Exploring Felix’s Grave

My first trip to Felix’s Grave!

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 parking area for Sun Bridge Conservation Area, and the first gate to pass through on your way to the cemetery.

Back in the 70s and 80s you could drive this path and get closer to Felix’s Grave. But today you have to hike it.

Trekking to Felix’s Grave

Second gate

I can envision how this long path would be scary at night!

The clearing at Felix’s Grave

We made it!

Entering Felix’s Grave!

Me with a Liliger family headstone

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.

The graves overlook the Missouri River

Most of the headstones are no longer on their bases

The Felix-Liliger Cemetery

This one is missing it’s headstone altogether.

More graves with their headstones pushed off.

One of the few headstones still upright.

Our group :)

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.

There’s a legend that a witch was buried under this tree and her twin sister is also buried under an oak in the South End.

Mom thinks this is the area where Felix’s headstone used to lay.

Posing for a photo in Felix’s area.

Some refer to this as a potter’s grave, a cemetery for indigents, but personally this seems unlikely as most of the headstones bear the same family name and the headstones are somewhat ornate/detailed.

The gated entrance to the cemetery

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.

It’s almost twilight at Felix’s Grave

Leaving the cemetery

We walked a little further down the trail past Felix’s Grave and the view is beauitful!

The caves are nearby underneath this bluff

The good ole muddy Missouri River

Walking back to our cars

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! :)

The lagoon at Krug Park

The “waterfall” of the lagoon in the background lit up for the holidays

They quickly came from all over the area to get some food!

Tossing in some bread!

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.

Barbosa’s Castillo!

The Castle!

The sun setting over downtown St. Joe

Sunset :)

Queen of Apostles, where my great grandparents, grandparents, and parents were married and my brother and I were baptized.

Uncle Tommy’s class photo hanging in the upstairs hallway of Barbosa’s

Hey, it’s Charles!

and Benny!

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!

Categories: Missouri | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 43 Comments

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43 thoughts on “Exploring Felix’s Grave

  1. That was a really great blog post! I enjoyed learning a little bit of history that is most likely forgotten by many. I know what you mean though about forgotten family grave sites. I have stumbled upon many here in Oklahoma, in which some don’t even have names for the cemeteries. Though I do remember one site that had a marked stone and it said across the granite stone, “Unknown Cowboy”, it was really intriguing. A lot of mystery. But! I am glad you had a good time non the less on your adventure! I hope to read more! Take care!

    • Thank you! I bet Oklahoma does have numerous unnamed graves from the pioneer days. Will have to check those out some day!

  2. Your welcome! Oklahoma has quite a bit of history from the pioneer days. Right now I am working to locate all the ghost towns around my county and write up a history report on all the locations and then my goal is expand my research to other areas around Oklahoma and find more! So far, I have one ghost town done. Check it out if you would like too! However, if you do check out Oklahoma, you will know where to find some interesting details!

  3. Cassie Jackson

    I actually live here in Saint Joseph and have been up to the family graveyard at night. I’m sad to report that I haven’t had any encounters with anything supernatural though. I wanted to find the caves so I continued down the trail for awhile. I came across the road down near the train tracks and a fence that had been pushed over. Well I’m a very curious person so I got through the barbed wire and ventured up to discover the remains of an old house, I’m guessing. Also burnt remains of many objects including dolls and children’s clothing. I have been searching for any information to what that house was or who it belonged to. Is there any chance you know?

    • Wow, what a cool discovery. I don’t know anything about the house unfortunately, but sounds like a very interesting find!

  4. Tammy King

    tammy king

    i really enjoyed your story. i live about an hour east of St. Joseph and visit there a few times a year. I was very interested to learn some history about the town. ive never eaten at Barbosa’s but u have me very interested now . I wish there was more to learn about “Felix” and the family graveyard and the people whom are buried there. thank you for sharing your vacation

    • Thanks for commenting! I wish there was more information too! And you should definitely eat at Barbosa’s next time you are in St. Joe! :)

  5. Michael Sansone

    Great story. I have a lot of family in St. Joe and never heard of this. They also claim that Barbosa’s is the best Mexican food but having lived in California all my life I have to disagree.

  6. Cody Turner

    Does anyone not notice what appears to be a man in a black coat standing by the tree, in which is described to be rumored as the tree the witch is buried under! I saw it immediately!

  7. Look at picture 18 looks like a man in a black coat staring at whoever is taking the picture

  8. nicholas

    If you walk all the way through you’ll get to a house and a little dock area down off the river and eventually what looks like the caves. A few friends and I actually spent all day walking through this site only to end up on a road that we had no idea where it lead. It was the place to go when I was in high school a few years ago when nothing was going on.

