Former Murder Site/Bordello found along Kansas’ Route 66

Steffleback House

Front St
Galena, KS
Folk lore

This former house of ill repute is slated to become a tourist stop along Route 66. Russ Keeler of Saloam Springs, AR’s “After Midnight Paranormal Investigations” will be leading tours throughout the house beginning mid March of 2013.

Once owned by a serial killer madam, Ma Steffleback, she and 3 accomplices robbed and killed dozens of clients (mostly miners) during the 1890s. She died in prison in 1909.

According to the Joplin Globe and other sources, Ma Steffleback was the longtime owner of the bordello and known as “Galena’s Bloody Madam.” She also was known as Nancy Wilson, but locals referred to her by a previous name through marriage.

Steffleback, two sons, and her husband were charged in 1897 with murdering Frank Galbraith, a miner and bordello client, and dumping his body into a mine shaft. All were convicted of various charges with the killing, and Ma Steffleback died in prison in 1909.

The online petition suggests Steffleback led what amounted to a serial killing-and-robbing scheme:

She would have her girls discover which miners wouldn’t be missed and were carrying a lot of money on their person, and they would either drug them or get them drunk and then lure them out of sight under the pretext of having a good time.

Then, either Ma’s sons or the man she was living with would murder the poor miner via a blow to the head with an ax. The bodies would be looted—often by Ma herself—and the bodies wrapped in canvas and thrown down one of the many mines, where it could be thought a mining accident. At least fifty miners were murdered in this Victorian brothel before Ma was caught, although her hoarded treasure was never found.

The Legends of America site says Steffleback lured as many as 30 victims into her deadly back room. However, none of this was proven. Some of the details can be read with this scan of a Chicago Tribune article.  (Thanks to Ron Warnick at Route 66 News for this story!)

Find this site and others with the iPhone apps, “Best Road Trip Ever!” and “Road Trip 66!”
(Photos © copyright 2006-2014 Kelly Ludwig, all rights reserved)