Ghost Stories from Springfield MO

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Closer to home, this week’s spooky tales come from a city about an hour from Joplin. It was fun to spend a day photographing haunted locations and to take an evening ghost tour of a castle.

The castle proved so interesting that I’ll do a separate post to adequately highlight all the spooky happenings there. Check out all five of the locations I visited for Ghost Stories from Springfield MO.

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Springfield, Missouri

Currently the third largest city in Missouri, the Springfield area originally was home to Native American tribes that included Kickapoo, Osage and Lenape. The first European settlers arrived in 1829, from Tennessee.

John Polk Campbell later donated land from his property for Springfield’s public square and he platted the town site. Springfield incorporated in 1878, with the nickname of “Queen City of the Ozarks”.

The city held strategic importance during the Civil War, with Springfield’s divided loyalty between the North and the South. On August 10, 1861, Union and Confederate troops fought for control of the city in the Battle of Wilson Creek. Considered a Confederate victory, the battle saw the death of Nathaniel Lyon, the first Union general killed during the war.

Today, with a population of more than 170,000, Springfield is the fastest growing metropolitan area in the state. Their historic downtown is enjoying a resurgence and the city’s lively culture includes theaters, art, music, dance and opera.

With her turbulent history that includes the forced relocation of Native peoples, Civil War battles and racial violence, there are plenty of locations within Springfield that classify as haunted.

Bride Ghost of Phelps Grove Park Bridge

This 31 acre park, established in 1931, is situated in a beautiful older neighborhood in Springfield. Once part of the Phelps homestead, the original 1,050 acres belonged to the founding “father” and “mother” of Springfield, John and Mary Phelps. John, a Missouri congressman and the 23rd Governor of Missouri, and his wife Mary aided and educated orphans during and after the Civil War.

At the entrance to the park, visitors cross over an old fieldstone bridge that arches over a drainage canal.  Legend has it that on their wedding night, a couple crossed the bridge in their carriage. The horse bolted, causing the carriage to flip over the railing of the bridge. The carriage landed upside down, killing the newlyweds.

People claim to see a woman near or under the bridge, dressed in a flowing white wedding gown. She appears forlorn. And some report that her face is missing. The park and bridge are popular sites for paranormal investigations and abnormal energy readings.

Ghost Stories from Springfield MO phelps bridge
Ghost Stories from Springfield MO – Bride Ghost at Phelps Bridge

Drury University Ghosts

Drury University opened its doors to 39 students in 1873. Over the years, the campus expanded as did the student body. Today the 40 acre campus includes many academic buildings…and more than a few ghosts.

Drury University occupies land that once served as Native American burial grounds. Later the Civil War raged around it. And Smith Hall, a women’s dormitory, is built on the site of a row of Victorian homes. A little girl, caught in a fire that caused her demise, lived in one of those homes. Her ghost lingers. Dressed in pink, the ghostly girl wanders the hallways, looking for her teddy bear.

Other students in the same hall report locked doors and dresser drawers opening and objects out of place in their rooms.

In Clara Thompson Hall, students report pianos that play by themselves and doors that slam closed. And in Wilhoit Theatre flickering lights move about the building when no one is inside.

Ghost Stories from Springfield MO drury university
Ghost Stories from Springfield MO – Clara Thompson Hall at Drury University

Restless Spirits at Landers Theatre

This pretty terra cotta building, built in 1909, has been in continuous use since its completion. It began life as a playhouse and later became one of the first “talkie” motion picture theaters. After major renovations in the 1980s, Landers Theatre today hosts plays, musicals, ballets, symphonies and other artistic performances.

It is also home to restless spirits.

One of the most frequently seen ghosts is a janitor who died in the theatre during a fire in 1920. The janitor hangs out in the balcony, claim the actors who see him from the stage. Others report experiencing another ghost, a baby who accidentally fell from the upper balcony. They hear the fall repeatedly, on a loop. Or hear the baby crying, followed by comforting sounds from the baby’s ghost mother.

