Do you believe in ghosts?

Sunday, October 29, 2006
Ghosts are said to walk the grounds of Old Lorimier Cemetery. (Fred Lynch)

The former hospital that's said to be haunted by those who died in it years ago. The murdered woman whose screams can be heard late at night. The horseman who travels the dark road in search of his head.

Believe them or not, every town has its own ghost stories passed down from generations long ago.

Ask Dr. Frank Nickell, a local historian, who teaches a folklore class at Southeast Missouri State University. He doesn't believe in ghosts, but he can tell you he's had some unusual experiences that can't be explained.

"All towns have those mysterious places and mysterious events that cannot be scientifically answered," he said. "There's a lot of unanswered occurrences that happened at various places in Cape Girardeau."

Here's the list of Cape Girardeau's most haunted places:

Old Lorimier Cemetery

Bodies were supposedly removed from Minton House, 444 Washington St., via a secret tunnel.

Location: Fountain Street

This is one of the oldest graveyards in the state, with burials dating back to the Revolutionary War. Hundreds of Civil War soldiers are buried here. One of the most frightening tales is of a ghost who walked the cemetery at night, tapping people on the shoulder. When cemetery visitors would turn around, no one would be there.

The Minton House

Location: 444 Washington Ave.

During the Civil War, this house was used as a military smallpox hospital. Legend is the house is haunted by the people who died in it during the war. There have been reports of strange sounds coming from the house and ghosts who walk around the front yard. The house is several hundred feet away from Old Lorimier Cemetery, and there have been stories of a tunnel underneath the house that led to the cemetery. When people died in the hospital, their bodies would be carried through the tunnel.

Bloomfield Road

At one time, Bloomfield Road was considered the most haunted road in Missouri. Southeast Missourian records tell of "Mad Lucy," who lived with her family along Bloomfield Road. Lucy's cries supposedly can be heard late at night and there are tales of a headless man walking up and down the road. In the early 1800s, early settlers claimed to have seen a headless horseman who was in search of his head.

Pi Kappe Alpha fraternity Lodge

Location: South Sprigg Street

At one time, the old Marquette School was located here. Today, it's the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity lodge. The house is said to be haunted by a young ghost named Jessica. The myth is that in the early 1900s, Jessica was accidentally killed in the school. Pikes claim that when few people are in the house, they've heard windows shaking and doors slamming while the lights flicker and the figure of a little girl jumping rope appears.

Southeast Missouri State University's Rose Theatre

Location: Corner of Normal and Pacific avenues

The Rose Theatre, located in Grauel Building, is said to be haunted by a ghost named Mary. When the building was constructed in 1966, it was supposedly built over the house in which Mary was murdered. Legend has it that Mary's ghost moves items around the theater and can be heard laughing. Theater students don't mention Mary's name on the theater's stage, where there's allegedly a bloodstain that can't be removed.

Southeast Missouri State University's Cheney Hall

Location: Henderson Street behind the University Museum

This residence hall is said to be haunted by a young woman who supposedly committed suicide in her dormitory bathtub during finals week. Apparently, no matter how hard the bathtub was scrubbed, no one could remove the blood. Instead of removing the tub, rumor is the university built a shelf over it. Residents claim there are strange noises heard in the building and students occasionally see a woman wandering the halls in a white nightgown. University officials have no documented records of a suicide in Cheney Hall.

335-6611, extension 246

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