Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Thomas Jonathan (“Stonewall”) Jackson was born in Clarksburg, Virginia (now West Virginia) in 1824. His father and older sister died of typhoid fever when Jackson was just two years old. His mother raised Jackson and two siblings by herself until she was able to remarry in 1830. His new stepfather did not like his stepchildren, however, and they were sent to live with an uncle when Jackson’s mother died in 1831. Jackson’s older brother, Warren, died of tuberculosis in 1841.

Jackson was mostly self-educated when he managed to secure admission to West Point in 1842. He began his schooling there in last place academically, but through sheer determination and hard work managed to graduate 17th in a class of 52. He participated in the Mexican-American War as an artillery officer, and received two brevet promotions for bravery, as well as a Regular Army promotion to 1st Lieutenant.

He left the army to teach at Virginia Military Institute in 1851. Jackson was not popular with his students, because he memorized his lectures and delivered them verbatim in class. If a student asked a question, he simply backed up and repeated that part of the lecture. He also taught Sunday School for black persons at the local Presbyterian Church, and was apparently very popular with those students. He owned six slaves, but was widely known as a “fair and humane” master.

Jackson supervised a contingent of VMI artillerists during the 1859 hanging of John Brown. When war broke out, Virginia Governor John Letcher appointed him a Colonel. Jackson organized the military unit that would later be named after him: the Stonewall Brigade. He was known as a rigid disciplinarian, but was nonetheless popular with most of his men because he was personally fearless, and because his methods seemed to work.

He earned his nickname at First Bull Run, where another general rallied his own troops by saying, “There stands Jackson like a stone wall. Rally behind the Virginians!” His direction of his troops on the battlefield had made him a legend by the time he was wounded in an accidental shooting by his own men on the Chancellorsville battlefield (2 May 1863). His left arm had to be amputated, and he died of complications from pneumonia on 10 May 1863. His wife, Mary Anna, moved to North Carolina but never remarried. She was known as the Widow of the Confederacy, and died in 1915.

Alexander, Bevin. Lost Victories: The Military Genius of Stonewall Jackson. New York: Holt, 1992. HG-973.73092

Cozzens, Peter. Shenandoah 1862: Stonewall Jackson's Valley Campaign. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008. ST,BU-973.732

Davis, Don. Stonewall Jackson. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007. HU-B JACKSON

Gallagher, Gary W. Lee and His Generals in War and Memory. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1998. ST-973.73013

Hamlin, Augustus C. The Battle of Chancellorsville: The Attack of Stonewall Jackson and His Army Upon the Right Flank of the Army of the Potomac at Chancellorsville, Virginia, on Saturday Afternoon, May 2, 1863. Bangor, Me: The author, 1896. ST-973.733

Johnson, Clint. In the Footsteps of Stonewall Jackson. Winston-Salem, N.C: John F. Blair, 2002. CB-917.540444

Krick, Robert K. Conquering the Valley: Stonewall Jackson at Port Republic. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2002. ST-973.732

Krick, Robert K. The Smoothbore Volley That Doomed the Confederacy: The Death of Stonewall Jackson and Other Chapters on the Army of Northern Virginia. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2002. ST-973.7455

Redwood, Allen C. Stonewall: Memories from the Ranks. Livermore, Maine: Signal Tree Publications, 1998. ST-B JACKSON

Robertson, James I. Stonewall Jackson: The Man, the Soldier, the Legend. New York: Macmillan Pub. USA, 1997. ST-B JACKSON


Cave Dwellers. An article in the local newspaper told about homeless veterans living in some of the old natural caverns beneath the city of St. Louis. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January 20, 1991, p. 3A.

Caves. See Fletcher, Thomas C.

Censorship. During the Prohibition era, St. Louis Public Library was asked by the Women's Christian Temperance Union to remove books and pamphlets about home production of alcoholic beverages from its shelves (I’m pleased to report that we declined to do so). St. Louis Globe-Democrat, November 20, 1919.

Chain, Falling. An 18-inch length of heavy chain fell from the sky onto a bulldozer in Rock Hill, Missouri. Brandon, Jim. Weird America (1978), p. 125.

