Friday, December 16, 2016

Oh There's No Place Like a Haunted Home for the Holidays...

Christmas is filled with many songs that celebrate the season. My personal favorite is the children's version of Canon in D famously performed by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. But, as the title of this post suggests, there is more to Christmas than just the joy of Christ's birth. There is also the warmth felt by family as they gather together to create enduring memories in the house of the chosen host. Or, maybe your holidays are tainted with family strife and conflict, overshadowing the joy of the holiday season. Whatever may be your story, and I do hope it is the former, nearly every home has its history. And it is these events that open up the doors to the paranormal world and may even bring a little haunting to your Christmas dinner table.

In this article I wanted to bring you, the reader, home to where I live in St. Louis, Missouri and open up a few of the front doors that lead into some of this area's most haunted locations. Come along...let's step aboard the Christmas sleigh and drop inside for a very haunted holiday season!!

The Dependahl House

The first stop on our sleigh ride through St. Louis takes us to the smaller suburb of Manchester, Missouri. Here in this once small farming community, covering five square miles, live about 18,000 people. Among those inhabitants, at the intersection of Henry Avenue and Andersohn Drive, sits the Dependahl House.

This two-story home was once a big farmhouse that still today hosts some very strong paranormal activity.

"The main ghosts that haunt it are the two E-- brothers.... There was an evil one and a sad or depressed one, and the depressed one hung himself in the historical house across the street... he had hanged himself in the front window."

It is said that the depressed brother was broken up over a love affair. The story of his life was discovered in a series of photographs in a history book of the area. The hanged man has been observed on numerous occasions, still haunting the property. The brother's full-body apparition has been seen standing at the foot of a bed, just staring at one of the tenants and startling the crap out of him. The second brother was standing next to him with an evil look on his face. He is claimed to be the most active in the house. The depressed brother's head has also been seen floating in a bedroom of the Dependahl house:

"I woke up one night and saw just his little head, right by the light switch, in my room. He was looking at me.... He had a sad look to him. And he had that short, black hair; really short, and parted on the side. Very distinct-looking hair."

The paranormal activity of the two brothers is just the beginning of what is happening on the property. Outside in the yard voices have been heard on more than one occasion:

"...we heard this evil laugh in the yard. It was not even a normal voice; it was like hahahaHAHAHAHA! It was just too weird of a laugh...."

In one of the rooms facing west, on the side of the house facing Andersohn Drive, there have been claims of a woman bellowing a blood-curdling scream:

"It's usually in the dead of winter when it's cold out and it's quiet. It sounded like it was coming from another dimension, not this world."

There are also reports of a cat that has been seen outside the home. This calico is said to have died in the barn out back during one of the rougher winters. Tenants have seen this cat wandering around the premises and one in particular watched the animal walk right through a closed garage door. The mysterious calico has even made its way into the screaming woman's room as well, scratching at the rug at night.

There is one final story coming from the Dependahl house that runs its roots back to the Civil War era:

"In the rear of the house is an old smokehouse, which had a noose and a trapdoor inside and appeared to be untouched when [the] family moved in.... Legend had it a black man was held and later hanged inside, allegedly for raping a schoolteacher...." 

The Mottin House

If you hop back onto our winter chariot, we'll travel a bit further north in St. Louis to area known as Florissant. On the 100 block of Rue St. Catherine the Mottin House stands as an historic ghost story embedded in the roadside trees. The paranormal activity in the home is very reminiscent of the images we might have about Christmas.

One family that lived in the house reports seeing a figure standing in the second floor window. The mother had loaded up the kids to take them to school one morning and while she was backing out, she looked back upstairs for some reason. Perhaps her mind picked up that someone was staring at her from a distance. (Ever heard of scopaesthesia?):

"She saw this figure standing in the window, an older woman with a funny little bonnet-type of hat, cap. So [the mother] went back into the house, and of course, there was no one there."

This same woman has been seen by more than family in the house's history. "Gretchen Crank, an office manager, is the down-to-earth subject of the 'old woman in the window' story. She and her husband, Nelson, purchased the home in 1977 and restored it to its 1905 splendor, when it was built by Felix Mottin, a house builder."