Above the stage, a vaudeville stagehand hanged himself from the rigging. His ghost haunts the catwalks.

Another ghost peeks from a fourth floor window, watching passersby walking along Walnut Street. This spirit, a man with long blond hair and wearing Elizabethan clothing, is never spotted from inside the theatre…only by people outside the building.

Ghost Stories from Springfield MO landers theatre
Ghost Stories from Springfield MO – Landers Theatre

Permanent Guest at Walnut Street Inn

This pretty bed and breakfast at 900 E Walnut Street, built in the mid 1890s, has a permanent otherworldly guest. She claims the Rosen Room as hers. A man staying in the room looked up from where he reclined on the bed to see a woman sitting at a table against the wall.

“Excuse me,” he said. “This is my room!” The woman replied that it was her room…and disappeared.

Others report seeing the woman sitting on the edge of their beds. And people often feel a cold draft on the backs of their necks.

Activity appeared to increase in the inn after a 1998 renovation. If you dare, you can make a reservation HERE. Would I? Yes! In fact, I hope to stay there soon.

Ghost Stories from Springfield MO walnut street inn
Ghost Stories from Springfield MO – a permanent guest at Walnut Street Inn

Haunted Castle

I only recently learned that Springfield has a castle! Image my excitement to discover that it offers year around ghost tours.

Pythian Castle, constructed in 1913, originally housed older members of the Knights of Pythias and their widows and orphans. Later the military purchased the castle and used it as a prisoner of war camp during WWII and a place to rehabilitate burned and injured US troops. It is now privately owned and available for special events and history and ghost tours.

At least 100 deaths occurred within the castle. Causes of death range from diseases such as tuberculosis to accidents to suicide. Many spirits haunt Pythian Castle.

Ghosts include children who speak to and play pranks on visitors, Mr. Boots who lurks in a tunnel in the basement, the spirits of soldiers and shadow people.  Several paranormal investigators have captured audio and video evidence of the hauntings at the castle, including the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures crew.

Tours last 90 minutes and include a very interesting and informative video. If you live in the area or pass through Springfield, stop for a tour. Info HERE.

Does your city offer ghost tours?

I learned a lot of Springfield history while checking out these haunted locations in the city. In fact, that’s one of my favorite reasons for participating in a ghost tour or creating my own version of one…learning the oft times hidden history of a place.

It’s fun to explore historical cities, such as Washington DC, and learn about their local ghosts and legends. However, small towns and perhaps YOUR hometown have their own spooky tales as well.

You can read Joplin’s ghost stories. And I’d love to learn about your city’s ghost tales as well. Share a spooky story in the comments below.

Ghost Hunting
Ghost Hunting at Pythian Castle

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Ghost Stories from South Carolina Sea Islands

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The second installment in the October spooky series is Ghost Stories from South Carolina Sea Islands.

Last year, after my first visit to Charleston, SC, I shared ghost stories from that beautiful and historic city. This year, I returned to the area, staying this time on nearby Johns Island. It wasn’t difficult to find spooky tales from the cluster of South Carolina sea islands to share.

Grab a beverage of choice and get comfy. And you might want to leave the lights on.

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South Carolina Sea Islands

The sea islands are a chain of tidal and barrier islands in the Atlantic Ocean, along the Southeastern US coast.  Near Charleston, South Carolina the major sea islands are Johns, James, Kiawah, Madmalaw, Folly, Seabrook, Sullivan’s and Edisto. The largest of these is Johns Island.

Plantations existed on most of the sea islands, growing crops of cotton, rice, indigo and tobacco, with enslaved people doing the work. After the civil war, most white land owners fled, leaving their former slaves behind to fend for themselves. Northern charities stepped in to provide help so that the remaining residents of the islands could become self sufficient.

From those peoples came the Gullah culture, one of the oldest surviving African cultures in the US. The descendants of the Africans brought to the South Carolina Colony in the 1500s now number more than 500,000.

The sea islands are unique, offering laid back vibes, a rich culture and many fun places to visit and explore. As with any historical site that has known great change and trials, the sea islands have their ghost stories. These five tales come from Johns Island and Edisto Island.

