Lantern led tours through a historic district filled with tales of ghost and lost souls… some of which still call Ste. Genevieve home.On this particular Saturday night my girlfriend Tracy and I traveled to Ste. Genevieve to take the Haunted Home Tour hosted by Ste. Genevieve Ghost Tours. If you’ve been reading this magazine for a while, you know my dog Pete and I have been on plenty of hikes. But on this exotic outing, we had along our newest addition to the family. Cooper, our miniature dachshund, made his public debut. He is a fearless little dog; and at nine pounds and jet black, he melted into the night like the ghosts we were about to experience. Nearly everyone Cooper comes in contact with results in a tail wagging greeting, but he holds his own when threatened. We were certain that this night Cooper would “alert” to something; perhaps it would be in the graveyard.
We began our 90 minute tour appropriately enough, under a full moon. We walked east to the corner of Second Street and Merchant to the home of one of premier Ste. Gen families, Felix and Odie Pratt Valle. This home was built in 1818 with limestone quarried nearby. The Valles owned slaves who were housed in a small building behind the home as was common in those years. The business located directly across Second Street was a General Store then and had a basement which held slaves being bought and sold. Today, the iron rings where the slaves were shackled remain. The floor contains randomly drilled one inch holes to allow some ventilation for the indentured humans. Ghastly as it seems to us, it was an acceptable and flourishing practice back in the day. This is the perfect setting for unsettled spirits.
Our guide, and owner of Ste. Genevieve Ghost Tours, Brian Gray also explained to us the underlying limestone holds energy and thus, spirits. Therefore, since the entire town of Ste. Gen was built of and upon limestone, spirit activity remains high throughout the whole town. By the way, Ste. Genevieve is home to the oldest brick building west of the Mississippi River and early census records show people inhabited the area prior to 1752. It’s easy to understand why a town which has been around for over 265 years would have some pretty strange happenings from time to time.
We continued our tour at a leisurely pace while Brian explained the strange occurrences which took place at the different homes and businesses. (By the way, this tour is totally handicapped- accessible. The walk is more of a stroll with nothing too strenuous.) Along the way, we toured the Guibourd-Valle House built around 1784. It is said to be the oldest haunted house in the United States. There have been numerous manifestations in this home—a harpsicord that plays by itself, footsteps in the servants’ quarters—recorded as late as the 1980’s.