Cape Girardeau, MO sits on the Mississippi River 115 southeast of St. Louis and 175 north of Memphis, TN. Today, it has a population of around 40,000. In 1733, a French soldier, Jean Girardot, found the cape over the Mississippi river and established a trading post before quickly moving on. The name Cape Girardot had already taken its hold on the site. Louis Lorimier, a French-Canadian from Ohio, was commissioned by the Spanish Governor General to establish a military post in 1793. Louis and Clark visited the city on November 23, 1803 on their way to St. Louis during their Voyage of Discovery. Lorimier’s Red House on the hill is now the Red House Interpretive Center complete with a room furnished just as it would have been during the time he lived there. The town was first incorporated in 1808, prior to Missouri becoming a state and then reincorporated in 1843 by a special act of the Missouri Legislature. In the mid-1800’s it was the largest trading post on the Mississippi between St. Louis and Memphis. During the Civil War, there were four Union forts built to protect the city and the river, and General Ulysses S. Grant established his headquarters there before moving it to Cairo, IL. There was a minor skirmish fought west of town in 1863, taking the lives of dozens of soldiers. Cape Girardeau was more fortunate than most Missouri cities in that it did not see as much devastation to property. After the Civil War, the city continued to grow and thrive. A teaching college was founded in 1873; this is now Southeast Missouri State University.
Named for the man credited with founding the city, the Lorimier Cemetery is on the national registry of historic places. The first person to be buried in the cemetery was the wife of Louis Lorimier, Charlotte. She was a Native American woman buried on a hilltop in 1808. The cemetery former around her resting place and Lorimier is buried there himself. There are more than 1200 Civil War soldiers interred in the cemetery of a little over 6,500 total graves, hundreds of which are unmarked. The most well-known story of the cemetery is that of the Tapping Ghost. These stories began making their rounds way back in the early 1900’s. There was no fence around the cemetery then, and a lot of folks would cut through on their way to downtown. As they walked, they would suddenly feel a tap on there shoulder or back and turn to see who had snuck up on them, only find no one there. Most would get a more insistent tap as they continued. Usually after this they would speed up and get out of there. Women have reported having their hair pulled, some to the point of bringing tears to their eyes. There is another bit of mystery shrouding the cemetery. There is a legend about a tunnel that ran from the cemetery to the Sherwood-Minton house that sits a block away. It was designed by Edwin Deane for Reverend and Mrs. Adiel Sherwood in 1814. It would go on to become a seminary, before being converted into a small-pox hospital during the Civil War. It was during this time that the tunnel was said to have been constructed. Legend says they used the tunnel to carry bodies from the hospital straight to the cemetery so as not to incite panic in the community. There is no proof that this tunnel every existed and one has never been found. There is a funny story about the ghosts that haunted the grounds of the Sherwood-Minton home, though. There was an article written in the paper in 1912 about the ghost of the home, which seemed to show up just after the war. That is why most attributed it to the spirits of soldiers. The article basically says that with all the claims of the ghostly apparitions of soldiers appearing on the grounds, the home had become undesirable as a place to live. Local veterans decided to conduct an investigation on the grounds and hid out behind some shrubs watching the tree line from the cemetery. To their surprise at midnight out walked a ghostly figure shrouded in moonlight. The men couldn’t believe what they were seeing and were frightened as the figure glided over the lawn. Then, the ghost let out a sneeze and the gig was up. Apparently, there was a neighbor that had wanted to buy the property for years and was hoping the ghost stories would drive the price down enough he could acquire it. Can all the stories or this haunting be chalked up to this? Probably not as the ghost stories predate the sly neighbor, but it is a funny one to tell. And not a terrible idea. It almost worked. If not for those damn allergies.
The Glenn House:
The home was designed and built in 1883 by architect Edwin Deane for his daughter, Lula, and her husband David Glenn. Remember that name? He also designed the Sherwood-Minton home. David Glenn was a merchant and owned a bank. He became quite prominent and influential in the city of Cape Girardeau. But it is believed that he Glenn family may have been cursed. While living in the home, the Glenn’s lost 3 of their 6 children, and Lula would outlive all her children. In the early 1900’s the family fell on hard times and went bankrupt. The house was sold at auction, and they lost their beautiful family home. The house fell into disrepair and was eventually purchased by the Erlbacher family who would later deed it to the Historical Association of Cape Girardeau to preserve home historic home. It has now been fully restored and you can visit the home for a glimpse into life in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s. The ghosts! They hold tours at the Glenn home now, and tour guides have witnessed so much paranormal activity that they have formed secret code words and gestures to signal to each other when it may be time to move on from an area. During done tour, the guides were speaking of one of the Glenn children’s ghost, and how she moved things around when they heard what sounded like a moan from the other side of a nearby door. They gave the signal and began moving the group as they continue their story. The sound came again, this time much louder and they described it as a screech like a cat would make if injured. Some of the guests heard it this time and began looking around as they continued to move from the area. Then the sound came even louder, and they said this time it sounded like a cat when it is fighting mad. It was not to be ignored, and since the whole group heard it the guides went to investigate and found nothing. One evening, the board of directors was holding a meeting in the dining room. They heard the front door open; footsteps ran across the entryway and up the stairs into the children’s room. They got up to check and there was no one around, and the front door was still locked as they had left it. Christmas time is a special time at the Glenn House. It is decorated each year, complete with presents under the tree. These presents are empty boxes that have been wrapped for decoration of course. They had to stop doing this, though, because each morning when they arrived to open, all the presents would be ripped open. They attribute this to the little girl haunting the home. They had a TV crew in the home, doing a Halloween special for the local news channel. The crew was leaving the house, when everyone heard what sounded like every door in the house slamming all at once. They quickly ran inside. Not only did they find the house empty, but not a single door was closed. I had this story ready and had to add in here at the end that Ghost Hunters visited this location on this last week’s episode. Not the original GH, the new team. They caught some footsteps and EVPs but nothing too earth-shattering. They did hear the doors rattling a lot and found the front door open when they had only been using the back door to come and go. It does seem like there is something going on with the doors in this house. They came to the investigation because the manager had contacted them about a recent spike in activity due to a descendant of the Glenn family having recently visited. It seems that when she would visit and then leave, the activity would spike. That is pretty cool.
Port Cape Girardeau Restaurant and Lounge:
This establishment is in one of the oldest buildings in the city, dating back to around 1860. It is part of the warehouse what was the warehouse district on the riverfront and is a well-known haunted location in Cape. There are a few renditions of the story that lead to the haunting, which is said to be of a woman they have named Belle. These stories all center around a bride that is abandoned by her Union soldier fiancée before the wedding. She killed herself, and in one story did this by jumping from the upper window of the warehouse. There is a bartender there that claims he was a skeptic before his experiences at the lounge. He had spent a lot of time in the building alone after closing, and on one of these nights, he heard the nautical bell from behind the bar. He rushed into the room to find no one there. The most common claim of Belle is that she will place her hand on your back or shoulder. There have also been footsteps heard from empty rooms, and some people even claim to have seen Belle. She is seen as a ghostly figure in a long dress. The restaurant is still open and the menu looks delicious!