Angel Oak Tree Spirits

Located on Johns Island, Angel Oak Tree is considered the largest southern live oak tree east of the Mississippi. This massive tree stands 66.5 feet tall, boasts a trunk circumference of 28 feet and spreads its Spanish moss draped canopy over 17, 200 square feet.

There are many ghost stories associated with the Angel Tree. While the tree is beautiful and serene during the day, at night a different energy emanates from the ancient oak.

Native Americans reportedly gathered beneath the sprawling tree and made it a sacred burial ground. It’s believed that the shining spirits of Native Americans surround the tree to protect it when it is in danger.

There are also stories of slaves being hung from the thick branches of Angel Oak. According to legend, a curse was put on the tree because of the violence that happened there. Some people in the area avoid the tree at night because of the curse. They report seeing ghostly figures hanging from the branches.

And in more recent years, people report seeing glowing lights and faces in the branches and trunk. One couple snuck back to the tree late at night, after a wedding ceremony beneath the branches. When the new husband tried to carve a heart on the massive trunk,  the murmuring sounds of an angry mob swirled around them. A flash of light revealed a grim face staring at them in warning. Terrified, they ran away, looking back to see many glowing figures around the tree.

Ghost Stories from South Carolina Sea Islands angel oak
Ghost Stories from South Carolina Sea Islands – Angel Oak Tree

Fenwick Hall Plantation’s Headless Horseman

John Fenwick arrived on Johns Island from Britain, in 1703. After building a log cabin for his wife Elizabeth, John eventually constructed a Georgian style plantation house. John’s son Edward inherited the house and 11,000 acres in 1747. He added extensive stables to the property for his many horses.

During the British occupation of Charleston, the large house served as headquarters for the British army. One local story claims that Edward Jr invited their American neighbors to a dinner party. They met their demise at the hands of the British soldiers.

Over the years the property changed hands several times. Civil War battles razed the fields. The land was sold off. In 1980, new owners turned the house into an alcohol and drug rehabilitation hospital. Then the property sat abandoned from 1995 until 2000 when new owners purchased it for renovations.

Fenwick Hall Ghost Stories

The most infamous story at Fenwick is a tragic one as well. Ann, the daughter of Edward Sr., fell in love with a handsome young groom named Tony, who cared for her father’s horses. Although Edward disapproved, the couple eloped and married.  When her father found the couple and brought them back to the hall, he instructed his men to place a noose around Tony’s neck and hoist him upon a horse, facing backward. Edward forced Ann to strike the horse with a crop, hanging her own husband from one of the old oaks on the property. The force of the hanging decapitated the unfortunate young man.

Ann never recovered from her husband’s shocking death. She wandered the grounds, calling Tony’s name until she died a short time later. After her death, people reported seeing a headless horseman riding through the property, looking for his wife and his head. He’s appeared on the grounds for more than 250 years.

Visitors also report hearing Ann crying and calling for her husband. Her spirit is seen in the East Parlor in the house and on the staircase. And some claim to see a young ghostly couple walking hand in hand down the long driveway to the house.

Ghost Stories from South Carolina Sea Islands fenwick hall
Ghost Stories from South Carolina Sea Islands – Fenwick Hall Plantation

The Tomb that Would Not Stay Closed

The graveyard of the old Presbyterian Church on Edisto Island dates back to the late 1700s. In the cemetery is a mausoleum, famous for the fact that it’s always open, with the door removed.

Why? Read on.

Julia Legare, the wife of a wealthy planter on Edisto Island, came down with a serious illness, thought to be diphtheria. Tragically, she died of the disease in 1852.

After Julia’s burial in the Legare Mausoleum, the door was sealed shut, as is customary. A couple of years later, Julia’s young son died and the grounds keeper reopened the door for burial. To the family’s horror, Julia’s decomposed body was found inside, crumpled up near the door. Scratch marks on the door interior brought the shocking realization that Julia was entombed, alive.

