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Enid
Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Eerie Enid Ghost Tours

Tammy Wilson, tonight’s tour guide, enjoys a good ghost story. She has listened to them all her life. In fact, her family’s first supernatural experience took place in an eastside Enid house they lived in when Tammy was just a baby. Initially, her mother would notice personal things being displaced, always without a logical explanation. One terrifying night, her mother awoke to the feeling of being forcibly pulled halfway off her bed. All the house lights were on, cabinet doors were flung open in the kitchen, and the family’s St. Bernard was found whimpering under the table. Her mother made a hasty decision to move herself and infant Tammy out of the house that very night, even though her husband was away on business.

Decades later, her mother met someone who lived at the same address, and she was asked if “weird things” had happened to her when she lived in the house. Several years later, Wilson heard of a deliveryman’s conversation with a “crazy” older woman living at the same address. She had blurted out, “The devil lives here!” This haunted house is usually a part of Wilson’s “Eerie Enid Ghost Tours,” but it is occupied at this writing, so we can only speculate on what strange things might be happening now.

Tammy Wilson reads from the book she co-authored on the corner of Grand and Broadway.
Tammy Wilson reads from the book she co-authored on the corner of Grand and Broadway.

Wilson began giving the ghostly tours around Halloween nearly 20 years ago. The business has evolved to booking tours in early August and ending in late November. She is also co-author of Ghostlahoma­– Over 100 Years of Oklahoma’s Haunted History. The ghost tours traditionally involve walking from building to building in downtown Enid. During the evening of this author’s tour, even more mysterious areas of Enid are revealed.

Our first stop is at the complex of buildings, established in 1920 as Alton’s Mercantile, that are now partially occupied by Leonardo’s Children’s Museum on East Maple. According to urban legend, the owner, Harry Alton, hung himself on the premises in 1924. Wilson reveals to us that night that she has discovered written evidence, his death was actually caused by a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head at Alton’s home. Tenants of the complex have long reported seeing a man wearing a white butcher’s coat roaming the upper floors of the abandoned warehouse building and claim mysterious, unsettling noises, including the freight elevator running on its own in the Leonardo’s building.

Tammy Wilson tells the haunting tale of Harry Alton in the alley behind the original warehouse.
Tammy Wilson tells the haunting tale of Harry Alton in the alley behind the original warehouse.

Next, we travel to the Simpson’s Mercantile storefront, now known as Simpson’s Old Time Museum, on East Randolph. The museum houses lots of miscellaneous memorabilia and Native American artifacts. DJ’s Doll Room is filled with thousands of dolls acquired by the late Dorothy Simpson. A large collection of high back saddles dating back to 1900 are also displayed. Wilson says that the ghost of the late KP (Kenneth) Simpson, founder of the business, has been witnessed standing in the loft overseeing the main floor of his legacy.

Simpson’s Old Time Museum is one of downtown Enid’s hidden treasures.
Simpson’s Old Time Museum is one of downtown Enid’s hidden treasures.

We then proceed to the Broadway Tower, constructed in 1931. The building housed many professional offices before it was sold for renovation in 2012. Wilson tells a story of a cleaning woman who said she entered one of the law libraries after hours and saw a man reading at a desk. She apologized for disturbing him, then his lamp went out, and he vanished! Other floors of the building were reported to have hauntings as well. Wilson attempts to research the history of the structures where apparitions occur to lend authenticity to any claims. Still, in the case of the Broadway Tower, the hauntings remain a mystery.

The art deco entrance to the stylish Broadway Tower, now empty.
The art deco entrance to the stylish Broadway Tower, now empty.

Another area of downtown highlighted in the tour is the intersection of Grand and Broadway. There Wilson reads aloud from her novel, Ghostlahoma, recounting the stories surrounding the Enid Police Department’s only three lines of duty deaths in 1895, 1906, and 1936. All had occurred by gunfire at this intersection. She also mentions that the Garfield County Jail was said to have been haunted when it was located on the top floor of the courthouse. Other businesses along Grand Avenue have shared mysterious tales, notably the original Herzberg’s Department Store (later Lambert’s). According to Wilson’s research, in 1956, a domestic dispute ended in a murder/suicide there.

The next two businesses we visit are bars near downtown with intriguing stories of their own. The Frisco Bar on North Independence, founded in 1948, moved to its present location in the 1960s. The building was initially used as a machine shop with four sleeping rooms upstairs… reportedly a brothel in the early days of Enid. There are hundreds of beer cans and bottles on display on the wall behind the present-day serving bar. Wilson can personally attest that the displayed objects are ordinarily secure as they have even withstood an earthquake’s tremors. One night, a beer can from the wall was suddenly hurled toward a customer having a beer at the bar’s end. It’s also a common occurrence for employees to observe a man entering the building by the back door and heading straight for the men’s room, only to find there is actually no one there.

The Frisco Bar is the oldest operating bar in Enid.
The Frisco Bar is the oldest operating bar in Enid.

Nearby, employees of The Spot Sports Bar on North Grand are having paranormal experiences of their own. Three of the staff meet us outside the building and tell their stories for us… the most peculiar being a time when a bottle of whiskey that was at rest on the bar top suddenly slid several feet toward the other end in plain view of all to see. Two employees even claim to have witnessed mysterious auras on the bar’s closed-circuit monitoring system. The bartender recalls being startled one of her first nights closing the bar alone when a bottle cap was flung at her out of nowhere. After that experience, she was too nervous about being alone at closing, so she asked a friend to stop by for some company. The bartender was busy in the back office when a voice asked, “Are you through yet?” She responded it would be a few minutes. A moment later, her friend appeared at the office door and asked, “Who are you talking to?” as she had just arrived on-premises. Another strange account involved a pile of loose coins on a table in the bar that unexplainably arranged themselves in an X shape, with all the coins standing on end! All of the staff reportedly witnessed the coins before and after the bizarre transformation!

