A look into the Atchison, Kansas Sallie House alleged home to “The Heartland Ghost”

Since the early 90’s people believe the Sallie House in Atchison, Kansas is haunted by a little girl named Sallie

  • The house was originally owned by Michael C. Finney in 1867

  • Finney’s son Charles was a physician who practiced out of the Sallie House

  • The stories claim Sallie died on an operation table inside the house in 1905 or 1906

  • The house received international attention after appearing on the 90’s paranormal show Sightings

  • Records show at least 4 members of the Finney family died inside the house

People have long had a fascination for the unknown, especially when it comes to the paranormal. One house that has had the world’s attention for over 20-years is the Sallie House.

The house that Sallie is said to haunt is a turn-of-the-century home built in 1867 and located near the Missouri River bluffs in Atchison, Kansas. There are several stories behind the supposed haunting, but two stories stick out the most.

Legend Has It

It is said the Sallie House, located at 508 N. 2nd St in Atchison, Kansas was, at one point, owned by a doctor and his family. The family lived in the upstairs of the house, while the downstairs served as a waiting room and examination rooms.

In one of the stories, a 6-year-old Sallie was brought to the doctor in 1905 or 1906 with severe respiratory issues. Sallie was brought into the doctor’s home where she was overlooked and neglected by the doctor as he did not feel her medical issues were serious.

Inside the house, Sallie developed pneumonia and later died. It was said the doctor moved from the Sallie house a few months after Sallie’s death.

In the second version of the story, Sallie is still said to be roughly 6-years-old. Her mother brought Sallie to the doctor’s house at 508 N. 2nd St during a storm due to the young girl complaining of abdominal pains.

The doctor believed Sallie suffered from appendicitis, at which point the story varies. Some say that the doctor did not give Sallie any anesthesia before attempting to remove her appendix and the young girl died during the operation.

Another version claims that the doctor gave Sallie ether, but she was not completely under when he began the operation. When Sallie saw the doctor’s surgical tools, she panicked, forcing the doctor to hold her down to try and administer the either.

Out of fear that Sallie’s appendix was on the verge of bursting, the first incision was made before the either had taken effect. Sallie died on the operating table. Her last memories were of the doctor torturing her due to her confused perception of the situation.

Charles Finney

The land the Sallie House was built on was originally bought by Michael C. Finney in 1867. Finney died in 1872, leaving behind his wife, Catherine, and his three children, James, Agnes, and Charles. Charles Finney was a documented physician, who was said to work out of the house.

Charles graduated from the Beaumont Medical College at St. Louis, Missouri on March 14, 1894. He was then a practicing physician from 1894 to 1908. Charles was well-known in the town of Atchison long before he was a physician.

Charles got his start in the medical field as a bookkeeper and office assistant to Dr. Dan Hollan. While working for Hollan, Charles was also known as a medal-winning figure skater and roller skater. On December 27, 1883, Miss Florence Guerrier and Charles won the gold medal for best couple skaters. However, Charles was also discovered to be dressing as a female figure skater under the name “Miss Colby Of Baltimore.”

When in his female character, Charles was said to be so graceful that nobody could tell he was a male skater. Once his secret was discovered, he was not allowed to compete in the 1885 competition. The Atchison Daily Globe even named Charles in specific, reading that the competition was open to all “gentleman skaters except C. C. Finney.”

A prize of $5 in gold to the best gentleman skater in Atchison on New Year’s night at the Palace rink, open to all gentleman skaters except C.C. Finney. A committee of ladies will give the decision. Music by Geo. Roth’s band. Dancing at 10 p.m. Matinee for ladies and children in the afternoon. Admission, 10 cents; skates, 5 cents extra.

In 1913, Charles was elected mayor of Atchison, but his time as mayor was short lived. In 1916, Charles was forced to resign after a scandal involving alcohol being sold at the local Eagles Lodge. As part of a plea deal with the state’s attorney, Charles was forced to step down.

Agnes Finney lived in the Sallie House until her death on November 28, 1939. Agnes died inside the Sallie House. For a short time before her death, Agnes rented out the house to boarders possibly to assist her with bills. Her brother Charles later passed on March 24, 1947.

After the passing of the Finney’s several people owned the Sallie House, but it would not receive any attention until a couple moved into the home in the 90’s.

The Sallie House

The Sallie House began receiving international attention after Debra, and Tony Pickman moved into the house on Dec 31, 1992. A well-known paranormal show from the 90’s called Sightings went to investigate the house after the Pickman’s claimed the house to be haunted.

The Pickman’s claimed that something paranormal was inside their house that would cause objects to move, small fires to begin, and physical scratch marks to appear on Tony.

Sightings titled the episode “The Heartland Ghost.” It was during the filming of the episode that a shocked crew witnessed scratches appear on Tony’s body right before their eyes. The terrifying incident occurred on numerous occasions while the film crew was in the home.

Is was psychic Peter James that gave the entity the name Sallie, and asked if anybody in the medical field ever lived in the house. Sightings conducted an investigation and were able to confirm James’ theories and found the name, Sallie Isabel Hall.

It was also during Sightings visits to the Sallie House that the tenant before the Pickmans claimed her daughter would speak to a little girl named Sallie and also blame the imaginary girl for incidents in the house. However, it should be noted that this former tenant did not come forward with the name Sallie had been given and the house was receiving attention.

Sallie is said to have died on February 23, 1905. Her date of birth is not known due to the grave markings being so worn down over the years. Sallie reportedly died from a “complication of diseases,” which does match with the story of a young girl receiving neglectful medical treatment and dying from pneumonia.

It is doubtful that Sallie Isabel Hall is the same Sallie James spoke of. Sallie Isabel Landers Hall was not a little white girl, she was a black woman born in July of 1871. At the time of her death, Sallie had been married for 16-years and during that time given birth to 14 children. Her death is also listed as occurring at 821 North First Street.

While it is known that several people died inside the Sallie House, there is no evidence backing the claim that a young girl named Sallie was one of them. Michael Finney, Agnes Finney, William True, and at least one other family member are known to have died inside the house.

Those who have gone into the Sallie House searching for a paranormal experience give mixed responses. Some claim that they have experienced things in the house, and others claim that they experienced nothing. There are several parts of the story that are unverifiable, even with public records. There are tours available of the Sallie House for you to draw your own conclusion.



About Meko Haze

Meko Haze is an independent journalist by day... and an independent journalist by night.

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