Find Something Spooky at Missouri State Parks

There’s nothing particularly frightening about any of Missouri’s Official State Parks and Historic Sites, but as the Halloween season approaches and you find yourself in the mood for the macabre, a handful might make your must-see list.

For starters, check out the Thomas Hart Benton Home and Studio State Historic Site in Kansas City. While it’s noted as the home of one of Missouri’s most renowned artists, it has the distinction of being the place where Benton died in 1975.

The eerily still studio remains the same it was on the day of Benton’s death, with a blank canvas, paint brushes and paints in the same position he left them.

If that’s a little too tame for your taste, consider visiting graveyards in the state parks system … maybe around sundown, if you’re brave.

Perhaps your best bet for a ghostly encounter is Confederate Memorial State Historic Site in Higginsville, where hundreds of Confederate soldiers are buried. Along with the graveyard, the site includes a 100-plus-year-old chapel and a circa 1920s hospital.

Confederate Memorial State Historic Site, Higginsville,
Confederate Memorial State Historic Site, Higginsville.

Take time to find the grave marker for Johnny Graves. The last living Confederate soldier to be buried at the site, Graves was 108 years old at his passing in 1950.

Near Arrow Rock is the Sappington Cemetery State Historic Site, where three prominent Missourians, Dr. John Sappington, Meredith Miles Marmaduke and Claiborne Fox Jackson, are buried.

Sappington is known as the first doctor to use quinine pills to treat malaria, a practice that in the 1830s was denounced by many of his colleagues, but one that saved countless lives on the American frontier.

Marmaduke served as lieutenant governor and later governor of Missouri. Jackson is best known as the secessionist governor who fled Jefferson City during the Civil War.

Interestingly, both Marmaduke and Jackson married into the Sappington family, though it seems Jackson was unlucky in love – he married three of Sappington’s daughters and two preceded him in death. All three of Jackson’s wives are buried in Sappington Cemetery.

Other sites that might give you a scare this Halloween season include:

  • Governor Daniel Dunklin’s Grave State Historic Site, where Missouri’s fifth governor and the founder of Missouri’s public education system is buried. The site is in a wooded area overlooking the Mississippi River, near Herculaneum.
  • Lake Wappapello State Park where outdoor fun is key. You might be interested to note one of the park’s hiking trails takes you past the small, Allison-Connor Cemetery, which dates to the Civil War era.
  • Columbia is home to Jewell Cemetery State Historic Site, the final resting place for noted Missouri politician and educator William Jewell (for whom the college in Liberty, Mo., is named). Jewell’s career in public service included time as a state representative and his efforts in that role included working to abolish such practices as the whipping post. Yes, you read that correctly.

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