Missouri history is filled with colorful characters – explorers, settlers, soldiers and socialites. Each fall, "friendly spirits," clad in period dress, bring that history to life at some of the oldest cemeteries in the state. Here's a trio of tours featuring the fascinating stories of people who once lived – and are now buried – in the Show-Me State.
Voices from the Past, Oct. 17-18, St. Joseph – Experience St. Joseph's Golden Age through the eyes of the city's most influential residents at the historic Mount Mora Cemetery. The tour begins at the opulent Wyeth-Tootle Mansion where you'll meet the first living history character before traveling to the cemetery. With a backdrop of beautiful architecture, hear from the "residents" of Mount Mora as you walk along the torch-lit Mausoleum Row – known as the "prettiest city of the dead." Established in 1851, Mount Mora was once the most fashionable burial place for many of the region's wealthy and powerful citizens. It's also the final resting spot for Civil War soldiers, Missouri governors and Pony Express riders.
Déjà vu Spirit Reunion, Oct. 26, Ste. Genevieve – Learn what life was like centuries ago in Missouri's oldest town during a lantern tour at the Ste. Genevieve Memorial Cemetery. More than 20 "spirits" will tell tales from the community's earliest days. The cemetery, established in 1787, includes tombs and grave markers for many of the town's French pioneers and other European emigrants, African-American slaves and freemen, and American Indians. A mass grave entombs victims of a nearby steamboat explosion. Hear about a U.S. Senator who was buried three times and a Civil War colonel who died during the Battle of Shiloh.
Haunted Cemetery Tour, Oct. 26, Lexington – Meet the ghosts of Lexington's past at Machpelah Cemetery – one of the state's oldest corporations in continuous operation. Decorated with elaborate funeral monuments and ironwork, the cemetery was established in 1849 by a special act of the Missouri Legislature. Among those buried here are victims of the 1852 Saluda steamboat explosion, a founder of the Pony Express and Civil War soldiers from Union and Confederate troops who met their demise during the 1861 Battle of Lexington.
Written by Liz Coleman