Category Archives: Photography

Death and Mourning in the 19th Century and the Chatillon-DeMenil Mansion

This past weekend, friend and past guest of the Big Séance Podcast, Victoria Cosner Love, invited me (ahem… strongly encouraged me to leave my crypt) to a fascinating event, which appropriately fit the season, in my opinion anyway. It was my first visit to the absolutely beautiful Chatillon-DeMenil Mansion in St. Louis. “A Death in the Family: Death and Mourning in the 19th Century” is an annual mourning event there. 

An interesting fact is that the Chatillon-DeMenil Mansion is right next door to the famous Lemp Mansion and the Lemp Brewery Complex, and so the neighborhood is always an interesting place to find yourself this time of year. (Incidentally, the boys from Ghost Adventures just featured the Lemp Mansion and Brewery in their most recent episode, and the Ghost Hunters spent some time there a few years ago as well.) 

The Chatillon-DeMenil Mansion is reported to be haunted as well, and I did talk to a few people in the know, but this event didn’t focus on the paranormal aspects of the place.

 

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As you may know, I’m obsessed with staircases, especially grand ones in a historical location like this mansion. So I had to lead with the photo above, with one of the volunteers appropriately mourning in character at the front entrance. 

I was very surprised to also run into several friends, some of whom I’ve never met in person, like my new friend Ginger of Missouri History and Hauntings. I got to meet a few other fascinating and knowledgable people, as well. I’m so very glad I went!

So back to the event itself. Here’s a description of the event, taken directly from their site:

This is an open house style event, during which guests are free to visit exhibits throughout the Mansion and learn not only about mourning customs of the 19th century but illness, medical treatments, wakes, funerary practices and more from costumed volunteers and museum staff.

As well as visiting with our informative volunteers, guests get a chance to see a amazing collection of original objects related to death, mourning and medical practices, from private collections, that are on display just this one day every year.

 

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I loved the event, but I look forward to going back again soon, perhaps to get a general tour of the place, plus they have plenty of activities. I encourage anyone in the area to visit if you haven’t been. 

I would have loved to have been able to get more shots of the home, but this event was well-attended, which is a good thing, but it made it difficult to get really good photos. But I hope you enjoy the shots that I did capture.

 

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I loved the feel and the color of this beautiful, yet oddly shaped corner. I need to find more information about this room. 

 

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Pumpkins and the Annual Trip to Rombachs Farm (2014)

White Pumpkins from Rombachs Farm, pumpkin patch, big seance

 

I hope you enjoy some photos from our annual visit to Rombachs Farm for our 2014 family of pumpkins, soon to be jack-o-lanterns (aka “punkinheads”).

 

Rombachs Farm, pumpkin patch, big seance

Rombachs Farm, pumpkin patch, big seance

Rombachs Farm, pumpkin patch, big seance

Rombachs Farm, pumpkin patch, big seance

Rombachs Farm, pumpkin patch, big seance

Rombachs Farm, pumpkin patch, big seance

Rombachs Farm, pumpkin patch, big seance

Rombachs Farm, Punkin Blvd, pumpkin patch, big seance

Family of Pumpkins 2014, Big Seance

And these are the three we adopted. Stay tuned for the jack-o-lantern post coming up, about a week before Halloween! Can’t wait! 

 

 

 


Consider a Halloween Altar When Decorating For October!

Halloween altar, Halloween decorating ideas, Big Seance

 

What kind of mood would you like to create?

For last year’s Halloween Altar and more information about them, visit A New Spin On Your Halloween Altar and Decorations. I really tried to keep what I liked from last year and make some improvements. I’ve always wanted to time travel to the late 1800s and early 1900s to hang out with the Victorians, so in my eyes, my altar is meant to kick the atmosphere of Halloween spookiness up a notch… with a historical flair! The altar is really two surfaces in my dining room, the buffet (seen below) and the dining room table. The most noticeable additions are the two candelabras that I purchased at World Market. I LOVE THEM! If looking up close, you’ll realize their quality might not make them great for all year round, but perfect for this occasion! A special thanks goes out to Karen A. Dahlman for spotting them for me. She knew what I was looking for. With the added candles (which you KNOW I love), I decided to ditch the lamps and candle sticks that I used last year.

