Blue Belle Saloon
May, June, July 2008
The town of Guthrie, Oklahoma holds many historical legends and is a vivid reminder of a past time and place that will never be forgotten. Landmark buildings still remain, some tarnished by age and others barely affected. It is a town that speaks to those who listen and those who are willing to learn about its past secrets.
The history precedes the land run of 1889 but it wasn’t until the land run that its historical legends began and its pages of history began being written. Imagine the days of the old west when cowboys and outlaws roamed the streets of Guthrie and gunfights were a common occurrence, even in buildings like the Blue Bell Saloon. History tells us a lot and can be a good reminder of days past. The Blue Bell Saloon is one of these historical buildings with a legendary story. Its historical legends tell of underground tunnels for liquor running, gambling, prostitution involving young women against their will, and unlawful deals made by upstanding citizens of the community.
Its beginning started on April 22, 1889 with John Sampsel, a married man with four children. He left Kansas in a wagon to try his luck in the land run. Sampsel staked his claim for lot 9 and shortly afterwards erected 12x14 feet tents. He had stock supplies brought in by wagon on April 23, 1889 and with his supplies in hand he opened up a restaurant and sold cigars from his tents called Blue Bell.
In 1892 Sampsel began leasing his property on lot 9 to F. M. Wyatt and sometime between 1892 and 1894, a frame building was constructed housing a saloon which then sat on the corner of Harrison Ave and 2nd Street. It was during this time that the legendary Blue Bell Saloon came into existence.
John Sampsel mortgaged his property several times from 1892 to 1896 and an unpaid mortgage by Joseph J. Hein by May of 1896 caused Sampsel to lose his lot he had struggled to keep for so long, to a sheriff’s auction in December of 1897. Ironically J. J. Hein was the highest bidder for the property which he purchased outright for $1,000.
Joseph Hein was a partner in the Ferd Hein Brewing Company of Kansas City, Missouri. He held onto the Blue Bell until 1899 and then sold it to the Ferd Hein Brewing Company. Upon the sale he more then doubled his original investment of $1,000 to $2,500.
In July of 1901, the Ferd Heim Brewing Company sold the Blue Belle lot along with adjoining lot 10 to the Fremont Land and Improvement Company for $10, 175.00.
Sometime after acquiring the property, the Fremont Land and Improvement Company replaced the original framed Blue Belle with a more substantial brick building and added additional structure and height. A gambling establishment was added for the second floor with 17 rooms which surrounded the designated gambling area. These rooms were speculated to be the rooms used for Mrs. Lizzy's Bordello which was not made very open to the public citizens of Guthrie. An alleyway was constructed on the East side of the blue Belle which housed a stairwell that led up to the 2nd floor. Legend states this passageway was used for special guests who received invitation to the "gambling room."
Events that took place in the gambling Bordello area were not always publically known however legend states that even men in high authority positions in Guthrie were guests at the Bordello. Legend also states that young girls were forced into prostitution at the bordello with some even being sold to Mrs. Lizzie's.
In 1907 statehood arrived in Oklahoma and political events ended the saloons business and brought prohibition and all of the new state's bars and saloons, including the famous Blue Belle were forced to close.
The Blue Belle then changed names to "the Jewel" and operated as a store by Mrs. Martha A. Convert. In 1918 the Gaffney Furniture Company offering new and second hand goods, occupied the building.
In 1910 the Freemont Land and Improvement Company deeded the Blue Belle building to Michael G. Heim, brother of J.J. Heim and another partner for $25, 400.00. From that time up until the 1930's, the building was occupied by different businesses but mainly remain vacant. The building was again sold in 1934 and exchanged hands with various owners up until 1959 when the state prohibition law was lifted. The building was again purchased and restored and renamed the Blue Belle Saloon in 1977.
