A Haunting in Caledonia
Eyewitness to History
If the Caledonia Wine Cottage’s walls
could talk, it would surely tell a tale that would prick up the ears and beckon
the eager listener to lean forward, not wanting to miss a single word of the
epic account. The walls would relate a
saga filled with historical events; such as thousands of Cherokee being force
marched on their Trail of Tears and brother killing brother in the tragedy of
the American Civil War.
Through its 185 years, this house
has witnessed the good, the bad, and the ugly. Many lives have been sheltered by its warmth and many have expelled
their last breath within its walls. On
at least one occasion, that breath was taken from someone by another through
violent and cruel means.
This is the Caledonia Wine Cottage – and it wants to talk to you.
In 1824, Jacob Fisher bought Lot #18
(now 128 S. State Hwy 21) in the newly formed township of Caledonia, Missouri. There, with the help of slave labor, he built
a large 12-room 3-story house. Underneath the house, a dirt floor basement with three tunnels: two
leading to the houses on each side and one to a nearby creek. The tunnels were for the slaves to use to get
from workplace to workplace. Later, they
are thought to be used as part of the Underground Railroad. These tunnels have since been filled in.
In January 1829, Jacob Fisher fled
town after brutally beating a female slave to death. Here is the coroner’s report:
was summoned in the jury of inquest to take up the body of Patience, a black
woman slave of Jacob Fisher and found her to have one bone broke in her left
arm and both in her right arm and [a] cut above her right eye, apparently done
with the stroke of a stick and her left ear mashed, and hinder part off and the
back of her neck broke and a large bruise on her right hip, and I concluded
that she was killed by her master.”
-- Signed by William Wood on January 6, 1829.
Fisher never returned to Caledonia and had all his property sold via an appointed agent. It is believed he moved to Mississippi.
The Trail of Tears
In November 1837, the house in Caledonia
witnessed another tragic event – the Cherokee’s Trail of Tears. More than 16,000 Cherokees were wrenched out
of their land and forced to march 900 miles to a new territory. 4,000 did not make it to the end. The northern segment of the trail passed
through Caledonia, MO.
A monument was erected at the north edge of Caledonia.
Battle of Pilot Knob
On September 27 1864, Major General Sterling Price (Confederate Army of Missouri) attacked Fort Davidson (just outside of Pilot Knob, MO). This was a stepping stone toward his ultimate goal of St. Louis, MO.
The attack was furious but the Union troops at the fort, led by Brigadier General Thomas Ewing, held until dusk. The Confederates regrouped, planning a dawn attack to complete the mission of taking the fort. Ewing had other plans though. Under the cover of night, Ewing ordered his men out of Fort Davidson to rendevoux with the Union forces in St. Louis. They took all supplies with them, leaving the fort empty for the Confederates. Well, not quite empty. They also left a slow burning fuse leading to the fort’s powder magazine. With Ewing’s men at a safe distance, the powder ignited with a monsterous explosion. Thinking that the Yankees must have accidentely set off some munitions within their fort, the Confederates did not investigate until the morning. Upon their early reconnaissance at dawn, they found Fort Davidson empty.
With the losses of the previous day, General Price did not have enough men to continue to St. Louis. He turned toward the west, where he was eventually defeated.
During the Battle of Fort Davidson at Pilot Knob, the wounded from both sides were treated at a make-shift hospital in Caledonia. Of course, that hospital is the house that would eventually become the Caledonia Wine Cottage. Diseased soldiers were quarantined in a locked bedroom on the third floor. A hole (still present today) was cut in the bedroom door to pass food and water. In the basement, recovered Confederate soldiers were kept prisoner. Bars on the basement windows remain to this day.
The Ramsey Family
William and Hallie Ramsey owned the house for the most part of the later 20th Century. Sometime in 1976, William passed away inside the house while resting on the couch. Hallie spent her final days tending to her garden and reading the newspaper while watching the cars go by up on the second floor balcony. In August 1993, she passed away while resting in her favorite chair after a day of gardening.
After a brief time as an
antique shop, the house was purchased by Pepper Carpenter and Dave Buis in September 2006. After some renovations, they opened the
Caledonia Wine Cottage on August 31, 2007.
It serves as a restaurant, bed & breakfast and wine shop.
unexplained happenings have been reported in the house: four to five different people have heard an
elderly woman’s voice say “hello”, a shadowy man that looks to be wearing a
Civil War uniform has been sighted multiple times, footsteps have been heard on
floors that were void of people and corks have popped out of non-carbonated
The St. Louis Ghosthunters completed an investigation on May 31st and are currently reviewing the evidence.
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