Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 18

HAUNTED HISTORIC HANNIBAL
Tour shares some of
Hannibal's most infamous
and unexplained stories

Above: A pair of Haunted Hannibal Ghost Tours guests inspect a headstone as they walk the Old Baptist Cemetery in Hannibal. The cemetery is believed to be the location Mark Twain used in "The
Adventures of Tom Sawyer." Below: Tour guide Ken Marks explains the history of one of the stops along the ghost tour which takes you on a trip through time exploring Hannibal's past.

by Paul Newton | pnewton@ruralmissouri.coop

J

ust a few hundred feet from an interstate and
half mile from the Mighty Mississippi, a calm
and still feeling takes over at the more than
century-and-a-half-old cemetery. Tour guests
hold on to dowsing rods to attract them to paranormal activity as they walk through the Old Baptist
Cemetery in Hannibal. The history-laden cemetery
that once interred Mark Twain's father and brother
proves to be very active.
"Virtually every tour someone seems to have a
paranormal experience. Usually a very benevolent
one," says tour operator Lisa Marks. "It's almost a
portal to the other side."
Adds her husband, Ken: "We tell people not to call
us paranormal experts. How can you be an expert in
something that by definition is unexplained?"
For the past eight years, authors and historians
Ken and Lisa Marks have operated Haunted
Hannibal Ghost Tours as an extension of their
downtown history museum. They use historical
references to guide guests through the oncenotorious river town and highlight some of the more
infamous sites where paranormal activity has been
recorded through the years.

18

RURAL MISSOURI | OCTOBER 2017

Hanniballians by way of St. Louis, the Marks from paranormal experiences. I think coming on the
moved in an effort to save the historic Rockliffe tour gives them validation."
One stop along the way explores the mysterious
Mansion from being parceled off in bankruptcy.
With loans tough to come by in 2009, the Marks murder of Amos Stilwell in December 1888. Amos -
the wealthiest man in Marion County - was killed
were allowed to lease the 1899 landmark.
"While we lived there, we were learning about the in his bedroom after a party. Detective agencies were
history of the lumber baron who built the home and brought in. Eventually suspects were tried but were
also the great history of Hannibal," Lisa says. "At the found not guilty. The murder remains unsolved to
same time, we were having unexplained experiences this day.
"That murder is the type of story that could be
in the building. People around town knew the house
was haunted and would ask us about it. We'd lost in time," Lisa says. "We're excited to share it.
It's a real, authentic story that ties into a
tell them what we experienced, and
location in Hannibal. It caused such an
then they would tell us about other
uproar in the town at the time. People felt
paranormal events around town."
vulnerable; if it could happen to Amos
The mansion was eventually sold and
Hannibal
Stillwell, it could happen to them."
the Marks had new ventures in mind.
The final stop on the tour is the
Using their book "Hannibal, Missouri:
old cemetery on top of the hill. Civil
A Brief History" as a road map, they
War soldiers, former slaves and
curated and opened the Hannibal History
others are buried at the site. Due
Museum, which is free and open to the
to a variety of factors, it is believed
public. "We wanted people to enjoy the
this is the location Mark Twain
museum," Lisa explains. "We thought that
used for the cemetery where Injun
if we could support ourselves through the ghost
Joe killed Doc Robinson in "The Adventures of Tom
tours, we could donate time to the museum."
Hannibal's history is integral to the ghost tours. Sawyer."
Tour guests walk the cemetery grounds in
"We don't think you can understand why a place is
haunted if you don't know the history," she says. search of activity. The kindly exchanges may have
"They tie in so well with each other. Visitors have a meaning depending on a guest's name or the
told me ghost tours are one of the best ways to learn day. Guests have been attracted to gravesites and
upon inspection realize the person below is having a
a town's history, flavor and culture."
Lisa and Ken consider Hannibal to be in a unique birthday or may have the same name as the guest.
"We're respectful to the people buried there,"
position to share its rich, famous and infamous story
with visitors. "At first we thought maybe this wasn't Lisa says. "We're there to celebrate their time and
unusual, but Hannibal is special," says Lisa, who connection to Hannibal. We're not trying to make it
also co-authored "Haunted Hannibal" with Ken. "It anything more sensational than that."
Tour guests get a sense of many different aspects
has such a gilded past, with all the old wealth and
topography that comes together. And then, there's of Hannibal's history as well as its present. Lisa and
Ken hope guests will use their tours as a jumping off
Mark Twain who's an international icon."
The approximately two-hour, guided tour costs point to examine more of what the town has to offer.
$15 and takes you through the city in a bus or "Some people might just stop by for an evening or
trolley. Some of the stops may include hearing a quick trip," Lisa says. "Our hope is they become
about a few of the ghastly experiments conducted intrigued enough with some aspect of Hannibal
inside the Mark Twain Cave, the lavish and lethal that they plan a longer trip back and explore more
stories of Millionaire's Row, the cemetery and many thoroughly."
more.
For more information on the Haunted Hannibal
"Some people go on these tours because they're
curious to know the truth about the great beyond," Ghost Tours visit www.hauntedhannibal.com or call
Lisa says. "Other guests want to tell us their stories 573-248-1819.


http://www.hauntedhannibal.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - October 2017

Contents
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - Intro
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - Contents
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 4
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 5
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 6
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 7
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 8
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Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 38
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Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 42
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Rural Missouri - October 2017 - 46
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - October 2017 - Cover4
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