Open if you dare...

publishedalmost 2 years ago
10 min read

Hello friends! With only five days until Halloween, today seems like a good day for some good ol' ghost stories.

I chatted with Mark and Jeff from IdaHistory to get the lowdown on some of the lesser-known Boise ghost stories. They did not disappoint.

In addition to digging up pieces of Boise's history, Mark and Jeff offer Macabre History Tours. Mark leads the Boise tour and Jeff leads the Nampa tour, both of which share stories of true crime, strange medical happenings, dark deaths, and supernatural occurrences that have happened in the Treasure Valley. They offer tours several nights a week and those are usually about 2 hours long. Find out more and book a tour at

Ok, on to the good stuff.

The Eighth Street Entity

There was a house behind the Old Carnegie Library on the corner where State Street meets 8th Street near downtown Boise. It was essentially a boarding house, but it was also home to a dark and mysterious entity.

In 1892, a man named Jesse Black, who was the proprietor of the Free Coinage cigar store, was living there. And a man named Daniel O’Brien was working for Black as a cigar maker and renting a room.

This is *not* the actual house. Photo by Ian Usher.

The details of this story were documented in an article titled An Uncanny Something in Mr. Black's Residence that was published on November 15, 1892 on page 5 of the Idaho Daily Statesman:

At about 10 o'clock, Mr. O'Brien was asleep in bed. He suddenly awoke and seemed aware that some one else was in the room. He called out, but received no response, and finally went to sleep again. In a few moment he awoke with a start. This time, the door was rattling violently and one of the chairs was being moved. A something whispered to the man that the room was occupied by spirits from the other world who desired to converse with him.

Mr. O'Brien, in relating his story, said he inwardly ridiculed the idea, as he was a thorough sceptic in such matters. He thought he was the victim of a nightmare and tried to go to sleep. He could not do so, but lay awake, in the dark, covered with cold perspiration, listening to the rattling of the doors and other noises. So he spent the night.

The next morning, (Sunday) he related his experience to Mr. Black, and the latter treated it with a guffaw of derision. Mr. O'Brien was so sincere about the matter, however, that Albert E. Werner, a young man well known in this city, told him he would spend the night with him and see for himself what was the matter.

O'Brien, at times, is somewhat of a fervent worshipper at John Barleycorn's grief-bringing shrine, and, although he was then and has been for some time, perfectly sober. Mr. Werner and others thought he "had 'em."

Sunday night at about 10 o'clock Mr. Werner was suddenly awakened by O'Brien, the latter being paralyzed with fear, the cold sweat standing all over his body. Mr. Werner heard the door rattle several times, and then his attention was called by O'Brien to a bright zig-zag light on the wall. He told O'Brien he could not see if, but after looking intently for some time at the spot indicated, he saw the light. It resembled some one writing on the wall with a trail of fire. The lamp was burning brightly all the while.

Werner, thoroughly alarmed, called Mr. Black who came into the room. O'Brien told them the spirits had told him his dead sister would write him a letter on the wall. He pointed the spot to Mr. Black and he, too, was horrified at beholding the fiery thing. The men moved into another room and spent the balance of the night, although sleep was out of the question.

O'Brien would, so he said, see horrible faces, and it was thought for a time he was going crazy. He was perfectly rational, however.

Photo by Jan Canty.

Last night about 30 persons, including Mr. Black and his family, gathered at the latter's residence. All the parties are perfectly reliable and include some of our leading business men, who will vouch for what follows.

At intervals loud tapping would be heard in different parts of the room. They were very audible. Twice Mr. O'Brien entered the bedroom with others. Strange noises were heard. Of a sudden, O'Brien would point in some direction, a look of horror on his face. He said a face appeared several times. The last time he entered the bedroom was after being entreated for some time by those anxious to see something. He entered hesitatingly. Noises were heard by all. Soon he began trembling, and finally, with a yell of horror, bounded out of the room. It was some time before he was restored. He was perfectly rational, but very weak afterward.

