Ghost Stories from Joplin

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What fun during October, to share ghost stories from some of the most amazing cities in the world. Dublin, Venice, Edinburgh and London, with their long and oft times intense histories, are considered paranormal hot spots.

I’m ending the series with my own hometown. While Joplin, Missouri does not have the ancient history, it certainly has an interesting past. The truth is, of course, that ALL cities, towns, communities and even houses, have histories and stories. And some of those stories veer sharply into the dark side.

The five ghost stories from Joplin are a mere sample of the hauntings in this area. I’ve included these because I have personal experiences with each one.

Ghost Stories from Joplin title meme

Joplin the Mining Town

Tucked into the southwest corner of Missouri, Joplin began as a mining town. After the discovery of lead, prior to the Civil War, mining camps sprang up in the area. By 1871, John C Cox filed a city plan and named the community Joplin after the earliest known settler.

Because the nearest sheriff resided in Carthage, about 15 miles away, lawlessness flourished in Joplin, along with saloons and brothels. In fact, this historic time is referred to as the “Reign of Terror”. Zinc became the primary mineral mined and railroads connected this booming town to other markets, making it a hub for the area and the lead and zinc mining capital of the world.

Construction focused primarily on Main Street with fine homes clustered in surrounding neighborhoods. Stores, bars and hotels lined Main Street. The three story House of Lords became Joplin’s most famous saloon, with a bar and restaurant on the first floor, gambling on the second and a brothel on the top floor. Secret tunnels connected several downtown businesses with the House of Lords, so that Joplin’s wealthy patrons could enter the building discreetly.

Although no longer a mining town, approximately 75% of Joplin is undermined with mine shafts up to 100 feet deep. These tunnels beneath the city are flooded and sealed, however, they contribute, I believe, to Joplin’s paranormal activity.

Ghost Stories from Joplin The Connor Hotel
Ghost Stories from Joplin – The Connor Hotel on Main Street

Ghost Stories from Joplin

Check out these five tales from my hometown.

The Ghosts of the Former Joplin Public Library

This one story building on north Main Street appears ordinary looking. Built in 1980, after outgrowing a prior location, the new library soon developed a reputation as haunted. Staff reported hearing footsteps  of someone walking up behind them, however found no one there when they turned around. They heard the sounds of books dropping from shelves onto the floor, but couldn’t find anything amiss upon investigation. And they heard whistling or music at night, when no one else was in the building.

Another building occupied that lot, before the city built their library there.

The Connor Hotel, built in 1908, was magnificent, even by today’s standards. Nine stories tall, the hotel boasted more than 300 fire proof rooms, parlors, restaurants, a barbershop, a formal ballroom, two nightclubs and a stunning rooftop garden.

The beautiful, luxury hotel welcomed celebrities and also hosted its share of gangsters and criminals. And, the building knew tragedy.

Two construction workers died during the building of the hotel, in separate accidents on site. And two died during the deconstruction of the grand old hotel, after the city purchased it. In 1978 the building suddenly collapsed during high winds, trapping three men inside as they prepared explosive charges to bring it down. Only one survived, rescued three days after the collapse.

Additionally, at least ten people committed suicide in the hotel over the years. Those tragic deaths, combined with people making shady deals in some of those fancy rooms, create some heavy energy that lingers still in that spot.

Paranormal investigators picked up unusual activity there, including a disembodied male voice that spoke to them. They confirmed what the librarians already knew…the library is home to unseen occupants.

My Experiences in the Library

I never saw or heard ghosts during my visits there. However, I always felt a heaviness in the building. Occasionally I passed through inexplicable cold spots. And often, while perusing books among the stacks, I’d glance up to see if the lightbulbs above me had burned out. They shone. But the light seemed dull and the room darker than it should have.

After the May 22, 2011 EF5 tornado tore through Joplin, the library built a new building on the corner of 20th and Connecticut. I LOVE this new library. It feels spacious, light and bright to me. The former library stands dark and perhaps not so silent, awaiting its next transformation as a satellite school to the university.

