She was the young wife of Ephriam Polly, the hospital steward, or male nurse, during the cholera epidemic at Fort Hays in 1867. Elizabeth was the hospital matron who helped sick and dying soldiers deal with what were, for many, the final hours of their lives. In the evening she would often walk to the hill south of the fort, now known as Sentinel Hill, where she is said to have found some comfort and spiritual healing.
When it was apparent that she had contracted the disease herself, she pleaded with her husband to bury her on top of the hill and she was indeed buried on the hill, though not at the top. According to the legend, her gravesite was marked with four heavy limestone posts. These posts were stolen by thieves in the early days of Hays, Kansas. The legend claims that tragedy found each of the thieves in the hours after the theft: one felled in a gunfight, two killed in a carriage accident, and the other hit by a train.
Sadly, due to the thefts, her exact gravesite has long been lost. Some contend that the grave found at the base of the hill was not Polly's, being instead that of a Mexican cattleman, based on the marker's Spanish inscription. In fact the "Lonely Grave," as it is called, may not be an actual burial site at all, as no remains were found in attempts to fulfill Miss Polly's wishes by moving her to the top of the hill. The actual Sentinel Hill is completely made of bedrock, making it a highly unlikely burial ground. Multiple attempts to locate her exact burial site have been made, and surprisingly, multiple bodies have been exhumed, but none was conclusively shown to be that of Elizabeth Polly.
Blue Light Lady
To most people who live in Hays, she is known as the "Blue Light Lady." Her spirit is said to still walk the hill looking to comfort her soldiers. Many people have made attempts to witness her spirit firsthand. Some have claimed that she has appeared wearing a blue, prairie-style dress and bonnet, while others claim that she is a misty blue light. Other people have claimed that while waiting at the top of the hill for Elizabeth's spirit to arrive, footsteps have been heard walking up the hill and suddenly disappearing at the top, yet nobody was to be found around the hill.
One specific event was reported in 1950 when a police officer radioed a report to dispatch saying that he had just hit a woman dressed in blue not far from the hill. He then quickly exited his car and searched for a body. None was ever found.
Today, there is a monument to her on the top of Sentinel Hill, put there in 1967. A park dedicated to her was established in Hays in 1982, and it includes an Elizabeth Polly statue.