The Blue Belle Saloon has a long history and a colorful past. Let’s take a walk back through time, July 5th 1896 to be exact, to the historical jail break of the Doolin gang that took place here in Guthrie. For four years, the Doolin Gang robbed trains and banks in various places throughout Indian Territory as well as other States. They had been apprehended in June of 1896 and was awaiting trail here in Guthrie at the Federal prison. William “Bill” or “Wild Bill” Doolin as famously known decided that he and his gang, which consisted of 12 members, were going to break out of Guthrie Federal Jail. This gang was known as the ‘Wild Bunch’ they had total disregard for the law and the lawmakers. The ‘Wild Bunch Gang’ members were: William “Wild Bill’ Doolin, George “Bittercreek” Newcomb, Charlie Pierce, Bill Power, Richard “Dick” Broadwell, Bill “Tulsa Jack” Blake, Dick “Dynamite Dick” Clifton, George “Red Buck” Waightman, Oliver “ Ol” Yantis, William F. “Little Bill” Raider and Richard “Little Dick” West. During the jail break two other inmates decided to take advantage of the situation and break out along with the gang. Lee Killian was in the Guthrie Federal jail when Doolin and his gang made their break and leaped up on the guard and seized his weapon. He was re-captured by “Heck” Thomas. Another inmate William Beck made his jail break at the same time as well with the Doolin gang but later came back and surrendered. Doolin and his gang were known to be frequent patrons of the Blue Bell Saloon when they were in town. They would visit the saloon, refresh with alcohol, gamble and enjoy the company of “Miss Lizzie's girls”. As rowdy as they were, “Wild Bill’ Doolin and his gang wasn’t the only notorious gang walking the streets of Guthrie stumbling in through the doors of the Blue Bell Saloon to partake in what it had to offer.
This leads to the “Dalton” gang. The Dalton gang was made of ten members to include “Wild Bill” Doolin. The gang started with four brothers that at one point had all been U.S. Marshall’s and terminated of their badges due to criminal behavior. When their badges were surrendered Emmett Dalton, Frank Dalton, Gratton “Grat” Dalton, and William “Bill” Dalton formed the devious well known “Dalton Gang”. The members they recruited were: William “Wild Bill” Doolin, Charlie Pierce, George Newcomb, Charlie “Black-Faced Charlie” Bryant, Richard “Dick” Broadwell, together they went on a crime spree through Indian Territory robbing banks, trains, post offices, anyone and anything that had a monetary value to it. On July 14, 1892, the Dalton Gang made its last train robbery then split up and went their own way. Members of the Dalton gang thought that “Wild Bill”, Charlie Pierce, and George Newcomb had to much “fool hardiness” and was “to wild” in nature to be a part of their gang. That’s when “Wild Bill” Doolin formed his “Wild Bunch” gang. Doolin took members of Dalton’s gang with him when he parted ways with the Dalton gang.
Another fearless and brazen gang to darken the path of Guthrie and the Blue Bell Saloon is the “High Fives” gang. Its member were Will “Black Jack” Christian, his brother Bob Christian, Jess Williams, Bob Hayes, John Reeves, and Doc Williams. What made this gang despicable in nature and claim to fame was when Will “Black Jack” and his brother Bob were arrested for the killing of a peace officer in Guthrie in 1895. Both brothers escaped Guthrie’s Federal prison and was said to be heading in the direction of New Mexico and Arizona where they continued their criminal mayhems and was later killed.
No other gang is as heinous as the immoral “Cook Gang”. The Cook gang members included founder William “Bill” Tuttle Cook, his brother also Jim Cook, Crawford “Cherokee Bill” Goldsby, Thurman “Skeeter” Baldwin, Jess Snyder, William “Bill” Farris, Curtis Dayson, Elmer “Chicken” Lucas, Jim French, George Sanders, Sam “Verdigris Kid” McWilliams, Lon Gordon, and Henry Munson. Going by several names to include “Cherokee Kid”, “John Williams”, and “John Mayfeild” “Bill” Cook led the cunning, shrewd, treacherous, defiant “Cook Gang” in terrorizing Indian Territories by robbing banks, trains, post offices, stores, and dozens of individuals. In no time, the Cook gang was pursued by dozens of lawmen who tracked them down one by one.