After reburying Julia’s bones and adding the deceased child, the family resealed the mausoleum door. However, this time, the door refused to remain closed. Visitors to the cemetery repeatedly found the tomb standing open. Locks and chains could not keep the door closed. Eventually, church members removed the door and the tomb remains open to this day. Tombstones within memorialize Julia, her husband John and their son Hugh.

Ghost Stories from South Carolina Sea Island legare tomb
Ghost Stories from South Carolina Sea Islands – Julia Legare Tomb

A Haunting Love Story

The Brick House on Edisto Island, built in 1725, used bricks imported from Boston for its construction and aged wood. The French Huguenot influenced structure was part of a 300 acre plantation.

The Jenkins family purchased the property in 1798. Shortly after, a beautiful young relative arrived from Charleston. Amelia, engaged to a man from a prominent family, quickly found herself in a dilemma. She fell in love with a wealthy planter on Edisto Island and attempted to end her engagement. The jilted boyfriend came to Edisto to confront his intended. And when she refused to reconsider her decision, he left with the words, “You will never marry him. I would rather see you dead first.”

A Lover’s Revenge

Months later, on the day of her wedding to the Edisto planter, Amelia retired to her upstairs bedroom to put on her wedding dress. The house was filled with family and friends, anticipating a beautiful wedding. As Amelia prepared to go downstairs, she heard someone outside calling her name. When she peered out the upstairs window, the sound of a gunshot rang out.

Amelia’s bridegroom was the first to reach her, but it was too late. A bloody handprint on the window frame marked the spot where Amelia stood, as she placed her hand on the frame after the fatal shot. Outside, the jilted boyfriend’s body lay beneath an oak tree. After shooting his former love, he turned the gun on himself.

Amelia’s bloody handprint remained on the window frame for 100 years until it was finally covered with dark green paint. In 1929, the house burned in a fire, leaving only the brick exterior standing. Every August 13, people report screams coming from the shell of a house. And Amelia is often seen at the open upstairs window, looking out in her wedding dress.

Ghost Stories from South Carolina Sea Island brick house
Ghost Stories from South Carolina Sea Islands – Brick House

House of Tragedy

Locksley Hall, also known as Seaside Plantation, was built before the American Revolution by William Edings.

Due to the many tragedies within the house and on the property, Locksley Hall became known as the House of Tragedy. Those tragedies contribute to the house’s eerie atmosphere and the belief that it is haunted.

Edings’ first wife died in childbirth. Two of Edings’ daughters died in the house, less than a week apart of diphtheria. A son committed suicide by cutting his own throat. The resulting bloodstains refuse to remain covered and people report hearing the sound of dripping blood in the room below.

A relative of the Edings’, who went to live with the family as an orphan, returned home after a hunting trip. As he carried his rifle upstairs, it discharged, striking and killing his old nanny who had been with him since early childhood. Grief stricken. the young man turned the gun on himself.

The McConky Family eventually bought Locksley Hall. The tragedies continued. A young daughter died there when her hoop skirt caught fire. Her brother died in the stable, after a mule kicked him. Another family member died under mysterious circumstances. And yet another committed suicide.

Today the property is privately owned by a Navy admiral, who seems immune to the house’s curse and its ghosts.

Ghost Stories from South Carolina Sea Islands locksley hall
Ghost Stories from South Carolina Sea Islands – Locksley Hall
*photo from South Carolina Department of Archives

Have You Visited the South Carolina Sea Islands?

One thing I’ve discovered, no matter where I travel, is the existence of local ghost stories. Every region has them because tragedies and  historical events happen everywhere.

The South Carolina Sea Islands are no exception.

Have you visited these charming, beautiful islands? If so, do you have a spooky tale to share?

Ghost Stories from South Carolina Sea Islands dark night
A dark night on Johns Island.

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Ghost Stories from Washington DC

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October ushers in spooky season, and that means it’s time for my annual round up of ghost stories from around the world. Every Friday during October I’ll post a fresh batch of haunting tales from my travels.

Having just returned from the beautiful US capital, I’ll start with Ghost Stories from Washington DC. Grab a cup of hot tea and read these fun scary stories.

