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NEBRASKA'S HAUNTED COLLEGES

Nebraska Wesleyan University and the University of Nebraska
Lincoln, Nebraska


" I had a strange feeling that I was not in the office alone... I looked up and for what must have been a few seconds, I saw the figure of a woman standing with her back to me at the cabinet. She was in the second office. She was reaching up into one of the drawers....."
From the account of Mrs. Coleen Buterbaugh concerning the haunted C.C. White Building on the
Nebraska Wesleyan University Campus

The accounts of ghost stories in the Lincoln, Nebraska area are numerous, as are ghost stories from haunted college campuses across America, but none have become as commonly accepted as the story that details the haunting of the former C.C. White building on the Nebraska Wesleyan University campus.
The story really beings in 1912, when a woman named Miss Urania Clara Mills became the head of the music department at the college, also teaching piano and ear training. She lived in a house in the 400 block of East 16th Street in University Place and later at the St. Charles Apartments. Apparently, Urania was always well-liked by the students and the staff at the campus, but she was always considered a "frail" woman who usually kept to herself.

The are a couple of different stories about how she came to die in the C.C. White building. According to one tale, she was simply found dead in her office by a student one morning and in the other, she was found dead on a Monday, after a blizzard had closed the campus on the previous Friday and all through the weekend. Regardless, she was about 60 years old when she died and while dates of her death vary, it was most likely April 12, 1940.

If anything strange happened in the building over the next two decades, no one ever reported it. That was about to change however, for on October 3, 1963, something very strange occurred that has never been properly explained.
On that morning, Mrs. Coleen Buterbaugh walked across the campus on an errand. She was trying to track down a visiting lecturer from Scotland who had been assigned an office on the second floor of the C.C. White building. The visiting professor, Thomas McCourt, had been given the two-room offices that had once belonged to Urania Mills. Mrs. Buterbaugh stepped through the open door and all of the sounds of students and music in the hallways abruptly ceased!
She took two steps into the room and a strange and powerful odor swept over her. She would later recall that it was like someone had left a gas jet open and let the odor escape. She became very aware of the death-like stillness of the building and then she felt a presence very nearby.... she knew that she was not alone.
Through the doorway to the next room, she saw the figure of a woman, standing with her back to her and reaching into a cabinet. She described the woman as being very tall and slender with dark hair that was pulled back into a bun. She also felt the woman was not alone and felt the presence of a man very near to her. She turned, but she saw no one.
Then, she had another experience and it was one that she would never forget.

She looked out the window and saw that all of the scenery outside had changed. There were no streets and the Willard Sorority Hall had vanished. "Nothing outside was modern," she said.  Terrified, she ran from the room and straight to the office of the Academic Dean, Sam Dahl, who listened to her story and refused to dismiss it as her imagination. Her could see that she was telling the truth.
Dahl took Mrs. Buterbaugh to a social science instructor who had been at the college for many years. They rummaged through old year books until the instructor found the woman who he believed bast matched the description given by Mrs. Buterbaugh. It was Miss Urania Mills.

Mrs. Buterbaugh was never the same after the strange experience and she left her job and moved away from Lincoln to Colorado. People took her story very seriously and for several years, ghost hunters and psychics prowled the building, searching for the ghost. Many noted that there seemed to be an active female spirit in the building but that there was also a man. This unidentified ghost remains a mystery today.

Over the next ten years, there were many events reported in the building from lights turning on and off, footsteps in the hallways and a documented story of piano music coming from the basement theater one night. The music ended as several students approached the room. They looked inside to find the theater empty and the cover of the piano closed.

The stories all came to an end in June of 1973 when the C.C. White building was destroyed. In the years since, there have been no reports of strange events in the administration building that went up in its place.... but the ghost of Urania Mills may have moved to a new residence.
There have been a number of reports of unusual events at Miss Mill's former apartment. In 1985, several people saw the apparition of a tall woman with her hair pulled back walking in front of the building.  There have also been reports of music and strange smells in the building.

THE UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA

While not as famous for being haunted as the Nebraska Wesleyan University, there are several buildings here that are known as ghostly spots.
The ghost of a student who plunged to his death from the overhead rigging at the Temple Building is said to haunted the theater. There have been a number of strange events here, all centered around the stage. The student was killed in the 1940's, while preparing for a performance of Macbeth. Whenever this play is presented at the theater, the ghost is said to appear. In the 1970's, an apparition of the student was reported in the basement studios of the local university television station in the same building and recently, a ghost was seen in the light booth by several witnesses. It was clearly identified as a person before it suddenly faded away. There have also been reports of strange thumping sounds coming from the attic.

Another haunted spot is Pound Hall, which is said to be haunted by a ghost named "Lucy". She was alleged to have been a girl who lived in the dorm in the 1960's and who jumped to her death from a fifth floor window. Her thin apparition has been seen in her former room, where books open by themselves and sometimes fly across the room.

Both Universities are located in Lincoln, Nebraska, which is located in the eastern part of the state at the intersection of Interstate 80 and Highway 77.

The C.C. White Building was torn down in 1973 but it was once located directly across from Willard Hall on the Wesleyan campus. The campus is located at 5000 St. Paul Avenue. When she died, Miss Mills was living at 4717 Baldwin Avenue in Lincoln.


Copyright 1998 by Troy Taylor, All Rights Reserved

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