The Best of Arizona! Who is the Ghost Haunting Fort Huachuca’s Carleton House?
I remember driving onto Fort Huachuca in the ‘90s and seeing the slogan on the water tower which read: “Fort Huachuca: A great place to enlist since 1877”.
A carat and the word “re” was later inserted before the word “enlist”. Around that time, I had a job on the operations and maintenance work order desk, so I could vividly imagine Fort Huachuca’s Commanding General (or, more likely, his assistant) calling in a request to make the change, plus the usual meetings and government red tape that went along with even such a minor alteration.
That prominent reminder of the fort’s history is something I consider every day on the way to work. In the nearly 150 years of Fort Huachuca’s history, residents have come and gone, but it seems more than a few have stuck around.
THE GHOST OF CARLETON HOUSE
K101 Facebook follower Joseph related this story when I asked about local Urban Legends in Cochise County:
“Quarters Number 9 on Colonel’s Row, the Carleton House, has the most documented hauntings on Fort Huachuca. Constructed in 1880, it was built as an eight-bed hospital and has since been used as officers' quarters, mess hall, schoolhouse, and chapel.
When Carleton House was a hospital, a woman dubbed "Charlotte" died in childbirth there. It is reported that her ghost still wanders the halls, searching for her child. Numerous reports of residents have heard a baby cry when there are no infants in the home have been documented, as well as a rocking chair that has been moved, throughout the home rocking in its own.
The most recent “sightings” were by contractors who were renovating the home. There were numerous reports of doors being unlocked, when the workers knew they locked them and reporting to work the next day to tools scattered all around the area.”
Joseph added, “I used to deliver pizza on the base and delivered to the [Carleton House] many times. Only once did my hair stand on end - I saw the rocking chair (which at this point was at a window near the front porch) rocking with no one in it.”
NO ONE AT HOME
According to Weird Arizona, by Wesley Treat and Troy Taylor, the first documented sighting of the ghost of Carleton House happened when the Koenig family lived there.
A boy from the neighborhood stopped by the house to deliver a message to the matriarch Margaret Koenig. Knocking on the door, he spotted Mrs. Koenig, but instead of answering the knock, she turned and walked down the hall, ignoring him.
The boy ran home to tell his mom what happened, and she was bothered enough to call Mrs. Koenig who said the family had been out of the house for the day. No one had been home when the boy visited.
CHARLOTTE GETS HER NAME
The next family to live in Carleton House discovered the residence was haunted almost from the day first day they moved in.
In the early 1980s, Army Intelligence Center deputy commander Colonel Roy Strom and his family took up residence. Joan Strom was the person who dubbed the ghost “Charlotte”. While they were moving in, the family piled boxes in the room that had been used as the hospital morgue. The next day, they found the boxes overturned and the contents tossed around the room.
The doorbell rang repeatedly, even though no one was on the porch. Lights turned on and off. Wall hangings dropped straight to the floor and wouldn’t stay hung. A corner of one of the main rooms was always much colder than the rest of the house. Joan Strom christened that “Charlotte’s Corner”.
One morning, Joan believed she got a glimpse of Charlotte walking down the hallway. Joan called out, thinking it was her daughter. When the girl ignored her and kept on down the hall, Joan followed only to find her daughter asleep in her bed.
WHO WAS CHARLOTTE?
Fort Huachuca’s records have been searched in a vain attempt to learn something – anything – about Charlotte. Believed to have died in the early 1880s in the fort hospital. Nothing was ever located. No records or headstone in the cemetery attesting to this young woman’s fate.
So, Charlotte remains a mystery.
Source: Treat, Wesley, and Taylor, Troy. Weird Arizona: Your Travel Guide to Arizona's Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets. Sterling, 2007.
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