The Sallie House: A Terrifying American Haunting

by JoHarrington

An aggressive ghost attacked a family and visitors to a home in Atchinson, Kansas. No-one can live there now.

One family rushed from the house on several occasions to stay with relatives, unable to stand staying the night in their own home. Eventually they left for good.

A Sightings crew member resigned his position, after witnessing what went on in there. Physical attacks were caught on film, scratches forming on skin right beneath the camera's lens.

Psychics record such a sense of evil that some have speculated that these aren't merely ghosts, but a demonic possession. One of them called this 'one of the most haunted houses in America'.

So what is going on at 508 North Second Street, in Atchinson, Kansas? Read on to find out.

The Sallie House Haunting: A True Story

Buy Debra Pickman's personal account of what happened to her family, before they finally fled from the house forever.
The Sallie House Haunting: A True Story

The Pickman Family's Experiences in The Sallie House

It took 22 months before the couple, genuinely afraid for their lives, took their baby and left for good.

Debra and Tony Pickman were newlyweds, when they settled into their first home.

It seemed ideal, especially since Tony's brother Greg lived right next door.  But their idyll soon turned into a nightmare.

The strange happenings started gently enough.  The television and other electrical appliances would turn themselves on when no-one was in the room.  They blamed each other or faulty wiring.

Debra became pregnant and gave birth to a son, Taylor, and that was when things really flipped out of control.

While her sister was at the house for a visit, Tony ran upstairs to get something. Glancing into the baby's nursery, he spied a bizarre sight. Each of the teddy-bears had been taken from the shelves and placed into circles on the carpet. 

He called his wife and sister-in-law upstairs to see.  They were confused, but thought that maybe Greg had sneaked in to play a prank.  The teddies were put back onto the shelves and the trio started back downstairs.

They were halfway down, when Tony recalled that he still hadn't picked up the item that he had gone to fetch in the first place.  He dashed back up and stopped, stunned, outside the open nursery door.  The teddy-bears were back in their circles on the floor.

Still convinced that this was all somehow Greg's idea of a joke, Tony confronted his brother the following day.  Greg assured the couple that he had been out all night and that he would not just sneak into their home, not even for a brilliant prank.

Utterly skeptical of the notion of ghosts (which seemed the only other explanation), Greg grabbed Tony's camera.  He trained it upon a teddy bear sitting on a chair and challenged the spirits to move it.

They did.  The bear span on the spot, then fell from the chair.  Greg captured the movement on a still photograph.

Now spooked, Tony picked up his baby son and yelled at his wife and brother to get out.  They fled to the car, but were delayed by fastening Taylor into his car-seat.  While Greg stood white-faced and Debra started the engine rolling, Tony suddenly hissed in pain. He felt like he'd been stung.

It wasn't until the Pickman family had reached Tony's parents' home that the source of his discomfort was revealed. Three deep scratches had been gouged into his back.

This was all still child's play compared to what would happen over the next year. 

A Dramatization of Events in the Sallie House

The television programme A Haunting was one of several shows which featured the phenomena in the Sallie House.  

Actors were used to reproduce precisely what happened, with their scenes punctuated by interviews with Debra and Tony.  It makes scary viewing.

I started watching it close to midnight in Britain, with wind and rain pelting my darkened windows. I ended up frightening myself so much, I switched the DVD off until morning!

As with many shows of this nature, some incidents and characterizations have been granted artistic license, in order to streamline the story telling.

A Haunting Seasons 1 and 2

Episode 4 of season 2 dramatized the events in the Sallie House.
A Haunting: Complete Seasons 1 and 2

Who is Sallie?

508 North Second Street has been unofficially named after Sallie. Is she the ghost of a little girl who haunts the property?

In June 1993, Barbara Connor became the first psychic invited into the home of Debra and Tony Pickman.  She was chosen because, as a Californian, she lived far away. The couple hadn't wanted to become the talk of their small Kansas town.

Barbara recounted an horrific tale, gleaned from what she saw and felt in the Pickman family home.

In 1906, the house had been both the living quarters and offices of Dr Charles Finney. (His father Michael had built it in 1871.)  One night, he was awoken by a desperate banging on the front door.

A young mother carried her small girl and one glance told the doctor that something was badly wrong.  He invited them in and rushed the child onto his consulting couch.  A short medical exploration revealed that she was suffering from appendicitis and she was close to death.

