To get you in the mood for the creepy and macabre; here is a true ghost story from Missouri. Like most ghost stories it has origins in the 19th century–Just the way we prefer it around here! This excerpt is taken directly from Historic Haunted America by Michael Norman and Beth Scott (p.197)
“In 1853 a peddler was crossing Missouri with a light pack and a full purse. Approaching the house of Daniel Baker, near Lebanon, he asked to spend the night. “Of course,” said Baker, receiving the stranger warmly.
And that was the last anyone saw of Samuel Mortiz. Some of the neighbors remarked on Baker’s sudden prosperity, but others figured the stranger had probably left town early in the morning before anyone was up and about. Anyway, the peddler’s disappearance was of no importance. Nobody knew the man.
On a moonlit night in 1860, Reverend Cummings, an area clergyman, was riding hoe in his buggy. Nearing a bridge on a dirt road by Baker’s farm, he saw a man standing there. The man had a pack over his shoulder and a stick in his hand, and was peering down intently at something beneath the bridge. Cummings called out a greeting and offered the stranger a ride. The man looked directly at him, then pointed to the edge of the bridge with his stick.
The clergyman glanced down, but saw nothing except stands of mist that laced the gully. When he looked up the man with the pack was gone. Just then the horse snorted and plunged ahead and it took Cummings several minutes to bring the animal under control. When he looked back, the man had reappeared on the bridge and was looking over the edge of it.
The minister told his neighbors about his experience and in the morning two of them accompanied him to the bridge. There, swinging from a bridge support, was the body of old man Baker. It was exactly beneath the spot where the stranger had stood. And there were no footprints in the damp earthen surface of the bridge. Cummings knew then that he had seen a ghost.
In cutting down the body, the three men accidently dislodged dirt and gravel from a reinforcing bank. A skeleton lay half concealed in the weeds and rubble. Fragments of clothing on it were identified as belonging to Samuel Mortiz.
Was it conscience or craziness that drove Daniel Baker to kill himself above the grave of his victim? No one knew. Perhaps it didn’t matter. The peddler, in revealing his murderer, had his revenge.”