Those present were unable to account for the state of affairs, but they are aware of the fact that O'Brien is suffering untold agonies from what he sees.

The fact that Werner and Black witnessed the strange handwriting on the wall and those who were present last night saw and heard what they did, gives credence to the affair otherwise it might be supposed O'Brien was the victim of some terrible hallucination.

O'Brien says, however, the spirits told him the spell will last but three nights from the beginning. Last night's nocturnal spiritual visitations would be the last according to this.

Mr. and Mrs Black are terribly worried over the affair. They will move from the house sometime today.

Ras Beemer said last night that something similar occurred at the same house about 12 years ago. It was occupied by a Mr. Stapleton and family.

A prominent man in this city who does not want his name mentioned, recently moved from the house. He said doors were continually opened without any visible aid, and there was at times an oppressive something about the house that made it intolerable. He frequently heard strange noises.

The persons living in the house are not the least superstitious but would like to have the matter explained. The case is, however, shrouded in a seemingly unfathomable mystery."

The house was later torn down and perhaps the spirits went with it. Perhaps they were set free. Perhaps, they are still there.

Eddy of East Idaho Street

We all know (or should know) Senator Frank Church. His uncle and his dad grew up in a house that used to stand where part of St. Luke's is now. Remember when the tree got moved for St. Luke's to expand? The house was near there. And it was definitely haunted.

The house was at 200 East Idaho Street and was said to be built by the grandfather of Senator Church around 1895. Grandfather Church and his wife, Mary, had five children. In 1905, the Church family was preparing to celebrate their young son Francis' fifth birthday.

Photo by Ardian Lumi.

Mr and Mrs Church had gone into town to gather things for the party. Francis had been with his other brother, Elmer, preparing to make lemonade. They found a beer bottle filled with carbolic acid in the pantry and decided to put it in the lemonade. Minutes later, Elmer turned to see his young brother drinking the carbolic acid from the bottle. Francis died within 20 minutes.

Years pass and the house is bought by a neighbor, who begins renting the home and rooms therein. In 1970, a woman named Susan and her three children move in. Not long after, they meet "Eddy" who is likely actually Francis Church.

Susan spoke to the Idaho Daily Statesman for a story published on September 23, 1973. She reported doors opening and closing at random, radios turning on and off on their own, and got a "bad feeling" upon moving in, particularly in the upstairs of the house.

"I could stand between the door of one bedroom in particular and the door that leads to the attic and feel some type of a 'current'," she told the Statesman.

Photo by Kieron Mannix.

Another time, she had drawn a hot bath and got in. Suddenly the lights went out. It seemed it had only been a moment, but when the lights came back on the bath water had gone ice cold. After about 18 months of living in the house, she started to hear things.

"It was the tinkly of a bell that would come and go," she told the Statesman. "I didn't come at any scheduled time – like maybe twice a day, and it didn't sound like any bell I had ever heard before."

The bell kept ringing for about six months, then never again. The next sound was a voice. Someone saying "help" in the middle of the night. Next came the visual incidents.

Susan reported seeing a "round ball that was twirling faster and faster. Then I saw a face in the ball (a young boy's), and suddenly it started coming towards me. I shut my eyes and I could feel it go through me. I swear this was the feeling I had," she told the Statesman. Guests would later see the same round ball with a child's face in the center.

An illustration of the spirit by Louise Sengenberger of the Statesman.

On another occasion, Susan was with her sons in the backyard when her youngest son, who was about three years old at the time, pointed at the attic window and said, "Can't you see that boy up there?"

Another time, the young son led his mother across the bedroom to the corner and said, "That's where he died."

While Eddy seemed to be mostly playful, tragedy struck the home again in early 1973.

Susan had rented the attic to a man named David. She disclosed Eddy's presence and that the attic was his territory, but David was undeterred saying he did not believe in ghosts. However, after his first night in the room, he seemed shaken and reported getting such a bad feeling that he had slept with the light on all night.