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Haunted DC

Founded in July, 1790, DC is the capital of the United States. During its long history, the sprawling city has experienced military battles, fires, deadly duels, assassinations, untimely deaths and many other tragedies.

It’s no wonder that DC is considered a city of many haunts. Ghosts range from past presidents and first ladies to workers who died constructing the massive buildings to Civil War soldiers to government officials. There’s even the ghost of a black cat that appears in the Capitol Building.

Enjoy these five ghost stories from Washington DC…and watch for more in future posts.

Ford’s Theatre

Located at 511 10th Street NW, Ford’s Theatre is one of the oldest stage theatres in the US. Built in 1833, the theatre once housed a church. However, when the membership outgrew the facility, the building passed to theatre producer John T Ford. After a fire in 1861, Ford’s Theatre opened to the public in 1863.

On April 14, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln and his wife Mary attended a production of “Our American Cousin”, five days after the official end of the Civil War. Seated in the theatre’s presidential box, Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth, seeking revenge for the defeat of the Confederacy. Lincoln died from his wound the following day.

While the assassination is the most well known death at Ford’s Theatre, it’s not the only one. In 1893 the front of the building inexplicably collapsed, killing 22 clerks of the War Department. Another 70 people were injured. The accident, never explained, led to the belief that the building is cursed.

Ghosts of the Theatre

Ghosts reported in the theatre include the somber specter of Abraham Lincoln, in his tall stovepipe hat, his wife Mary Lincoln who is seen leaning over the balcony and John Wilkes Booth, most often spotted sprinting across the stage or walking into the theatre box.

Visitors also report encountering cold spots, hearing disembodied voices and footsteps, ghostly gunshots and the sound of screaming and feeling nauseous and shaky on the stage where Booth apparently stood after shooting Lincoln.

Ghost Stories from Washington DC fords theatre
Ghost Stories from Washington DC – Ford’s Theatre

Ghost Stories from Washington DC – Ford’s Theatre

US Capitol Building

George Washington laid the cornerstone for the Capitol Building in 1791. The construction of the huge building was not without complications and perils however. A collapsed beam crushed the construction supervisor. Another man fell to his death working on the dome. Both of their ghosts haunt the structure.

Other Capitol Building Specters

The spirit of John Quincy Adams reportedly prowls the Capitol Building. He suffered a stroke while giving an impassioned speech on the floor of the House of Representatives. People claim to hear his wails throughout the building and even his emphatic “NO” that he uttered during that last speech.

During the Civil War the building served as a military hospital for Union soldiers. Cots filled the Statuary Hall. At least one ghost soldier remains in the building, his shadowy figure drifting among the statues

In 1890 Congressman William Taulbee was shot and killed on a stairwell by a reporter that Taulbee taunted. His blood stains the steps and Taulbee’s ghost likes to trip reporters as they climb those stairs.

The strangest spook in the Capitol Building is a black cat said to appear in the hallways before historic or tragic national events. As early as 1862, night watchmen reported spotting the cat and even shooting at it, only to see the animal disappear. The cat supposedly appeared before the assassinations of President Lincoln and President Kennedy.

Ghost Stories from Washington DC capitol building
Ghost Stories from Washington DC – the Capitol Building

The Ghosts of the White House

Since its completion in 1800, many presidents, first families and staff members called this grand house at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue home. The property is also the site of countless historic events. Over the past 200+ years, presidents, first ladies, visitors and staff shared stories about the ghosts that wander in the White House.

Abraham Lincoln

The most frequently sighted apparition is Abraham Lincoln. He’s most often heard or seen near or in the bedroom he used while living in the White House and occasionally peering out of a window in the room he used as an office.

In 1942 Queen Wihelmina of the Netherlands woke to the sound of someone knocking on the door while sleeping in the Lincoln bedroom. She opened the door to see the former president standing there…and promptly fainted.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill stepped out of a hot bath and walked into that same bedroom where he encountered Lincoln’s ghost standing near the fireplace. Caught naked, the prime minister supposedly quipped, “Good evening Mr. President. You seem to have me at a disadvantage.” Lincoln smiled…and faded away.

