Bump in the night

Nancy Marr hunkered down in bed one night at her house in rural Marion County, a home where a number of unexplained things have happened. That evening, Marr was frightened. She didn’t know what was floating around her room.

“That night, when I was sleeping, I saw an orb that scared me,” she said, adding she pulled her blanket up over her face. “It was scary.”

That day, a woman visited Marr’s home, which is known in the area as Cedar Rest because that’s one of the names the home had in its many incarnations.

“A wonderful woman came to visit,” Marr said, adding she, herself, has had an injury she’s had to overcome. “She couldn’t fit into society like I couldn’t fit in. Like me, I have a compassion, humanitarian feeling about me. Inside, I feel for animals and nature and people. She was so active in the homeless situation, so she elected to be homeless, herself. She was amazing.”

The woman spent the night in Marr’s home, the night she saw the orb, which some people think are energies of the dearly departed floating about.

“To make a compliment to her, I said, ‘Your angel came to visit me last night,’” Marr said she told the woman the next day.

She also said when a ghost hunters group visited the large house that was built in the 1800s; they took photos in which orbs appeared.

“Most of them were around my photograph albums,” Marr said of the orbs, adding the orbs near the albums were dull, not bright like the one in her bedroom.

Not only did the ghost hunters photograph orbs, they heard something, as well.

“It’s my opinion all spirit voices sound like children,” Marr said. “They heard a little boy say, ‘Watcha doin’?’”

The home east of Peabody has a rich history in Marion County.

“Marion County purchased 160 acres of land for its poor farm in 1887 from settler William Glover,” according to the Kansas State Historical Society Register of Historic Places registration form. The old building, which is in need of repair, is on the state registry of historic places. “Between 1889 and 1890, a large two-story stone building was erected to house the county’s indigent. During its peak years at the turn of the century, the poor farm was self-sustaining through the work done on the property by its inmates. The poor farm continued to house the county’s most vulnerable citizens until 1964 when it was converted into a rest home.”

It’s been known as Marion County Poor Farm, Marion County Asylum for the Poor, Cedar Villa and Cedar Rest, according to the form.

It’s a large and elegant manifestation on the Plains.

“The main stone structure is two stories plus a full basement and includes 40 rooms, 80 windows and five bathrooms,” the form stated. “Two original wooden porches remain: a covered porch on the south and a large west porch.”

The ruins of a stone home, circa 1883, also are on the property. To add to the spookiness, there’s a graveyard to the north of the property, which is owned by the county, according to the form. Marr said one of the site’s buildings was a Civil War fortress, which was built in 1867.

In addition to the basement and two floors, there’s an attic with windows.

Right now, because she needs funds to keep the place in line with the state registry, Marr is applying for grants and trying to get money for the home. She was awarded a $59,900 Heritage Trust Fund grant in 2019 and is applying for more.

“We had a lot of flood damage, storm damage, broken windows,” Marr said.

Another way she’s getting funds to help repair damage is by conducting tours the Saturday following Halloween. See the end of the article for more information on the tours.

She also appreciates those who help her and she’s looking for someone to repair or replace a door at the place. She said she’d pay for the door.

“I want to express my appreciation for the volunteers,” Marr said.

“The home looks haunted, by the way,” Marr said. “I don’t consider it haunted. I haven’t experienced any negative energy. I take a firm stand there’s no ghosts. I’m not interested in pursuing that because I’m a spiritual person.”

However, things have happened there.

Marr said a young woman named Miranda visited the place with two of her friends.

“This was 10 years ago,” Marr said. “She was in high school and brought this little witch girl. That little girl, when I took her around the house, she could sense vibrations and I remember going up to the third floor where the bedrooms are, and she said, ‘This room has really negative energy.’ She must have been telling the truth because that’s the only room I won’t sleep in. I sleep in all the rooms.”

Marr said her dog didn’t like that room, either.

After Miranda and her two friends left, “then strange things happened,” Marr said. “Miranda said as soon as they got in the car, she said it started to rain in her car.”

Also, after getting back to McPherson around 11 p.m., they saw a group of foxes in a circle and a strange person by a bridge.

“It was in the men’s part of the sleeping rooms upstairs,” she said about the room with negative energy, adding more men were in the poor house than women and that only feeble men had private rooms.

Marr said the home also served as a hospital, and she showed where the birthing room was during a tour on Monday afternoon.

“Before hospitals [were] in the country, poor farms and homes served as hospitals for injuries,” she said. “For unwed mothers, there was a secret door.”

She also showed the secret door, which is on one side of the house. It’s a more discrete entrance.

Even though there’s a cemetery and negative energy in one bedroom, Marr likes the home.

“The place has been therapeutic for me,” she said. “Tourists say it’s peaceful. I feel it’s peaceful.”

Marr said she and her husband got the place in 1973, and moved there in 1974. From ’74 to 1989, they used to hear what she described as “angelic music” out the front door. She said maybe it was the wind, maybe not. Whatever it was, it stopped in 1989.

“My last witness was a lady in Hillsboro,” she said. “I don’t know why it stopped.”

There also have been two or three reports of people seeing child on the property, Marr said.

These aren’t the only people who have experienced things.

Amy Bayes, a few years ago, visited the home with her family–Saje Bayes, Ryan Bayes and Isaac Bayes. Amy Bayes is the children’s librarian at Newton Public Library. The family lives in Marion.

“Upstairs, we saw a bottle cap go fly by us,” Bayes said. “Three of us saw it. And then when three of us were downstairs, we heard distinct footsteps upstairs, but the other two were outside; we saw them clearly through the window. I was touched on the shoulder. My son was always behind me, and I thought it was him. He said I jumped three feet in the air.”

Another time, the lights there didn’t work and kept going on and off. The next day when Travis the caretaker was there, he said the lights worked fine.

“Travis kept complaining he was being touched by spider webs, but there were no spider webs at all,” Bayes said. “Ryan was outside helping Travis clean up debris, and they both heard someone tapping on the window.”

The tours will be at 4 p.m., which is for families and will include ghost storytelling; 6:30 p.m., for adults; and 9 p.m., which will have what Marr called a “Circle in the Dark with a Candle.” Each will have about a 45-minute tour with a half-hour program. There will be games and prizes. Those wishing to attend can call Marr at 316-833-1480. Those wishing to donate money can send it to Nancy Marr, 510 Victory, Marion, KS 66861.

UPDATED 11/1 — Nancy Marr is not ready to give tours on 11/2 yet so she is instead offering more times throughout November. The tours will now run on Saturdays Nov 9, Nov 16, Nov 23, and Nov 30 and there will be two different times and types of tours available. The 3 p.m. tour will run an hour and a half and is for families or those looking for a more family-friendly tour. The 6:30 p.m. tour is for adults only and will have candlelight. Please make sure to call and schedule your spot and make sure the tour is happening based on weather conditions.