 

Halloween Altar, Halloween decorating ideas, Big Seance

 

Something else that makes a big difference in the feel of the altar, is the addition of the Ashland brand artificial flowers from Michaels, which were 50% off.  You’ll notice there is also a vase of flowers on the dining room table. I really feel that it helps to balance out the presence of the skulls and my sitting skeleton. Some may say those things are borderline tacky… but maybe I’m borderline tacky. I love it! Halloween is such a mix of culture, traditions, and history. And now it’s mostly secular and just FUN! There are certainly “tackier” Halloween Altars out there. 

An especially nerdy addition to the altar, are pages from things like the Dennison Bogie Books and other magazines from the early 1900s. These are spread throughout the house, actually. I printed them in color on cream-colored card stock (and then trimmed them), so the yellowed antique look from the photos make them look vintage. Many of the pages I printed come from the 1920 issue and can be viewed in its entirety on PublicDomainReview.org. So it turns out my Halloween Altar can also be a history lesson.

 

Halloween Altar, Halloween decorating ideas, Big Seance

Halloween Altar, Halloween decorating ideas, Big Seance

 

The woman framed above, as well as the gentleman framed on the opposite side of the buffet, were also 50% off at Michaels, and if you look closely while walking by, their images change from a stately appearance to a skeleton. The decorative leaves, which I used last year as well, are also from Michaels.

 

Halloween Altar, Halloween decorating ideas, Big Seance

Halloween Altar, Halloween decorating ideas, Big Seance

 

Like last year, I had a lot of fun searching for vintage photos and Halloween artwork. Most of the framed photos are from last year. I just printed them on paper and framed them in cheap frames that I picked up at both Walmart and Target, I believe. Several of the framed photos are placed in other areas in the house as well. The additional photos and artwork that I added this year include old photos of trick-or-treaters, costume parties, and just some flat-out bizarre and creepy moments captured in photographs. These were printed on the same cream-colored card stock that I mentioned earlier. For most of them, I trimmed around the photo, leaving a white (cream, actually) frame on the outside. Some of them I glued to black card stock backing to stand out.

 

Halloween Altar, Halloween decorating ideas, Big Seance

Halloween Altar, Skeleton, Halloween decorating ideas, Big Seance

 

Will you give a Halloween Altar a try this year? 

What will yours look like? What mood will it set? Please contact me if you try one… or even if you find other interesting altars or decorations out there!

 

 

 

 

 

 


Photography from Saint Peter’s Cemetery, Saint Charles, Missouri

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For the full set of photos, visit the Saint Peter’s Cemetery album on my Flikr page.

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Other recent cemetery photography posts:

Return to the Old Catholic Cemetery in Lexington, Missouri

The Iron Fence and the Family Plot

Cemetery of Immaculate Conception of Dardenne, Missouri

Francis Howell Cemetery, St. Charles, Missouri

Perfectly Lonely and Snowy City of Souls – Return to Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis

 

 


Introducing my Cemetery Grave Adoptions for 2014

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If you listened to episode 11 of The Big Séance Podcast on Cemetery Grave Adoptions, I promised to keep listeners updated on this year’s adoptions. Well today I took advantage of an absolutely splendid autumn-like day (finally!), and headed on out to a local cemetery that I’ve heard a lot about, but until today had never been. I had flowers ready to go, and I intended on finding two graves to adopt. I spent a little over an hour just taking photos and checking the place out.

