Tag Archives: lexington

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




Christmas Eve at Machpelah Cemetery, Lexington, Missouri





















You might also like…

Oak Grove Cemetery, St. Charles, Missouri(Big Séance.com)

A Lonely Old Country Cemetery at Magic Hour – Bellflower, Missouri (Big Séance.com)

Walnut Grove Cemetery, Boonville Missouri(Big Séance.com)

Machpelah Cemetery, Lexington, Missouri (Big Séance.com)

Adopting Graves 2013: My Thoughts and a Look Back on a New Tradition (Big Séance.com)

Images of America: Lexington, Missouri (Big Séance.com)



Verna Marie Owen (1895-1986), a Lexington Missouri Teacher

This post includes **Updated Information** below. 

Over my Thanksgiving break, I visited my Grandmother at her home for a while. Very often I get sucked into her many books on the history of Lexington, Missouri (my hometown), or even just the high school yearbooks of both her and my late Grandfather. Naturally, that is precisely what happened during this visit.

I was super excited to find a photo of Ms. Verna Marie Owen in both the 1954 and 1956 Lexington High School yearbooks (the same photo in both, and included below on the right.) You may remember me mentioning and including a photo of her several months back, in a post titled “Collecting Someone Else’s Memories”, where I shared many of the photos and pages from the five 1920s era Lexington High School yearbooks that I have collected. It is just one of my nerdy hobbies, even though I can’t seem to find any other yearbooks from that era. I believe that Verna Owen began teaching in Lexington for the 1927-1928 school year (see updated information below) (see the below left photo). I have the yearbook from that year as well as for the 1928-1929 school year. Both of these yearbooks were originally owned by Verna herself. Obviously, me now owning two of her yearbooks, along with my Lexington roots, and the fact that I am a teacher, has made me feel connected to her in some way. 


Verna Marie Owen
(1895 – 1986)


**Updated Information as of 12/2/13**

To prepare for this post, I did some genealogy research using FindAGrave and Ancestry. It made me a little sad to find very little information on this woman. Fortunately, Cathy Wallace, who is a great friend and Lexington resident who shares many of the same nerdy interests, went out of her way to fill in several blanks for us, including finding the obituary below. I told her I was going to have to give her the title of “senior reporter for BigSéance.com”. Thank you for the time and effort you put into helping us learn about and remember Miss Owen. Even though we’re unable to find an exact year of when she retired, she clearly had a long career in Lexington and touched many lives. I now have evidence of this, as people have left comments here and on the two Lexington community Facebook pages.  


Her obituary from the July 30, 1986 issue of The Lexington News:

Verna Marie Owen, 90, of Lexington, died Friday, July 25 in the Urbana, MO Nursing Home. 

She was born September 18, 1895 in Lexington to John Martin Owen and Carolyn Sellman Owen. 

She was a member of the United Methodist Church, the Lafayette-Lexington DAR and past matron of the Eastern Star. She attended school at Missouri University, Central Missouri State College and the University of Boldar [sic], CO. She taught school in Lexington for 47 years. She was a member of the Missouri State Teachers Association and the National Retired Teachers Association. She was a lifelong resident of Lexington. 

Survivors include four nieces and eight nephews.

Services were held Tuesday, July 29 at the Walker-Nadler-Graff Chapel with Rev. Dan Sullivan officiating; burial was in Machpelah Cemetery. 


Some other information we’ve been able to gather:

Both her and her parents (John Martin Owen and Caroline “Carrie” Whelan Owen) were born and raised in Lexington, and are all buried in Machpela cemetery, a Lexington cemetery that I’ve blogged about.

It blows my mind to learn that as early as the fall of 1915, at the age of 19 or 20, Miss Owen was teaching 34 pupils at the Elm Park country school outside of Lexington. Again, it’s unclear when exactly she retired from the Lexington School District, but in recent days, former students have recalled having her as a teacher as late as 1965. That is simply amazing. I can’t imagine being there to witness all of the growth and change that public education went through during those five decades!