Their story happened in 1978 or 1979. They too, like the other family, were backing out of the driveway and looked back towards the house. On the second floor Gretchen saw a woman leaning out of the window and looking toward the driveway. The apparition looked at Gretchen and realized she had been seen in the window. In response, the apparition moved back inside. Gretchen, afraid that there was someone in the house, pulled back into the driveway, ran into the back yard, and grabbed a baseball bat off the porch. She did a sweep of the home, but found no one. The lady in the window is believed to be Agatha Mottin, Felix's wife.

The Mottin House is also notorious for its paranormal smells. In particular, there is the scent of burning candles that can be detected at the foot of the living room stairs. Is it Agatha lighting up a source of Christmas cheer? Might she have been setting the holiday dinner table back in 1915 when she and Felix were raising their 9 children together? Could the lingering smell be a moment in time captured when Felix blew out the last candle, shuffling the children off to bed so that Santa Claus could come?

"You can smell it right at the bottom of the stairs, you can smell it going up the stairs and it gets stronger, like there something burning upstairs.... It's like a candle, like right after you've blown it out...."

The St. Ann Poltergeist

We have one last stop on our Christmas journey through the city of St. Louis and this house has a very unique history. It is located in the suburb of St. Ann and the origins of this haunting begins with couple named Hank and Ina. The year is 1974. The couple were married in 1968 in the Lutheran Church in Bel Nor, just around the corner from the famous 1949 Exorcist house. After the wedding, they purchased a plot of land in St. Charles county. On the property was an old dilapidated barn who some locals believed was haunted. Hank eventually tore it down and sold the property. After it was sold, Hank's health began to take a massive decline:

"Problems with his eyes was soon followed by accelerated diabetes. He developed leg problems, heart problems, and was soon being treated for acute depression.... Fearing he might soon become 'a burden' to Ina, he shot himself on Labor Day (1974) with a .38 caliber Smith & Wesson."  

At the time of Hank's suicide, he and Ina were living in a house in Bridgeton. Before they bought this house with the land sale money, they had considered buying a different house in St. Ann. At the time the St. Ann house was not available, but ironically, after Hank's death, it did hit the market again. Ina went ahead and sold the Bridgeton property and bought the St. Ann home. 

When she first moved in, the house was relatively quiet. That is, there was no paranormal activity at all. Then, right around the first anniversary of Hank's death, things began to change dramatically. Ina began hearing someone walking around in the attic and contacted her children one night in a full-blown panic. They came over to their mother's house, but did not find anyone. This happened on multiple occasions, but no strangers were ever upstairs.

In the photo to the left you can see an extension that runs from the main house of to the left and connects into the garage. When Hank and Ina first looked at the house to purchase it, it was decided that this would be the area for his private work den. The room originally was intended to be a sun room and so it was not wired for any electricity. It is in this section of the house where the poltergeist activity began.

One of the most mysterious phenomenon of the room was its consistently cold temperatures. Spirits are known to extract heat energy from the environment and we understand this as being "cold spots." Hank's den exhibited these "cold spots" on a daily basis:

" feasible explanation could be given how when in the high heat of August (with temperatures pressing near 100 degrees), why this particular room would continually feel “ice cold.” A faintness-like dizziness seemed to come over anyone who remained in this room for an extended period of time. In the adjacent garage, garden tools which Hank had once owned and used kept falling off their hooks and wall mounts. Shovels, rakes, hedge clippers and other items could be heard on a semi-regular basis falling loudly onto the garage floor. This would usually occur in the middle of the night, shortly before bedtime."

There was also a disembodied male voice that could be heard coming from the walls. Creaks, knocks, and pops were continuously heard by Ina in the house on Little Flower Lane over the next three years. Finally, in 1978, something happened that caused her to sell the property. She never told anyone what it was that drove her over the edge.

Have a Haunted Jolly Christmas

The city of St Louis is full of little suburbs and towns that are laden with paranormal activity. The Lemp Mansion and the Exorcist house are two of the most famous. I hope that as you have taken this little "sleigh ride" journey with me through some of my neighborhoods that you have gotten a good paranormal taste for some of the lesser-known hauntings in my area. 

I am always looking to create articles about haunted locations throughout the world that have not gotten Internet coverage. If you think your neck of the woods falls in this category, and if you would like to share some of your town's story, I'd love to hear from you. Just drop me a line @ 

Thank you so much!! Have a blessed and wonderful holiday season!!

Works Cited

Courtaway, Robbi. Spirits of St. Louis: A Ghostly Guide to the Mound City's Unearthly Activities. October 1999.

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