Heck Thomas and his posse, the “Three Guardsmen” were well known with the listed gangs and was a big part of ending their crime sprees. Thomas, along with two other Deputy U.S. Marshals -- Chris Madsen and Bill Tilghman, began to work together to bring in some of the most notorious outlaws of the time. Soon, the trio took on the nickname of the “Three Guardsmen” and would become known as being largely responsible in bringing law and order to Indian Territory . In 1892, Thomas and Madsen were pursuing the Dalton Gang who had been terrorizing Indian Territory with numerous train robberies and the ultimate shoot-outs that occurred during these attempts. During 1893, the “Three Guardsmen” were tasked with taming Perry, Oklahoma, which had been born overnight in the Oklahoma land run of September 16, 1893. In no time at all, the settlement, which quickly earned the title of “Hell’s Half Acre,” was filled with some 25,000 people and 110 saloons. With the tidal wave of humanity that had converged on Perry, lawlessness, disputes, and mayhem were the “norm” of the day in this burgeoning city. Also operating in the area was the infamous Doolin Gang, whom the trio were determined to apprehend. For four years, the Doolin Gang robbed trains and banks in Kansas, Indian Territory, and Texas, with the “Three Guardsmen” constantly in pursuit. Finally, on August 25, 1896 Thomas led a posse that caught up with Bill Doolin. When the outlaw was confronted, he tried to shoot his way out, but was killed. “Wild Bill” is buried in Summit View Cemetery here in Guthrie and his epitaph reads “Bill” Doolin, William “Bill Doolin”, 1858-1896, Killed August 25,1896 near Lawson, Oklahoma Territory, by Deputy United States Marshall “Heck” Thomas and his posse.
In conclusion, The Blue Bell Saloon has seen its fair share of the gun slinging, gun toting, claim to fame Hollywood stars in and out of its doors.
The Lighter Side of the Blue Belle Saloon
Famous people such as President Roosevelt, Will Rogers, Tom Mix, a Hollywood actor and legendary bar tender for the blue Belle, and William Wrigley, inventor of Wrigley's gum.
Tom Mix, born Thomas Hezekiah Mix; January 6, 1880, in Mix Run, Pennsylvania, was an American film actor and the star of many early western movies, when Ronald Regan and John Wayne were youngsters. Tom Mix was “the king of cowboys”, the influence of his screen persona can be seen in their approach to portraying cowboys. He made a reported 336 films between 1910 and 1935, all but 9 of which were silent features. He was Hollywood’s first Western megastar and is noted as having defined the genre for all cowboy actors who followed.
Mix was born into a relatively poor logging family. He spent his childhood learning to ride horses and working on the local ranch, he had dreams of being in the circus and was rumored to have been caught by his parents practicing knife throwing tricks against a wall using his sister as an assistant. In April 1898, during the Spanish-American War, he enlisted in the Army under the name Thomas E. (Edwin) Mix. His unit never went overseas, and Mix later failed to return for duty after an extended furlough when he married Grace I. Allin on July 18, 1902. Mix was listed as AWOL on November 4, 1902 but was never court martial or apparently even discharged. His marriage to Allin was annulled after one year. In 1905 Mix married Kitty Jewel Perinne, but this marriage also ended within a year. In 1907 he married Olive Stokes.
In 1908, Mix rode in Theodore Roosevelt’s inaugural parade with a group of 50 horsemen led by Seth Bullock which included several former Rough Riders. After working a variety of odd jobs in the Oklahoma Territory, Mix found employment at the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch, reportedly the largest ranching business in the United States and covering 101,000 acres, hence its name. He stood out as a skilled horseman and expert shot, winning the 1909 national Riding and Rodeo Championship.
Mix began his film career as a supporting cast member with Selig Polyscope Company. His first shoot in 1910 at their studio in the Edendale district of Los Angeles (now known as Echo Park) was “Ranch Life in the Great Southwest”, in which he showed his skills as a cattle wrangler. The film was a great success and Mix became an early motion picture star. Olive gave birth to their daughter Ruth on July 13, 1912. Mix performed in more than 100 films with Victoria Forde and they fell in love. He divorced Olive Stokes in 1917. By then Selig Polyscope had severe financial difficulties and Tom Mix along with Victoria Forde both signed with Fox Film Corporation. Mix and Forde married in 1918 and they had a daughter, Thomasina Mix (Tommie), in 1922.
