Ask either one of my daughters if they believe in ghosts and they will answer affirmative, as we lived in a haunted house for five years during their grade school years.

An elderly female spirit dressed in a white night gown would drift through the attic door into their bedroom and sit down in the middle of the floor and play with them. The girls would also try to teach the little kids who were sometimes with her how to play board games. Then, they would drift back into the attic, apparently not just once, but many times during those years.

As for me, I witnessed on more than one occasion a bright white light moving through our darkened bedroom and what appeared to be a bearded cowboy with his pistol drawn walking up and down the bedroom stairs in the dark of night.

My grandfather during the Civil War era was shot and killed in Eastern Jackson County by Kansas troops, simply because he was a Southerner. The family had come up here from Kentucky and naturally held southern sympathies. His widow was forced to vacate Jackson County with six small children during Order No. 11 until after the war was over.

When grandmother was finally allowed to return home, she had picked up 26 war orphans along the way. So she had two goals in mind: She intended to find a new husband and a father for those kids, and to get those children out of that musty log cabin down by the spring and build them a respectable new house on top of the hill. The determined lady managed to accomplish both goals.

She married a former Bushwhacker named William Willard Ringo from Liberty, who brought along his young nephew, Johnny Ringo, who lived there for a while before heading for California. As the years unfolded that nephew went on to make a name for himself as a gunslinger and was an outlaw member of The Cowboys of Cochise County. He was affiliated with Ike Clanton and Frank Stillwell in Tombstone in the Arizona Territory. In fact, Wyatt Earp didn’t have much use for Johnny Ringo because he believed that Ringo shot his brother, Morgan.

In 1882, Johnny Ringo was found dead in the crotch of a large tree in West Turkey Creek Valley, with a bullet hole in his right temple. While it was officially ruled a suicide, many people believe Ringo was murdered by either Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, a gambler named Mike O’Rourke or Buckskin Frank Leslie.

The house my great-great-grandmother built on the hill passed down through the generations until my own mother inherited it back in the 1970s. Even though everyone who had ever lived in the house complained of the ghosts who haunted the house, my mother still thought that it was her duty to move into the old family home. My mother didn’t believe in ghosts and was never afraid of anything that I know of. She was not scared of any silly old ghosts but soon changed her tune.

My mother tried to stay out of their way nightly and had a hard time keeping up with the 3-acre yard. She was a product of the Great Depression and was too tight-fisted to hire someone to keep it mowed, so that job fell on my shoulders many times – until she had enough and talked me into moving into the house when my oldest daughter was in the first grade.

So today, my belief is that the elderly lady in white was no doubt my grandmother and the gunslinger was probably Johnny Ringo.

Even though the house is vacant and in disrepair today, it still stands on the corner of Holke Road and Ringo in Eastern Jackson County.

Ted W. Stillwell is available to speak before any club, church, civic, senior, or school groups.

To reach Ted W. Stillwell, send an email to or call him at 816-252-9909