Others report seeing Lincoln pacing up and down the second floor hallways, knocking on doors and peering out windows. President Reagan, in 1989, commented that his dog refused to enter that room. Others reported that their dogs barked at Lincoln’s bedroom door.

Other White House Ghosts

Other White House ghost stories feature Abigail Adams, hanging sheets to dry in the East Room and Dolley Madison, tending the garden. People report hearing Andrew Jackson swearing and Thomas Jefferson playing the violin. It’s even reported that David Burns, the man who sold the land for the building of the White House, introduces himself as Mr Burns in the Oval Office.

Ghost Stories from Washington DC white house
Ghost Stories from Washington DC – the White House (back view)

Ghosts of Lafayette Square Park

Directly behind the White House lies Lafayette Square Park. Created by President Thomas Jefferson in 1804, this green space served as a graveyard, a slave market and during the War of 1812, an encampment for soldiers. Many tragedies occurred in the park, including a revenge murder. It’s no surprise that ghosts haunt this spot.

Representative Daniel Sickles shot and killed District Attorney Philip Barton Key, son of Francis Scott Key, in the park when he discovered Philip was having an affair with his wife. Sickles pled temporary insanity and escaped a prison sentence. However, as fate would have it, while fighting in the Battle of Gettysburg a cannonball severed Sickles’ leg.  Both men supposedly haunt the park as Sickles relentlessly stalks Key.

Surrounding the park are a number of haunted buildings and houses. These include Decatur House, Hay-Adams Hotel, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Cutts-Madison House and Octagon House, now a museum.

Ghost Stories from Washington DC lafayette square park
Ghost Stories from Washington DC – Lafayette Square Park

Smithsonian Castle Ghosts

You’ve heard of the Smithsonian museums in DC. There are 19 of them. Have you heard of the Smithsonian Castle?

The castle’s namesake and founder of the institute, James Smithson, was born in Paris and kept a secret. He was illegitimate and not allowed to use the Smithson surname for many years. As a result of early rejection, he traveled throughout his life in search of a place to belong.

Although James never visited the US, when he died he donated his vast fortune for the founding of the Smithsonian Institute. His remains, brought to the US in 1904, are entombed in one of the castle’s main rooms. His ghost frequently wanders through the castle. So many people reported seeing Smithson that in 1973, they opened and examined his coffin. His skeleton remained within.

Today the castle serves as a space for administrative offices and a visitor center.

Other Smithsonian Castle Ghosts

Another frequently seen ghost is that of the first curator, Spencer Fullerton Baird. When approached by the night watchmen, Spencer vanishes.

Paleontologist Fielding Meek, who lived with his cat in a tiny suite of rooms beneath the castle grand staircase, also roams the hallways at night, seeking other scientists to converse with.

And James Henry, the Smithsonian’s first secretary, walks at night in the castle dressed in a frock coat, cravat and a starched white collar. When approached by security guards, he fades away.

Ghost Stories from Washington DC - smithsonian castle
Ghost Stories from Washington DC – Smithsonian Castle

Do You Believe in Ghosts?

You might, after this ghost story series completes at the end of October. I’m excited to share spooky tales every Friday, from different locations.

I believe that everything is energy and vibration. Some energy frequencies loop and repeat in a particular space, especially after a tragedy occurs, creating a haunting. And some lower energies feel heavy, troubled and yes, scary. Those are hauntings too.

When I visit a city or region, I learn the local ghost stories because historical information intertwines with those tales. Washington DC, with its long and varied history, is certainly a hotspot for paranormal activity.

Have you visited DC and toured any of the city’s haunted locations? Share your experiences in the comments below!

And check out one of the posts from last year: Ghost Stories from Rome

Ghost Stories from Washington DC st johns church
Ghost Stories from Washington DC – St John’s Episcopal Church, on Lafayette Square. Photo by my grandson, Dayan Reynolds.


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