Monday, February 25, 2013

Kansas' Brown Mansion

The Brown Mansion in Coffeyville was designed by Edward Wilder and Thomas Wight for W.P. Brown and his wife, Nancy.  The house was completed in 1904 and was specially designed to accommodate Nancy's petite, 4'11'' frame.  The opulent mansion was the result of W.P.'s good business fortune.  Moving to the area in 1890 to work in the lumber industry, W.P. Brown shortly got into the natural gas business after finding one of the area's largest natural gas wells.

However, the Browns would never really experience the same good fortune in child rearing as they did in business.  They had a total of five children, but only one lived to adulthood.  Two sons died at birth.  Son William died at the age of 4 from pneumonia and son Donald died while living at the home at the age of 11 from complications due to diabetes.  Only daughter Violet survived to adulthood, but even her family life would never be promising, either.

Violet married her first husband at the age of 19, but divorced shortly after their only child died at birth.  She did remarry, but that marriage ended in divorce too.  That's when Violet decided to go to college, and become a librarian, a vocation she held until she moved back to Coffeyville in the 1930s to take care of her ailing parents.  When Violet wasn't actively taking care of them, she could be found dancing alone in the third floor ballroom.

After W.P. and Nancy both passed away, Violet inherited the house.  She lived there until 1970 when she sold it to the Coffeyville Historical Society for use as a museum.  She also left to them most of the original furnishings, taking only what she needed to the nursing home where she spent her remaining days.  Violet died in 1973, but her spirit remains as one of five ghosts that are said to haunt the Brown Mansion.

Although the current museum director has never seen any evidence of a haunting, many other visitors over the years have reported seeing, hearing, and even smelling the five ghosts.

Violet is often seen in the third floor ballroom, dancing just as she did in life.

Violet's younger brother Donald was the only sibling to live at the mansion and due to his health problems associated with diabetes, he was homeschooled on the third floor.  When he died in 1911, Nancy sealed his room up, just as he left it and it wasn't opened until after her death in 1937.  Donald is seen playing on the third floor and appears to be happy and carefree, sometimes whistling a favorite tune.

Donald's death hit Nancy very hard.  Her ghost is rarely seen, but is often heard outside his bedroom crying.

W.P. is both seen and smelled.  He loved to smoke a pipe, and is seen doing so in the first floor dining room and in the library.  Sometimes the smell of tobacco accompanies the apparition, and sometimes it is observed on its own in these same areas.

Charlie was a servant who was like a member of the family.  He is seen sitting in his basement bedroom and also standing by the front door, as if awaiting visitors.

Photo from the Brown Mansion Homepage

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