Custer House

North Dakota Ghost Stories

Frightening tales from North Dakota

There are some interestingly scary places in North Dakota. Following is a sampling of some experiences related by local friends and neighbors. You may have heard some of the stories. If not, enjoy ... If you dare!

Shawna Carns' Ghost Story

I am the administrative assistant in the office at the James Memorial Art Center in Williston, I have heard things while here working and usually just chalk it up as the old building settling (the James was built in 1911). On July 4 the office was closed so I thought I would come in during the day to get some cleaning done.

While upstairs mopping Gallery I, I heard a large banging noise. I stopped and listened for a minute and figured it was just someone working on the church next door. They were remodeling so I thought maybe it was them. I heard it again and decided to look out the window to make sure it was the construction crew next door at the church. When I looked out, there wasn't anyone at the church, the doors were closed. I heard it again and said out loud, "oh yeah, it’s the Fourth of July, it's probably just fireworks.” Then I heard what sounded like a child or small adult run across Center Stage downstairs. I put the mop away and left.

Also, any time I walk up the staircase by the kitchen, it always feels like someone is watching me but when I turn around no one is there.

After many other people experienced stories like mine, we invited the Paranormal Investigators of North Dakota to come and have a look. They picked up multiple sounds, the same footsteps and small voices I heard. They also brought out this camera that is designed to track the movement of something in the room. It’s basically the same technology that a video game would use when it’s tracking your movements when you play the remote.

One of the investigators stood in front of the camera and a little stick figure popped over her on the image. It was the video game picking up her presence based on her movements. It was just her there alone in the room for a while. Suddenly another stick figure showed up on the screen to the right of her; a smaller one, the size of a child.

She stuck out her hand to see if whatever the camera was picking up would react to it. To our bewilderment, the tiny stick figure lifted its hand as well and touched hers. Just like a little kid wanting to hold their mother’s hand.

When the investigators first came into the James Memorial Art Center museum, the first thing one of them said was “I can feel how loved this place is.” And that’s so true. This place still exists and thrives because of the volunteers who love it both past and present. We like to think that whatever these odd happenings are, they come from a place of love for the James.

Eric Vintner’s Ghost Story

There are loads of stories of downtown Minot being haunted. Probably because when this town was young, it was known as “Little Chicago” because of the crime. Drugs, gangs and violence led to a lot of people just disappearing without a trace.

I had my own creepy experiences around town as I toured buildings for the Urban Winery location. I wasn’t surprised they drifted into my business as well.

I started remodeling right away, so obviously there were a lot of late nights when I was there all by myself. It was small things at first, like suddenly feeling overwhelmed by the feeling of being watched or doors opening and closing of their own accord, but nothing too bad. Trying to be a responsible business owner, I eventually put up security cameras that would send me phone alerts when they detected movement. That’s when things started getting a little … eerie.

Sometimes I would get text alerts of movement, when nothing was in the picture. Probably a glitch right? But then the chairs started moving. From one text alert to another, they would get pushed in or pulled out when the place was completely empty. Then these glowing orbs started setting off the cameras and that was enough for me to call some paranormal investigators to check out the place.

They scrounged the place, using cameras and EVP recorders. They captured the orbs that continually set off my cameras. But when they investigated the basement, they picked up a man’s deep voice saying “Hello.” And in a a small room that allegedly used to lead to a tunnel, they picked up woman’s terrifying scream. That was about enough for me.

I don’t know every detail of the history of this place, but I’m sure like all of downtown Minot, those that were never seen again back in the “Little Chicago” days, are making themselves heard once again.

Kim Schmidt's Ghost Story 

Growing up in the small community of Harvey news travels fast on just about any topic. And the news of the creepy happenings of our town’s library always seemed to be circling. It all started with the lights flickering or keys disappearing, but that never sounded like something that would prove that a place is actually “haunted.” Right?  

It wasn’t until I heard more about these instances from librarian Marlene Ripplinger that made me think twice. She would talk about the times that books would fall from the shelves when no one was near them. Or of books that were stacked on the counter suddenly finding their way back to the bookcases when no one on their small staff claimed to have touched them. 

The creepiest one for me was when the librarian was unlocking the library in the early morning and found all of the computers had somehow turned on. Appearing on their screens was a single, large “S” in a font they didn’t have installed. She said she knew exactly who was responsible.


Sophie Eberlein Bentz was a resident of Harvey who had been murdered and burned by her second husband back in 1931. The house sat where the library does now, but was never destroyed. It was just moved to a different spot a few blocks from Main Street. Apparently, several people have tried living there but never could for long saying something just wasn’t right about the house.

As for the library, Marlene says Sophie is a fairly “well behaved” ghost but has a tendency to act out when people ask about her. Marlene has only one request, please don’t bring up Sophie in the month of October. She doesn’t want to upset her on the anniversary of her death, October 2.