Shortly after arriving, I met a Abby, who was very happy to see me. Once Sabrina, her owner, caught up with her, we had a very nice conversation about cemeteries and how much we enjoyed them. After Sabrina gave me some tips on where to find some of the older headstones, and after Abby (a dog, if I wasn’t clear enough) gave me a few last slobbery kisses, she got bored and ran off to find another friend, forcing Sabrina to follow. There were several four-legged friends and their owners enjoying the cemetery today. Just before leaving two hours later, a cute little doggie ran up to me as I was getting into my car. This little doggie looked almost exactly like my dog Meril, only smaller. 

I was really having a hard time making this decision. After such a great experience last year, I really felt pressured to just be drawn to two graves. As I’ve said before, lately I tend to float through the cemetery with more of a photographer’s eye. Other than the ones I kept photographing, I wasn’t really feeling like I was being drawn or pulled toward any specific grave for adoption purposes. Then, like happens so often in my school gig with things like auditions and solos and choosing who gets spotlighted, I kept feeling guilt for passing up all of the other hundreds of graves and monuments. Don’t they all deserve to be adopted? 

I couldn’t narrow it down to one named grave and one nameless (as I suggest in that same recent podcast episode), so what did I do? I decided to go with four of them. I may regret his decision in the busy month of October.  

So here they are. I’ve done no research or genealogy at this point.

 

Schwester (Sister) Maria Georgia (1862) & Schwester (Sister) Maria Germana (1872), Requiescat in Pace

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Sister Maria Germana’s monument is broken off of the base, which is right next to Sister Maria Georgia. One leaning on the other, it makes a beautiful photo, and I can’t help but wonder about the friendship these ladies must have had in life. I took so many photos of their crosses that I just knew I was adopting them this fall. 

 

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H.W. Rühenpohl (1812-1850)

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I’m not entirely sure of the name on this soul, but the base behind the rest of the monument says “W.H. Rühenpohl”. To the best of my ability, the monument in front says “Hier Ruht” with a smaller inscription that I’m not able to make out (probably in German), and then “Rühenpohl”. Someone has tied the base and the top together with wire.

 

Cemetery Grave Adoption Ruhenpohl 2

 

Unmarked

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I’m really hoping this stone marks a grave. I can’t imagine it being anything else. It must just be incredibly old and weathered, or perhaps it is the base of a monument that no longer exists. This stone rests right in front of the crosses of Sisters Maria Georgia and Germana. I decided this was a good thing, because otherwise I’d have a hard time finding it.

 

The Tradition Continues

Today I introduced myself and explained my intentions with this grave adoption tradition. I’ll now return every two weeks (at least), leaving flowers or gifts, visiting with them (should they choose to be present), and praying that their souls are at peace. Hopefully I’ll be able to do some genealogy sometime soon. I’ll be sure to keep you updated. 

 

Want to learn more about this cemetery grave adoption tradition? Again, check out episode 11 of The Big Séance Podcast to hear me discuss last year’s project, my inspiration for starting it, and my 8 tips for starting your own grave adoption tradition!

 

Stay tuned!

 


Cemetery Photography with Mary Homick: Episode 2 of the Big Séance Podcast

 

Please enjoy the second episode of The Big Séance Podcast! I absolutely loved talking with Mary about our shared passion of Cemetery Photography!

Mary Homick, Cemetery Photographer and Infrared Photography artist, shares her passion, and encourages folks to see the beauty in a cemetery.

Also, check out her book,  Historic Cemeteries, on Amazon.

Thanks for sharing with us, Mary!

 

 

Get this episode on iTunes!
Direct Download Link

 

 

Photos referred to in the episode: 

Third photo discussed, and Mary's book cover.

Third photo discussed, and Mary’s book cover.

 

The Big Seance Podcast can be found right here, on Apple PodcastsSpotifyTuneIn RadioStitcherGoogle Play Music, and iHeart Radio. Please subscribe, submit a rating, or share with a fellow paranerd! Do you have any comments or feedback? Please contact me at Patrick@BigSeance.com. Consider recording your voice feedback directly from your device on my SpeakPipe page! You can also call the show and leave feedback at (775) 583-5563 (or 7755-TELL-ME). I would love to include your voice feedback in a future show. The candles are already lit, so come on in and join the séance!


