Haunted Morse Mill Hotel Puts Bumps In Nights

Travel to Jefferson County for one of the area’s most authentic haunted attractions any time of year. A woman who could be the country’s first female serial killer is associated with the hotel.

Ghost hunting isn’t just for Halloween anymore. If you ever wanted to see real life “paranormal activity,” you need to visit to one of the metro area’s lesser known haunted places, the Morse Mill Hotel. And you should do it quickly, before this 140-year-old Jefferson County mansion is transformed from a ramshackle derelict into a charming French-Colonial bed and breakfast.

The hotel is located about 30 minutes from South County in Morse Mill.

Some of the hotel’s history has been lost over time, but we know that John Morse built his home and the mill in the 1870s. He also built the nearby iron bridge over the Big River, which you can still cross on foot. A county park (also reported to be haunted) is on the other side.

After Morse died, the place became a hotel and saw many famous guests. Charles Lindbergh and Charlie Chaplin are said to have stayed here in the 1920s when Morse Mill was a popular tourist retreat. The town declined during the 1930s Depression, and the hotel repeatedly changed hands and became rundown.

The hotel is now owned by Patrick Sheehan who bought the property for its rehab potential unaware that it was haunted. That changed after the Travel Channel contacted him for permission to film the hotel for “Most Terrifying Places in America.”

Sheehan decided to open the hotel for supernatural sightseeing while he works on returning the building to its former glory. The building is not ready for true hotel guests and the rooms have only been furnished with thrift store finds that match the peeling wallpaper and warped hardwood floors. No effort has gone into making the place look nice—yet—and that rundown atmosphere is what makes visitors feel like they could really encounter the supernatural there.

Sheehan said he will keep the paranormal tours going even after construction starts, though he may need to close off certain areas for guest safety.

The hotel is reportedly haunted by several ghosts. Annabelle is a friendly ghost child who plays in the attic. Tourists have left toys for her, which they said Annabelle has moved around the rooms. A pre-Civil War slave is said to lurk the “dungeon,” a dark room in the basement that still bears evidence of shackles. People also have heard cooking noises from the empty kitchen, and witnesses said a door has been repeated slammed shut, perhaps by an angry guest from long ago days.

If you visit, bring bug spray and a flashlight—Sheehan likes to keep the interior dark for guests and the ghosts. Three types of tours are offered: guided and unguided overnight investigations and a two-hour guided tour.

The tour starts an hour before sundown and (if time allows) includes a visit to the nearby grave of Bertha Gifford, a local healer who was accused of poisoning her patients. She was arrested in 1928 and sentenced to life in a mental hospital. Bertha, her two husbands and a handful of her 17 victims are all laid to rest in the small country cemetery. Her connection to the hotel is sketchy, but how can you pass up a visit to the woman who could be the country’s first female serial killer?

The hotel tour starts in the creepy gloom of the cellar and works up to the attic, with a guide pointing out where others have reported supernatural activity.

After the tour, visitors are allowed to select a room in the hotel and wait in stillness for something to happen. Visitors have reported hearing footsteps on empty stairs, seen unexplainable shadows or even touched by unseen hands. Naturally, your experience will vary, but go in with an open mind and see what happens.

Overnight guests are invited to hang out with local “ghost hunters” who will seek out the paranormal with scientific equipment. Experienced paranormal groups can arrange for a private stay. Overnight guests can bring a sleeping bag into the hotel, but it is recommended to bring a tent for backup.

The hotel plumbing is not functional as yet, but there is a port-a-potty on-site. Sheehan also offers afternoon float trips on the Big River for visitors who want to make a day of their visit.

Morse Mill does not have any services. Cedar Hill, MO, is six miles away, and there you can find gas, groceries and a great little burger and ice cream shop.

