Is The Pettis County Courthouse Haunted?
I know you're probably thinking I'm just getting in the Halloween mood. And you're probably right. But I was down at the Courthouse not too long ago, maybe a few weeks ago. I heard a noise and didn't think twice about it. But some people started talking, and I kept my mouth shut and listened.
One person said they hear noises all the time. "Footsteps, voices, nothing I can pin down to what it was supposed to be. Years ago someone was pushed out of a chair, but they leave me alone". Apparently, there was a fire years ago and some people think the people who died in the fire haunt the place. Well, I had heard of the fire, so I decided to get some more information about it.
From the LaMonte Record, June 18th, 1920:
Pettis County's splendid court house in Sedalia was destroyed by fire late Wednesday afternoon. The blaze was discovered at about 3:30 o'clock and a few moments later the large dome was enveloped in flames. The dome fell a few minutes later.
As the blaze had gained great headway, it was impossible for the fire fighters to check the flames which quickly ate downward to the main structure.
No sooner had the blaze been discovered than court house officials, with their deputies and clerks, grabbed up all records and papers, placed them in the vaults and then quickly left the building for their own safety.
The furniture, fixtures and office supplies on the upper floor were destroyed in the fire. The magnificent library of the Pettis County Bar association, one of the finest in the state, was completely destroyed. The beautiful Pettis county service flag, containing stars for the number of Pettis county boys who served in the world war and gold stars for those who died was also destroyed.
The fire fighters prevented the flames from destroying the contents of the offices on the first floor of the building, and so far as is known, all of the valuable records in the offices of the recorder of deeds, circuit clerk, county clerk, probate court, sheriff, collector and assessor are safe.
The fire was discovered by three tinners who were replacing the tin sheeting on the main roof just below the dome. They managed to escape without difficulty. "The fire to all appearances started just below the court house clock," said one of the tinners.
Wait. This says NOTHING about anyone dying in the fire. It talks a lot about property damage, but I didn't see anything about anybody even getting hurt. It even says the guys who ended up starting the fire got out safely. Maybe it's something else other than the fire that makes it haunted. After all, there are a lot of people who say the Hotel Bothwell next door is haunted. When I went on the Crime Tour, there were a LOT of stories about people doing nefarious things in Downtown Sedalia.
Maybe the fire is just thrown into the story, when really something else happened to make the place all ghosted up. It's a pretty old building, a lot of stuff has happened there over the years. The courthouse can be a good and bad memory for a lot of people. People getting married, divorced, court hearings, crimes, I guess there can be all sorts of reasons someone would want to haunt the place. Maybe someone got really mad at their property taxes and decided to haunt the Assessor or something.
Who did she hear? Who is walking down those hallways? I have no idea. That's probably disappointing. But I'm intrigued.
Have you ever heard stories about the Courthouse being haunted? What about around Downtown Sedalia? Or do you have your own haunted story?