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The Ghosts of Arkansas

The Old State House

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If you want to take a haunted Little Rock tour, you have to visit the Old State House Museum. It's said to be haunted by a single ghost. The ghost of whom is the question. Arkansas politics used to be hard and dirty so any number of people could have unnatural attachment to the statehouse. One of the suspected figures is John Wilson who was the former Speaker of the House.

During a meeting in 1837, Wilson ruled a representative Anthony to be "out of order". This made Anthony mad. He didn't get along with Wilson and the two had exchanged words before this incident. He started to personally attack Wilson and threaten his life. The two men got into a knife fight and Anthony was killed by Wilson. Wilson was later acquitted on grounds of "excusable homicide".

Some say you have to answer to a higher power for your actions. Many believe Wilson is still answering to that power. It is said that Wilson's ghost has been seen sadly wandering the corridors of the Old State House wearing a frock-coat. Many staff members of the building report seeing his apparition and sometimes encountering an unnatural presence. But, is the ghost really Wilson? Other staff members have a different idea.

In 1872, Elisha Baxter was declared the Governor of Arkansas after a disputed election. His opponent, Joseph Brooks, declared that he had been cheated and seventeen months later, staged a coup of the State House. He threw Baxter out of office and set up a cannon on the State House lawn to discourage attacks (the cannon that still resides there). The ousted governor moved down the street and set up another office, operating his own government against Brooks. It was only a short time before President Grant stepped in and restored order to Arkansas. Baxter was named as the legitimate governor and Brooks was forced to retire.

Some staff members believe that Brooks is still upset about being forced from his office and, even in death, he believes himself the rightful governor. They believe he is the one who continues to haunt the Old State House. Who knows, maybe it's the both of them. Many Arkansas residents who tour the statehouse do feel a ghostly presence (sometimes it's just a chilled area in the hallway or an unexplained cold hand on the shoulder, but sometimes they report actually seeing the spirit).

When I was young child, I refused to go to the Old State field trip (we had one every year) because I thought the State House was a "weird place". Maybe kids are more clairvoyant than adults and I felt the ghost's presence? Head on down to and see if you can find a ghost. It's important to note that the official statement from the Old State House is that there is no ghost.

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