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Strange & Spooky Stuff - October 31, 2014

Q: In the mid 1800s, the U.S. military brought in a Catholic priest to perform an exorcism at a military installation in Kansas. The sacred rite of exorcism is designed to drive away demons. Where, in Kansas, did this take place?

FortRiley KHS 1857Copy of a painting showing Fort Riley, Kan., 1857, artist unkown. (Image Courtesy of Kansas Historical Society /


A: Fort Riley (more like haunted Fort Riley)


Many strange stories surround the Fort Riley army base near Junction City, Kan. Here's one of them. Cholera was first diagnosed at Fort Riley in the summer of 1855. Many, perhaps even most, of the people living at the fort died as a result. According to some sources, a woman named Susan Fox lived here with her step-father in a small frame building. She was engaged to be married soon and already had her wedding dress. In late August, while her father and fiancée were away from home, she became ill and died alone in her home. When her fiancée returned, he discovered what had happened to his bride to be. Susan Fox was buried in her wedding dress. Soon afterward, the residents of the home described strange things occuring.


Her own fiancée was quoted as saying, "It was a difficult passage for her, and Susan came back to her old home several times demanding to be let in." Residents heard strange noises and shrieks. At one point, a maid ironing in front of a window was so frightened to see "Susan" staring in the window at her that she threw her iron through the window. (Another eerie story around this time involves a young woman at the post who allegedly drowned herself in a well.)


The Post Commander at Fort Riley became irritated with all the complaints and supernatural disturbances, so much so that he asked a priest to come from Junction City to perform an exorcism. (According to one source, this was the only time in American history that the U.S. military paid for an exorcism. However, KPR News has been unable to verify this claim.) As an added step, the small building was razed to try to ensure the hauntings would stop. But some claim the ghost of Susan Fox can still be seen lurking around the army base, searching for something or someone.


There are many ghost stories associated with Fort Riley, the cradle of the U.S. Cavalry and home of the Big Red One. Perhaps it's also the home to many spirits from Fort Riley's haunted past.

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