Author’s note: This is the first of a two-part story on a haunted bed and breakfast.
The doorbells of The Parlor Bed and Breakfast in Ironton, Mo., ring at odd times. Jeannette Schrum, co-owner of the bed and breakfast since 2000, is used to it. It’s probably ghosts.
Flying curtains, falling clocks and strange shadows on the walls are common occurrences in the bed and breakfast that, for a short time in the 1960s, was a funeral parlor. But Schrum said there has been unexplained activity in the home much longer than that.
“The place had been haunted since the ’20s and ’30s, as far as we can trace back,” she said. “When we bought the place they told us it was haunted and I said ‘bull.’ I really don’t believe in that sort of thing.”
Schrum purchased the building with her husband, Robert Halket, mayor of Ironton, and her sister and brother-in-law, Dana and Moody Campbell
Architect Charles J. Tual built the home between 1901 and 1908 for he and his wife; the exterior constructed of concrete blocks made on site. A mortician purchased the home in 1960 and turned it into a funeral home. Although the building served in that capacity for only a short time, that time has a close connection to Schrum.
“My great grandfather was one of the few bodies that was laid out here when it was a funeral parlor,” she said. “And my grandmother worked here.”
And she may still be there. Although Schrum, who was raised not to believe in the paranormal, said the spirit of “a lady” – possibly her grandmother – follows her around the house.
“I have a woman friend,” she said. “It’s something you just know it’s there. It’s a woman and it’s always a warm, friendly feeling. My grandmother and sister and I were all very close. I’d like to think it’s her, but I’m a non-believer.”
Even to a non-believer, too many unexplainable events happen in the bed and breakfast. The new owners began renovating the home when they bought it in August of 2000 and immediately noticed something wasn’t right.
“When we first started working on it, things would disappear,” she said. “I kept it to myself because I knew the guys were going to make fun of me.”
By that time, Schrum had met her lady. Then her family began experiencing things, too. On a hot night, Schrum went to the porch to check on guests who sat talking in the evening breeze, when her sister called to her.
“She was standing with her back to the kitchen and pretty soon my sister’s at the door saying, ‘come here, come here,’” Schrum said. “She said, ‘did you walk up behind me a few minutes ago?’ I said, ‘she got you, she got you, she tagged you, she got you.”
Schrum could talk about it now; someone else had experienced her lady. Some time later, her husband received a more formal introduction.
“He was reared back in the recliner and had a pizza in one hand, a Diet Pepsi in the other,” Schrum said, “and he said, ‘oh my God. She just walked across there, stopped and looked at me and kept on walking.’”
The woman Halket saw wore a long, gray period dress, her hair pulled up in a bun on the back of her head.
“My husband hates it,” she said. “He just hates it.”
Next week: Paranormal research.
Copyright 2009 by Jason Offutt
Got a scary story? Ever played with a Ouija board, heard voices, seen a ghost, UFO or a creature you couldn’t identify? Let Jason know about it: Jason Offutt c/o The Examiner, 410 S. Liberty, Independence, Mo. 64050, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Your story might make an upcoming installment of “From the Shadows.”
You can find Jason’s books on the paranormal, "Darkness Walks: The Shadow People Among Us," and “Haunted Missouri: A Ghostly Guide to Missouri’s Most Spirited Spots,” at www.amazon.com.