Faceless Fred – The Ghoul of Phelps County
A Man Murdered and Mangled in the Midwest
At the time of early settlement in Sacramento, Nebraska, a man simply known as Fred lived in Phelps County in the latter half of the 1800s. A bit of a ladies man, Fred sought companionship with many women. The problem, however, was that he was married to a woman named Jane. Reportedly a hard working, yet plain-faced and barren woman, Jane watched as her husband drifted away. Fred seemed to be attracted to tough, adventurous women. According to legend, one woman in which he shared relations later became a member of Buffalo’s Bills Congress of the Rough Riders.
While running a general store in Sacramento, where he provided various goods and homemade corn whisky to patrons, he sparked an interest in a woman named Goldie. She happened to be a prostitute who was supposedly a member of the clan of women who followed General Joseph Hooker’s army. After speaking with Goldie one afternoon in the general store, they decided to take their relationship to the next level. Eventually, Jane found out about the affair. Irate and most likely embarrassed by her husband’s behavior, Jane murdered Fred by either shooting or stabbing him. Stories vary as to the method or weapon used to commit the crime. Once dead, she decided to rid him of the features used to attract women in life by cutting up his face. Most likely, to hinder his ability to cheat even in death. Once she finished mangling him, she disposed of the body in a well. Differing accounts of the location of the well add more mystery to the tale. According to legend, the well was possibly located just outside of the general store or possibly situated in the basement of the store, after it was built over the original site. The last place it may have been was near the road out front. No one has ever been able to uncover the exact spot.
After the old general store was renovated into a restaurant and bar, visitors and staff began reporting paranormal activity. Faceless Fred is described as wearing a red flannel shirt and blue overalls with a blurry, indistinguishable face, and shaggy blonde hair. One afternoon, a man came in wearing a red flannel shirt and blue overalls. He sat down at the bar and ordered a whisky. After counting money at the cash register, the bartender turned around to complete the order and no one was there.
Fred is said to roam back and forth between the old general store and the road where the well may have been. He can also be mischievous. Some claim to have been locked in the freezer by an unseen presence. Pots and pans are found thrown on the floor in the morning after the building was left empty overnight. Sounds of objects crashing are heard, but when the area is investigated nothing appears out of place. Although the apparition is not generally known to touch people, one woman had her shirt tugged while paying at the bar.
In addition to Fred, another spirit haunts the building. According to reports, a woman who died in a prairie fire with her daughter lingers around the establishment. Occasionally the ghost of Fred gets mixed up with the spirit of a hitchhiker wearing overalls and a plaid shirt reported to haunt the Funk-Odessa Road. When people stop to offer him a ride, they look back to discover he has disappeared.
Legend also has that Fred’s body, after being retrieved from the well, was buried in the area that is now the basement of the restaurant. Attempts to uncover the true origins of the tale have proved unsuccessful. No documented proof is known to exist in relation to the murder and disposal of a man named Fred in Sacramento. The story, however, has managed to live on. The truth can be found in the various reports of hauntings on the grounds in which Fred is rumored to have once lived and lost his life.
Want to learn more about the history behind several ghost
stories from Nebraska? Check out my book
Beyond Lincoln: A History of Nebraska Hauntings at
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