Ghosts of the Prairie


There are few places as appealing to the historians and history buffs of the Midwest than the mighty Mississippi River. There is really no other place that conjures up the image of the river as it once was like Missouri. St. Louis has always been known as the "Gateway to the West" and it became the prosperous river town that it did because of the Mississippi.... The river, and the state of Missouri itself,  have long been linked to stories of ghost and haunts and perhaps the strong link between the river and Missouri is what makes this state such a haunted place. Regardless, sit back and plan to enjoy the many tales of ghosts in the "Show Me" state. 

While many ghost hunters tend to overlook St. Louis as one of the more haunted cities in America, they don't realize what a mistake they are making by not giving it such a place of honor. The "Mound City" boasts many ghosts, including the Lemp Mansion, one of the TEN MOST HAUNTED PLACES IN AMERICA, links to the strange event that inspired the film and book of the "Exorcist" and much more! Take some time and I am sure that you'll see how chilling  THE SPIRITS OF ST. LOUIS can be!

The Infamous Lemp Mansion

Not far from St. Louis, along the Missouri River, is the historic town of St. Charles. Thanks to its strange and often unusual past, this small town boasts a number of very active ghosts. Explore THE GHOSTS OF ST. CHARLES and the mysterious hauntings of this wonderful town!

Just west of St. Louis is the rugged region along the Meramec River, where scores of ghost hunters and thrill seekers have been looking for ZOMBIE ROAD for several generations!

There is no doubt that one of the most famous historic personages in Missouri was that of the outlaw Jesses James. He and his brother, Frank, along with their band of desperadoes, robbed trains and banks all over the Wild West. Take a look now at the bloody history and ghostly afterlife of the  HAUNTS OF JESSE JAMES

Another historic town along the river is St. Genevieve, the oldest town west of the Mississippi. The exciting history of the place has also caused ghosts to be linger behind in both famous homes and even the local cemetery. Take a spine-tingling look at  THE GHOSTS OF ST. GENEVIEVE

Another historic river town where ghosts dwell is ARROW ROCK. This settlement was founded in the 1820's and  has a recorded that dates back to the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Not surprisingly, ghosts seem to be attracted to the town!

There are a few places in Missouri that have been touched by the Civil War and among them is a spot called INSPIRATION POINT, located near Branson. It is here that a ghostly rider is sometimes seen. During the war, this mountain lookout was used as a sentry post by the Confederate Army. Apparently, one soldier has never left. His ghost was first seen in 1964, during an outdoor play about the Baldknobbers, a pro-Union vigilante group from the middle 1800's. According to witnesses, the ghostly rider appeared to be fleeing one of the actors in a scene. The stories say that he has been reported ever since.

Another Civil War related location is that STEPHENS COLLEGE. It has become one of the most famous stories in Missouri and it is included here as an excerpt from Troy Taylor's book SPIRITS OF THE CIVIL WAR.

Besides Stephens college, Missouri has other "School Spirits", including MCCLUER SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL in Florissant. According to local lore, the Taille De Noyer Building on campus is haunted by former residents from a house that constructed on the site in 1798. Ghosts wearing period clothing are still reported. Another haunted school is NORTHWEST MISSOURI STATE UNIVERSITY in Maryville, where the ghost of a girl named "Roberta" is still rumored to dwell. THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI in Kansas City also has a resident ghost. The university's playhouse is haunted by a woman who died in the arms of the stage manager in 1957. 

Some haunted sites are gone, but not forgotten in Missouri. One of them is a placed called THE SUTTON HOUSE , which was located along Lake Valley Lane in Columbia. The house was burned down many years ago, but the stories still linger!

In Hollister, another haunted residence called THE LAKE HOUSE, is home to a "Peeping Tom" ghost. His pale face has been seen looking into the bathroom windows whenever women are inside! Strangely, the windows are more than 18 feet from the ground! The lecherous phantom has also been seen in the hallway leading to the bedrooms. He is believed to be the ghost of a man who murdered his wife and buried her body in the basement in the 1930's.

One of the most historic houses in Missouri is without a doubt the GOVERNOR'S MANSION in Jefferson City. Find out about the ghosts in this exclusive book excerpt from Joan Gilbert's book, "More Missouri Ghosts"!

