Sunday, March 21, 2021

Ghosts in Greater Kansas City Chimneys

 In 1989 our company swept 350 chimneys at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.  We ran into three ghosts that were rather uncooperative and apparently did not appreciate us disturbing them. The fort is a U.S. Army facility located in Leavenworth, Kansas.  It was established in 1827 as a forward base protecting the Santa Fe Trail.  It is the oldest active post west of Washington, D.C.

Fort Leavenworth, Kansas in the late 1890’s
Photo: Wikipedia Commons


Fort Leavenworth has a long history of spirit activity.  At least nine ghosts have been officially reported, but there are likely more. During our work, several highly unusual events occurred that can only be attributed to the paranormal.  Unfortunately, we do not have photos of any fireplaces since photography is not allowed on the base. All of the chimneys are constructed with bricks and mortar.

 House #1: This house was the oldest building and was originally a chapel. The chapel burned down in approximately 1827 and clergyman named Father Fred was killed in the fire. A new house was built on the same spot in the 1830’s, presumably using the same chimney.   While we were sweeping the chimney, coal dust started coming through the entire masonry wall in the living room.  There were no holes or cracks in the masonry!  The entire lower level of the house was dusted with fine, grey coal dust and we had to go back and spend 8 hours vacuuming and cleaning up. What a mess!  I was mortified, as nothing like that had ever happened to us.  The colonel’s wife was not upset at all, and calmly explained to me that the problem must have been caused by their resident ghost!  She told me that right after moving in to the house, they hosted a party for the officers and their wives.

   During the party, a woman screamed when she saw a face of a man in the fire in the fireplace.  Everyone saw the same thing and ran screaming out of the house.  Evidently, it was quite a scene.  After that, the family saw the apparition of a man floating on the landing next to the chimney on several occasions.  He was wearing a clergy outfit, but his feet did not materialize when he appeared.  He also appeared on may occasions in the fire, so the family quit using the fireplace.  

 House #2: Built in the later 1800’s, this is a large three-story home.  The occupant (the wife of an officer)  notified us upon arrival that the room we were going to be working in was haunted, and the ghost often closed the door. She noted that she was leaving the door open all the way, then left the room. I tarped off the fireplace, then sent a tech up to the top of the chimney to start sweeping.  While standing alone in the room, the door suddenly slammed shut. 

   I quickly ran over to the door and opened it to see if anyone was around, but there was no one in the hall. I then heard strange noises and talking coming from the fireplace and called the sweep on the radio to see what was going on.  She said she did not say anything, and of course there was no one else on the chimney with her.  

   When the lady of the house returned, she was not surprised to hear about the goings–on.  She also told me that it was common knowledge among the residents at Fort Leavenworth that there is a lot of ghostly activity going on in the older houses. We packed up our gear and got out as quickly as possible.

 House #3: Built around 1840, this is a two-story brick house with slate roof and brick chimney.  I was outside by the van talking to the homeowner. One tech was inside at the fireplace, and another

tech was outside on top of the roof doing the sweeping. Suddenly the ladder fell over on it’s side—seemingly pushed by someone who wasn’t there. The occupant and I both saw it fall over.
The sweep walked over to the place where the ladder was but could not get down until we got the ladder back up again.  This was a 40-foot heavy aluminum ladder that weighs 80 lbs!  There was no wind that day and it was tied down to the gutter with a bungee cord!  I had to call in another crew to get the ladder back up so the sweep could get down.  The occupant of the home told me that they have a mischievous ghost who lives with them and causes havoc frequently.  He said that the ghost hung around the fireplace most of the time.

There are books written about the subject that are available at the museum on the post, or on websites. From I found the following information regarding the fireplace at 605 McClellan, located in the McClellan Officer's quarters, which is a large three-story home: Apparently when a family moved in this house in 1975, a spirit made itself known to them. While enjoying a warm fire in the fireplace, the family was “gripped with fearful fascination” when an apparition of a man with a mustache and goatee appeared in the middle of the flame. When the fire died out, the face of this ghostly man appeared and remained on the back of the fireplace. 

We visited England in April of 2005 and stayed in a 10th century manor house for seven days. I felt the presence of several spirits inhabiting the hall right after we arrived. On the third evening of our stay, the activities director presented a tour of the building and told stories of the ghosts that choose to occupy several rooms in the home. Our guide showed a VCR tape in one room that had been occupied by a man who killed his wife in the 1700’s.  The tape had been made by a film crew from British television who brought along a psychic to do research for a program on ghosts. Everyone in the room watching the tape gasped as hundreds of tiny white glowing orbs appeared. The orbs exited the fireplace into the room, then went through the walls in several directions. This continued for at least two full minutes.