Dr Finney performed urgent surgery there and then, cutting into the girl with his scalpel.  The intervention was in vain and she died. So far so tragic, but the true horror came in the fact that he had used no anesthetic.

The little girl Sallie died in terror and in agony.  She is the ghost, who Barbara saw haunting the house.  She's carried her fear of officialdom into the spirit world; and she's coupled it with an hatred of men.

The Pickman family were stunned when a second psychic, Peter James, also spoke to a spirit girl named Sallie in their home. He stated that she was about seven years old.

Canadian medium Robbie Thomas wasn't convinced.  He was certain that there were child ghosts, including young girls, but he picked up different names.  His conclusion was that Sallie was the name of a doll belonging to one of them.

The Sallie House: Gateway to the Paranormal

Buy this documentary DVD to see some of the disturbing footage for yourself.
The Sallie House: Gateway to the Paranormal

Psychic Robbie Thomas Investigates

Robbie Thomas has his own radio show. He investigates paranormal phenomena in both his native country and the USA.

He teamed up with psychic investigator Michael Esposito to check out 508 North Second Street. The latter has conducted tests in the house for years, so he had a lot of experiences to share.

The duo's findings were documented in the DVD The Sallie House: Gateway to the Paranormal, which also includes interviews with the Pickman family and various witnesses.

Robbie determined that there are at least three child ghosts and one adult in the house. His belief is that terrible abuse occurred there; and it's still on-going after all involved are dead.

Who Haunts the Sallie House?

Several psychics have tried to find out over the years. They all agree that there's more than one.

That there is a little girl in the house is not in doubt.  Every psychic passing through the door has picked up on her, while Tony Pickman actually saw her standing in his kitchen.

She is dressed in Edwardian clothes with a bow in her hair.  She can appear anywhere in the house.  Debra Pickman bought toys especially for this ghost to play with, in the hope that it would make the ghostly girl less possessive over the couple's baby son.

While most psychics refer to her as Sallie, Robbie Thomas believes that there are actually two girls.  They are Anna and Emily, and one of them owns a doll called Sallie. 

He also discerned a teenage boy, aged about 13 or 14, who had been locked in the walk-in closet in the master bedroom.  This boy's distress was obvious and there was a perceptible air of abuse around him.

More menacing is the presence of one or two adults.  Tony Pickman was lying in bed one morning, when the figure of a woman formed in the room. She charged towards him, one arm reaching out and seemed to say, 'I will hurt you!'  But disappeared before she could do any harm on that occasion.

During his time in the house, Tony was frequently attacked.  Sightings cameras caught deep scratches appearing all over his body. Some of them required stitches.

While some psychics attribute this to the malicious woman, others aren't so sure. They have sensed the cold presence of Dr Finney, who never flinched from cutting open a living and conscious child with his scalpel.  

Is he the source of the real evil that's been repeatedly sensed in the Sallie House?

Are the Sallie House Hauntings Demonic?

Tony Pickman entered the house as a non-believer in the paranormal.  He left it utterly convinced, with his whole belief system shattered.

However, he doesn't call it a haunting.  These are not mere ghosts to his mind. They are demons drawn through the house from Hell.

He's not alone in that belief. Several visitors have glimpsed shadows and shapes, which they could only interpret as Satanic.

This view wasn't helped by the fact that a previous tenant was reputedly a witch.  When the Pickmans moved in, they found a pentagram and magic circle painted onto the floor of the basement. 

As a Wiccan myself, I'd just like to point out that the pentagram I saw pictured was not witchcraft. It did suggest Satanism to me instead.

The Sallie House: Exposing the Beast Within

Read this account from people convinced that the ghosts are demonic.
The Sallie House: Exposing the Beast Within

Dangerous Ghosts at 508 North Second Street

No human beings live in the Sallie House anymore, but psychic investigators often take people on tours and vigils there.

Occasionally members of the public are allowed into the Sallie House, though some rooms may be viewed only from the threshold for the safety of those involved.  It may seem like over-caution, but for those who have experienced attacks in this house, the danger is very real.

Tony Pickman has received numerous lacerations there.  On another occasion, he was lifted bodily and thrown against a door.  It happened with so much force that his laced boots were left where he'd been standing.

A party of visitors in the house were once assaulted by flying house bricks, though none were missing from the walls.

Psychics have been slammed against the stairwell walls, as they've attempted to follow an adult ghost up the stairs.