  9. Anita Bolonyi Winn

    In that CB photo, Walter Marek, Sonny. Owner of Mareks Deli. Owners of the Torpedo Sub! Virginia Street

  10. Anita Bolonyi Winn

    Just ate @ Barbosas today. Lived the last year in las Vegas where there was Mexican on every corner. Nothing compared to Barbosas by far hands down

  11. Matthew South

    You can still get to some of the areas below the Bluffs. If you go towards the casino and follow the old water works road, there are several turn offs that lead up to little clearings, which are pretty creepy in and of themselves. Also, if you follow the Sunbridge Hills trail due north along the ridge you will eventually come to a little alcove where there are remnants of a stone foundation, there is a tree growing there that is very spooky, if you visit, you will see why (I’m not going to spoil it!)

  12. Grew up in St. Joe and spent my summers in that park…even worked at Barbosa`s for a while. I can`t believe I never heard of Felix.

    • Tyler Lewis

      James McBee from Central? Radio guy? I remember you! Barbosa’s was fantastic, I haven’t been in years.

  13. Debbie Mammen

    Was born in St. Joe, left when I was a baby. Have wonderful memories of spending summers there. My mother has been gone for years and I so miss her stories about growing in St Joe. Thanks so much for sharing this story. I live in California and often brag about coming from the “show me state”.

  14. Roy

    I ust to party at. Felix’s grave back in the 70′s…. Oh the stories that could be told…….want to know who Felix was????? Thank you this brought back lots of good memories…. And your mom was right about where the grave was….the caves do exist….

  15. Melissa Hernandez

    The Gaches at the end, are they related to Joseph Gach? That’s my grandpa and he lived on Wyeth hill.

  16. Nathan

    I remember going back to Felix’ grave several times. Oh the stories I’ve heard about that place, and then the quasi related witches have in the south end (which I’ve never seen but I’ve always wanted to).

  17. Shane Wright

    This was amazing. I grew up in this area and have been to the cemetery often. Thanks for sharing this it was very kewl to find out more history on this . Thanks again.

  18. Lisa Flugrad Antle

    How very interesting, I remember those days they talked about Felixes grave. I’m sure I knew your grandparents from attending Queen of Apostles. Thanks for the memories, & I also love Barbosas!

    • Tyler Lewis

      Wow, Lisa Flugrad, a name from my past! I too have never been to the Felix grave. I will ask my dad about it and the house from another post. He is a lifelong resident in the north end.

    • Thanks for commenting! Barbosa’s is the best! :)

  19. I went to Lafayette in the late 70′s/very early 80′s. The “ghost” story I was told: If you go to Felix’s graveyard on Halloween night at the stroke of midnight you will see Felix hanging from the tree where his grave is. Being the thrill seeking teenagers we were, decided to go up there. As we got closer we noticed the “devil worshipers” as they were called back then. They had their clothes draped over the fence and used torches for light. Out of no where rocks, sticks and some type of pellets were hitting the car. Then the group started chasing us. By the time we got back to the ‘Avenue’ we had a flat tire and 5 people scared to death. I have always wanted to go back after all these years but had forgotten the exact way to get there. Thanks for posting this now I can do this (at first in the daylight) then MAYBE trying it again at night : )

  20. Steve

    I am very familiar with that entire area. Not so much on the history of the cemetery but I have stopped to look at it a couple of times. I was an avid mountain biker back in the late 80′s thru the 90′s. The Sunbridge area was a mecca for mountain bike riders during that time. A lot of times up to a dozen of us would ride the trails up there for hours at a time.Sometime in the early 2000′s the Mo. Dept. of Conservation shut that area down to all but hikers, no mountain bikers, no off roading. I’m pretty sure some mountain bikers still go there to ride & just hope a conservation agent doesn’t catch them. There are some old foundations farther into the trails. Very cool place to ride especially during the fall & early winter.

  21. Barbara

    I have lived in St joe all my life and I went to benton high school and they say the 3 floor is haunted it is supposed to be built on an Indian burial site don’t no if it’s true or not but I never got to go on the 3 floor at night been on the 2 but it was even scary also and I have been to Felix grave and it is very sad the condition it is in

    • Yeah it was sad to see the condition it is in…and it’s unfortunate Felix’s headstone is no longer there either. Thanks for commenting! I’ll have to research the haunted stories at Benton!

  22. Marsha Dreher

    The story I was always told about Felix was he was a servant that was with the family from early adulthood until death. That is why he is buried with the family!!! But who really knows. I have been there several times in my teen years, what a blast!!
    .

  23. I went to Lafayette in the 70′s . I have participated in outings to felix’ cemetery. Thanks for sharing, it brought back memories.

  24. Steve

    What a very interesting and informative read! Thank you for the pics. I live about 45 minutes south of St Joe. i am defintley going to check this out. Probably like you guys did, in the evening while its still light out. I don’t think I want to be there at night time….

    • Thanks! I’m glad I went during the day for my first visit, and now I want to go back to experience it at night too!

  25. scott

    I was told the caves are old train tunnels blocked off there was tons of scary stories about the grave

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