Old Man Sturges: The true story behind Buffalo’s haunted park

There is a story in Buffalo that many residents know. It’s about a ghost that haunts Sturges Park. Recently, the story has gotten renewed interest on social media as the park has been named the fifth most haunted park in the Midwest by MysteriousHeartland.com.

The legend says that Old Man Sturges was a wealthy business man in the late 1800’s who, after his death, stayed at Sturges Park and haunted the bathroom. Many people claim that they can see him wandering the park. They also claim that he writes the names of his victims on the bathroom mirror. Some even say that they have seen strange balls of light floating in and out of the bathroom. What many people don’t know about this tale is that it came from the mind of one of the teachers at BHS. He is English Teacher Ryan McCallum.

“It was 1987, I was a bored and lonely kid because I had just moved here from Arizona,” said McCallum, “My class took a field trip and I didn’t have anyone to go with, so I went down to the lake and found a huge dead carp. I had an idea. I started cutting it open with a stick. I brought [the fish parts] to the girls’ bathroom and started smearing it all over. I wrote ‘help me’ and ‘you’re next’ and put the eyeballs on either side of the sink handles,” continued McCallum. “When my classmates asked why I didn’t do anything I told them that I was going to the bathroom but I saw horrifying things, and I saw a ghost. I saw Old Man Sturges.”

McCallum didn’t just make up this story as a joke. He used to connect with people.

“I got to make some friends because I had that story, and that was good,” said McCallum.

The story never stopped spreading.

“After I started teaching here, my students would tell me that they didn’t want to go to Sturges Park because it was haunted,” said McCallum. “The fact that the story still existed 15 years after it happened, it made me really impressed that people still thought it was true, so I told them the truth.”

The story is still passed around today. People have added to the story and made other versions. Some people don’t believe that McCallum came up with the story of Old Man Sturges. Some people just try to keep spreading the spooky story on to younger generations.

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