History; Occupants of the Sallie House

The house that stands on north second street in Atchison, Kansas, was built between 1867 and 1871, and it has become known as the Sallie House due to the documented haunting activity which occurred while Debra and Tony Pickman lived in the house during the early 1990’s.

In 1866, the land where the “Sallie House” now stands, was purchased by Michael C. Finney, and between 1867 and 1871. The records are a bit muddled due to two floods which destroyed some of the town records in 1957. The Finney family moved into the house and made it their home. For nearly a century, a Finney has either lived in the house or owned the property.

It is believed that the Finney family lived first in the basement, while the rest of the house was being completed. By 1871, the family was more than likely living in the house. On September 27, 1872, Michael C. Finney died in the house at 10 pm. He left behind a wife, two sons, a daughter, and one son on the way. May 25, 1873 Richard Edwin was born to the late Michael Finney and his wife Kate. Edwin joined his father on September 29, 1874. Kate Finney’s father, Charles Kathrens Sr., also died that year, on July 14. After the death of his father, James, the eldest son, built a house next door in 1879.

On June 2, 1880, James and his friend Andy Welte, returned from a trip to Gunnison Co, Colorado, both vowing never to return to that “godforsaken” place. They had gone to Colorado seeking their riches, only to return a short time later with nothing much to show for their troubles. In 1881, James deeded his house to his mother and moved to St. Louis, Missouri.

James worked first as a city salesman for L. M. Rumsey Manufacturing company, which dealt in hardware and plumbing supplies, and he eventually became one of the best posted men in his line in the country. Agnes made several trips to St. Louis, probably to visit with her brother, and James was a frequent visitor in Atchison.

In 1882, Charles C. Finney became a collector/bookkeeper for Dr. Dan Holland, and later his office assistant. Charles’ decision to study medicine was made at the suggestion of Dr. Holland. Charley Finney, as he was called in the papers, was quite the figure skater.

On December 27, 1883, Charley Finney and Miss Florence Guerrier won a gold medal for best couple skaters. For some reason, Charley fell out of favor and in 1885, when they held another ice skating competition, it was pointed out in the local paper that it was open to all gentlemen skaters, except Charley Finney.

In his obituary, he was described as an expert skater. It stated that he frequently dressed as a girl skater and appeared on the ice billed as “Miss Colby of Baltimore”, skating so gracefully that few spectators knew his identity.

1887 was a troubling time for Charles. On October 27, 1887, Charley and a man named W.S. Anderson, exchanged blows over an accusation Anderson made. Anderson had accused Charley of stealing his sister-in-law’s pocket book from a dentist’s office. At the time the pocket book disappeared, there were only two men in the office, Charley Finney and a stranger.

Neither gentleman was accused at the time, and it wasn’t until later that Anderson went to the dentist’s office and accused Finney of taking the pocket book. When Finney heard that he had been accused, he went to Anderson’s store and asked him to retract his statement.

Words were exchanged, and Finney struck Anderson over the head several times with a heavy cane. Anderson’s father, who was present at the time, drew a revolver. Finney was not arrested at the time, because Anderson feared that if he pressed charges, Finney would have his father arrested in retaliation.

The next day, both Finney and Anderson were arrested for disturbing the peace and fined $10.

In 1894, Charles received his M.D. degree from Beaumont Hospital Medical college, St. Louis, no called the St. Louis University Medical school. Upon his return from medical college, Charles opened his office in the Martin building at Fifth and Commercial.

During his long practice, he was associated with Dr. William Bogle, Dr. Virgil Morrison, and for several years before his retirement, with his son.

On June 26, 1899, the house next door that James had built, was deeded to a woman named Johanna Barnes. Johanna was a recently divorced mother of three, with another child on the way. Prior to her moving into the house, Johanna had been institutionalized in the state hospital in Topeka for mental instability. Judge Sceva ordered her taken to the state hospital after she was brought before him.

His verdict was rendered on the evidence of her neighbors, which showed that she was violently insane, with a pugilistic tendency. When they took her to the hospital, her arms were tied behind her, and “then it requires a crowd to do anything with her.” On July 13, 1899, Johanna’s son, Frank Wright Barnes was born.