On his second night, David awoke about 6am to discover his room was on fire. He tried to put the fire out but could not and resorted to jumping out of the attic window. He lived but was hospitalized with injuries. The attic and second floor of the house were destroyed.

The final episode of Eddy took place in the basement. Susan and some friends were moving her out of the house following the fire. One friend, Bob, who did not believe in ghosts, agreed to move her things out of the basement.

On his way down to the basement, Bob tripped over a dislodged step and tumbled all the way down the stairs. He got up, uninjured for the most part, and began to gather things to bring back up. It was only on his way back up the stairs that he saw the step had somehow been put back in its place and was not even loose.

Eddy's story comes to an end on March 15, 1973. The home was bulldozed and no one has heard from or seen young Eddy again.

A photo of the home after it was destroyed by the fire. Credit unknown.

The Owyhee Mountain Devils

The legend of the Owyhee Mountain Devils is something I have been chasing for several years and have yet to truly uncover. The Owyhees is one of my favorite places on earth, partly because there is something reeeal spooky about it.

This tale comes from Jeff Wade, who is one half of Idahistory Tours. The following passage was taken from a Facebook post John wrote with his permission. I find it sooo fascinating and hope you do too!

In the corner of the world where Idaho, Oregon and Nevada all meet, is the beautifully desolate Owyhee County. This area includes thousands of untouched acres of mountains, canyonlands, and lots of sagebrush. It is said that there are places in the Owyhees that are yet unexplored by man. A perfect place for anyone...or hide from modern society.

Shoshone legends tell us of a race of little people living in caves of the Owyhees. The Nimerigar, as they are called, are said to be around two feet tall, and have long, pointed tails that they would wrap around their bodies when sitting or standing still. They would shoot poisoned arrows to subdue their enemies, and kidnap human children to eat. Razor sharp teeth helped them consume the flesh of their victims. If one of their own became too injured or sick to help provide for the group, his or her skull would be smashed with a rock.Shoshone parents worried that the Nimerigar would kidnap or kill their children, while tribal elders thought the little tricksters would cause the tribes to self-destruct because of the pranks they played, such as setting up innocent people to take the fall for crimes. At one point, the Shoshone and Paiute were said to have been at an all out war with the Nimerigar, and perhaps wiped most of the little ones out similar to how they eliminated Tsawhawbitts and his race.

In 1932, a mummy was dug up in the San Pedro Mountains of Carbon County, Wyoming (near where Jefferson Standifer is buried). This body is only around 14 inches tall, yet appears to be a fully formed man. The head and collarbone were broken, as if it had been smashed by a rock. The San Pedro Mountains Mummy seems to confirm that a race of little people once lived on this continent, although some contend “Pedro” was an infant who died of anencephaly. A second similar mummy, nicknamed “Chiquita” was also found in the area. Like Pedro, she had features of a fully formed adult yet was less than two feet tall.

Chiquita the mummy. Credit unknown.

The Shoshone and Paiute tribes are not the only ones to tell stories of little people. The Arapahoe, the Crow, and the Wampanoag of Massachusetts have similar legends. Even the Native Hawaiian people have the Menehune, little people who would help humans if they were kind, or hurt them if they tried to harm the Menehune. I like to think that all of these little people are related to each other somehow, in the same way humans likely have common ancestors. And maybe, just maybe the similar stories from all over the world, such as the Irish with their leprechauns, mean that these little people actually do exist.

I have heard second hand stories that parents in the modern day Owyhee County warn their children not to venture down certain roads in the area lest they may fall victim to the little ones. Perhaps the Nimerigar, like other legends, are used as a cautionary device to help parents keep their children near camp and away from danger.

So, if you are ever driving through the Owyhees and see something scurrying through the underbrush, maybe think twice about taking a second look. - Jeff

Have you ever heard of these ghost stories? Ever seen a mountain devil in the Owyhees? Let me know --> I'm genuinely curious!

Hope y'all have a happy & spooky Halloween! Thanks for reading.

With love from Boise,


PS - Here is the link to this story if you'd like to share. Thank you sooo much!

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