Ghost Stories from Joplin library
Ghost Stories from Joplin – the former public library

The Haunted Olivia

Another grand historic property in Joplin, The Olivia is a five story red brick building built in 1906. Anton Bendelari named the structure after his mother and when it opened, “nothing more elegant, more stylish, more convenient has yet been erected in Joplin”, said a local newspaper. The building offered 34 luxury apartments for Joplin’s wealthiest citizens and featured a beautiful lobby with pillars, a carriage house and a fifth floor restaurant where residents could dine together.

In 1908 Marvin Reynolds, a desk clerk in the building, went into the basement. He didn’t realize a leak had filled the lower level with gas. When lights didn’t click on, he struck a match, igniting the gas in a huge explosion. Sadly, he died.

Eventually, the luster wore off this building and it became low income apartments. Years later, the building in need of updates and repairs, the last residents moved out. However, those who have owned The Olivia since report someone or something still occupies the apartments. They tell stories of footsteps in the empty halls, the sounds of children running and laughing and various unexplained noises and occurrences.

Paranormal investigators explored this building too, recording distinct ghostly voices, the sounds of phantom furniture moving in empty rooms and other inexplicable noises. The Olivia is vacant still, and currently owned by a development company out of Springfield, Missouri. Future possible plans include apartments for the elderly.

My Experiences in The Olivia

In addition to writing blogs, I’m a realtor with 17+ years of experience in the Joplin area. My first scare at The Olivia happened before I got my realtor’s license however. After dropping someone off there and escorting her to her apartment, I exited the building and walked toward my car. The night seemed very dark. I turned to see several people, dressed head to toe in black, walking behind me. What disturbed me was the silence. I couldn’t hear footsteps. They didn’t talk or laugh or even breathe, it seemed. I kept glancing behind me, watching them. And then suddenly, they just weren’t there. They vanished, without a sound.

At one time, I listed the Olivia and frequently showed the  property. I’ve had numerous paranormal experiences there, including photographing an orb outside, at night, that seemed playfully engaged with a flag and hearing all kinds of unexplained noises inside.

The most curious thing that happened involved the third floor. Whenever I showed the property, that floor creeped me out the most. One apartment in particular puzzled me. Every time I entered the apartment, I’d find French doors leading to a balcony standing open. I’d shut them and continue the tour of the rest of the building. Then, checking everything before I left, I’d enter that apartment to find the doors open, again. Every…single…time. The owner tried securing the doors so that they couldn’t open at all. I’d still find them standing ajar.

I disliked that third floor and the basement the most. Once, I accidently locked myself inside The Olivia. It was all I could do to stay calm. The weight of those five empty floors above me felt oppressive. I pretended not to hear the noises echoing down the grand staircase. And the dark doorway into the basement seemed menacing. How grateful I felt when the owner arrived to let me out!

The Olivia
Ghost Stories from Joplin – The Olivia

Peace Cemetery’s Restless Spirits

You’d think a cemetery called Peace might exude that quality. You’d be wrong. Located north of the city, Peace Cemetery is one of the oldest burial grounds in Joplin, the resting place of early pioneers to the area. Visitors there report mysterious sounds, disembodied voices and strange lights. Some even tell stories about attacks that include scratches and being pelted with sticks or rocks.

And then there is the shadowy figure of a man that’s said to prowl among the tombstones. He is the most infamous person buried in Peace Cemetery.

Billy Cook, a 21 year old Joplin native, began a 22 day killing spree in 1950 – 51. Traveling through six states, Billy murdered six people, including a family of five and their pet dog, and a deputy sheriff in California. He dumped the bodies of the family members in a mine shaft near Joplin. Authorities caught him in Mexico. Billy spent time in San Quentin Prison before dying in the gas chamber.

Because of his crimes, no one wanted to claim his body when it returned to Joplin. Ultimately, he was buried in an unmarked grave, just beyond the edge of the cemetery. Billy’s restless soul cannot find peace.

My Experience in Peace Cemetery

My grandson Dayan and I used to have fun geocaching. One of the caches we tracked down lay hidden in Peace Cemetery. And, of course, it was near the Cook plot. Although Billy’s grave is unmarked, it’s not hard to figure out the general area of its location, even without a headstone.

Creeping toward the tree where the geocaching app indicated the prize lay, Dayan and I felt a strange heaviness in the area. In fact, Dayan, who was a young teen at the time, stopped walking and refused to go any further. In complete disclosure, he doesn’t like spiders and feared one might drop out of the tree. And yet, he also felt a strangeness that he didn’t like.