Mix went on to make more than 160 escapist matinee cowboy films throughout the 1920s. Millions of American children grew up watching his films on Saturday afternoons, where he did his own stunts and was frequently injured. During 1929, Mix’s last year in silent pictures, he worked for Film Booking Office, a small movie production, Mix was 49 and by most accounts he was ready to retire from the movies. That same year, Mix was a pallbearer at the funeral of Wyatt Earp (during which he reportedly wept).
In 1929 through 1931, Tom Mix appeared with the Sells-Floto Circus and reported a salary of $20,000 a week. In 1931 Mix and Forde were divorced. Meanwhile the Great Depression (along with the actor’s free spending ways and many wives) had reportedly wiped out most of his savings. In 1932 he married his fifth wife, Mabel Hubbard Ward. Universal Pictures approached him that year with an offer to do talkies which included script and cast approval. He did 9 pictures for Universal, but because of injuries he received while filming, he was reluctant to continue with any more. Mix then appeared with the Sam B. Dill circus, which he reportedly bought two years later (1935). In 1933 Ralston-Purina obtained his permission to produce a Tom Mix radio series, “Tom Mix Ralston Straight Shooters”, which, was popular throughout most of the 1930s and into the early 1950s. (Mix never appeared on these broadcasts and was instead played by voice actors.) His last screen appearance was a 15 episode serial for Mascot Pictures called “ The Miracle Rider) in 1935, Also that year , Texas governor James Allred named Mix as honorary Texas Ranger. Mix went back to circus performing, this time with his eldest daughter Ruth who had appeared in some of his films. In 1938 Mix went to Europe on a promotional trip, Ruth stayed behind to manage his circus, which soon failed.
On the afternoon of October 12, 1940, Mix was driving his 1937 Cord 812 Phaeton near Florence, Arizona on a two-lane road when he came upon construction barriers at a bridge previously washed away by a flash flood. A work crew watched as he was unable to brake in time due to high speeds which caused his car to slid into a gully. A large, polished aluminum suitcase he had put on the seat behind him flew forward and struck Mix in the back of the head, shattering his skull and breaking his neck. The 60 year old actor was killed instantly. The site of his death is located on what is now Arizona State Route 79. There is an historical marker and the gully is named Tom Mix Wash. Mix is interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.
By most accounts Tom Mix made 336 movies throughout his career. In 2007 only about 10% of these were reportedly available for viewing, although it was unclear how many Mix films had been irretrievably lost.
For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Tom Mix has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, His cowboy boot prints, palm prints and his famous horse Tony’s hoof prints are at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. In 1958 he was inducted posthumously into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. There is a Tom Mix museum in Dewey, Oklahoma and another in Mix Run, Pennsylvania. Between 1980 and 2004, 21 Tom Mix festivals were held during the month of September, most of them in Dubois, Pennsylvania.
View An Advertisement of Clips Of Tom Mix's Movie
Who exactly are the ghosts of the Blue Belle Saloon? Could one of them possibly be Mrs. Lizzie's, the bordello's old madam? A dark haired woman thought to be Mrs. Lizzie's is said to haunt the Blue Belle Saloon and has been seen in various parts of it. It is said that she used to buy young girls from families who were about to loose their homes and farms and put them to work in her bordello as prostitutes with some girls as young as 13 years of age.
Another man in different parts of the bar particularly in the basement area. He is said to be around 5'10 in height, has brown hair, a handle bar mustache in his 40's wearing a brown derby hat. He is often reported as a disgruntled man who has no problem in using obscenities towards those who visit the Blue Belle. Is he a special guest of Mrs. Lizzie's or just a faithful patron of the Blue Belle Saloon?