Clairvoyant Rapist. This case is recounted in Jones, J. E. Review of Famous Cases Solved by St. Louis Policemen (1924), pp. 109-112.

Cougar Sighting. A cougar was reportedly sighted in Belleville, Illinois, in May 1976. Brandon, Jim. Weird America (1978), p. 80.

Creve Coeur Lake. A "witch fish" in the lake is supposedly the bewitched form of an Indian princess who threw herself into the lake. Collins, Earl. Folk Tales of Missouri (1935), pp. 113-114.

Dancing Ghost. The ghost of a convicted horse thief sits (and sometimes dances) on his own grave in Boliver, Missouri. Collins, Earl. Folk Tales of Missouri (1935), pp. 123-125.

Devil, Places in Missouri Named for the. A list of place names in Missouri which include the word "Devil" or one of its derivatives. Beveridge, Thomas. Geologic Wonders and Curiosities of Missouri (1978), pp. 405-407.

Devil's Promenade. The Devil's Promenade is a place in Newton County, Missouri, where a mysterious light is sometimes seen. The light is also often referred to as the Hornet Spook Light. Beveridge, Thomas. Geologic Wonders and Curiosities of Missouri (1978), p. 397. See also Hornet Spook Light.

Disappearing Town. See Spring Garden, Missouri.

Dissection Riot. A riot ensued after boys playing with a ball had to climb over a wall to retrieve it. As it happened, they were in the courtyard of the St. Louis University Medical School, and a vault door had been carelessly left ajar. The boys peeked in, and saw the bodies of cadavers that anatomy students had been dissecting. The boys reported this sighting to their elders, and soon a crowd gathered to witness the spectacle. By nightfall, the crowd had swelled to a reported three thousand angry persons. The militia was called out when angry mob members threatened to destroy the medical college, but the mob had destroyed everything but the building itself and moved on before the militia could contain the rioting. The mob next moved to the Missouri Medical College, where forewarned faculty and students had carefully hidden anything that might incite the mob. Mob leaders were given a tour of the "sanitized" facility, and pronounced it inoffensive and undeserving of destruction to mob members. Hyde, William, and Howard L. Conard. Encyclopedia of the History of St. Louis (1899), vol. IV, pp. 1913-1914. See also Bodysnatching.

Dogs, Police. See Police Dogs, Cultured.

Dream, Prophetic. See Houseman, Angie.

Dream That Freed a Murderer, The. An accused murderer was freed when his accuser saw someone else commit the murder in a dream. Jones, J. E. Review of Famous Cases Solved by St. Louis Policemen (1924), pp. 92-94.

Durgin, Bertha. Mrs. Durgin was murdered in 1916 by her husband, who told police she "looked too beautiful to live." Jones, J. E. Review of Famous Cases Solved by St. Louis Policemen (1924), pp. 109-112.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Yes, boys and girls, the state of Missouri has its very own X-Files--that is, weird, unusual, sometimes seemingly unexplainable occurrences and phenomena that continue to baffle (and sometimes amuse) researchers years after the events in question take place. We would like to hear about Missouri Odd Phenomena not mentioned in this list. Please e-mail us with your own examples of Show-Me State odd and unexplained events, and mention Missouri Odd Phenomena File (MOPF) in the subject line (an odd phenomenon can only be added to this list if it has been mentioned in some printed source that can be cited here, and only if the phenomenon or event took place wholly or partially in Missouri or in those Illinois or Kansas cities and towns that are considered part of the St. Louis or Kansas City metropolitan areas.)

The St. Louis Public Library has no ghost hunters, psychics, or tarot readers on the payroll, so we cannot guarantee the accuracy or veracity of the below-recounted phenomena and events, and cannot undertake field expeditions to investigate such phenomena or events.

St. Louis Public Library owns at least one copy of all sources cited. Check our online catalog ( for more information on individual items. Our Microfilm Department can provide copies of newspaper listings, while our Information Center can provide copies of listings for items in other Central Library locations.

Ancona, John. Mr. Ancona died immediately after being told that his father was not expected to live through the night. His father then died one hour after John's death. Father and son were interred shortly thereafter in a joint funeral and burial. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January 27, 1991, p. 8D.

