Missouri is one state that has a large number of very well known hauntings to call its own, including the famous tale of demonic possession on which the famous motion picture The Exorcist was based. There are dozens of interesting tales of paranormal activity coming out of the Show Me State, and many of the locations are open to the general public if you are brave enough to pay them a visit.
Knob Noster is a small Missouri town close to Whiteman Air Force Base. As you may or may not be aware, the word knob is an old term for a hill or smaller mountain and this is where the town gets its name. This is also where the local spooky legends are centred. You see, it is said that at one time there was a hermit who lived up on the hill avoiding the rest of the town as much as possible. In fact, he had a slave who would run any errands he had in town. The slave was well liked by the townspeople, so when he went missing they became concerned, especially when the hermit came into town to do his own errands. Some of the locals asked him about the slave, but he simply scowled and stormed off, triggering a rumour that he had murdered the young man. A few days later there was a terrible storm and witnesses saw a lantern moving up the hill just before lightning struck. The following day, the Hermit’s body was discovered on the hill, his face frozen in terror! To this day, people still see the light from a lantern bobbing up and down the hillside on stormy nights.
9. Jesse James Farm, Kearney
Almost everyone has heard of Jesse James, so it will be no surprise that the James Family’s farm has been the scene of a great deal of heartache and violence. This has led to the farm becoming one of the most haunted places in Missouri. The farm is open for public tours where visitors learn how Frank and Jesse James were raised there and how Jesse was beaten and almost hung by Union soldiers searching for his brother Frank. His half brother was also killed on the farm by a bomb thrown by guards searching for Jesse and Frank.
Jesse was actually buried on the farm following his death and his mother would charge visitors to come to visit his grave and take some pebbles from it. However, his Earthly remains were later relocated to Mt. Olive Cemetery. That certainly hasn’t stopped the hauntings. People have reported hearing horses hooves, gunshots and even disembodied voices and whispers around the farm!
8. Jefferson Barracks & Cemetery, St. Louis
The Jefferson Barracks in St Louis have been an active military site since 1826. Given its age and the fact that it adjoins the national cemetery, it is no surprise that it is said to be haunted! The cemetery apparently has a little child ghost who wanders aimlessly among the headstones. There are also two ghosts who appear at sundown and acknowledge each other before vanishing again! One is said to be in the clothing of an confederate soldier, while the other is wearing the uniform of a Buffalo Soldier – more specifically the black troop.
In the barracks themselves it seems to be the post headquarters where the paranormal activity is centred. One local soldier spotted a light coming on in one of the rooms one night and went over to the window to check it out. When he looked inside he saw a military officer in 19th century dress sat at a desk writing by candlelight. He then stood up and vanished!
7. Ravenswood, Bunceton
Ravenswood is a grand mansion that was built back in 1880 by Nadine and Charles Leonard. The Leonards were a couple who loved nothing more than entertaining and they would often string lanterns through the trees, hire an orchestra and invite all of their friends to dance the night away. Nadine remained in her beloved home until she died aged 90 years old and it seems that perhaps her spirit has never left. A family servant tried to enter Nadine’s bedroom after her death to collect some clothing only to find the door locked from inside! It was agreed that the lock would have to be broken, but by the time the servant returned with the required tools the door was open! Christmas ornaments are often thrown down the stairs, a broken music box randomly plays music despite not having worked for years and some visitors say they can hear music and laughter from the lawns, reminiscent of Nadine’s lavish parties!
6. The Governor's Mansion, Jefferson City
The Governor’s Mansion has been home to Missouri governors since 1872 with Thomas Crittenden and his family among the first to live their. His beloved daughter Caroline was born there in 1873, but sadly died aged 10 after contracting diphtheria. Governor Crittendom never really was the same after her death. If we fast forward around a century, that is when the first paranormal reports started to come in. A restoration project was underway at the mansion and one workman was up in the attic. He came downstairs and asked the housekeeper who the little girl was that had been playing up there while he worked was. The housekeeper said that nobody was in the house but him! Upon realising that his companion was a ghost he refused to return to the mansion!
5. Smallett's Cave, Ava
There is a small cave in Ava known locally as Smallett’s Cave and it is said to be one of the most haunted places in Missouri. In the 1920s two ladies were walking near Spring Creek when a man stepped out from the side of the road. He was headless and had a pair of shoes strung around the stump of his neck and a bible on his shoulder! The women ran off, but a short time later the apparition appeared again this time to two boys out riding. Other reports state that a horse with a headless rider has galloped towards them on the same path. It is said that this is a ghost who lives in Smallett’s Cave and that passers by can hear him tapping away as he cobbles shoes. This has earned the apparition the nickname of the headless cobbler!
4. Thespian Hall, Boonville
Thespian Hall in Boonville holds the distinction of being the oldest operating theater west of the Appalachians. It was built in 1857 and has served as a theater, a dance hall, a library, a movie theater, a stable, a skating rink, a church and even a Civil War hospital! It is no wonder the building is said to be haunted!
The spirit connected with Thespian Hall has been affectionately dubbed Mrs X. She has been captured in photographs in the theater and has been described as having grey hair, a white collared blouse and a dark skirt. She carries a pocketbook and her face is usually blurred. The first known photograph was taken by the family of an opera singer who had been performing that night. They were able to identify the lady in the picture as their grandmother who had recently passed an who loved the opera. Since then she has been spotted frequently sitting in the audience during rehearsals.
Mrs X is not alone in Thespian Hall. Other strange incidents include unexplained ragtime music playing and moving wig stands which will turn themselves to face the mirrors when nobody is in the room!
3. Lemp Mansion, St. Louis
Lemp Mansion is one of the most haunted places in Missouri. It is now a restaurant and bed and breakfast, but originally it was the Lemp Family home. Several members of the Lemp family died in the building under tragic circumstances, so it is no surprise that it is their ghosts who are said to haunt the property. Phantom footsteps, knocking and poltergeist activity are all commonly reported here.
2. Zombie Road, St Louis
Zombie Road is perhaps one of the most fascinating and of course one of the most haunted places in Missouri. It was officially known as Lawler Ford Road, but it has been known as Zombie Road since the 1950s. There are many chilling tales that are associated with the road including one about the so called ‘zombie killer’. He is supposed to have been a creepy loner who lived in a shack in the woods and would attack young lovers who came to the spot for some alone time! It is not known if there is any truth to this particular legend. Other chilling tales about Zombie Road include ghost sightings, vanishings and strange noises. One of the creepiest is the story of Della Hamilton McCullough, the wife of a local judge who died in 1876 when she was hit by a train. She us now said to haunt zombie road. However, what Zombie Road is most famous for is the shadow people. There have been several photographs captured by credible witnesses which show large numbers of shadow people standing in the woods by the side of Zombie Road. These are believed to be the souls of Native American orphans who were tortured while at a nearby orphanage in 1913.
1. The Exorcist House, St. Louis
One of the most infamous haunting in Missouri has to be ‘The Exorcist House’. Pretty much everyone has heard of The Exorcist either from the book by William Peter Blatty or from William Friedkin’s movie adaptation. What some people don’t realise is that The Exorcist was based on a real life case that happened in St Louis. The true story is that a teenage boy who has been dubbed ‘Roland Doe’ to protect his identity was living in Maryland and played with a Ouija board causing him to be possessed by a demon. It is alleged that some of the bruising on his chest from the attacks spelled out louis, leading his family to believe he should be taken to stay with relatives in St. Louis. Some say that the house in Roanoke Drive where he stayed is still haunted, perhaps stained by the boy’s possession!