I located the container, tucked into a hole at the base of a tree, and marked it found. Billy’s grave was nearby. And I felt so disoriented, so dizzy. I stood frozen, staring at Dayan, who also stood very still, staring wide eyed back at me. Some sound broke through the weirdness…I believe it thundered…and everything returned to normal. We did not linger but jumped into the car and drove away.

I visited the cemetery today, to take a few photos. That weird feeling came over me again and stayed with me as I slowly drove down the dirt lane.

Ghost Stories from Joplin Peace Cemetery
Ghost Stories from Joplin – Peace Cemetery

Prosperity School Ghosts

Prosperity is a former mining community just east of Joplin. The big red brick school house, built in 1907, served as a school for children until 1962. After it closed, it sat abandoned for 30 years. Stories began then that the old school house wasn’t as empty as it seemed. Reports of ghost children running in the halls and of a spirit nurse circulated.

Eventually someone purchased the property and turned it into a bed and breakfast. The classrooms became small apartments, available for a weekend or for a longer lease.

Guests and tenants confirmed the stories about ghost children. They claimed the lively little spirits came into their rooms at night, played with toys and rearranged objects or even crawled into bed with them. Lights and other electrical appliances turned themselves on and off. And shadow figures slid down hallways or disappeared through the  walls.

Recently, one of the owners of Prosperity School died. The property went up for sale but no one would buy it. It went into foreclosure and sold. It is a private residence now. I don’t know how the new owners are doing in the school house!

My Experiences in Prosperity School

I joined a paranormal research team one night, in this property. Hearing the stories and creeping through the darkened building is unnerving. However, I got to watch the team work and see how the scientific equipment is used. It was exciting and a big step for me in overcoming my fears of the supernatural.

The team picked up voices using a spirit box. And we caught shadow figures moving in the upstairs hallway. In one of the bedrooms, a child communicated with us by turning lights on and off in answer to questions. I felt cold spots and my scalp and upper back constantly tingled with energy.

I did fine in the property, with other people. It is not a place I’d want to be alone after dark!

Prosperity School east of Joplin
Ghost Stories from Joplin – Prosperity School

The Joplin Spook Light

Joplin’s most famous supernatural phenomenon, people have reported sightings of this ghostly light for more than 100 years. Located south and west of Joplin, just across the Missouri – Oklahoma line, it’s also called the Hornet Spook Light, after the community that existed there long ago.

Most often described as an orangish white sphere, the light bobs up and down the dark country road called The Devil’s Promenade by the locals.

According to legend, the light may have been seen by Native Americans along the infamous Trail of Tears in 1836. However, the first published account of the light appeared in a pamphlet called Ozark Spook Light in 1881.

The sphere of light appears as a single orb that may split into two or more smaller balls. Spinning, rising and hovering, the light may soar above the trees or skim along near the surface of the road. It can be baseball or basketball sized and may suddenly bloom larger before disappearing. People have tried to approach it, by car and on foot, but it is usually elusive. However, some people, and my mother is one, have seen the light approach and bounce over the car or disappear and then reappear on the other side of the vehicle. Others claim it’s come into their car.

Studies of the phenomenon are inconclusive. Theories ranging from swamp gas (Joplin doesn’t have swamps) to headlights from cars on distant I-44 (the light doesn’t look like headlights or move like a car) to a luminescence created by rotting organic material seem to fall short of actually explaining what the spook light is.

Origin stories include a Quapaw maiden looking for her lost love, a miner looking for his missing family and an Osage Chief who was decapitated looking for his head.

Whatever it is, the ghostly phenomenon seems here to stay. The Joplin Spook Light is seen almost nightly.

My Spook Light Sighting

I really intended to visit the spook light before writing this post. That has not happened…yet. However, I did see the spook light myself, many years ago. My son and younger daughter, both in their teens at the time, went with me.

We parked on the dark road and didn’t wait long until the bright light appeared down the road. We watched it for some time. It would move, grow dimmer, grow brighter and disappear for a short time before bouncing back. I have no explanation for what it is.

And, I have no photo of the Joplin Spook Light, however, below is the best video I found. See what you think!

The End of the Stories…or Is It?

