventures” and the “Buzzfeed Unsolved” crew, tourists have flocked in from across the nation for a night at one of Atchison’s haunted spots.
Residents have been well-aware of the town’s myths since their own childhoods.
Kendra Rodecap, a senior studying English and Italian from Effingham — which is about 23 miles southwest of Atchison — grew up within close proximity to the town and frequently heard talk about the supernatural elements of Atchison.
“I grew up hearing ghost stories about Atchison, like the way other people would hear about fairy tales in elementary schools,” Rodecap said.
At this point, many of these stories have contributed to the town’s identity in itself, Rodecap said.
“I think if you asked anyone in Atchison if they actually believed in ghosts, they’d actually be skeptical, but a lot of people take a lot of pride in the stories about it,” Rodecap said.
The story of Molly’s Hollow constantly changes depending on who you talk to, but the basis of it remains the same — a young woman named Molly tragically died within Jackson Park in Atchison.
In some versions, Molly was hanging from a tree. While in others, she simply fell to her death.
Since then, visitors have reported seeing specters or hearing a young woman scream late at night in the park.
Matt Chapman, a sophomore from Leavenworth, decided he wanted to visit with a close friend of his to check it out for himself mid-July of this year. He’d spent the night thinking his visit was unsuccessful due to a lack of paranormal encounters.
But after taking a photo inside the park, Chapman noticed something odd when he was reviewing it — a line that looked almost as if it was in flames was pointing directly at him. Now, Chapman believes it was a specter, he said.
“I remember I only noticed it after I got home and was like super freaked out the rest of the night,” Chapman said. “I was pretty sure I was going to get possessed or something.”
The McInteer Villa
Known as one of the most picturesque haunted locations according to locals, the McInteer Villa was initially built in 1889 and inhabited by the McInteers — a family of affluent business owners from the 19th century.
Since then, there’s been seven documented deaths in the villa due to natural causes and one suicide, marking eight deaths total. Locals say numerous unexplained occurrences have happened in the house, like the random slamming of doors throughout the night, and random lights turning off in the tower of the home.
Currently, the town is offering overnight stays and self-guided tours.
The Sallie House in particular has stayed in the public eye, after appearances on Buzzfeed and “Ghost Adventures.”
The small, white house is allegedly haunted by a demon — who takes form in the shape of a young girl referred to as Sallie, though others claim Sallie is simply a young spirit in need of help. Now, even more spirits beyond just Sallie are rumored to be dwelling in the house.
Visitors and residents reported being attacked and having scratches on their body. Objects have gone flying through the air, or entirely missing — only to appear in another location later. Other residents have reported hearing unexplained whispering and scratches against the wall during the day and night.
While the validity of the myth is unclear, it remains a favorite amongst locals to tell, according to Rodecap.
“When I was at a friend’s house that lived in Atchison, we would go over to the Sallie House just for the scares,” Rodecap said. “We just kind of grew up with it, you know?”