Haunted County Poor Farm
Investigations conducted at the abandoned Prairie View Rest Home over the past few years by several paranormal groups in NE Missouri have revealed the sounds of footsteps on the second and third floors, old-fashioned music playing and a variety of other noises. The stairwells are reported to be especially creepy. One investigator stated that staff members were often reluctant to use the stairs.
In the winter of 1922, the St. Louis Star Newspaper conducted an investigation into many of the poor farms in Missouri. The story and pictures of the Lewis County Poor Farm in the 05 Dec 1922 issue revealed shocking conditions.
The destitute, insane, sick and criminal element were all kept together at the facility. Murders did occur. Many occupants were locked in their rooms with padlocks and chains as well as bars on the windows. The residents, referred to as “inmates,” were not provided with heat in the bitter cold months. They were not permitted to bathe and the place smelled abhorrent. Their beds were “infested with vermin.” The only toilet facilities were outside “in the stockade.”
Resident Mrs. Sally Parish, 80 years old, was kept locked in her room on the second floor. She told the writer of the expose that she came to the facility because she had fallen and injured herself and wasn’t able to make a living for a time. Sally said that she had since recovered and was capable of making her own living again but that she was not allowed to leave. She claimed to have been held prisoner there for nearly three years.
Superintendent William E. Underbrink and wife Kittie were in charge of the Lewis County Poor Farm at the time of the investigation. They had taken over sometime after the deaths of the previous beloved superintendents, Judge and Mrs. John T. Hall. Mrs. Hall passed away from heart failure 24 hours following the death of her husband from pneumonia in December of 1915.
After the move to the new building near the fairgrounds, the Underbrinks continued to run the Home until 1954.
In the 1922 Star expose, Underbrink “at first scoffed” at the allegations, “but subsequently admitted the truth of portions of it” including the fact that he abused inmate Albert, “the foolish youth” by whipping him with a buggy whip. He also went on to say that some of the women at the facility were “too free with their hands” and he “watched them constantly to keep them from abusing other women.” He also confessed to locking up “inmates” as punishment.
A cemetery was plotted behind the Home in 1933 by Mr. Underbrink, although this land had always been used to bury “inmates” in unmarked graves. Records show “at least 173 deaths” occurred at Prairie View between 1927 and 1954.
The Lewis County Home became the Prairie View Rest Home in the late 1940s. In 1991, the facility was closed and the remaining residents moved to Country Aire Retirement Estates.
The GRAGG Team investigators claim that the Home is the most haunted place that they have ever visited.
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