Things That Go Bump in the Night

By Mike Peters. Originally published in the October 17, 1998, edition of the Weld County Past Times

From the face in the courthouse clock to the spirit house on 11th Street, Greeley has its share of ghost stories. While few have been researched and none probably proven true, Greeley can produce several ghost stories this Halloween that will compete with any city’s tales.

COURTHOUSE SPIRITS

Talk to almost anyone who has worked in the 82-year-old building in the heart of downtown Greeley, and you’ll find that mysterious things are happening there.

For example:

  • Janitors claim to have seen a spiritual image enter and leave the old grandfather clock on the second floor. It has created such a controversy that several people conducted a séance around the clock two years ago, but apparently the ghost chose not to speak.
  • The fifth floor of the courthouse is especially spooky. It is now a storage attic, with rough concrete floors, bare light bulbs and long, deep shadows. One court reporter claims he was looking for a file in a stack of boxes when a box moved “all by itself.” It contained the file he was searching for. Many courthouse employees refuse to go in the attic alone.
  • In a courtroom on the third floor a few years ago, a juror in the middle of the trial noticed someone hiding behind the judge’s bench, peeking out from behind the wall. A search for the mysterious stranger showed nothing. In the same courtroom, employees wonder why the chandeliers sometimes swing back and forth for no apparent reason.

At least one longtime employee believes the ghosts of the courthouse could be the restless spirit of W.D. French, the victim of Greeley’s only lynching. It occurred in 1888, when a lynch mob broke into the Weld County jail and drug out murder suspect French and hanged him from a tree branch. The tree which supposedly died only a short time after the hanging, stood at almost the exact location where the courthouse was built 26 years later.

GHOST OF CHIEF THEATER

First revealed in 1978 just before the old theater in downtown Greeley closed, the ghost was supposedly a young woman with long blond hair and dressed in a turn-of-the-century white dress. Psychics and self-described “transmittal mind hypnotist” agreed the ghost was a young woman who was murdered by the theater manager, who was her lover, between 1910 and 1920. She was supposedly buried in the basement of the 75-year-old building.

Two theater employees first reported seeing the woman in 1978, and later, others claimed she’d appeared at their homes. There was no record of anyone being murdered in the building, and when the old theater was torn down, no bones or other evidence of a grave was found.

Today, the parking lot of the Ramkota Hotel occupies the space of what was once the chief theater. But the memory of the ghost apparently remains.

A young blond woman dressed in a turn-of-the-century white dress, has allegedly been seen wisping about on the unoccupied third floor of the hotel.

GREELEY CENTRAL’S GHOST

There must be something about the theater that attracts ghost stories.

Maybe it’s the wide open spaces of the theater, or drama students that invite the ghastly tales.

Above the school’s stage, high up in a fourth-floor room, is the costume storage area, known by drama students as “The Tower.”

There has been a “Ghost in The Tower” story at Central for years. According to one drama teacher, the ghost is supposedly a student who hanged himself in the tower decades ago because he didn’t get the lead in the school play.

There’s no record of such a death in the school.


Contact

Patti Russell
Email:prussell@co.weld.co.us
Phone:(970) 356-4000 ext. 4230
Jennifer Finch
Email:jfinch@co.weld.co.us
Phone:(970) 356-4000 ext. 4232