Wendy Kimble's Ghost Story

I have a long past with the Taube Museum of Art, volunteering, teaching classes and for a few years I was the gallery manager. Several times while working there, myself and others have heard footsteps coming from the back kitchen across the original marble floors of the main gallery toward the front offices. Sounds of things dropping or shifting can be heard from the gift stop and shadows and the feeling of being watched from the upper level where the permanent collection is stored.

Children often look up to the permanent collection area and ask cautiously what is up there. I had a recent "visit" while picking up art supplies with my 2-year-old granddaughter, as we walked up the last two steps to the main gallery she froze in her tracks and looked up the permanent collection room, pointing there and stated “Nana, WE not go up there.” I reassured her we weren’t going “up there” and she was ok to continue into the main gallery.

I was teaching a class one afternoon and two of the girls’ parents were running late and the rest of the gallery was closed so it was just us three there. I was standing facing the door with my head turned to the right visiting the girls. I noticed someone coming down the stairs, so I let the girls know someone was there to pick them up. As I stepped closer to the door to greet them, he moved down the last couple steps and instead of coming into the classroom, quickly turned right away from the classroom and into the lower gallery area. I headed out the door asking if I could help him with something and to tell him that the gallery was closed at this time. He again went around to the next right, which is a wall that separates the lower gallery. To cut him off to let him know that he would need to leave, I approached the side opposite side of the wall. Needless to say, no one was there. My first thought was that this man must be up to no good and must have rushed off to the Hands-on Gallery, I checked, no one was there. Just my two young students and I where there and left wondering who and why this strange man wearing a trench coat and fedora hat was visiting the gallery that day.

Dan Schelsky's Ghost Story

The history of people who spent time at Fort Lincoln is so deep that there isn’t one specific story that can tie back to the strange and eerie happenings here. Many people passed away under completely normal circumstances like disease or old age. But that hasn’t led to any shortage of ghost stories.

For me, the first was actually during the Haunted Fort that it happened. The sun was setting and the shadows of trees and people were starting to get really long. I drove back to the infantry post to make sure no one was wondering around or parked there. Not a person or car in sight. That was until I looked over my shoulder.

It was like watching one of those old-time photos come to life. A man dressed in a full blue uniform, the exact same the infantry men used to wear around here in the 1880s, was walking straight for me. He had a rifle in his hand and looked straight ahead at me with each step. I’m not sure if I was more thrown off by the convincing historical look of him, like no one from this time, or how he seemed to have come out of thin air from the infantry house. I was completely alone just two seconds ago.

I had to look forward to realign myself on the road and when I looked back he was gone. We were in a wide-open space, so where could he have gone to in the time it takes to turn my head? It left me feeling crazy. Luckily I had a witness for the next time.

It was after a couple’s dinner party that we hosted in the Custer House. It’s the place considered to be the most haunted around here. We had just said goodbye to all of the visitors and one of the other park rangers and I were just standing around. There is a piano in the corner with a photo propped up on top of it, right in the middle. It’s a picture of Lieutenant Tom Custer, brother of George Custer. He lived in that old house as well.

I happened to be looking right at the photo when it suddenly flew off the side of the piano and hit the floor. That thing was nowhere near the edge of the piano and no windows were open to blame a rouge wind gust. It’s impossible it could have fallen so aggressively of its own accord.

We both just looked at each other and asked “Did that really just happen?”

No matter how many weird sounds are heard or dark figures are seen in windows, I’m still not one to believe in ghosts. But I have to admit, there are a lot of things that happen around here you just can’t explain.

Scooter Pursley's Ghost Story

It was a cold, starry and moonless night back in 1989. I was on Highway 2 coming out of Rugby, at the end of a long week of 15-hour days at the Minot Daily News. I was coming home after covering the end of a basketball tournament, I was tired and in a hurry to get back to Minot to write the story. Afternoon papers permitted all night writing if you wanted to. I didn’t want to, so I sped up. 

Within a mile or so of leaving Rugby, I saw flashing lights way behind me. Playing it safe, I slowed down and hoped it was not after me. After another mile or so, I checked the mirror and there were no more lights of any kind behind me. Good to go I thought and sped up again.

Moments later, I looked back in the mirror and right behind me was lights flashing in all their glory and it was the cop. How? Where had he come from?

Too late to worry about it, I pulled over and he followed and I got my license and registration out to present to the officer when he got to the door. With those in hand, I waited for the cop that never came, from the car that was no longer there. The lights that had pulled over after me were gone.

I sped up for a third time and hurried through Towner, Granville and Surrey. If I were going to be stopped again, it would be in Minot.

That was my run-in with the Ghost cop of Rugby. 

Later on, I found out there was a police officer that was killed in Rugby back in the 1960s. Who knows, it could have been him.