One of the older fireplaces at Fort Riley, Kansas dating to the 1850’s where a foggy mist forms often. The mist was visible for several minutes during a routine chimney inspection in 2008 and the inspector captured this photo as it was forming to the right of the fireplace. The mist then moved across the room and through a wall. 

Perhaps the fog and orbs are spirits of people who have passed on, or spirits that have never inhabited a human body. Or maybe they are life forms that we don’t yet understand, or beings from another dimension.  I believe that spirits occupy the fifth dimension and sometimes enter our fourth dimensional space and time through a portal of some type. Perhaps chimney are portals.

 Ghosts and orbs seem to like chimneys.  Why?  Here is my theory – in doing research on ghosts in the Kansas City area I talked with several ghost hunters including Chris Breathwaite, a local investigator and author. Chris and others have mentioned on a number of occasions that there seems to be more paranormal activity around rivers, streams, and railroad tracks. 

I got to thinking about what those features have in common with chimneys. It is movement.  There is a flow of energy in any river, stream, or railroad track. And the correlation with chimneys is DRAFT, the only difference being that chimneys are vertical. 

Unexplained fog exiting a window
near a chimney

All chimneys are designed to create draft to remove toxic flue gasses and smoke from the fireplace or appliance such as a gas furnace, or gas or woodburning insert, without mechanical means.  It is simply physics that makes a chimney work.

The temperature differential between the outside of the chimney and the inside of the house is basically what creates draft. 

Draft is different at certain times of the year, being stronger in the cold winter months.  That is also the time of year that people spend more time around the fireplace and fire up their gas furnace. Draft in a chimney occurs all of the time, even when it reverses because something is wrong with the system or house.  


1. Anomalous orb inside a chimney
1. Same orb moving closer

The pictures we have taken of orbs and other anomalies around chimneys are from all seasons of the year.

If you have any ghostly activity around your fireplace or chimney we’d like to hear about it, and possibly do an investigation of the site.  Please contact


Margie Kay operates a chimney contracting and fire investigation business during the day, and hunts ghosts and other paranormal stuff at night. Reach her at 

Thursday, March 18, 2021

The Very Haunted Lemp Mansion in St. Louis Never Ceases to Amaze

By Margie Kay

The Lemp Mansion, St. Louis, Missouri   Photo: "Lemp-mansion" by MattHucke - Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Commons -

I had the good fortune to visit and explore the Lemp Mansion in 2012 along with my friend Debbie Ziegelmeyer. After having lunch in the restaurant on the lower level, we moved upstairs to complete our much-anticipated ghost hunt, with equipment in hand. Before mentioning the results, however, lets begin with some history of the place.

The home was built in 1868 by St. Louisian Jacob Feickert. William J. Lemp, owner of the largest brewery in St. Louis, and his wife, Julia, moved into the mansion in 1876. The Lemp family  lived in the house until 1949 when Charles Lemp committed suicide.

William Lemp, the son of a successful grocer and German beer brewer, continued in his father’s footsteps, expanding the company. In 1911, the Lemps contracted major renovations to the home to include conversion of some spaces into offices for the Lemp Brewery.

William brewed and bottled his beer in the same facility to meet growing demand for the product. In 1878 he installed the first refrigeration machine in an American brewery, following with refrigerated railway cars, in order
to transport the beer across the States. Not long after, Lemp Beer was sold worldwide.

In 1892, the William J. Lemp Brewing Company was founded from the Western Brewery with William as President, his son William Jr. as Vice-President, and his son Louis as Superintendent.
   William J. "Billy" Lemp, Jr., born on August 13, 1867, went to St. Louis University and then studied the art of brewing. However, it was William Sr.'s fourth son, Frederick, born in 1873, whom he wanted to take over the company. But Frederick had heart issues and died on December 12, 1901 of heart failure due to complication of diseases.

William Sr. became distraught over his son’s death, and his health slowly deteriorated. To make matters worse, his best friend Frederick Pabst died on February 1, 1904. On the morning of February 13, 1904, William Lemp killed himself by gunshot, and died at 10:15 a.m.

