Headless Ghost Haunts Conway Cabin: Alexandria, Nebraska
Updated: Dec 31, 2021
A small farming community in the southwestern section of Nebraska has an intriguing ghost story. The town of Alexandria, just northwest of Fairbury was established in 1872. Named after founder Silas Alexander, the region was visited by settlers traveling along the Oregon Trail. At peak population, Alexandria had 500 residents. Today, less than 200 remain.
Not long after Alexandria was established, James Conway, a man described as a “wild Irishman” met his tragic end in 1878. After a night of drinking heavily at the local saloon, Conway made his way back to his cabin on foot, where he and his wife Catherine lived. Highly intoxicated, he careened into the center of the road as a wagon drawn by a team of horses approached. Unable to react in time, he was impaled by the tongue of the wagon. Conway died moments after the accident. The name of the driver was never revealed. James Conway was laid to rest atop a hill near his cabin home.
Although the sudden death of a local man was tragic for the town, the unusual death of Catherine Conway created unanswered questions on account of her mysterious demise. Shortly after the death of her husband, a local resident discovered her body. She was lying beneath a large oak tree near the railroad. After inspecting her body, no obvious injuries could be found. Without any explanation for her sudden death, she was buried next to her husband. A single tombstone, now toppled over and broken into pieces, was erected to mark their gravesite.
Her death caused rumors to spread about the possibility of murder. Others believed the grieving widow had committed suicide by drinking poison.
Lacking any close family and no children to take over the property, the empty Conway cabin became a local meeting place for young men in the area. Reports of apparitions haunting the cabin circulated soon after. A headless male ghost, presumed to be James, was seen emerging from the house each evening at sundown carrying a basket on his shoulder. Although Conway’s accident did not involve decapitation, the locals were set on believing he was the apparition, returning to complete a deed left undone.
Later, reports of witnessing Catherine's ghostly form spread around town. Locals claimed to see her dressed in white, sitting under the oak tree where her body had been found. Before she could be approached, she disappeared into thin air.
The stories continued until the cabin was disassembled and moved about a half-mile down Big Sandy Creek to a neighbor’s land, where it was converted into a farm outbuilding. The new owner claimed to never see any remnants of the ghost who was said to once haunt the confines of the old home. But the legend continued. Perhaps, one day someone will witness the ghastly affair of seeing the headless ghost of James Conway or gaze upon Catherine, cloaked in white, sitting beneath the lonely oak tree where she perished. Until then, the ghost stories will have to remain a distant memory.
Photo Credit: Conway Cabin and Conway Tombstone - Lincoln Journal Star, 1965
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Photos courtesy of Sarah Stream Photography and Lincoln Journal Star
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