The Anderson House and the Battle of Lexington State Historic Site

 

This mansion, known as the Oliver Anderson house, was built in 1853, and is such a familiar landmark to me. After all, I was born in a hospital just a few hundred feet away from the road behind it. The house and the battlefield are now one of many Missouri State Historic Sites.

 

 

The battle, sometimes known as “The Battle of the Hemp Bales”, lasted 3 September days in 1861. The Anderson family was thrown out of their home by Federal troops, though the house changed hands several times over the three days. For the most part it was used as a field hospital for the wounded.

 

 

There are several ghost stories and legends attached to this home, yet whether the mansion is haunted or not is something the state is tight-lipped about. Over the years lots of people have worked in and around the house though, and it isn’t hard to find someone ready to share their experiences. I have childhood friends who grew up in this neighborhood, and between the house and the battlefield, they say strange things happened all the time. Obviously I’ve requested access to conduct a paranormal investigation, but Missouri State Historic Sites doesn’t go for things like that.

When I was growing up, a local Kansas City news station would often come to Lexington around Halloween to reenact ghost stories for segments on the news. In 1989, one of them was filmed here at the Anderson House. I was able to find the 1989 KMBC 9 News segment, and it is embedded below.

 

 

 

For most of us that grew up in Lexington, the back of the house is actually the view that you see first, since the front of the house faces the river bluff. The back yard leading to the battlefield looks a lot different now then it did back then. They used to hold the battle reenactments right on site every couple of years. They’d even use the Anderson house as a backdrop and sometimes a character in the drama. Fortunately, though it bugs some, they’ve redesigned the yard surrounding the house to look the way it would have originally, including prairie and a wooded area surrounding it, so it can no longer be seen from the road. I think it’s a really cool decision that has taken time and effort to achieve. However, it disturbs me that in my lifetime a whole stretch of wooded area has had the opportunity to grow and block the view of the Anderson House. I guess that means I’m old. One thing that does disappoint me is the fact that they no longer do the battle reenactments on site. They have them nearby on the riverfront. It is simply not the same.

 

 

Imagine it being the 1800s and this being your front yard. In those days, the river down the hill would have had major steamboat traffic. I love this shot. At the time I took this picture, there was actually a couple napping just over the hill.

 

 

I found these wildflowers growing in between the battlefield and the house. Unfortunately, my photo of the battlefield didn’t turn out, but you’re likely to find photos on one of the links I’ve included below.

 

 

Below is the cover of the brand new book about the Battle of Lexington, written by Larry Wood. I haven’t seen it yet, but Larry asked my permission to include one of my older photos in the book, a photo from the Machpelah Cemetery in town.  Click on the cover below for more information on its Amazon page.

 

 

 

For more information, including many other fascinating photos, visit The Battle of Lexington Historic Site on the web.

 

You might also like these Big Séance posts related to Lexington:

Images of America: Lexington, Missouri 
Verna Marie Owen (1859-1986), a Lexington Missouri Teacher 
Do Spirits Reside at Papa Jack’s Pizza in Lexington, Missouri? 
Dr. Silkini’s Ghost Show: Do the Dead Return? Spooks Sit Beside You! 
Return to the Old Catholic Cemetery in Lexington, Missouri 
The Iron Fence and the Family Plot

 

 

 


My Guest Appearance on The Kiwi Psychic and the Midwest Ghost

I was very honored that Debbie Black and Thomas Spychalski invited me to be their very first on-air guest for Episode Two of the brand new podcast, The Kiwi Psychic and the Midwest Ghost! I was very nervous, but excited. (Sometime I’ll have to tell you a funny behind-the-scenes story that happened while recording.) Both Debbie and Thomas have been great supporters and followers of this blog, and I thank them for giving me the opportunity. The YouTube video of the episode is below. The episode can also be downloaded HERE.