The are also 2 young girls who are said to haunt the blue Belle and perhaps these girls were 2 of Mrs. Lizzie's. Their names are Claudia and Estelle. Claudia's story has a horrific ending. She was supposedly sold to Mrs. Lizzie to save her families farm from foreclosure and was put to work in the Bordello against her wishes. It is said that Claudia was beaten to death and buried in the saloon by the coal shoot where the old tunnels were once rumored to exist. Estelle was supposedly sold to Mrs. Lizzie at the age of 15 but there are no records of why she was sold or what caused her death. Both girls however have been heard up in the bordello area crying and asking for help. Their spirits seem quite restless. Could it be because like once in life they were forced to stay at the Bordello?
Numerous sightings have been reported at the Blue Belle of these ghosts from the past along with unexplained activity. Cameras have been known to be knocked out of guest's hands while taking pictures, objects in the saloon move on their own, the front doors are said to open and close by themselves and shadows dart in and out of eyesight. Silhouettes of people and shadows are seen from out of the corner of their eye and often times humming or singing is heard up in the bordello area.
Our group has conducted several investigations at the Blue Belle and have come up with what we believe to be sound evidence that it is truly haunted. On our first initial investigation there, we all heard audible whispers and saw shadow movement in different areas of the saloon. Two of our researchers conducted an initial walk-thru with the owner of the Blue Belle and one of the researchers was alone on their own in an area of the basement and when this researcher took a picture in one of the basement doorways, she captured a full figured shadow. During our investigations we tried to do several recreations of the photograph using several different cameras and investigators to stand in the doorway but we were unable to recreate it in the same way the original picture looked.
When our team was investigating the bordello area, we kept seeing shadows cross in between the doorways and we experienced hearing movement, footsteps and odd thumping sounds going back in forth from the old bordello rooms. It was also during this time when this activity was taking place that a picture was taken near the bar area which is in between the two rooms which later revealed another shadow type image which resembled the shadow person captured in the basement area. If you look at the two photos, you will see that the top parts of the shadow closely resemble each other. Could this possibly be because it is the same entity? Below is the full shadow picture then one that has been outlined and cropped so it can be viewed better.
We noticed too that the activity seemed to change a various times when we were there investigating the Blue Belle with activity occurring in different areas throughout the bar. The owner of the Blue Belle, also told us of different accounts of strange events taking place witnessed by not only herself but some of her patrons as well. One of these instances took place in the Basement area bar where she saw one of her pool table lights begin to sway side to side on its own, then stop and begin swaying in a vertical motion. She addressed the unseen entity and told them to stop because if they broke her light, they would face serious consequences. She then stated that the light immediately stopped. Another instance she witnessed was a glass quickly sliding across one of her bar tables. They checked the glass for condensation but there was none on the glass or table and they couldn't get the glass to side back that way again. Patrons to the Blue Belle have also reported seeing a man in the main bar area, including near the man's bathroom. Some patrons have encountered him while coming out of the restroom. Others have stated they have seen a dark haired woman in various parts of the bar as well. There has also been reports of women feeling uneasy in the basement bathroom and the owner has stated that some have refused to use the restroom there because of feeling uneasy or hearing audible voices. Our group set up recreations of these accounts to see if we could experience any of the stated past happenings but we were unable to validate the same type of experiences.
Another interesting occurrence our group had however was when we were doing a sit-down in the Bordello area. We were already hearing movement coming in and out of the rooms as well as hearing audible voices and seeing shadow movement. We had placed one of our stationary arrays on a table over by one of the walls Just as we had gotten settled in, we all heard a loud thump and found that one of our stationary arrays had been picked up and then loudly dropped back down onto the table. Here is the audio clip of that event: Array picked up and dropped We asked for the entity to do it again but we never had it reoccur. We know there was no way it could pick up on its own and the investigator sitting closest to the table was at least 3 feet away so there was no way she could have bumped the table to cause this same affect.