This post concludes the October Ghost Story series. Thank you for reading along. I’ve appreciated and enjoyed your comments!

I have a lifetime of paranormal experiences. I could tell so many more ghost stories, especially from the Joplin area. And in fact, I intend to.

I’m currently writing a book, tentatively titled “House H(a)unting: An Intuitive Realtor’s Journey Beyond Fear”. As a realtor, I’ve been in many, many houses. And as an intuitive, I can tell you whether they are haunted…or not…if you really want to know.

I’ll keep you updated on the book. And as always, I’d love to read YOUR stories in the comments below.

House Haunting Book Cover
More Ghost Stories from Joplin – coming soon!


Ghost Hunting

Check out this Joplin area paranormal group. They often host investigations and interesting talks. Paranormal Science Lab

And check out these books from Amazon:


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Haunted House Stories from an Intuitive Realtor

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

I’ve shared previously that I am an Intuitive. From birth I’ve had the ability to sense and perceive energy that many people are unaware of. It’s been a long journey, accepting that truth about myself. However, I now fully accept who I am and embrace my quirky and unusual gifts.

I am also a realtor, helping people buy and sell houses. It’s from that interesting space, where real estate and intuition overlap, that this blog post is born.

Haunted House Stories Title Meme


House Hunting Haunting

Do you believe in hauntings?

I’ve learned that there are many ways for a house to be haunted. Primarily, it’s old energy that gets trapped in a space. Grief, fear, pain, anger and despair can pool in a house and affect it, creating feelings of uneasiness or heaviness. Sometimes energy gets caught in a loop, and plays over and over again like a song stuck on repeat. For example, the sound of footsteps goes up the stairs every night at 1:00 am and a door slams.

And sometimes the haunting is caused by a presence that can be benign…or not.

Missouri realtors are not required, by law, to disclose that a house is haunted. It is considered stigmatizing to the property to reveal such information.

Do I think it’s a good idea for my clients to know what I’m picking up, intuitively, about a house? Yes, but it also depends on the clients. If they consciously or unconsciously react to what I can feel, I share. If they seem oblivious or closed off to hearing that the house has a presence, I refrain and trust that they will make a decision that feels right for them.

Haunted House Stories from an Intuitive Realtor

Haunted House Stories

From my 16+ years as a licensed realtor, I present my top three haunted house stories. Names, addresses and actual photos are omitted or changed, to protect my clients. These true tales feature real houses in the Joplin area, owned, sold, bought, and lived in by real people.

This is MY House
Haunted House Stories: This is MY House

This is MY House

I felt unsettled the first time I walked into this large, vacant house. When positive energy such as love, joy and comfort fills a home, my scalp tingles pleasantly. When there’s negative energy, such as deep regret or fear, I get tingles of energy across my upper back. This three story home with a basement created intense ripples across my back.

When I learned that the current owners had moved out, and rented another home nearby, I knew they had experienced a haunting. During a phone call, one of the sellers admitted the old house had a problem.

Soon thereafter, I met the “problem” during a showing. Because of my own discomfort I stood near the open front door while my buyers climbed to the third floor. From the empty, shadowy kitchen a petite woman suddenly appeared, dressed in an old fashioned dark colored dress. And she expressed displeasure. After telling me her name she declared that this was her house, and no one else could live there.

A Possessive Energy

That night I researched the house, using the name I received, and found the information was accurate. I also discovered that the house was built for the woman, a century ago, by her husband. She only lived there a short time before she died. Possessive energy lingered in the home.

The next time I showed the house, I waited until the buyers were on the top floor, and then I stepped into the kitchen. I felt drawn to a small room off of the kitchen that led to a very dark basement. Being the lowest point in the house, basements often collect negative energy, which is more dense. I don’t like basements and I refused to go down the stairs.

Suddenly I felt a whoosh of air near the left side of my head and heard a loud smack against the wall behind me. I jumped, but refused to be intimidated. Instead I talked quietly and calmly about sharing the house and allowing other people in, who would love the property as much as she did. A bit of lightness flowed into the room as I talked, and some of the heaviness lifted.

I had not received any offers yet on this property, and the house was listed previously by another real estate company. However, after my chat in the kitchen, I received three offers in the days following. One was accepted. I hope they all continue to live happily together.