During her long career in Lexington, she taught at least English and Social Studies to probably several junior/senior high grade levels, and for many years sponsored a “pen pals” program. According to the 1940 US census, at age 44 she was making a yearly teacher salary of $855.   

In recent days, former students have described her as being quiet, gentle, soft-spoken, sweet, and “one of my favorite teachers”. Alan talked of being paid to “porch” her newspaper for a few years in the 1970s each time it was delivered.  Lucia sent me the cutest story (I’m adding it to the comments below) of how she would leave Miss Owen flowers on her doorstep on May Day. 


At the time of her death I was eight years old. I wonder if I ever knew her or if our paths ever crossed. Looking into her eyes, I just know she made a huge difference and was loved and respected by many. If anyone has more information, or if you’d like to add your memories of Miss Owen, or if you’re a family member, I’d love for you to contact me, or simply leave a comment.


You might also like: 

More from the Old Yearbooks (Big Séance)

More from the Old Yearbooks (Big Séance)

Adopting Graves 2013: My Thoughts and a Look Back on a New Tradition (Big Séance)

Adopting Graves 2013: My Thoughts and a Look Back on a New Tradition (Big Séance)

Images of America: Lexington, Missouri (Big Séance)

Images of America: Lexington, Missouri (Big Séance)

Skin and Bones (Big Séance)

Skin and Bones (Big Séance)



A Lonely Old Country Cemetery at Magic Hour – Bellflower, Missouri

Yesterday I accompanied Joe to a get together at a work friend’s home in beautiful and secluded Bellflower, Missouri. It was our first trip to this part of the world. Bellflower isn’t large in area and is truly in the middle of nowhere, seemingly consisting of mostly farms and gravel roads. The population is less than 400. Though that’s a very small population, I’m not sure where all those residents were, because turning from one long gravel road to another, we never met another human being until we reached our destination. As we were leaving, I asked our hosts if we’d find an old cemetery nearby, and fortunately the Bellflower Baptist Cemetery, established in 1841, was fairly close. 

There aren’t too many times you’ll get me laying down on the ground with nature crawling all over, but for a great photographic shot in a cemetery, I don’t even think twice. 


Interested in my other cemetery posts? 

Walnut Grove Cemetery, Boonville Missouri

Assumption Cemetery, O’Fallon Missouri

Cravens Cemetery, Camden Missouri

Cemeteries: Concordia and Emma, Missouri 

Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis, Missouri 

Forest Grove Cemetery, Lexington, Missouri 

Lexington’s Old Catholic Cemetery 

Machpelah Cemetery, Lexington, Missouri 

Two Smoky Mountain Cemeteries 

Just a Stroll through a Random Cemetery on the Way Home 


Adopting the graves of little Clara and Johnnie (most recent listed first)

An Update in Four Photos

Adopting Graves: Second Visit with Clara and Johnnie

Adopting Graves: More on little Clara and her Family

Adopting Graves: Some genealogy of our little Johnnie and his family

Adopting Graves: A New Autumn Tradition (2013)





Machpelah Cemetery, Lexington, Missouri…

For those of us who love a walk or a picnic in a beautiful old cemetery, or for those people who simply like to look at photos of historical locations, I give you part 1 of a 3-part series (wow, that sounds fancy) of photos of cemeteries from my home town… Lexington, Missouri. Several days ago I went back to visit the family and was inspired to drop by all of the cemeteries in town. Though I have interesting connections and memories from 2 of the 3, I had forgotten (or maybe didn’t realize it before) how truly cool these historic pieces of land are. I think many people from Lexington don’t even realize that such beautiful and historical gems are just hanging out and waiting to be noticed.  I wonder if this is the case with many small towns around the country. Although, I must say that part of what makes them so beautiful to me is the quietness and the fact that I was almost always alone for each visit.

At each cemetery I brought a digital audio recorder along and had respectful conversation with any spirits who may have been present (hopefully there will be more about this in a future post). I’m not a photographer, but I hope you enjoy the photos.

Machpelah Cemetery, Lexington, Missouri – Founded in 1849

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