On February 18, 1900 James K. Finney died at 10 p.m. at the Evergreen hospital, in Leavenworth, Kansas. He had been in the hospital for eight or nine months, suffering from paresis of the brain. In 1904, on November 9th, Charles Finney married Louise Zibold, daughter of Herman and Rosa Zibold, and in 1905, they moved into the house they had built on the other side of his childhood home.

April 18, 1906, Johanna Barnes, deeded James Finney’s house to his sister Agnes Finney. Johanna and her children moved to Kansas City, Missouri. She remarried her husband, Frank Barnes, Sr. and they had taken up residence at 330 Park Avenue in Kansas City.

On September 24, 1906, Frank Wright Barnes, son of Frank and Johanna Barnes, died from inhaling gas. Johanna had apparently attempted suicide by turning on the gas in a downstairs room and laid down on a cot with her six year old son. They were both overcome by fumes, but she survived.

Charles H. Finney was born on February 17, 1907 to Charles C. Finney and Louise Zibold, and in 1913, Charles C. Finney was elected Mayor of Atchison.

Also in 1913, Agnes Finney married William True, an engineer for Burlington Railroad. By 1916, after a scandal arose over the selling of alcohol at the Eagles Lodge, Charles Finney was forced to step down as mayor in a plea deal with the state’s attorney. That same year, William True suffered a stroke of paralysis in December, while vacationing in Wyoming with Agnes. Agnes brought him back to Atchison where he would receive better medical attention.

May 4, 1918 at 7 a.m., William True died after spending the last three days unconscious. He died in the Finney’s childhood home. June 14, 1918, Kate Finney, mother of Charles and Agnes, died at 9:30 p.m. in the house next door. She had been ill for several months with gangrene, and her son, Charles, the doctor, was looking after her until she died from septicemia.

Agnes Finney True lived in the “Sallie House” for the remainder of her life. For a time, she took in boarders, probably to help pay for expenses. November 28, 1939, Agnes Finney True died at midnight in that house. Per her obituary, she had been ill for several months before her death. Her brother Charles, died on March 24, 1947 in Topeka.

After the death of Charles, the house was rented out. One of the families that moved into the house was the Mize family. December 1948, Dick Mize and his family moved into the house. For whatever reason, the family only stayed there a short time. It is not known who else lived in the house from 1948 to 1958. In 1958, Ethel Anderson, ex-wife of Dr. W.L. Anderson moved into the “Sallie House”.

Ethel resided in that house until 1990. Single mother Colleen Humbard and her children rented the house for a short time. and then the Pickman family moved in on December 31, 1992. Tony and Debra Pickman experienced a number of strange things in their home, including physical attacks on Tony. The family was filmed a number of times by the show Sightings, and have been featured on numerous other shows detailing their experiences.


Where to next:

>> Owners and Neighboring Properties

>> Briefly Speaking; Historical Occupants  

Or maybe you are interested in specific individuals and families?

Finneys | Hyatt | Barnes | Pomeroys | Bayes | Anderson | Humbard | Sallie| Pickmans | Fish |Liggett 

About Debra Pickman

After living in an extremely haunted location with my husband who was physically and mentally brutalized by an unseen force my husband and I became experienced investigators applying our knowledge to other locations. We continue to speak at events, conferences and on radio shows around the world. Contact me at Debra@TheSallieHouse.com


  1. Hi,
    I was just wondering if you knew how Michael Finney, William True and Agnes true died and whether you think it has anything to do with the paranormal in the house? Was there anything strange about their deaths?
    Also what strange things occurred while you were living in the house?
    Do you believe there is a demon or spirit present in the house?
    I am very interested in this topic, so thank you so much for letting me ask you some questions.

    • Hi Elizabeth,

      I think this link will help in answering your questions. Finney Family I don’t think there was anything strange, at least nothing that stood out to me, about their deaths.

      As far as our experiences, this link may be of help Pickman experiences.

      Lastly, we are certain there are human spirits in the house (residual and highly interactive). There is also a demon and possibly several low level demonic entities. This comes not only from our own evidence and analysis but that of many other investigative groups.

      I hope the above helps answer your question.


  2. This house is truly one of a kind.

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