Missouri in 1909, by
Frederick J. Bandholtz
Missouri, lies on the south bank of the
near the western edge of the state and a few miles east of Kansas
City. Few towns its size can claim such a rich history. The
Indians originally claimed the area, followed by the Spanish
and a brief French tenure. It became American territory with the
Louisiana Purchase in 1803.
the second settlement in Jackson
County and was chosen as the county seat in 1826. From
1841 to 1849,
Independence was known as the Queen City of the Trails
as goods and services were provided for travelers beginning their long
journey on the Santa Fe, California and Oregon trails.
In the 1840s, the
Independence, Westport, and Kansas City merged into the
great city of Centropolis, envisioned as the dominant metropolis of
the area, much like Chicago or St. Louis. Today, Westport is part of
Kansas City and
Independence is its largest suburb.
In 1945, the city’s most famous son, Harry S. Truman,
became President of the United States. While residing in Washington,
D.C., his home at 216 North Delaware served as his summer White House.
There is much to see and do in
-- from unique shops to thirteen heritage sites that
paved the future of our country.
Jackson County Jail
jail, built in 1859, included 12 limestone jail cells and an adjoining
Marshal’s House. The dungeon-like cells housed thousands of
Clark Quantrill of
Quantrill’s Raiders from the time it opened in 1850 until it
closed in 1933.
Old Jackson County
In 1863, the jail housed many women and
children that were accused of harboring
guerilla forces during the
one of the first cells as you enter the old jail is thoroughly haunted. Staff and visitors describe a feeling of nausea and chills, as well as
hearing the sound of footsteps, growls and gasps. Others have
reported seeing a man in blue in this cell.
There are two theories of who haunts the jail. One is of Marshall Jim Knowles, who lived in the adjoining Marshal’s
house. During the
Civil War, Knowles lost his life trying to settle
a fight between two prisoners with opposing sentiments regarding the war.
Others say a deputy marshal who was killed during a jailbreak in June of
1866 haunts the jail.
When Legends of America
visited the old jail, the museum host also said that the building is
haunted by the many women and children who were housed there during the
Civil War. Describing female and child like apparitions and the
sounds of children, the staff and guests have also experienced an
assortment of odd occurrences from radios seemingly turning on and off by
themselves, to items being mysteriously moved around.
our visit at the old jail, their was no doubt a ominous perception as we
entered the jail, that passed as quickly as it appeared, when we exited
those old stone walls.
The jail is now operated as a
museum and is located in Independence Square at 217 N. Main Street. Both the jail and the Marshal’s Home have been painstakingly restored and
self-guided tours are available March through October.
Independence Jail Interior, April, 2004, Kathy
stayed at the Independence Jail he was perceived by the
public as a hero and received his own cell as well as special treatment. April, 2004,
old building has no accounts of recent hauntings, it is said that at one
time it was so ominous that passersby would cross the street rather than
walk in front of the old home.
Built by Colonel and
Mrs. Harvey Vaile in 1881, the 31-room mansion includes nine marble
fireplaces, spectacular painted ceilings, flushing toilets, a built-in
6,000-gallon water tank, and a 48,000-gallon wine cellar.
Reportedly, some time after Mr. Vaile built
the mansion he encountered some trouble when he was accused of mail fraud
and potentially faced a jail sentence. The despondent Mr. Vaile began to
deteriorate and went a little crazy.
Mrs. Vaile, mortified
over the accusations, took an overdose of morphine and killed herself in
1889. Later Mr. Vaile was exonerated but, alas, it was obviously too
late for his wife. Mr. Vaile lived for another five years and never
Supposedly the mansion was haunted by Sylvia Vaile, as she
was often reported as having been seen looking out the windows after her
death. According to one legend, when she died, her husband could not
part with her so he buried her on the front lawn in a glass-topped coffin
set flush with the ground. However, neighborhood protests finally
forced him to give his wife a more conventional burial. We, at
Legends of America,
talked to the people working at the Vaile Mansion in the spring of 2004,
who not only looked at us like we were insane, but denied that Mrs. Vaile
was ever buried on the property. (Who knows?)
After Mr. Vaile
died in 1894, the home became an inn for a brief period. Then it was used
as a private asylum and sanitarium. A mineral water company, the Vaile
Pure Water Co., operated from the site soon after the turn of the century.
Later it became a rest home for the aged.
Acquired by Roger and Mary Mildred DeWitt in the 1960s, the home
was saved from destruction. It was given to the citizens of
after the death of Mrs. DeWitt in 1983. Today the mansion is operated as
at 1500 N. Liberty. It is open to the public daily from 9:30 a.m. to
The Truman House in
President Truman is said to still spend time in his old home in
Independence. Witnesses have reported seeing him lounging in the
living room and the smell of his favorite brandy can often be detected. Truman House is located at 219 N. Delaware in Independence.
of America, updated April, 2014.
Queen City of the Trails