Banvard, John. Banvard was a fine artist who painted a Mississippi River panorama that measured 12 feet in height and (supposedly) 3 miles in length. He displayed the canvas at exhibits at which persons paid an admission fee and were then allowed to walk along the entire length of the canvas. Havighurst, Walter. Upper Mississippi: A Wilderness Saga (1944), pp.187-188. See also Smith, John Rawson.

Bears, Grizzly. See Grizzly Bears.

Bennett, Kate Brewington. A mid-nineteenth century St. Louis beauty who died due to the cumulative effects of a daily dose of arsenic taken in order to maintain her strikingly pale complexion. Coyle, Eleanor M. Saint Louis: Portrait of a River City (1970), p. 53.

"Big Bird" Sightings. A "big bird" was sighted several times in the St. Louis area in April 1948, including an April 24th sighting near Alton, Illinois--purportedly the home territory of the Piasa Bird, a huge winged creature mentioned in accounts by Indians and early French missionaries to the Alton area. Brandon, Jim. Weird America (1978), p.79.

"Blob." A grayish-white "blob" that reportedly grew larger and larger was sighted near Wood River, Illinois. Brandon, Jim. Weird America (1978), p. 79.

Bodysnatching. St. Louis was the home of numerous medical schools in the 19th century. The need for cadavers for anatomy courses led some enterprising local suppliers to resort to bodysnatching, that is, stealing recently interred corpses from their graves. Missouri Historical Review 83 (July 1994): 441-442; Dacus, J. A. A Tour of St. Louis (1878), pp. 429-435.

Bodysnatching. See also Dissection Riot.

Bolin, Alf. The severed head of this notorious nineteenth century Missouri outlaw was displayed for a time in the town of Ozark, Missouri. Beveridge, Thomas. Geologic Wonders and Curiosities of Missouri (1978), pp. 227-228.

"Bomb Blast." A "bomb blast" of unknown origin jolted the St. Louis area on October 8, 1857. Brandon, Jim. Weird America (1978), p. 124.

"Bomb Blast." See also Explosions, Unexplained.

Bounties. See Wolves.

Brains, Nuns. See Nun Brains.

Buffalo, Drowning of. Most persons have heard about the American Indian hunting strategy of stampeding buffalo off a cliff in order to kill them and harvest their meat and hides. Some enterprising Indians in Barry County, Missouri, drove a herd of some 300 buffalo into a natural bog, where all of the animals became trapped and drowned. The Indians then hauled out as necessary the corpses of those animals necessary for the tribe's needs. Beveridge, Thomas. Geologic Wonders and Curiosities of Missouri (1978), pp. 203-204.

Bullfrogs, Rain of. An Army Signal Corps observer stationed near St. Louis reported a "rain of bullfrogs" on July 2, 1875. St. Louis Globe-Democrat, February 29, 1964.


William S. Rosecrans (1819-1898) was born in Ohio and educated at West Point. He graduated fifth (in a class of 42) in 1842, having excelled in mathematics, French, drawing and English grammar. He was assigned as an engineer in Virginia, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Washington, DC, and then served for some time as mathematics instructor at West Point. Rosecrans converted to Roman Catholicism at a time when the vast majority of Army officers were Protestants. He resigned in failing health in 1854, and spent the next seven years regaining his strength while working as an engineer and businessman. He ran several companies, and was awarded several patents.

When war broke out in 1861, he volunteered his services and quickly received promotion to Brigadier General. Successes in western Virginia and at the Battles of Iuka and Corinth (Mississippi) led to him being named commander of the Department of the Cumberland. After a disputed victory at Stones River (Tennessee), he commanded the army during the Battle of Chickamauga (September 19-20, 1863). A mistake in troop placement on the second day resulted in a near disaster that was only averted by a desperate holding action by Union soldiers commanded by General George Thomas.

