Born: Circa 1843. Married: Ephraim Elmer Polly, 1864, Clarke County, Iowa. Died: 1867 Ellis County, Kansas. Buried: Sentinel Hill.
Elizabeth Decker was born around 1843. married Ephraim Elmer Polly on May 29, 1864, in Clarke County, Iowa. He was transferred to Fort Hays around 1867 where he served as hospital steward. They may have had one child, Alexander M. Polly, born about 1864.
The hospital steward’s wife usually served as the hospital matron. In that capacity Elizabeth worked in the ward helping patients during a cholera epidemic. She was exposed to cholera and became a victim herself.
Numerous legends have developed surrounding her death, burial, and afterlife. She was buried at her request, according to legend, near the top of Sentinel Hill and received a military burial. Her burial clothing was described as a blue dress and white bonnet. Her grave site was marked with limestone posts, which were later removed, and the exact location is unknown. The four thieves who stole the posts reportedly met tragic fates in a gunfight, carriage accidents, and train mishap.
She is known in the community as the “Blue Light Lady,” an apparition that is said to walk the hill looking to comfort soldiers. Many people have claimed to see her wearing the blue, prairie-style dress and bonnet. Others say they see a misty blue light or hear footsteps walking up the hill. The community placed a monument atop Sentinel Hill in her memory in 1967. In 1982 the city of Hays designated the Elizabeth Polly Park in her honor, at 26th and Indian Trail, featuring a statue by Peter Felten.
Entry: Elizabeth Polly
Author: Kansas Historical Society
Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.
Date Created: April 2015
Date Modified: September 2015
The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.