The Sallie House is an alleged haunted house in Atchison, Kansas.
Local legend says the house, built in the mid-1800s, is haunted by the ghost of a girl who died while undergoing surgery.
Paranormal enthusiasts often describe it as the most haunted in Kansas. Some even believe it is the most haunted house in the United States.
The current owner has opened it for paranormal tours. Enthusiasts can tour the property and stay overnight.
Charles Finney, a medical practitioner, reportedly built the Sallie House in the mid-1800s. The house has three bedrooms and two baths.
It doubled as Finney’s family house and the premises where he practiced his medical profession. He used the first floor as a clinic and surgery while his family lived on the second floor.
The family reportedly moved out of the house in 1947.
Sallie died at Finney’s clinic during surgery
Legend has it that Sallie, a young female patient at Dr. Finney’s clinic, died during surgery.
One version of the legend claims that Sallie’s mother brought her child, allegedly a 6-year-old girl, to Finney. Sallie told the doctor that her tummy was hurting. Finney diagnosed a medical condition known as appendicitis that often affects children and young people in their teens and 20s.
[Note: Appendicitis is due to the inflammation of a tiny organ in the body known as the appendix (Johns Hopkins Medicine). The appendix is attached to the lower end of the large intestine on the right side of the body. It may become inflamed due to an infection or blockage by the content of the intestine.]
Finney decided to perform an emergency surgery known as an appendectomy (or appendicectomy) to remove Sallie’s inflamed appendix. He knew he had to do the surgery quickly because appendicitis is a medical emergency. An inflamed appendix can rupture within 48-72 hours from the onset of symptoms (Johns Hopkins Medicine), leading to life-threatening peritonitis (infection or inflammation of the abdominal membrane known as the peritoneum).
However, due to an accident during surgery, Sallie died.
Sallie was Finney’s child by a black woman
A second version of the legend claims that Dr. Finney let the girl die to cover up his extramarital affairs with a black woman.
According to the account, Finney had an affair with a black woman, and Sallie was the product of the relationship. When Sallie fell ill, her mother brought her to Finney.
Finney realized that the girl had a condition that required urgent surgical intervention. However, he didn’t want to take her to a hospital because he feared it could expose his extramarital affairs with a black woman. So he decided to do the surgery at his clinic.
Some accounts claimed that Sallie died because Finney botched the surgery. Others alleged he let her die to cover up his extramarital affairs.
Sallie’s story has been part of local legend for years. But it wasn’t until the 1990s when paranormal TV shows such as A Haunting, Unexplained Mysteries, Sightings, and Ghost Adventures featured the Sallie House, that the story gained broader attention.
Debra and Tony Pickman
Dr. Finney and his family moved out of the house in 1947, after which the house changed hands multiple times.
Debra and Tony Pickman, a couple who moved into the house in December 1992, reported experiencing frightful paranormal activity. Tony claimed that a ghost or spirit entity attacked him. Debra said she heard phantom voices.
The couple allegedly experienced other supernatural activity, such as mysterious cold spots and lights going on and of. They noticed that their pets started acting strangely, and toys moved around when nobody touched them.
They also reported unexplained mold growth in the house.
Debra and Tony said that the intensity of strange occurrences increased after they had their son. On one occasion, they found that someone had arranged all the toys in their baby’s room in a circle. Later in the day, Tony felt pain in his back. When Debra looked, she saw three red welts running down his back, close to the spine.
On another occasion, a doll caught fire while they celebrated their baby’s first birthday.
The incidents spooked the couple and spurred Tony to seek answers. A psychic medium Barbara Connors reportedly uncovered the story of Sallie’s tragic death. Believing that Sallie’s ghost was responsible for paranormal activity in the house, Tony tried to make peace with it. But the attacks intensified, forcing the couple to move out.
Other residents and visitors, besides the Pickmans, reported strange occurrences in the house. They reported ghostly figures lurking in the dark, attacks by invisible entities, and phantom voices.
The man hating ghost
The observation that the alleged victims of the Sallie House attacks were often male led to speculation that the ghost disliked males and thus targeted them.
Male residents, including Tony Pickman, claimed the ghost attacked them by scratching their faces and bodies. People nicknamed the alleged spirit the “man-hating ghost” due to claims that it only attacked male residents and visitors.
Speculation about its identity led to the conclusion that it was Sallie, the girl who died years before when Finney performed surgery on her.
Claims that the ghost was Sallie appeared supported by multiple eyewitnesses who said they saw the shadowy form of a young girl. Some eyewitnesses also claimed they saw an apparition that resembled an older woman they believed was Sallie’s grieving mother.
Finney family ghosts in the house?
Local accounts that four members of the Finney family died in the house before they moved out in 1947 also led to suggestions that other ghosts besides Sallie haunted the building.
Former residents and visitors reported phantom voices that sounded like men, women, and children in the house. It led to speculation that the ghosts of members of the Finney family haunted the building.
A demonic entity in Sallie House?
But other former residents, including Debra Pickman, said they believed the entity wasn’t just the ghost of a young girl and her grieving mother but an evil demonic entity.
Paranormal investigators who believed demonic entities could also be involved in the strange occurrences at Sallie House pointed to the reports of physical attacks. Some paranormal experts said that poltergeist activity, such as moving furniture and scratching on walls, could be due to a demonic entity instead of a ghost.
A Pentagram on the basement floor
There were rumors in the early 2000s that people believed to be Satanists used the house for rituals. Some sources alleged that paranormal investigators found a pentagram inscribed on the floor in the basement.
According to local folklore, investigators performed a test that revealed that some people sprinkled blood in the master bedroom during Satanic rituals.
However, these claims are unconfirmed.
Got something to say about this case? Leave a comment or get in touch if you have new information or media you think we should add.
Featured Image: Sallie House, 508 North 2nd Street, Atchison, KS 66002. Pic credit: Google Street View
|Address||508 North 2nd Street, Atchison, KS 66002|
|Activity reported||Demonic Possession, Evil Spirits, Haunting, Poltergeist|
Where to find
In the media
The alleged haunting activity at Sallie House attracted the attention of paranormal enthusiasts and investigators. Paranormal interest TV shows have investigated the alleged strange events in the house.
In Season 10, Episode 9 of Ghost Adventures, titled Sallie House, which aired on Travel Channel in January 2015, Zak and his team investigated the haunting claims.
They invited Debra and Tony Pickman. Tony reported suffering scratch attacks.
https://visitatchison.com/highlight/sallie-house, “Visit Atchison: Sallie House,” accessed on April 14, 2023.
https://www.velvetropes.com/backstage/sallie-house, “Sallie House: The History of This Atchison Kansas Haunted House – You Can Tour It!” accessed on April 14, 2023.
https://usghostadventures.com/haunted-stories/31-days-of-halloween/sallie-house/, “Kansas’ most haunted house will give you chills,” accessed on April 14, 2023.
https://rare.us/rare-life/sallie-house-kansas-haunted/, “This Little Girl’s House Really IS the Scariest Place in America,” accessed on April 14, 2023.
https://www.onlyinyourstate.com/kansas/sallie-house/, “The Story Behind Kansas’s Most Haunted House Will Give You Nightmares,” accessed on April 14, 2023.
https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/appendicitis, “What is Appendicitis?” accessed on April 14, 2023.