Many of you who grew up in St. Joseph, MO have probably heard of, and maybe even visited, Felix’s Grave in the 70s and 80s when it was a popular teenage hang out. Well ever since my mom first told me about Felix’s Grave and all the spooky stories and legends surrounding the sight I have wanted to visit! Finally this past weekend I got to go! My family and our good friends the Diaz’s took a trip to Felix’s Grave late afternoon on Saturday.
We drove to the North End of St. Joe and turned onto Huntoon Road after passing over I-229. There’s a parking area for Sun Bridge Conservation Area off Huntoon Road and this is where it all begins. Mom and dad have never visited Felix’s Grave during the day, so this was a new experience for them. It’s less spooky in the daylight yet the quietness of the deserted forested area maintains that creepy charade. After passing through the first gate, it’s about a 1/4 of a mile walk until you reach a second gate. Then another 1/4 of a mile walk until you reach the rusted and deteriorating gates of the long abandoned cemetery. There’s about 10 headstones left at “Felix’s Grave” and most have fallen off or been pushed off their bases. They lay across the ground with weeds threatening to overcome them like tossed away rubbish.
The Felix-Liliger cemetery (as it is officially called in the city maps) sits high on the bluffs overlooking the Missouri River. It’s a beautiful and peaceful location surrounded by trees and undisturbed by urban development. This ideal setting makes perfect sense as the location for the small family cemetery. Of the dozen graves, dating from the late 1800s to the early 1920s, most of them bear the name Liliger. According to city records, Joseph Liliger was a farmer in Buchanan County who immigrated to the United States in 1853 from Germany After living in Baltimore and New Orleans for a few years, he settled in St. Joseph in 1858. Joseph first married Mary Stump and they had three children, Frank, Joseph and Rachel. His second marriage was to Mary Thomas and they had one son, James. It’s sad to think about the neglected graves of this family as the only eerie remembrance of people long forgotten.
If you take a trip yourself you will notice there is no grave with the name “Felix”. Well that’s because the headstone was stolen during the 1980s when vandalism and satanic cult worshiping overran the area. Felix’s Grave sits directly above the caves along the Missouri River that became known in the 80s for satanic worship. The caves have been long closed off to the public, but that doesn’t mean the dark effects of those events have vanished too. The supernatural can leave behind residual energy and no one knows for sure what went on in those caves; if it was serious, or just teenagers fooling around and scaring visitors.
The origin of Felix’s Grave is also mysterious. According to my mom who personally saw Felix’s grave, there was only the name Felix on the headstone. No other information was provided. Of course the lack of information regarding Felix leads to numerous legends of his identity. Was he a servant of the Liliger family, an indigent somehow connected to the family, or simply the family cat? You will not struggle to find numerous urban legends on the identity of Felix, and the Liliger family for that matter too. Even their history is murky.
Felix’s Grave did not seem strikingly haunted to me, though I can imagine how much scarier it is at night in the pitch black. The dilapidated cemetery seemed calm and peaceful…well, except for the baby or animal crying I captured on my digital recorder that no one in our group heard when we were there. Yet it is loud and clear on my digital recorder. The origin of that scream shall remain a mystery, just like the true identity of Felix.
We capped off our evening with feeding the geese and ducks at the lagoon in Krug Park. My Grandma Hoppe used to take my brother and I to feed the ducks and fish there when we visited. We would buy bread at the little grocery store near Krug Park, and toss bits into the water. It was fun to take a trip down memory lane! And we came back to Krug Park at night, after dinner, to drive through the holiday lights and displays. And they still hand out Cherry Mashes at the end! :)
And no trip to St. Joe is complete (in my opinion) without eating at Barbosa’s! We ate at The Castle location and it was just as delicious as always! I love eating at Barbosa’s Castillo because it is located in a beautiful old St Joseph mansion. The multiple floored home is covered in beautiful dark paneling and offers you the chance to step back to a more elegant time. It’s fun to look at the Christian Brothers senior class photos that line the 2nd floor hallway and find the Gach’s and my grandpa’s photos.
The home was built in 1891 by Mr. J. B. Moss, and he and his wife lived there for 37 years. The house was then sold to the Knights of Columbus in 1930 and used as their offices and clubhouse, until Mr. and Mrs. Barbosa purchased the home in early 1974. After remodeling the Barbosa’s opened their restaurant in May of 1974, and that marks the day my favorite restaurant was born!
These are a few of my favorite things in St. Joe. Hope you enjoyed!