The Ozarks have a long history of hauntings and sightings. From before Branson was a town; these hills have been known to be home to ha’nts (pronounced haints – like paints) and boogers (boogeymen). With the Osage and Caddo nations, to the Civil War with the Bald Knobbers & other criminals to follow, restless spirits from a long ago time fill in the blanks of the history books that make up this region. Through legends told and stories read, we have accumulated some for you to enjoy.
Long ago before it was a bead shop, this building was known as Sullenger’s Saloon, it served as a bar and brothel that was frequented by the railroad workers.
One story goes that a fellow who was visiting the working gals, was a bit drunk, dozed off and awoke to find the woman going through his pockets for some extra cash. He was angered by this and slit her throat. Upset & regretful of what he did, he ran off. He was gone for several days before anyone found him, dead with a gunshot to the chest. Many have reported over the years of seeing a figure of a “mountain man” on the east side of the building facing the railroad tracks, and the spirit of the “working gal” he killed in the windows on the second floor.
History: The Branson Town Company built what is now known as The Branson Hotel in 1903, nine years before Branson was officially incorporated, to accommodate the Missouri Pacific Railroad line through the Roark Valley. The building was completed in 1906. Harold Bell Wright stayed there often while writing his famous novel, “Shepherd of the Hills,” and the hotel was the site of the town’s first library.
Guests & visitors have often stated to see Harold Bell Wright working, writing late at night by candlelight in one of the rooms in the back of the Hotel, often spotted from the outside and often late in the evening.
Branson Scenic Railway
The train station has basically been in the same location since it was built over 100 years ago and rebuilt after the great fire. Hauntings are not uncommon around these areas, with so many souls coming in and out of the area. One particular spirit is still reportedly seen in the twilight hours, the ghost of Jake Fleagle.
Jake was part of The Fleagle Gang, who, for a number of years, was committing crimes, and robberies all over the country. He was ultimately tracked down due to a single fingerprint left in the car of a doctor he murdered. The fingerprint was left in blood on a rolled down window. This was supposedly the first time in history a fingerprint was used to convict someone. The FBI was on high alert and anxious to find Jake. The rest of the gang was hung in the Colorado State Penitentiary in Canon City, on July 10, 1930. Up until October 14, 1930, Jake remained at large until an anonymous tip placed him in Branson, Missouri where he was gunned down at the railroad depot after a gunfight with the authorities. Though he was shot & mortally wounded in Branson, the officers failed to make it to the hospital in “nearby” Springfield, MO before Jake died 24 hours later.
The Worman House at Big Cedar Resort
The Devil’s Pool area is said to be haunted by spirits of the early Native Americans who lived in the area. The Worman House is also said to be haunted by the spirit of Harry Worman’s much younger wife (roughly half his age) Dorothy. Their relationship seemed rather scandalous at the time. It was said she ran off with a member of the staff to Mexico and died there under odd circumstances. Her body was returned to Missouri for burial. The actual truth of her demise is difficult to find, but often staff and guests report seeing a mysterious young woman roaming the grounds late at night. She is often seen wearing a long white dress and appearing sad, though others have described her as playful and mischievous. Some state she shows up in photographs taken by guests at the resort, often as a shadow in the background.
Music City Center
Music City Centre is believed to be haunted by several spirits, including one of a little girl named Amy by the employees, she seems harmless and just likes to play, and another of an older man, possibly a custodian who passed, that likes to tinker with elevators and electrical devices causing them to malfunction or shut down but never causing real harm. Little is known about what may have caused these entities to be here, despite numerous investigations by paranormal experts.
Also in the same area of town, many reports of a strange man dressed in a dark suit, possibly Cameron Mitchell, an actor from “High Chaparral” & “How to Marry a Millionaire,” has been reported as peeking in shop windows ogling the tourists.