The OLD JACKSON COUNTY JAIL in Independence is a place where prisoners were once held and like many other jails and prisons across the country, has become haunted. Visitors and inmates (the jail is still in operation) have reported feelings of nausea and extreme cold. Guards sometimes hear phantom footsteps, growling noises and the sound of a man gasping for air. In addition, a spectral man in a blue uniform has also been seen in the center south cell. He is believed to be Deputy Marshall Henry Buggler, who was killed during a jailbreak here in 1866.

In addition to the UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI, Kansas City claims other haunted spots as well. One historic mansion is the ALEXANDER MAJORS HOME, located on State Line Road. This house is said to be haunted by the ghost of a woman who once lived here named Louisa Johnston. She spent most of her life trying to restore the place but died on the caretaker's cottage at the age of 89. Even though the ghost has been frequently reported, the Historic Foundation that maintains it insists there are no ghosts here!

Another Kansas City landmark, the HOTEL SAVOY , is also home to a ghost or two. As the oldest continuously operating hotel west of the Mississippi, its past makes it a prime candidate for a haunting!

Johnson County's KNOB NOSTER mountain is home to a "ghost light" of some endurance and an eerie legend that accompanies it. According to the story, the Knob was once home to an old hermit. He died mysteriously one night during a thunderstorm and has since come back to haunt the place. Apparently, he had been on his way to town when he died and his body was discovered the next day lying next to his lantern, which was still lit. Today, his ghost, still carrying the lantern, is seen coming down the path to town whenever thunderstorms roll in over the area.

The Ozark Mountains also tell the story of the OZARK MADONNA, a ghostly barefoot woman who has been seen holding a baby among the ridges and hills of the region. The woman is thought to be the spirit of Laurie May Maumsey, who lived in a mountain cabin in the 1930's. One night, her drunken husband threatened to beat their baby to death and in the struggle that followed, the baby was dropped to the floor. Her head was shattered on the stone and she died. Laurie committed suicide shortly after and their ghosts have been seen ever since.

Another haunted house, from the Fayette area, is  LILAC HILL , and old mansion that apparently became haunted in 1977.While it is reportedly no longer haunted today, there were a number of strange occurrences that took place here in the past!

Perhaps the most famous ghostly manifestation in all of Missouri is that of  THE HORNET SPOOK LIGHT , located near Joplin at a place called the Devil's Promenade. Hundreds (or even thousands) have journeyed to this secluded area to catch a glimpse of this strange light! Few are ever disappointed!

The Hornet Spook Light

Copyright 2001 by Troy Taylor. All Rights Reserved.

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Sources and Recommended Reading for Haunted Missouri:

Haunted St. Louis by Troy Taylor (2002)
Missouri Ghosts by Joan Gilbert (1997)
More Missouri Ghosts by Joan Gilbert (2000)
Haunted Places: The National Directory by Dennis William Hauck (1996)
Ghost Stories from the American Southwest by Richard & Judy Young (1991)
Spirits of St. Louis by Robbi Courtaway (1999)
Lost Caves of St. Louis by Hubert & Charlotte Rother (1996)
Lemp: The Haunting History by Stephen Walker (1996)
The Encyclopedia of Ghosts & Spirits by Rosemary Ellen Guiley (2000)
Possessed by Thomas Allen (1994)
Spirits of the Civil War by Troy Taylor (1999)
Beyond the Grave by Troy Taylor (2001)
No Rest for the Wicked by Troy Taylor (2001)
FATE Magazine
Haunted Heartland by Beth Scott & Michael Norman (1985)
Haunted Odyssey by Jim Longo (1986)
Haunted Odyssey II: Ghosts Along the Mississippi by Jim Longo (1993)
The Ghostly Gazetteer by Arthur Myers (1990)
More Haunted Houses by Joan Bingham & Dolores Riccio (1991)
Dead Zones by Sharon Jarvis (1992)
The Ghost Tracker's Newsletter edited by Dale Kaczmarek
Ghost Hunter's Guide to Public Places by Arthur Myers (1993)
Personal Interviews and Correspondence