The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

June 22, 2010

Paranormal team hunts for spirits inside former Galena bar

GALENA, Kan. — History is alive in Galena, said paranormal investigator Russ Keeler.

Keeler leads the After Midnight Paranormal Investigation Team, of Bella Vista, Ark. The team last Thursday and Friday set up in the Gill Building in downtown Galena.

Built in 1895, the building in the mid- to late 20th century was Buck’s, a bar whose male owners didn’t allow women inside. The story told by many area residents is that women would go to the bar seeking their husbands, only to be told that they would have to wait outside while the owners checked for their spouses.

Danny Charles and T.J. Davis are restoring the building to be a pub and pizzeria. Keeler said the construction and cleanup work stirred up what his team says are ghosts.

“The sprits have always been in that building,” Keeler said. “They’ve been more active since the restoration started.”

Pat Collins, a Cherokee County commissioner and a longtime Galena resident, said the bar was operated with careful supervision by the owners, who demanded that the rules be respected. Collins, a former police chief and sheriff, said he didn’t remember any fights ever breaking out there.

Upstairs are sleeping rooms that resemble what one might imagine in a 19th century New York City tenement. A single bathroom is located at the end of a row of sleeping rooms.

Renee Charles, one of the owners of Four Women on the Route, said a photographer who lived in one of the upstairs rooms took a well-known photograph of bustling downtown Galena during its mining heyday.

Last week, After Midnight investigators made a return visit to the building.

Disembodied voice

Keeler said the team members have investigated that building and other Galena locations so often that the spirits they claim to have encountered call them by their first names; they have become regulars, he said.

Keeler laughed and said being a regular is OK as long as the team remains on the living side of the spirit divide.

“That’s our fourth trip to the building,” Keeler said. “Every time we visit, it gets more and more exciting.”

Keeler claims that the most activity upstairs occurred in rooms nearest the bathroom. He contends that the team captured EVPs, or electronic voice phenomena, which he described as recorded disembodied voices.

“We got a little girl and a little boy on Thursday night we were able to capture on the audio,” Keeler said. “The little boy’s name is Kit. The little girl’s name is Samantha. They’re between 10 and 12 years old.”

Keeler claims that the team also captured the voice of former owner Leonard France. Buck Dean and France opened the bar after returning home from service in World War II, and Dean sold it to France in 1973. France owned it until his death in the bar in 1990.

Keeler claims that the colorful language caught on audio matches the kind of language used by France during his life.

France’s daughter, Linda Bilke, said Tuesday that she hasn’t heard what the investigators reportedly recorded, but she agreed that her dad used colorful language. She also noted that the investigators could have found that out by asking just about anyone in Galena who was alive at the same time as her dad.

The team also has investigated the city cemetery, the Elks Lodge building and a downtown building once used as a bordello. Keeler claims that each location can be classified as haunted, but none of the spirits are angry or harmful.

“Galena has become our home for investigations,” Keeler said. He said the team plans another visit around Halloween.

Want a peek?

Videos and recordings made by the paranormal investigators in Galena can be found at

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