On November 7, 1904, William J. "Billy" Lemp, Jr., took over the brewing company as president. Billy had married Lillian Handlan five years earlier, and they moved to a new home at 3343 South 13th Street.

Williams wife, nicknamed the “Lavender Lady” for her love of the color lavender filed for divorce in 1908, charging Billy with desertion, cruel treatment and other indignities. Lillian was granted her divorce and full custody of William III with Billy given visitation rights.

Elsa Lemp Wright, the youngest child of William Lemp Sr., filed for divorce against Thomas Wright. The divorce was granted, however, the couple reconciled and remarried in 1920. After an argument with her husband, Elsa shot herself while in bed at her home on Hortense Place.

In the 1910s The Lemp Brewery suffered when Prohibition began. The brewery was shut down and the Falstaff trademark was sold to Lemp's friend, "Papa Joe" Griesedieck. The brewery was later sold at auction for pennies on the dollar. On December 29, 1922, Billy Lemp shot himself in his office, which today is the dining room on the left side of the door on the main floor.

Billy Lemp had one son, William J. Lemp III, licensed the Lemp name to Central Breweries of East St. Louis in 1939. Central Breweries changed their name to the William J. Lemp Brewing Company, and began a grand marketing campaign resulting in increased sales of the new Lemp Beer. The contract was terminated by Ems Brewing, which bought out Lemp in 1945.

The Lemp Mansion is currently a restaurant and inn owned by the Pointer family. Historical and haunted tours are offered, and it is a venue for murder mystery dinner theatre and Halloween parties.  

The Investigation:

Debbie and I brought along a EMF meter, two digital thermometers, and two cameras for our impromptu ghost hunt rather than bringing the usual bags of equipment. We were not spending the night and didn’t have much time. However, we would not be disappointed.

While sitting in the dining room eating lunch, some movement caught my eye to the right, and I looked, thinking it was the waiter. However, there was nothing there, so I just kept on with our conversation, anticipating that we might capture a spirit in the restaurant, and kept my camera handy. A few minutes later, the movement occurred again, this time a tall dark shadow moved from across the room and through a doorway and towards the staircase in the hall. I took a quick photo but nothing appeared in the photograph.

Debbie Z. taking temperature readings
in the Elsa Lemp Suite


Next, we moved to the upstairs area to Elsa’s room. As we walked up the stairs I felt a presence on the staircase. Upon entering Elsa’s room, Debbie and I both felt a presence walk into the room, and I felt something walk through me. Debbie’s thermometer started to drop, and finally stopped at a full 10 degrees lower than the original room temperature. It started out at 72 degrees and dropped to 62 degrees. My EMF meter began to show high readings. I snapped a picture of the fireplace and mirror (see photo on page 11) and there are some streams of light in the mirror which I cannot explain. This type of image has appeared before in photographs of mirrors (see the article on Haunted Deadwood in a previous issue of Un-X News Magazine).

The fireplace and mirror in the Elsa Lemp
Suite with unexplained white streaks in
the mirror. Photo: Margie Kay


The presence stayed in the room for several minutes, then as quickly as it came, it was gone again. We took photos and moved on to the hall, and once again, I felt a presence on the stairs so snapped some photos. In one picture there is an unexplained white snake-like stream of light for which I can find no explanation. The photo taken right afterwards shows nothing. If it were something mundane it would surely have shown up in both photographs.

 Our next move was to visit the basement area. Once again, a few minutes after arriving I again felt and saw a presence - this time of an older man wearing a black suit. He was very imposing. I saw him walk from one side of the room, straight in to the bar area and walk through the closed door. I could tell that this was something he did on a regular basis.
The bartender told me that this spot is the old tunnel entrance that went underground to the brewery. Apparently, Mr. Lemp did not want to go out in public to visit his brewery every day. This is something that is not generally known, so  it confirms what I saw. There was a presence of a younger man in the room as well.

Unexplaned ghostly lights appear in the lower part of this photo of the staircase.
Photo: Margie Kay

After our visit to this site I can say that the Lemp Mansion is definitely haunted and worth a visit for any serious ghost hunter.  I’m looking forward to going back.

The Lemp Mansion offers regular and haunted tours and special events. The home may be rented for special events and parties. Every year the Lemp has a Halloween Bash which is touted as being one of the best Halloween parties in the country. Visit for more information. 


Margie Kay is a veteran paranormal and UFO investigator and author of Haunted Independence Missouri, Gateway to the Dead, and 12 more books. Visit for more information.