April 2001, Part 3 of 10

By Eldon Harding

A monthly series from the Kansas State Historical Society

Historic Kansas State Capitol, 1888


Some of the night security staff and maintenance workers will swear the Kansas State Capitol has a few ghosts lurking within the building. Eerie sounds, echoing footsteps and chandeliers that sway are only a few of the incidents these staff members have reported. Most reports of such sounds are during rainy and windy nights.

The first group of ghosts of the Capitol are thought to be that of one of nine men who lost their lives while constructing the building. Around 1890, one worker was assigned to fastening plates on the dome of the building. According to some, he stretched his body too far to reach a bolt, lost his balance and plunged to the ground floor where he instantly died.

Workers were paid by the month. The accident, occurring near the end of the month, meant the worker was due several weeks wages. While no one ever admitted actually seeing his ghost, several people reported that ghostly sounds were coming from the dome late at night. A story grew that each night the worker returned to the capitol hunting for some one to pay him.

Jack Dillon lived on Harrison Street across from the building. He reported that from his front porch, a tapping sound could be heard coming from the dome. The sound was attributed to the spirit of the unpaid laborer, working overtime to get his wages.

The worker apparently had no heirs to his unpaid pay check because in 1948, Robert Fisher, a reporter for the Topeka Daily Capital, checked with George Robb of the state treasurer's office ( He was State "Auditor") to see if he had ever been paid. Robb replied that he had never heard of a ghost being paid from that office and that the ghost had never been around (to collect), but "Sometimes when the pay rolls are late, I would just as soon have a ghost bothering me as all those live folks who want their checks."

To learn more stories about the Kansas State Capitol, join a free guided tour at 9:00 a.m., 10:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m. or 3:00 p.m. Monday - Friday. The Capitol is located at 300 W. Tenth Topeka KS 66612; 785-296-3966; www.kshs.org. To reach the Capitol in downtown Topeka take exit 362B I-70 and follow the signs. During the legislative session, January through May, parking is limited.

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