Dewey Bald Mountain
History: Dewey Bald Mountain sits in the middle of the Ruth & Paul Henning Conservation Park. A plane owned by the College of the Ozarks crashes into Dewey Bald Mountain at the base of Henning Park in 1999. The crash took the lives of 6 souls; a college professor, an administrator, the pilot, a student pilot, and 2 spouses. The school owned the plane and was returning from St. Louis when it went down after 5 pm in December. Debris was scattered over 100 yards on the Ruth & Paul Henning Conservation Area.
Many reports have spotted ghostly apparitions have been spotted hitchhiking near the mountain, asking for rides to the airport, and when the plane lands.
Ghost town of Garber
Located near Ledgestone Country Club, the remains of the old post office can be found, although trashed. Harold Bell Wright lived there shortly after his book became famous. Old Matt & Aunt Molly were created based on the citizens of Garber. Reports have come in of cold spots and strong winds on a calm day. Others state hearing hammering coming from the woods. Perhaps one of the spirits is Postmistress Ada Clodfelter, when she was the proprietor of the general store which housed the original post office, a mail clerk was caught stealing, she phoned the authorities but before they could arrive, the thief burned the store to the ground thus killing Ada. A Church was built in Garber in 1927 and held only one religious service, Ms. Ada’s funeral, before becoming the new post office.
The ghost town of Garber is where the Ruth & Paul Henning Conservation Park are now. Noland Road & Sycamore Church Road runs along by there as well.
Where Noland Road becomes Sycamore Church Road
Legend has it there was a family who lived in a house at the end of the road on the hill near where Sycamore Church and Noland Road meet. The family was the Updegraff. Ruth Updegraff, the daughter was said to have been tortured by her parents and kept in a room that was sunk in the ground about 4 feet. The room had bars on the window and a lock on the outside of the door. There were steps leading to this room but were removed to make it harder to get out. One day the parents left the house to go into town, leaving Ruth alone in her room. Upon their return, they could not find their daughter. They searched every corner of the house and around the house, the chicken coops, and the barn across the road looking for Ruth. Not wishing to draw attention to their situation, they stopped looking and went to bed that night. As they slept, Ruth came out of hiding and killed her parents as vengeance for all the evil they had bestowed upon her. Ruth went into hiding again and soon left to go to California it is said. Local authorities and the community were shocked by the scene when it was discovered that the parents were slain. They taped off the area and just left things as they were. Throughout the house, it was stated that it appeared as if everyone just left. Dishes were still in the sink, food in the cupboards, clothes drying, and a book turned over on the arm of a chair.
The mysterious happenings have drawn out numerous curiosity seekers to the spooky house atop the hill and was rumored that if anyone took anything from the house, evil would find them. The house has since been burned down by kids having a party there in the 1990s, but people who travel the road still claim to get an eerie feeling, hear frightening sounds, and seeing ghostly apparitions. On many occasions, people have reported strange handprints appearing on their vehicles after driving down the road by the house.
Shepherd of the Hills Play & Tower
In the famous book and play, “The Shepherd of the Hills,” there is mention of a ha’nt, running around in the hills giving people a fright. When you read the book or see the outdoor play you will find out the truth about this particular ha’nt.
The Shepherd of the Hills outdoor theatre venue is rumored to be haunted by the ghost of a Confederate Soldier. Witnesses since 1964 have seen him running from the actors during night performances, often during the “burning” of the cabin or else when all the horses with their riders come to the main stage portion. Where the Inspiration Tower sits was once the mountain lookout of a sentry post for Confederate soldiers during the Civil War.
The Branson Titanic Museum
Almost everyone knows the tragedy that befell the Titanic that fateful night and has heard of the great number of lives lost.
It has been heard from several crew members, over the years, reports of fingerprints or handprints on the glass display cases that will not go away despite cleaning or were spotless in one moment then the next not. Other reports state wet footprints of various sizes can be found where no one has been or is supposed to be. Also sighted are apparitions of guests in formalwear strolling the corridors. Perhaps these spirits are somehow attached to the artifacts kept at the museum.
