This time of year when darkness descends and the full moon shines through a misty veil, ghostly tales come to mind.

While Halloween might be when we think about unsettling stories, scary things happen all year in Kansas. Here are several unusual stories from around the region.

A scary prank turns frighteningly real

Utica High School students were busy creating a spook house on Sept. 17, 1957. The 11 seniors had elaborately planned their initiation of 23 freshmen. They were going to bring the students to an empty farm house, 3 miles west of town, where there was no electricity.

The seniors thought it was a perfect place to create a spook house.They were going to dress up like they had been stabbed and someone would pretend to be hanged. They were going to lead small groups through at a time and just toss a rope around one of the seniors' necks. Since it would be dark, they would shine the light on the upper part of the body and they could hang their head and look gruesome.

Betty Stevens, a teacher and senior class sponsor, had a meeting that morning with the principal, W.H. Sallee. She was not a fan of initiation pranks and told Sallee under her supervision no student would participate in a prank that would cause bodily harm.

He thought about it. He knew she was right, but he didn't want to disappoint the students. So he offered to play the hanged man and keep his eyes on things to make sure it didn't get out of hand.

Sallee was a very popular principal and superintendent and a positive role model. He cared about the students and would drive them to out-of-town games or even to the "picture show," loading as many as he could in his 1956 black and yellow Chevy convertible. He wanted them to have fun and did what he could to make it happen.

In preparation, he blackened his eyes with burnt cork and smeared ketchup on his face. He slung a rope through two exposed light fixtures from the ceiling. Several students twisted the wire together to hold the rope. Then Sallee draped it loosely around his neck.

Students were brought through the house in groups. When they came to the kitchen, they briefly flashed a light on the body that appeared to hang limply and moaned softly. Sallee successfully scared the freshmen.

Then after a few tours, Stevens called to Sallee as she came into the kitchen to take a picture. There was no answer. She turned on her flashlight. Somehow Sallee had moved his feet on the littered floor, slipped  – and was strangled.

A battered dish pan about 6 inches high and two coffee cans were lying amid other debris on the floor. The possibility he might have been standing on one of those and slipped was not discounted by the investigating officials. There was a rope burn halfway around the side of his neck.

School was canceled for the rest of the week. A memorial service was planned locally. But because Sallee's family lived in Fall River, they were selecting a coffin for him there.

Without a coffin, the beloved principal's body was displayed on a day bed – his face still stained from the burnt cork and ketchup, horrifying the students even more.

Scared off the farm

In 1927, Fred Koett, his wife and their infant son were compelled to move out of the state – claiming they were driven out of their Ellinwood area farm because of ghosts.

According to a story in The Hutchinson News that year, the haunting had gone on for months. Pictures turned on the wall and a statue of the Virgin Mary was moved from one wall to another. A hired man was punched in the face by the unfriendly phantom when he went to investigate one occurrence, and the pet dog was stabbed with a pitchfork.

Koett, 41, had recently married 18-year-old Mayme. One blog post on a Barton County genealogy website indicates Koett's first wife had died. 

Koett appealed to the Barton County Attorney's Office that June, seeking protection.

Koett told the county attorney that he and four others, including neighbors, were armed with shotguns, pistols and lay in ambush in the farmyard. About midnight, a "wraith-like form appeared, soundless and about waist high off the ground," according to the story in The News. 

"We let go of everything we had," Koett was quoted saying in The News. "If it had been human, it would have been riddled with bullets. Instead, it hurriedly departed, sailing over the fence with ease."

Strange things continued, including a voice that said "get out, get out," when they were leaving the house one day, and once, when the family returned from an outing, a strong odor was present.

In August 1927, The News reported Koett was done. He was selling his farm and possessions and moving out of state.

"I can't stand it any longer," Koett, 41, told The News. "I don't know what it is that has caused so many mysterious happenings, but I've experienced things that are hardly believable, and I have withstood it longer than any other man would."

The farmhouse no longer stands, but naysayers contend a ghost never existed.

A nearby farmer, Bob Rick, found gold in 1933 that his elderly father, Carl, supposedly buried. Carl Rick had died about five years before. 