The phenomena isn't even confined to the house.  A neighbor heard her three year old son screaming in utter panic. His window faced the Sallie House and he could see 'monsters'.  The same woman once peered through the windows of the deserted house, only to feel something unseen grab her from behind and turn her away.

508 North Second Street never belonged to the Pickman family.  They just rented it from a local policeman named Les Smith.  Skeptical of the stories now coming from it, he nevertheless signed a contract allowing the Sightings team to film in there.

Later on, he and fellow police officer Joe Butner drove past the house just to see what was going on. Three times they did that, and three times something killed their headlights or switched on the interior light of their truck.

A psychic later told them that the ghost just doesn't like the uniform, nor the fact that they are men.

Knowing all of this, would you dare visit?

Find Books and DVDs about the Sallie House on eBay

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Updated: 10/11/2013, JoHarrington
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JoHarrington on 03/19/2013

It really does depend on what's causing the phenomena. A lot of very different things get lumped under the heading 'ghosts'. Some of those can be dealt with quite easily, some can't.

The Sallie House haunting (and Georgette's) has all the hallmarks of a sentient entity there. Something could be done, if the right person went to do their thing. I know a Shaman and a couple of Wiccans who could at least try to clear the property. They have a high success rate, but there's no guarantees. Each case is very different.

Mira on 03/19/2013

This is unbelievable. I mean, I never heard of things like that. And is there no way to appease those souls or do do something to those demons, if that's what they are?

JoHarrington on 03/19/2013

Thank you for sharing your story. That must have been terrifying to live through, even if you did feel such a personal link with the house.

It sounds like whoever was there didn't like your husband much at all. Did he never see or hear anything? I know that he felt the presence (clairsentience), while you were experiencing clairaudience (hearing it). But did either of you actually see it/him/her?

georgettejohn on 03/18/2013

I can't believe I am going to share this but here I go...our first home when we were married was one I immediately fell in love with though my husband had reservations about it. My friends...well after we moved, admitted they didn't like it. After moving in, I was calling to my little girl one day and heard a woman's voice echo a shortened abbreviation of her name. It happened frequently after that (though I was the only one that could hear it.) My husband starting talking about moving/buying a new house/talking about how he disliked this one. He started to have "incidents" in the house...About a month before our son was born he awoke covered in scratches. The first night home from the hospital our son choked on (?). He screamed all night for 2 months for no apparent reason. Around that time I started researching the history of the house. It had been built and remained in the same family for over 100 years before we bought it. I learned that a male family member had choked to death and one of the daughters had the variation of my daughters name that I had been hearing...we moved within weeks...and my son immediately became a very happy baby and started sleeping through the night. I can't explain it and don't completely understand what happened nor do I understand it but I "missed" the house for a long time...

JoHarrington on 10/31/2012

Tower of Light and a hematite. What could possibly go wrong?

I'd only go if you were going with me. Even then, we'd have to check out the 'hood first.

Shonna on 10/31/2012

I'd go, but would never go alone. I've seen a couple of shows on this house and this absolutely gave more information - I felt like there must be a vortex as well but also a portal - possibly more than one. Nothing's been closed once they were opened there and feels like there is a LOT more going on there than meets the eye. Never ever go in alone if you intend to go there to visit, btw. If you're at all sensitive, be as careful as you can be. I had dreams about this place for months after I saw the tv show, btw, didn't even *think* to shield...*shivers* would love to know what's there.

JoHarrington on 06/24/2012

AgingandDisability - Seeing it on TV was terrifying! I'm with you on that one.

Ragtimelil - Debra has admitted that she was quite charmed by the ghosts. She thought that Tony was making up some of the worst stuff, until he seriously started being physically attacked. But yes, I don't think I'd have stayed that long either, particularly since they were only renting. It wasn't like their life savings were trapped in this property.

Klarawieck - Nice one. :D Silly articles to relieve stress is sometimes more important than the 'proper' ones!

Ragtimelil on 06/23/2012

I would have been out of there long before they left. Whoa!!!!!

AgingandDisability on 06/23/2012

I saw one of these documentaries, but your article added some new info I had not heard about. I don't think I'll visit, Seeing it on TV is scary enough.

JoHarrington on 06/23/2012

I'm a great believer in just jumping in with both feet and getting on with it. Perhaps you could start with an article about trusting in your instinct. It sounds like I, for one, need reminding!

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