Missouri haunted venues: it's that time of year but not for the historic Morse Mill Hotel

CJ Coombs

It's said that if you live in Missouri, you need to see it to believe it.

It's close to that time of year when people return to their favorite haunted houses or look for one that's better than before. People like to get scared.

Skip the haunted houses and investigate places that proclaim to be haunted by paranormal activity. Generations pass on their stories of experiences with an old house. Then, legends are born and ghost hunters or paranormal investigators get on those stories to see if there's any truth to them.

Paranormal activity has always been a subject of fascination for many people. The unexplained occurrences, ghostly encounters, and mysterious phenomena continue to captivate imaginations.

Some popular places to explore on tours are listed below:

  • Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City, Missouri
  • Rivercene Mansion in New Franklin, Missouri
  • The Elms Hotel and Spa in Excelsior Springs, Missouri
  • Vaile Mansion in Independence, Missouri
  • Lemp Mansion in St. Louis, Missouri

If anything, these places are mysterious enough, so they might be worth investigating with an expert. Paranormal tours provide a sense of adventure and excitement. The investigators don't limit reservations to Halloween. There are schedules that run throughout the year.

The tours allow people to step out of their comfort zones and immerse themselves in an eerie atmosphere. I would think if you're going to tour a venue, why not go with a group? It's a little unnerving when you see the times on reservations starting at 8:00 p.m. until 1:00 a.m. The cost of some of the tours is more than a haunted house, but you're going for a more premier experience, right?

Morse Mill Hotel is closed

One place that will always remain a mystery, at least for now, is the Morse Mill Hotel in Jefferson County, Missouri. It was put on the market on October 31, 2021. A Facebook post previously indicated it was permanently closed to tours, investigations & overnight stays, and that it is now a private residence. The hotel was probably financially affected by COVID-19 and someone, presumably the owner, posted he was diagnosed with Parkinson's.

Photo byPinterest/Morse Mill Hotel.

The website of the Morse Mill Hotel also indicates it is closed to the public and there are no exceptions.

Bertha Gifford lived nearby and worked here. [One] of the 1st female serial killers in the Nation. She killed numerous kids (19), and adults w Arsenic Chocolates for the kids. She worked at the Hotel and is buried nearby. She was an exceptionally gifted cook, go figure! It is believed to be her husband who she poisoned, that is seen in full body, trench coat at the window North end of the hall 2nd floor. (Source.)

Guests from all over the world stayed at this remote hotel. Some others included film stars Clara Bow, Tom Mix, Charlie Chaplin, Charles Lindbergh, Al Capone, and Jesse James. It's interesting that serial killer, Bertha Gifford, is buried not too far from the hotel.

Clara Bow's signature in the hotel register.Photo byMorse Mill Hotel/Facebook.

The owner renovated the whole building. Visit here for some interesting and questionable images. The owner indicated on the website, I bought the building with no knowledge of the paranormal. I don't chase, and or engage the ghosts, and they leave us alone. With the hotel permanently closed, all the mystery will have to remain a mystery.

The hotel dates back to 1816 when the land was in the hands of the Spanish. Interestingly, the original deed was signed by President James Madison, and the original register and deed of sale still exist. John Morse was given ownership of the hotel. That deed was signed in 1859 by President Buchanan.

Since I'm a big fan of properties on the National Register of Historic Places, I was surprised this property wasn't nominated due to its age and history.

The Morse Mill Hotel was a private residence. It also served as a Confederate field hospital, a speakeasy during Prohibition, and even a brothel.

Allegedly, there have been a lot of orbs captured on film. On May 15, 2010, the Elite Paranormal of Kansas City and James and Susan Presnell of Kansas City Paranormal Studies went to investigate the hotel. It rained most of the time while there. Even though this location "had a strong reputation for activity," they didn't find anything alarming. What they did find after reviewing their evidence was a lot of EVPs. EVPs are spirit voices recorded on electrical or digital equipment that are outside the range of the human auditory faculty.

Photo byCelinaonUnsplash

Why do people go?

Some people are looking for validation or proof of the existence of ghosts or spirits through paranormal tours. They hope to capture evidence through photographs, recordings, or personal encounters that can support their beliefs or provide answers to unanswered questions about the afterlife.

People go on paranormal tours because they're intrigued by the unknown and seek thrilling experiences beyond what is considered normal. Whether it is for adventure, curiosity, or validation, you can immerse yourself in the experience of being a part of paranormal activity.

I personally would rather stick to writing about it instead of having the actual in-person experience.

Thanks for reading! Let me know if you were lucky enough to tour the Morse Mill Hotel before it closed, or if you've ever been on a paranormal activity tour.

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Multi-genre writer and author/publisher with a BA in Eng Journalism/Creative Writing. I worked in law firms for 30+ years and retired early to pursue writing. I was born into the Air Force, so you could say I'm from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri. I love family, research, history, true crime, reading, art, and travel.

Kansas City, MO

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