Strangely enough we during this same sit-down when we were having all the activity, we heard even louder movement behind the small bordello bar area. We heard what appeared to be a loud "Thump Sound" which sounded like it came from one of the rooms there in the bordello back behind the bar area. We began taking pictures towards the bar and luckily at this same time we also had video being recorded. Upon review of our video, we heard a loud knock sound and then one of the investigators pointed in the direction of the sound. Our video captured a quick light anomaly that shoots from behind an investigator and moves toward the direction of the bar where the sound was heard. Here is the video clip of that light anomaly captured on video: Bordello Light Anomaly This area of the saloon seems to be a very active one and one can only speculate that it could be because it was an area where many things occurred all those years ago. History has even told us that at one time there was a special stair case made in the back alley way behind the Blue Belle which gave access to to the bordello's VIP customers so they would not have to go through the front of the Saloon. This was very important for those individuals who held higher and more esteemed position within Guthrie's community.
We concluded each of our investigations here at the Blue Belle feeling a bit more enlightened due to the unique amount of evidence and personal experiences that we had during our time there. There has been many who have debated the Blue Belle Saloon being haunted and while everyone is entitled to their opinion, we feel like the Blue Belle is definitely haunted and worth any teams time to go in and investigate it or for simply a patron to visit it and check it out for themselves!
Below we will also show some of the pictures that were captured during some of our Haunted Evenings at the Blue Belle Saloon Event.
This investigation was very neat for me because there were many different spirits that I encountered while investigating there. On my initial investigation I wasn't sure just what to expect and I was glad that there had not been labels put on the exact type of ghosts that were supposed to be there. I encountered an older lady, probably in her 40's who seemed to be very predominate there in the saloon, especially on the 3rd floor. After several investigations, I found out that this lady let me know that she was in charge there and that there were many girls who had to listen to her. I knew this was Ms. Lizzie although I also felt like this was more like a nick-name for her and not her true birth name. "Ms. Lizzie" appeared to be a bit cranky and made it known that she did not like anyone messing up the saloon or her bordello area. I also encountered 3 of her girls there, 2 by the names of Estelle & Claudia however I did not discover them on my initial investigation. The 3rd girl seems to be a bit younger than Estelle & Claudia, around the age of 12-13 and although older looking in body, her mind had not quite caught up with her physical appearance. I encountered her first although I could not get her name. She kept asking for her mother and I heard her on many occasions up in the bordello area crying. She is sometimes seen in one of the Northeastern bordello rooms standing in front of the window looking out onto the street. Estelle's story is sad because she told me too that she was kept there in the bordello area against her will and that she tried to escape and when she did, she was caught, beaten to death and her body buried in the tunnel in the basement area of the bordello which is now bricked up. I tried to let all three girls know that they didn't have to stay there and that they could cross over, but they seemed to be afraid of the repercussions if they tried to leave.
There was also 2 men there, one of them I saw in a derby type of hat with a handle bar mustache. He seemed very disturbed by guests who entered the saloon and on many occasions he would throw out obscenities towards us and let us know of his disapproval of us being there. I saw him on the 1st floor of the saloon and in the basement area. The other gentleman seems to be a bit quieter and totally opposite of the first. I saw him on the first floor and he seemed to be enjoying the activities in the saloon and did not seem to mind us being there. I couldn't help but wonder if these gentlemen were from the time when the Blue Belle was an active old time saloon in Guthrie's beginning days. It truly holds a lot of old stories and ghosts of its past and is a magnificent old building.
There were 3 positive photographs from this location
There was 1 positive video clips from this location
There were 6 evps recorded from this investigation.
Below Are Some Photos Taking By Some of Our Guests From Our "Haunted Evening at the Blue Belle Saloon
The 3rd picture above was taken during a time when we asked one of Ms. Lizzie's girls to give one of our guests a kiss on the cheek. In the photo you can see what appears to be a bright light anomaly up against one of our guests' faces. There is also a bright orange light which wraps around his neck. Could this be one of Ms. Lizzie's girls with their arm around this young man giving him a kiss on the cheek? All three of these photos were taken by our guest named Carrie Daley. Thank you Carrie for showing these awesome photos!