After Wilson assures the staff that she will investigate the building’s history and look into possible causes of the curious events, we then drive north of downtown to… the open gates of the Enid Cemetery at the corner of Grand and Willow! It is pitch black and definitely spooky! We learn that the cemetery was established in 1897, when Hymen and Cora Anderson’s son, Lee Stuart, died as an infant and was buried on their farm. In 1898, a 15-acre section of the farm was deeded to the city to become the original cemetery grounds. Many homesteaders of the Land Run of 1893 are buried here.

One of the more fascinating stories involves James T. Douthitt, who was shot by his young wife, Dollie, during an act of infidelity in 1904. James lived long enough after being mortally wounded to write a will with Dollie’s request not to be charged with his murder. He even arranged for her to receive a living wage, as long as she was never married. She never remarried, but she was notorious for her other acts of intense violence toward unfaithful men, but she was never incarcerated for her actions. It wasn’t until 1931 that she smuggled in a pistol, shot up a courtroom, wounding an attorney, and was sentenced to a hospital for the insane. (The pistol used that day is on display at the Simpson’s Old Time Museum, according to Wilson.) Upon release by the governor by “exile” pardon, she moved to California to live with her daughter ­where she remained until she died in 1955. Her body was returned to Enid to be buried next to her husband, James.

It’s interesting to note that their graves are marked by the tallest, most outstanding angel monument in the Enid Cemetery, situated under the branches of a sprawling elm tree. We can almost hear Dollie chuckling with satisfaction that she indeed had the last laugh.

Wilson also explains that the Enid Cemetery is not the first location where remains were laid to rest in early Enid. The first burial site was actually near the present-day Champlin Park at the intersection of South Van Buren and West Garriott. In the late 1800s, it was considered the “edge of town.” When the Enid Cemetery was established, remains were ordered to be exhumed and moved there. When construction work began in the Champlin Park area years later, there were stories of excavators unearthing caskets, granite markers, and bones. Many people could not afford to move their deceased family members to the new cemetery location… chilling to hear.

Driving through a nearby neighborhood, Wilson tells another tale illustrating that not all local paranormal activity is from early Enid history. In 1985, a resident was entertaining two acquaintances at his home when there was a knock at the door. Upon opening it, he and one male guest were brutally stabbed to death. The other male guest was able to hide in a small storage space in the bedroom, escaping harm, and then called the police, who were eventually able to track down and charge the killer with murder. Wilson has personally spent time in the residence with the original police investigator, recalling the gruesome crime scene details.

Years later, the son of a woman who lived in the same house told Wilson that his bandmates would often “crash” there after a late night of rehearsing. One friend spoke of the creepy feeling that someone was touching his face and playing with his hair during the night while he slept… oh, my.

Back downtown, we cruise by Wilson’s favorite “haunt,” the current location of Gaslight Theatre on North Independence. She explains that in the early 1920s, the building housed the Billings Theatre, which featured vaudeville acts of the era. William Billings and his wife, Henrietta, lived in an apartment above the theatre, which is now used to store costumes and props for performances. The main structure has always been used as a theatre, later as Criterion Movie House, Chief Movie Theatre, and Cinema Twin before Gaslight Theatre, founded in 1966, moved there in 1989.

Wilson talks of reports by box office staff hearing footsteps and voices overhead when alone in the theatre. Sometimes, performers rehearsing will catch a glimpse of a person in the audience even though the seats are actually empty. Others report hearing a woman singing on stage, although no one else is in the building at the time. The tech booth is another hot spot for strange activity. Performers on stage will feel like they are being watched from the booth, even though it’s vacant. Other times, staff working in the booth will hear a knocking on a door at the opposite end of the entrance to the booth, but it leads nowhere. Wilson has a theory that the rich theatre history of the structure, coupled with all the donated clothing and goods housed in the old apartment upstairs, provides ample fuel for ongoing spiritual occurrences.

The final tour stop of the evening is the unlikely intersection of North 3rd and East Oak. In the late evening darkness, we gather on the unlit street while Wilson indicates the ditch that contains a large opening to Enid’s underground drainage system, nicknamed “Dead Man’s Cave.” In the past, purely for recreational purposes, young people enjoyed exploring extensively under downtown Enid’s streets, but this access has since been barricaded. Wilson also tells us of bizarre stories that have long circulated describing a dark, shapeless mass with red glowing eyes that dwells in the subterranean caverns. Wilson initially did not give the story much credit but has had several people admit to her that they have personally witnessed the terrifying dweller. Hence, she now includes the story in her tours.

Our whirlwind evening serves as just a brief introduction into Enid’s strange and ghostly history. Not surprisingly, there are always more stories to be told. Wilson has dedicated her life to keeping them alive, if only in our imaginations. She completely understands that some people will say they don’t believe in ghosts, but she is always ready with one more story to convince otherwise!

Visit enidevents.com for more information on “Eerie Enid Ghost Tours.”

Holly Taylor
Holly Taylor
Holly Taylor from Taylor Creative is a past feature writer for the Enid Monthly. Holly has worked in the communications field since her graduation in 1981 from Oklahoma State University with a BS Degree in Advertising. Taylor Creative has been providing freelance graphic design, photography, and writing in Enid since 1990.

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