The Historic Owen’s Theatre
History: Established in 1936, the Owens Theatre, owned by James (Jim) Mason Owen, and held a great connection to Hollywood. Jim Owen was also very well known in the area for his float trips and fishing excursions. Between 1936 & 1972 scores of corporate executives, authors, artists, and stars came to Branson because of Jim.
The theatre has survived floods and fires but in its history, it has also seen some unusual activity since its construction. At least three entities have been known to frequent the area.
The spirit of Jim Owens himself has been experienced in and around the theatre, mainly just hanging around, perhaps making sure things are running smoothly.
A woman in a blue gown spotted roaming the basement or when the band was rehearsing in the evenings from time to time. The spirit of socialite Rose O’Neill (creator of the Kewpie Doll) that frequented the theatre when it was a movie house in its early days has been reported on a number of occasions. She seems to enjoy the band, and in her days with the living, she was a reckless flirt, so in the present, men have reported someone or something giving them a pinch on the backside.
The third of the sightings is that of a small boy named Rory, who may have perished at the hands of an abusive “step-father,” and still makes an appearance from time to time in the parking lot behind the theatre.
Gobbler’s Knob (Hollister)
History: An obituary dated February 14, 1910, was found in an abandoned trunk stated that “Hardin Warren, one of the oldest residents of Taney County Missouri died yesterday. He was buried today in Gobbler’s Knob Cemetery.” Hardin was one of the first pioneers in Western Taney County, settling after his discharge from the Union Army. He served in both the Mexican and Civil Wars and parlayed his bounty land grants into a sizeable homestead along the stage route on Gobbler’s Knob. To all this, he added the Fortner land, 160 acres of what would become the center of Hollister, MO. He often rode across his vast domain with his huge stallion, a shotgun across the saddle, and a jug of corn liquor hanging from the saddle horn. He was a large man with keen accuracy with the gun that garnered him respect in any conflict. He was vastly proud of his wealth and all knew it, what they don’t know is where he buried all that gold.
He was a generous man as well, opening his home and providing education to several orphans, contributed to the welfare of a number of individuals, donated land for the cemetery & school of Gobbler’s Knob ‘for purposes to held sacred forever’ and was a good friend and neighbor to all regardless of belief, political affiliation, or nation of origin.
Hardin Warren is known as the ghost of Gobbler’s Knob. He doesn’t appear to be a malevolent spirit to those who claim to have seen him. He has been seen wandering around the Gobblers Knob cemetery with a jug of whiskey or moonshine and from time to time would take a drink and smile. Perhaps he is just out for a stroll or keeping an eye on where he buried all that gold that no one has found yet.
Bread Tray Mountain
History: Early to Middle of the 15th Century, Spanish Conquistadors journeys into the Ozarks, they find a special mountain overlooking the White River (which since has become Table Rock Lake.) They found a hole in the mountain lined with silver. A fort was erected on the top of the mountain. The conquistadors named it “Bread Tray” due to its odd flatness compared to the rounded sugarloaf mountains surrounding it. Around 1540 natives (either Osage or Caddo) would drive the Spanish out of the Ozarks leaving the fort to weather away. For nearly 300 years the mountain remained untouched. In the early 1800s, a band of Chickasaw found shelter in a cave atop Bread Tray to which they found the silver too. Mining companies from as far as St. Louis & St. Charles came to the area to trade for supplies. The Chickasaw mined the silver for 20 years as white settlers began filling up the Ozarks. The Bald Knobbers of the 1860s would use the cave to site stolen loot, and when the last Bald Knobber was hung in 1869 the Legend of Bread Tray Mountain came to a close.
Folks to this day will swear to hear sobs, groans, and smothered screams thought to be the voices of the ghosts of the Spanish soldiers massacred by the Natives.
We hope you’ve enjoyed these tales of the unknown as much as we have enjoyed telling them. If you have any Branson ghost stories you’d like to share please comment below.