Rosecrans and most of his staff officers had fled to Chattanooga while Thomas held off the Confederates at Chickamauga. Rosecrans was shortly thereafter removed from command in Tennessee, and was later given command of the Department of the Missouri. He commanded that army during Price’s Raid (September-October 1864). After the war, he was stationed in California, where he died in 1898. Rosecrans is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Baumgartner, Richard A. Blue Lightning: Wilder's Mounted Infantry Brigade in the Battle of Chickamauga. Huntington, W. Va: Blue Acorn Press, 1997. ST-973.7359

Cozzens, Peter. No Better Place to Die: The Battle of Stones River. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1990. ST,BU-973.733

Donald, David H, and Robert Cowley. With My Face to the Enemy: Perspectives on the Civil War : Essays. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2001. ST.SC-973.7

Korn, Jerry. The Fight for Chattanooga: Chickamauga to Missionary Ridge. Alexandria, Va: Time-Life Books, 1985. ST,MA-973.7359

Lamers, William M. The Edge of Glory: A Biography of General William S. Rosecrans, U.S.A. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1961. ST-B ROSECRANS

Miles, Jim. Paths to Victory: A History and Tour Guide of the Stone's River, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Knoxville, and Nashville Campaigns. Nashville, Tenn: Rutledge Hill Press, 1991. ST-973.73

Pearson, Thomas A. Railroad Boys: The Story of the 89th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment (1862-1865). St. Louis, Mo: Infinite Mirror Press, 2009. HG-973.7473

Strayer, Larry M, and Richard A. Baumgartner. Echoes of Battle: The Struggle for Chattanooga : an Illustrated Collection of Union and Confederate Narratives. Huntington, W. Va: Blue Acorn Press, 1996. HG-973.7359

Woodworth, Steven E. Chickamauga: A Battlefield Guide with a Section on Chattanooga. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999. HG-973.735

Woodworth, Steven E, and Grady McWhiney. A Deep Steady Thunder: The Battle of Chickamauga. Fort Worth: Ryan Place Publishers, 1996. ST-973.735

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Albert Sidney Johnston (1803-1862)

Johnston was born in Kentucky, and graduated from West Point in 1826. He served in the Black Hawk War, the Texas War for Independence, the Mexican-American War, and the Utah War. When the Civil War began, he was commander of the Department of the Pacific in California. He resigned his U.S. Army commission and was soon thereafter commissioned a full general in the Confederate Army by his friend, Jefferson Davis. He was commanding Confederate forces at the Battle of Shiloh on April 6, 1862, when he was wounded behind his right knee. He didn’t think the wound was serious, and remained on the battlefield. His boot soon filled with blood, and he lost consciousness. He died later that afternoon. After initial burial in New Orleans, his body was re-interred at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin in 1867.

Cunningham, O E, Gary D. Joiner, and Timothy B. Smith. Shiloh and the Western Campaign of 1862. New York: Savas Beatie, 2007. ST-973.731

Eicher, David J. Dixie Betrayed: How the South Really Lost the Civil War. New York: Little, Brown (2006). ST-973.713

Frank, Joseph A, and George A. Reaves. "Seeing the Elephant": Raw Recruits at the Battle of Shiloh. New York: Greenwood Press, 1989. ST-973.731

Gifford, Douglas L.. Shiloh Battlefield Tour Guide: the First Day. Winfield, Mo: Douglas L. Gifford, 2005. ST-973.731

Hafen, LeRoy R, and Ann W. Hafen. Mormon Resistance: A Documentary Account of the Utah Expedition, 1857-1858. Lincoln, Neb: University of Nebraska Press, 2006. ST-978

Hanson, Victor D. Ripples of Battle: How Wars of the Past Still Determine How We Fight, How We Live, and How We Think. New York: Doubleday, 2003. HU-355.02

Luvaas, Jay, Stephen L. Bowman, and Leonard Fullenkamp. Guide to the Battle of Shiloh. Lawrence, Kan: University Press of Kansas, 1996. ST-973.731

Roland, Charles P. Albert Sidney Johnston, Soldier of Three Republics. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1964. ST-B JOHNSTON

Mitchell, Joseph B. Decisive Battles of the Civil War. Dorset, NH: Dorset Press, 1989. ST-973.73

Woodworth, Steven E. Civil War Generals in Defeat. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1999. ST-973.73

Woodworth, Steven E. Jefferson Davis and His Generals: the Failure of Confederate Command in the West. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2006. ST-973.7462