It was suspected that someone, knowing of the buried gold, got the wrong house and tried to scare the Koetts away, The News reported. Bob lived close and, at the time, was farming Koett's former cropland. 

Unsolved murder mystery

The old barn, in need of a coat of paint, still stands where Fred Kaser pulled the trigger the eve before he was to go on trial. Stones in a graveyard not far way, near the ghost town of Covert, mark the graves of his brother, Albert, Albert's wife, Nellie, and their six children – 2-year-old Katie, the youngest, buried in her mother's arms.

Just what happened the night of May 31, 1928, that left a family of eight dead and caused the main suspect to kill himself are now ghosts of the past.

It was around 11 p.m. when two men returning home to Covert noticed Albert Kaser's residence on fire. The two began to notify residents in town. A call was sent out on rural telephone line that summoned the entire neighborhood.

The Kaser family's bodies were found in the ruins. Someone found empty revolver shells outside the house, but no significance was attached to the discovery. The bodies were taken to brother Fred Kaser's home to examine. They buried the family, blaming the horrific deaths to the tragic fire presumably caused from an oil stove.

Rumors began to spread, however, that the family buried just weeks before had been murdered. Some said they had witnessed a quarrel between brothers Albert and Fred not long before the fire in the Covert general store.

The state fire marshal had the bodies exhumed. Albert Kaser was shot in the chest, his wife in the abdomen. The children had not been shot. Law enforcement found Fred had a gun that used bullets similar to those found in the bodies.

Hundreds packed the tiny Osborne County courtroom to hear Fred's preliminary hearings in August 1928. Throughout the hearings, Fred maintained his innocence.

Fred's trial date was set for Oct. 24, 1928.

Within a few weeks of the trial, Fred's attorney quit because Fred's father, a well-to-do farmer, refused to bear the expense of the case. Maybe Fred had taken everything to heart as he wrote a last note to his wife and five children and to his father.

Dear Wife and Children: I love you with all my heart, but this is more of a burden than I can stand, when I never had nothing to do with it. But forget me and enjoy life...- Dear Father, will you please give my share of the money to Vera (Kaser's wife) to keep the children with. You would not help me, but please help them. Your son, Fred Kaser.... I am in the barn, call help before you come to the barn.

The murders remain unsolved.

Information taken from Kansas Agland - Covert ghost town story, published fall 2012.

Spirits remain at 927 Exchange Street

The first day Judy Price went to work for Kathrine White, the daughter-in-law of William Allen White, she learned spirits roamed Red Rocks, the Whites' Emporia home.

It was Sept. 12, 1979, and White set Price at the dining room table to do secretarial work and then announced she had to leave for a while.

"She told me there were ghosts, but they were all friendly," Price said.

The first ghosts in the house were Almerin Gillette and his wife. They built the house in the 1880s, but the market crashed and they could never afford to finish it. Mrs. Almerin killed herself in the house.

When William Allen White and his wife, Sally, bought the home, they sensed a presence. But they always felt it was non-threatening, and that is how it has remained. Kathrine Schlageck, the great-granddaughter of White, and a resident at times in the home, said the family has always felt a presence.

"It certainly was not anything bad," Schlageck said.

As a teenage girl, Schlageck was fascinated by the story of her great Aunt Mary White. When Kathleen Beller came to Emporia to play the role of "Mary White" for the movie, she was absolutely positive the spirit of Mary White was in the attic.

"It's a big old house and it makes a lot of noise. As a kid I remember getting scared and sleeping on the day bed in my grandmother's bedroom," Schlageck said. She was very close to her  grandmother Kathrine White.

"Everybody thought she was stern and intelligent," Schlageck said. "But she had a great imagination and believed there are things we can't always understand."

Others sensed the presence. Schlageck's father, David Walker, told the Kansas State Historical Society how in the middle of the night he heard footsteps coming up the stairs and echoing down the hall. It sounded like a dog walking into the room, but he never saw the dog.

"The people who lived in that house had strong personalities," Schlageck said.

So strong they still make their presence known today.