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Eerie basement, strange tales





Strange things seem to happen in the basement of the Hays Public Library.

When assistant adult librarian Paula Elder first started working there in 2002, she saw what she believes to be an apparition of a man in the library's basement. He even winked at her before he vanished.

"I haven't seen him since, but I sure think about him," Elder said.

Then, about three or four years ago, a volunteer had something odd occur in the storeroom while she was in the library's basement.

"She heard some noise," Elder said. "When she walked around the corner, books didn't just fall out, they came out like they were being pulled, and dropped in the middle of the aisle."

Elder hosted "Haunted Heartland II" Friday night at the library. Before a handful of people in the audience, she started her presentation about a cemetery in tiny Stull, Kan., which supposedly is one of two portals to Hell; the other one is in India.

Historic Fort Hays' legendary Blue Light Lady, the ghost of Elizabeth Polly, also was part of the proceedings. Elder detailed some of the supposed sightings of Polly -- a hospital matron at the fort who died in a cholera epidemic in 1867 and was buried at a nearby hill -- through the years, as well as mentioning the haunted officers' quarters.

Things that go bump in the night are a passion for Elder.

"I've always been interested in ghosts," she said. "I've seen and heard some things I couldn't explain, so it just attracted my attention. And, it's fun, whether you believe or don't believe. It's fun to look at all the stories."

Elder said she has heard there are some ghost stories in Plainville, and perhaps that might be the subject at next year's "Haunted Heartland" at the library. She didn't know of any other ghost stories in Hays.

"I have a feeling there's stories here that haven't been told, but families know. They should contact me -- I'll make them a star," Elder said with a laugh.