Since Halloween is around the corner, I thought I’d share a couple of local ghost stories. Most of us have probably heard a variation of these, but maybe a few people haven’t.
I was resident caretaker of the antebellum Ritchey Mansion in Newtonia for a couple of years. I lived there, in private quarters, gave tours, mowed the lawn, etc. While there I never hear nor saw anything out of the ordinary, despite the fact the house was used a hospital after both battles of Newtonia, resulting in the famous “black room”, where the floors were supposedly painted black to cover up the blood stains.
However, I once heard a story from when the Darch family owned and lived in the house. As I heard it, when one of the Darch’s (I’ll leave out first names) was a kid there was a storm, resulting in a limb falling on the grave of one of Matthew Ritchey’s wives and breaking the lid of her faux sarcophagus. Well, the young person placed the pieces of the lid back together, and “covered” her back up. The next morning the child awoke to every blanket in the house covering their body. Everyone else in the home denied doing it. So it was thought that the child’s good deed had been reciprocated by the long gone Mrs. Ritchey, you see.
Before we leave Newtonia, I also once heard an audio recording that was said to have been taken in the Old Civil War Cemetery. I’ll be darned if I didn’t distinctly hear what sounded like the boom of cannons. Several booms, several seconds apart. But who knows.
Many of us have heard of the spirit commonly called “Lucinda” that is said to hang in and around the old Job Ratliff antebellum house (also called the George Kelly house, for a more recent longtime owner) just north of Neosho. Every time I drive by I look over to see if can see Lucinda, but never do.
Stories abound of that one. One was told me by a cousin of someone involved, but you know how those things go, so take that for what it is. The cousin and his girlfriend or wife were delivering a newspaper at the residence when they saw Lucinda, in her usual 19th century dress, on the balcony. Before they had time to react she was off the balcony and right in front of the car. She was screaming. Here’s the thing, though: No noise came from her mouth, but the people heard it inside their heads. They got out of there in a hurry!
Now, I don’t vouch for the truth of that story, or any story. I’m just telling what I heard second hand, as best I can recall it. I don’t even believe in “ghosts” per se, though I do believe in spiritual beings. I’m only sharing spooky tales here. I mean, it IS Halloween, right?
-Wes Franklin writes a weekly column, That History Guy, for The Neosho Daily News.