It was a hot July night in Prairie du Rocher. The year was 1889. Mrs. Aubuchon and Mrs. Connor were sitting outside around midnight visiting because it was too hot to sleep.
As the two chatted, an entourage of more than 40 wagons and 13 groups of soldiers were traveling down the road outside of the village. Mrs. Connor turned her attention to the group and saw them rolling a casket with them.
“Isn’t that a funeral coming?” she asked.
Despite the size of the group, the procession made no noise and disappeared into the small cemetery outside of town, never to be seen again.
Many in Prairie du Rocher know the story. And while none are recorded to have ever seen this again, many believe, including Randolph County Historical Society board member Julie Gangloff, that stories such as this “Phantom Funeral” are commonplace for the small village located on the outskirts of Monroe County.
“Prairie du Rocher is like that,” she said. “It’s kind of a hub for that kind of activity.”
Gangloff will help draw from the positive energy she said spirits provide as she plays the part of a Hoodoo priestess during the Creole House and Village Haunting Memory Walk taking place this Friday from 5:30 to 8 p.m.
This Randolph County Historical Society event begins at the Creole House located at 218 Market Street. For more information, go to rchistorical.weebly.com. The event includes a walking tour to highlight the history of the village and the Creole House.
Built in 1800, the Creole House has been lived in for many years and was given to the RCHS in 1976 for preservation. The house was also added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1969 because of its type of vernacular architecture.
With this historical value, Gangloff, RCHS president Colleen Schilling and RCHS treasurer Rose Dashner are but a few of the people who would like to see the Creole House preserved. The Friday the 13th event will be the first of its kind with the goal to raise money to maintain the structure.
In delving into the home’s history, Schilling stated her belief in the supernatural and that the house has had its fair share of ghostly encounters. The most well-known story involves former inhabitant Emily Fausz.
“There was one year that someone from the St. Louis Paranormal Society was here and went into the room with gaudy wallpaper,” Schilling said. “And she said that a woman came into the room and said, ‘I hate this wallpaper.’ And I said, ‘That’s Emily!’”
Whether other ghosts have been in the home is not known to Schilling, who said she never experienced any of that while living there herself. Regardless, Gangloff will tap into these spirits, helping people put together mojo bags as a physical form of prayer that draws in what a person desires in life.
“If you ask for help, the energy that is here to help, will help,” she said.
Mojo bags are handmade cloth pouches filled with crystals and spices, such as Amethyst, Jade, Sage and Mint. Different color bags have different influences such as Red Mojo, which includes courage, energy, health and other attributes.
The walking tour will feature actors portraying historic figures in the community. For example, actors playing Warren McBride and his wife Katy, will share about how McBride once had a barn where the current post office is in town and also give people a sense of their colorful personalities.
“I love my little Katy, even though she doesn’t have a hair on her head,” reads a portion of the dialogue in the script.
The walking tour travels north down Market Street to Lisa’s Bar and Restaurant and the log house. After that, the tour continues across the highway and goes down the street past the village park.
Money raised from the event will go to paying for repairs to the fence in the front of the Creole House, shingles for the roof and general upkeep. Schilling said she can schedule a tour of the house to anyone interested outside of Friday’s event.
“We are doing this for the love of history and to make sure the house is available to the public. People come from all over the world because of the unique architecture,” Gangloff said.