Stories from the Elk Hotel

The Haunting


By B.W. Thines


The other day I was talking to Burt Button, who lives on the third floor. Burt claims there is a ghost lurking on the third floor and that it was at his door last night. I asked Burt, “How do you know it was at your door?”  He said he heard the door knob being turned. Burt said this all occurred around two a.m.  Burt is one of our more rational residents so I would not just dismiss what he said.  I reviewed the camera footage from that floor and it did not show anyone at Burt’s door on or around two a.m.

Ahmed Abdoman claims to have talked to a spirit that roams the third floor halls and claims it speaks a foreign language.

Our Indian resident Chewie Yoofood got together with Burt, Ahmed and others on the floor for a séance to summon this spirt.  During the séance they summoned a male spirit that was a German soldier.  Chewie told me he could not understand what the connection this spirit had with inhabiting the hotel.

I was taking to Ed Carr, the Hotel Manager about this matter over coffee Saturday morning.  Ed remembered a German guy that lived at the hotel during the 60s into the 70s and that he died in his room.  Ed said he would check the archives to see what information he had on this guy.  Ed got back to me Wednesday morning on what he found, and it was one great story.

Ed said the guy he remembered was named Siegfried Munster and he did live in room 302, the same room that Burt Button now resides in.  What is even more interesting is that Siegfried did serve in the German Army during World War Two. He was captured by the American Army in 1943 and brought to America to serve his time in a Prisoner of War camp that was located in Geneva, New York.  After the war was over the prisoners of war were given their freedom.  Some of the Germans returned to Germany, but some were granted U.S. citizenship.  One person granted citizenship was Siegfried Munster.

Before he was drafted into the German Army in 1939, Siegfried was an apprentice optical lens maker.  Siegfried worked under a senior craftsman for four years before the war. A fter being released from the POW camp Siegfried got a job at Eastman Kodak because of his knowledge in optical lens manufacturing.

Siegfried retired from Eastman Kodak in the early sixties.  Two years after his retirement his wife hung herself in the basement of their home and a year after that his only daughter left home.  Siegfried never recovered from this loss, and was never the same man.

Ed said that he came to stay at the hotel around 1966 and was living in room 302. Siegfried would leave the hotel in the morning and come back in the evening drunk. He would start off with breakfast on Chestnut Street and then wander over to the Cadillac Bar to drink his Genesee beer.  I remembered the guy, I would run into him at one of my favorite watering holes, Puchies Pup.

Ed said he noticed a change in Siegfried around 1985; he would wear the same cloths day after day and there was a nasty smell that followed after him.

Siegfried would return to the hotel late in the afternoon mildly inebriated stumbling as he tried to walk up the stairs.  He would bring a bag of food and a six pack of Genesee beer upon returning.  When in his room he started arguing with himself in German and would throw things against the wall.  Security would have to go up to his room and tell him to quiet down.

It was quiet for over a week in room 302, no one had seen Siegfried.  People living next to him started to complain about a strong odor coming from room 302.  When security entered the room they found Siegfried lying in bed, he was dead.  It took a week to get the smell of death out of the room.

There didn’t seem to be a next of kin listed in Siegfried’s file, the only name mentioned was his wife, and she was long dead.  Siegfried had plenty of money in the bank, plus he was receiving a Kodak pension and Social Security retirement benefits.  Monroe County took care of his burial.  No one was there when Siegfried was lowered into the ground.

Ed and I decided to do some additional research on Siegfried Munster.  I contacted the German embassy in New York City and they gave me a list of names of people who could possibly be relatives of Siegfried Munster.  I wrote to all of the people on the list asking if they were related to Siegfried.  Three weeks later I got a response from a Frieda Munchawich, nee – Munster.  She said she was the daughter of Siegfried’s sister Loti, (who died in the year 2000).  Frieda gave me a phone number where I could reach her.

Ed made the phone call to Frieda, since he knew Siegfried better then I, and also he was the manager of the hotel.  Ed explained his relationship with Siegfried to Frieda; he did not mention that he died a drunken sot.  Ed just referred to Siegfried as an outstanding guy, and a good resident of the hotel.  Ed did not know how to explain the haunting, so he left that up to me, (thanks a lot Ed).

I asked Frieda if she believed in the supernatural.  To my surprise she said she did.  I explained to Frieda that certain tenants of the hotel were in contact with Siegfried’s spirit.  I also mentioned that a few of the tenants held a séance to try to contact the spirit.  During the séance Siegfried explained that he wished to be buried in his place of birth.  Frieda said she understood and she would see what arrangements she could do in Germany.  I told her I would be in touch with our county officials.  I told Frieda that I would need a notarized statement from her for permission to exhume the body and prepare it for shipment to Germany.  I gave Frieda the name of the man that I spoke with at the German Embassy.

I talked with the City Department of Graves and Cemeteries; they gave me some forms to fill out.  It took weeks to process all the paper work and two weeks to get approval from the Judge to exhume the body. An official from the German Embassy arrived to help prepare the body for shipment to Germany.

Siegfried’s body arrived in Germany three months after our first conversation with Frieda.  She had called Ed to tell him Siegfried’s body was buried in his home town of Wurzburg.

We never had any problem again with the spirit of Siegfried Munster haunting at the Hotel.




B.W. Thine’s collection, Stories from the Elk Hotel, is awaiting publication.