 

My “Show Notes”

If you’d like to listen and follow along, the links to many of the topics and stories that I discussed in the episode can be found below.

 

My post on How To Record EVP

Final Report from the Friedens United Church of Christ investigation. The “It’s all over me” EVP is covered in the video at the top of the page, or you can scroll down through the report and find more details and further discussion just below the first picture of the fellowship hall.

My initial post on the “Can You Help Me” EVP and the Investigation Report from that undisclosed location. Also, here is the original, unenhanced audio and the enhanced audio.

A look back on my visits from the “Rapper” (with transcripts and audio examples) –  My Rapper: Missing you, old friend…

Some spirit box examples: Belvoir Winery: Audio Highlights of Spirit Box and Flashlight Communication, and 200th Post and Fort Chaffee Prison Spirit Box Session.

For several posts about the Ouija Board, visit the Ouija Category Archives.

For a free download of Audacity, visit audacity.sourceforge.net.

All of the Belvoir Winery Posts:

Audio Highlights of Spirit Box and Flashlight Communication
The Brilliant Britt Griffith!

Ghosts can do that? The Evidence… Sort of… (Discussion of the mysterious disappearance of the video.)
Amy, Adam, Britt, and Chip!
New Friends!
The Photos
I’m Baaaaaaaaaack!
TAPS and Chip Coffey at Belvoir Winery in March!

For my cemetery photography, you can find most of the cemetery albums on my Flickr page, or visit the Cemetery Category Archives.

Adopting Graves 2013: My Thoughts and a Look Back on a New Tradition

Here’s Thomas’s very popular Amityville Ghost Boy Post 

 

More links for The Kiwi Psychic and the Midwest Ghost 

Facebook for Kiwi Psychic and the Midwest Ghost 
YouTube Page
Twitter: @Kiwi_Psychic
Thomas Spychalski’s Blog – News From the Spirit World
Debbie Black’s Blog – Spirits and the Paranormal (debbiedakiwi.com)

 

 

 

 

 


Return to the Old Catholic Cemetery in Lexington, Missouri

 

It hasn’t changed a bit, this old cemetery. Until two years ago when I visited it last, it had been over 20 years since I’d seen it. I remembered several of the individual headstones like I had just been there the day before. It’s weird, the things our brains choose to remember and hold on to. Growing up, I spent quite a bit of time here as my grandparents lived nearby. In fact, one of my earliest childhood memories is of an uncle of mine giving me a ride through this cemetery on a four-wheeler, and coming back with a collection of pine cones. I’m sure it wasn’t very deep back then, but I remember strolling through this grass and over the hill… and pondering life… and probably death. I don’t remember my reasons for enjoying my time there so much, but I do recall having general conversations with any spirit wanting to listen. I also recall my Bama (grandma) packing a lunch for me on a few occasions. One thing is for sure. When I think about a cemetery, or when I’m reading of a fictional graveyard, it is always this beautiful place that ends up being the setting in my mind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other recent cemetery photography posts:

The Iron Fence and the Family Plot

Cemetery of Immaculate Conception of Dardenne, Missouri

Francis Howell Cemetery, St. Charles, Missouri

Perfectly Lonely and Snowy City of Souls – Return to Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis

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The Iron Fence and the Family Plot

Is it the ornate designs? Is it the worn and aged look? Maybe it’s the lichen that seems to glow in the sunset? Or maybe it’s the fact that fencing a family plot so beautifully is a thing of the past? Whatever it is, I couldn’t stop photographing them this last weekend. 


 

 

All above photos are from a recent return visit to Machpelah Cemetery in my hometown of Lexington, Missouri. For more photos from this shoot, please visit the Machpelah album on my Flickr page

 

Other recent cemetery photography posts:

Cemetery of Immaculate Conception of Dardenne, Missouri

Francis Howell Cemetery, St. Charles, Missouri

Perfectly Lonely and Snowy City of Souls – Return to Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis

 

 


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