Haunted House Stories from an Intuitive Realtor Haunted House Stories: The Ghost on the Stairs

The Ghost on the Stairs

This haunted house, also vacant when I listed it, suffered from a dark and tragic history. One family lived in the house for many, many years, until there was no one left to occupy it. I could not be in the house alone, so heavy and troubling was the energy, and I limited my time within it. I learned from a friend of the family that a son committed suicide in one of the upstairs bedrooms. The sadness and despair in that room felt overwhelming and seemed to follow me down the long upper hallway whenever I gave a tour of the house.

One afternoon, I stood in the home’s dining room on the first floor, while a curious buyer explored a bedroom off to my right. Greg, who volunteered to accompany me that day, stood in the foyer near the living room. I heard the sound of heavy footsteps upstairs, even though I knew no one was up there. As I listened intently, the footsteps moved to the top of the enclosed stairs, and started down…clomp, clomp, clomp…toward the dining room.

Who or What Approached?

I experienced a moment of panic, wondering what my buyer must be thinking. However, glancing at her, she seemed oblivious. Greg did not look my way either. Apparently I was the only one who could hear the footsteps as they descended. Freakishly, the sound grew louder and the ghost seemed to be moving faster as it neared the bottom of the stairs.

I watched, fascinated, to see who, or what, approached. A shadowy figure  appeared at the base of the stairs, crossed the dining room in front of me, and passed by Greg in the foyer before disappearing. As the figure traversed the rooms, the sound of footsteps accompanied it.

Well, that ought to discourage the buyer! I thought. But she didn’t notice. She never said a word about the sounds or the shadow, choosing to pass on purchasing the house due to the extensive repairs it needed.

The house eventually sold. The buyers’ agent and I discussed the house at length and I shared my experiences. His clients bought the property anyway and moved in. A short time later they moved out and had the house torn down.

A Country Haunting
Haunted House Stories: A Country Haunting

A Country Haunting

The most haunted house I’ve experienced locally was an old farmhouse out in the country. I strongly advised my clients to pass on the property, as they looked for a fixer upper to purchase. The strong negative energy in this two story home prevented me from remaining in the house for more than a few minutes at a time. I could not go upstairs at all. As I stood in the yard, while my clients toured the vacant home, the neighbor walked over and confirmed what I could feel.

Many bizarre tragedies occurred within the house. The nervous neighbor whispered stories to me of neglect and abandonment, despair and fear. Ghosts roamed the attic at the top of the house, he said, and tormented the former occupant.

Don’t Buy

Against my advice, my clients purchased the home. One week later, the wife called me, in tears. They encountered all kinds of strange problems as they tore out walls and hauled out trash and attempted a remodel. “You are right,” she said. “This house is haunted.” She called me again, a short time later, crying as she sat in the house, her husband at work. “Do you hear that?” she asked, holding the phone away from her ear. I couldn’t identify the noise. My frazzled client shared that someone was walking around, in a house that she alone occupied.

My clients moved out of the house and into an RV, parked in the yard, while they finished the remodel. I found them another house to buy, and they relocated, leaving me to list a house that I could barely enter. I found it difficult to take good listing photos of the home’s interior.  Strange distortions, large orbs and streaks of light filled the rooms.

Open houses challenged me as well. I sat outside on the deck and watched for visitors, only stepping into the house while potential buyers looked around. Children cried from fear. Adults felt uneasy in the house. I thought it would never sell, in spite of the beautiful remodel. At last it did, to a couple who didn’t feel a thing in the house. They appeared to be the perfect new owners.

Empty rooms
Are empty rooms really empty?

More Haunted House Stories

There are many, MANY more haunted house stories to share. I could write a book about the haunted houses I’ve shown, listed and previewed. I pitched such a book idea to a publisher and received warm interest in anything I wrote on the subject. Perhaps someday I’ll write all the haunted house stories down, and collect them into a book.

I’m a realtor and an Intuitive who learned to overcome fear. I can show you a house, point out the features, gather all the info. And…I can tell you whether it is haunted, or not, if you really want to know.

Haunted House Stories from an Intuitive Realtor Do you have haunted house stories? Share them in the comments below.

38 Real Haunted Houses

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Haunted House Stories from an Intuitive Realtor