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Dakota Datebook

A December Ghost Story


Millions of Americans have changed their homes for many reasons over the years. Far fewer in the Red River Valley have left their home due to the disturbance by ghosts in the house. But that’s exactly what a family in Crookston, Minnesota claimed. The noisy intruders that sent them scampering made newspaper headlines on this day in 1943.

According to that day’s edition of the Friday evening Fargo Forum and Daily Republican, The Ruud family had their fill of spooky sounds being offered mysteriously from their rented home. They reported doors that shook by themselves as if in preparation to fall off their hinges. They explained that groans were heard rising from the home’s moldings.

The father of the family claimed the piano was the favorite spot for the ghost, according to the newspaper.  “We could hear a tone coming from the piano and in another five minutes another tone. We’d turn on the lights and sit down and watch the piano. We’d see a key go down to sound a note. In a few minutes another note would sound,” he said. 

“I never believed in ghosts before, but I do now,” he said. “For two weeks we tried living in this house but my wife and I could stand it no longer. At 5 a.m. after a night of terror, we started packing up and we are going back to Grand Forks (North Dakota).”

Ruud told the newspaper that the couple’s 6-year-old son, “who never had nightmares, had become subject to fits of hysterical laughter in his sleep since the family moved into the house.” 

Three deputy sheriffs were called upon to spend a night in the potentially haunted house. Perhaps it was the December wind? Or maybe the culprit was the dismal cold.

The temperature dipped to 16 degrees below zero. But the sheriffs were let down by the spooks, who never made their presence known. Not even their piano playing.

Following their ghost hunt investigation, the Forum reported the sheriff’s decided to give the house “a clean bill of health.”

Have a restful night, hopefully phantom-free. 

Dakota Datebook written by Steve Stark

The Fargo Forum Dec. 17, 1943

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