It’s not Halloween without a spooky tale or two and Bartlesville does not disappoint with its handful of known haunted spots.
The Labadie Mansion seemed a good place to start. The stark ruins out in the middle of nowhere proved so spooky for someone that it was even listed as one of the 10 most haunted places in America at one time.
It was time for a drive.
An adventurous ride to the Labadie Mansion near Copan was an apprehensive one at that. The air was cool, skies were bright with sunlight and thrill seeking filled the air on that fall day. No one was around for miles on those curvy roads but at last the Labadie Cemetery was spotted on the side of the road.
An iron gate surrounded Frank and Samantha Labadie’s headstone and a couple of other graves, but it was not made to keep out humans let alone any floating imposters.
Though the Labadies died on the same day in 1935, mysterious visitors laid plastic flowers, now faded with age, at the foot of the headstones. Small rocks, adorned with other plastic flowers, are unmarked leaving the deceased occupants to the imagination. An unopened can of beer sits at the foot graves beckoning those to a ghostly toast.
The ruins of the house were not found this go-around but plenty of written material was found for both historical accounts and spooky tales.
According to one historical account online, the Labadie family traveled to the Indian Territory of Oklahoma in the mid 1800s pursuing agricultural ventures. Frank Labadie was educated at the Osage Mission. He took up the occupation of farming, devoting his attention to the further cultivation and improvement of the home place of 1,500 acres, situated in Osage County. He continued to operate it until 1891 but then shifted his attention to the lumber business, dealing in hardwood timber. Frank Labadie retained ownership of the original homestead, receiving large royalties from oil wells located on the property, while also owning a 20-acre truck farm near Big-heart, in Osage County. In 1884, Frank Labadie married Samantha Ellen Miller, a native of Illinois.
According to a story written by Debbie Neece with the Bartlesville Area History Museum, the couple first lived in a small log cabin his father built in 1874. The family eventually moved to Caney, Kan. to educate their four children, John, George, Paul and Lola. It is said George Labadie actually built the stone house where all the spooky stories have evolved and his parents eventually built a home at Red Eagle in Osage County. A golden anniversary party for Frank and Samantha Labadie was held with many friends at the stone mansion just shortly before their demise.
According to Neece’s story, Frank and Samantha Labadie had retired for the evening in their home with Samantha reading in her chair by the fireplace and her husband resting on the couch. The couple was found dead by their nephew the next morning from apparent carbon monoxide poisoning due to an improperly vented gas heating stove.
A double funeral service was conducted in Pawhuska and they rested temporarily in the Pawhuska Cemetery Mausoleum before moved to the Labadie Cemetery.
Here’s where the stories twist and turn from fact into spooky fiction.
One account claims a black slave named Enos Parsons lived with the couple who were desperate to have children. A child did come but Frank Labadie was not the father, according to the legend. After seeing the child and knowing he belonged to Samatha Labadie and Parsons, he reportedly shot his slave and threw him in the creek.
Supposedly the body sank to the bottom of the creek where it is today. He didn’t want the baby either and the poor infant was also thrown in the creek.
Frank Labadie supposedly went mad with anger and years later shot his wife and then himself. Two tormented souls are said to haunt the mansion while Parson is said to haunt the creek area. Gunshots are said to pierce the air in the woods and a baby wails at night. To those brave enough to visit the ruins, all sorts of paranormal activity have been reported.
Electronics suddenly stop working, people’s names are screamed by unknown persons and strange smells come from the top of the hill. There have also been sightings of abnormal animals or creatures running in the dark and reports of fires that start in the mansion’s fireplace.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the house became the venue for teenage parties and a good scare.
Visitors to the ruins wrote online that a presence was felt.
“I have had the sound of footsteps walk right up to me and stop in front of me, I also was standing in the mansion in front of one of the fireplaces and witnessed a face appear. I also experienced the strong odor of a powder gun and as I was leaving a small voice said, ‘Please don’t go.’”
In the late 1970s, a friend, along with other high school students. went in search of the Labadie Mansion one snowy, dark night. Due to the darkness these teenagers were never able to find the mansion let alone find their way back on the desolate roads.
But all of the sudden, out of the darkness, came a 1945 Buick. The driver gave them directions and then disappeared into the night. They always wondered where the car came from and if it was an angel showing them the way home.
Another story that evolved through the years claims that Frank Labadie went insane on April Fools Day and threw his family out the third story attic window before committing suicide himself.
According to hauntedplaces.org, “Witnesses say their flashlights suddenly stop working as they approach the place, voices shout at them from nowhere, and animals appear out of thin air.
Strange smells and a suddenly burning fire in the gutted fireplace also have been reported.”
Steven R. Stewart, guest writer with the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, wrote after visiting the mansion, “What I feel is wonder and–this more than anything–sadness.”
“I imagine what the house looked like new: three fireplaces, a kitchen, a stove, hot water for the bath, three or four quaint little upstairs bedrooms. I imagine the family crossing the threshold for the first time, feeling proud, feeling excited about the life they are about to begin beneath it’s now missing roof. I stare at the large fireplace in the parlor, and I can clearly picture a family coming in from the cold, pulling off their wet socks and putting their feet up to get warm. I stand in the back door to the kitchen and wonder how many times a mother stood in this same spot, calling her family in for supper hot off the stove. I wonder how many baths were drawn in the now cracked, rusted-out tub.
“You can scarcely step inside Labadie Mansion without stepping on beer cans and broken bottles. Trash litters the fireplaces and spray paint streaks the walls. “Why would people do this?
“They lost their lives, each other, then decades of blizzards and fires and spring storms took the remains of their home, and now, thoughtlessly, gossip has taken their story away from them as well. As I stand in the shell of the house, the sun setting behind the trees, I find myself wishing I could somehow give these people back their story. I think what you are reading is my attempt to do that.”
Which one of the stories you choose to believe, is clearly up to you. Happy Halloween!