The Haunted Cabin of James Conway

Cabin near Alexandria, Nebraska (RG2083.PH000004-000051)

#4 Alexandria Journal 10/30/1965

The town of Alexandria, population 73 at last count, is found northwest of Fairbury. This sleepy farm community is said to have had within its boundary, a haunted cabin with a history going back to 1878. The owner of the original cabin, a man named James Conway, was physically impaled with a wagon tongue during a drinking spree gone horribly awry. Shortly after that, as the story goes, the wife’s body was found under an oak tree near a set of railroad tracks. Her body was free of obvious assault or attack. Everything was in place for the story to become local legend.

As a tale sometimes grows with each telling, the accident killing James Conway quickly became the much more exciting adventure of the headless man who emerges from the house at sundown holding a basket on his shoulder. Another report was made, stating that the ghost of Mrs. Conway, all dressed in white, had been seen at the oak tree where her body had been found.

Alexandria log house

The original cabin was dismantled and moved to the Big Sandy River, where it remains today.

Dale Bacon
Assistant Curator

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2 Responses to The Haunted Cabin of James Conway

  1. Bev Harber says:

    I have a post card dated 1965 showing the big barn at the ranch. I would like to donate the card if you would like to have it. It has been posted and written on and is in very good condition. Please let me know either way if you would like to have it.
    Hope to hear from you soon.
    Thanks for your time,
    Bev Harber

  2. Michael Pack says:

    Wow! Great story and thanks so much! James Conway and his wife Catherine were realtives of mine. I am not sure the connection yet. In 1860, my great great grandparents, Patrick and Margaret McKenna (McCann) moved from NY to Jones in the Nebraska Territory (which became Big Sandy). They had two daughters, my great grandmother, Mary Ann McKenna and Catherine Rose McKenna. By the 1870 census, both Mary and Catherine are living with James and Catherine Conway. I am guessing that Patrick and Margaret were killed during an Indian attack and that Margaret’s brother came out to take care of the children. Because the Conways live with the McKenna children on the McKenna’s land. Maybe someday I will be able to come out to Nebraska and do some research. But, thanks for the story!

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