Guided tours start at $30 a person, with discounts available for groups. Float trips are $50 per canoe, or free with an overnight stay. The tour is not recommended for children. Reservations are required; contact the Morse Mill Hotel for available times.

steph November 30, 2011 at 02:03 AM
Yea good promotion of history. But I lived with my grandparents in this house for 6 years. Its hardly haunted... So expecting the "spirits" to show on command with unknown visitors it doubtully going to happen. They got comfortable with my family but again, only hardly. My grandparents ran this motel as an agape house. Giving shelter to those in need. Feeding those in need. Clothing those in need. And asking any of them I'm sure you'd hear nothing but positive things about this house. I'm quite discusted that all this pr is suddenly offered to someone who just wants to make more money off of it. When my grandparents asked for nothing. No money for "tours". The feed and clothed people to stay. Fostered hundreds of children and raised so many children and grandchildren in this house. I wish that was what was being published. Not this nonsense of it being haunted or turned into an attraction without the selfless ways in whish it used to be used.
Julie Brown Patton (Editor) November 30, 2011 at 03:34 AM
Steph: Could you please email me at Julie.Patton@Patch.com? I'd like to hear more about your family's service to others. Thank you.
Stacia December 01, 2011 at 02:52 AM
Its DISGUSTED get it right if you want to ditz the place. Get off your soap box already!
Veronica December 04, 2011 at 08:06 AM
Wow...if you want to yell at someone to "get it right" and get off their soap box you may want to check your spelling! I believe you meant to say "diss" not ditz!
kpatton May 30, 2012 at 11:35 PM
i actually went on a tour in October and it was amazing and Im going again!! I did experience something of the paranormal. No need for hostility!
Tami Brueggemann November 24, 2012 at 12:17 AM
I agree with you 100%. I grew up in Morse Mill. Several of my friends have lived in the hotel. I have spent many nights there and never saw anything having to do with ghosts and such nonsense. I do remember when it was the Agape House. A beautiful home being used for a good cause. Much better than this haunted hotel garbage that's being promoted now. I find it very offensive.
cathy patton January 16, 2013 at 06:29 PM
I went there with my daughter and her husband and we all experienced supernatural activity
Katascha February 27, 2013 at 11:09 PM
Kind of seems to me a way for someone to make a lot of money without putting any money into it! I would like to see the house with some love instead of just greed.
tami brueggemann May 11, 2013 at 08:59 AM
Absolutely. There has been a lot of love in this hotel. I am one who feels that way. I grew up nearby and have spent a lot of time there, including nights. And NO I never felt any ghosts or such nonsense. Several friends have lived there and it has always been an open comfortable place to be. This owner is just trying to make money off of a legend. It has very little to do with reality. It makes me very angry because the Morse Mill Hotel is such a big part of history with me and my friends.
Elizabeth Anne Lemke August 29, 2013 at 06:00 PM
Is Patrick still the owner? Has he done much renovation in to the building? I have been to the building some of the first people there. Actually filmed something there. We had local historians speak and I believe her name was Beverly? Owned the place at one time. She was super sweet and showed us so many things. Even offered up the use of her horses and buggy for filming. We had a falling out with the owner and shelved the project. I always wonder about the building though and if he really put work in to it and made it a B&B.
Victoria Schultz October 03, 2013 at 02:22 AM
The Morse Mill website is being blocked and red flagged as dangerous by my anti-virus software... somebody might want to run some diagnostics on that site.
steph March 13, 2014 at 10:43 PM
Stacia- why would I "diss" the place... I GREW up there. As many people posting here, you can see I am not telling any tales of it' s grandeur history. Julie patton. I would love to tell you more of it's amazing history that wasntin a time too far ago. My name is Stephanie Waeltermann. My granparents were Bud (Marion) Waeltermann and Doris Jean Waeltermannn. They owned this home for a verrry long time and were finally driven from it by fast declining structral, plumbing, heating/cooling maintenance. In their age they couldnt keep up and funding the work they were doing slowly diminished.
steph March 13, 2014 at 10:52 PM
I am shocked stacia, you found my one letter typo such an offense. This place was my home, if stepping up on a "soapbox" means defending it's love and meaningfullness, then I'll build the biggest damn soapbox there is, to do so. No, disrespect, but if it was a beloved home of your past you would to. I dreamed, still do, of buying and restoring it to bring back the love and present it to it's work it once had done before. Spreading love, hope, and faith. To EVERY person that needed it. They never turned away. It is how my parents met. There son and my, then homeless, mother and her first son fell in love and then came me I owe it my life. My grandparents for their work, my life.
steph March 13, 2014 at 10:56 PM
More typos, please lets not attack on that... again!! I happen to type and hold a child on my hip at the same time.
steph March 13, 2014 at 11:29 PM


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