Exploring 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.
[Check out my podcast episode all about Felix’s Grave!]
The Felix-Liliger Cemetery 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 and settled in St. Joseph in 1858. 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 members of my family in the 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!
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!
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!
Very cool! Ghost towns are fascinating!
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!
My Dad worked at the Water Company at the time that home burnt, he said some people with the last name of “Justus” lived there when it burnt. Not sure if anyone was hurt though
The caves are waterworks road past the water treatment center over the tracks about a football field down the road on the right. Beware though as you may get lost in those caves.
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! 🙂
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.
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!
I guess it’s the photo above that !
Which picture is it? I have enlarged most of them and see nothing.
Oh wow! I do see it and never noticed before! Crazy. Thanks for sharing!
I do see it, and it’s creepy
Look at picture 18 looks like a man in a black coat staring at whoever is taking the picture
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.
Cool, thanks for commenting!
In that CB photo, Walter Marek, Sonny. Owner of Mareks Deli. Owners of the Torpedo Sub! Virginia Street
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
Thanks for commenting! Barbosa’s is my favorite!
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!)
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.
James McBee from Central? Radio guy? I remember you! Barbosa’s was fantastic, I haven’t been in years.
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”.
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….
Thanks for commenting! I’m glad to have a second person confirm where Felix’s grave was!
The Gaches at the end, are they related to Joseph Gach? That’s my grandpa and he lived on Wyeth hill.
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).
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.
Thanks for commenting!
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!
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! 🙂
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 : )
Wow, that’s a crazy and scary story! Thanks for commenting!
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.
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!
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!!
That story makes the most sense for explaining Felix! Thanks for commenting!
I went to Lafayette in the 70’s . I have participated in outings to felix’ cemetery. Thanks for sharing, it brought back memories.
Thanks for commenting!
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!
I was told the caves are old train tunnels blocked off there was tons of scary stories about the grave
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that baby or animal u hear i have heard every time i have went to visit Felix’s grave. The caves r said to be home to the yatei. We where also that the burnt property was where the family lived and something happened and Felix killed them and set the house on fire, but never had proof to this. Yes its Scarry at night but I always just felt sad there.
Also alot of the house’s there had passages or tunnels that went from one to the other due to the underground railroad.
Oh wow, so interesting! I didn’t know that.
WOW this brought back a lot of memories. I went to Lafayette in the 70’s and went to Felix’s grave many many times.
There was a small graveyard we had parties in when in high school where the VIEW over the river and Kansas was identical. This must be very near it. Arthur Meers, ex-mayor, owned the property. Had a rod-iron fence and maybe 6 gravestones but the same view from sitting on the bluffs.
I went up there in November of 1986 with my brother and his friends around sunset. It was my first time up there and I was a little scared. Nothing happened at the cemetary itself, but when walking back to the car I felt something tugging at my jacket. I took off like a rocket, running all the way to the car with my flashlight. No one ever believed me, and I was laughed at a great deal. You couldn’t get me to go back up there until 1996 with a few friends, where that night someone else got their pants leg tugged at on the way back to the parking lot.
The witches grave is supposed to be up at King Hill Cemetary. A police officer once told me there was also a bunch of old slave graves and confederate soldiers buried up there. The witches grave stone has been taken out of the cemetary and put back so many times over. The last time I went up there in 2001, it was there. But there is a story to that. I had a woman I met downtown that used to work at the old Russell Stovers candy shop tell me that when she was in high school at Central, back in 1976, her and a group of friends went up to the witches grave to steal the stone and bring it back to a party they were having out at twin bridges. They had the stone in the back of the truck and was drinking beer and having fun… and then one of the friends said they were going to pee on it. So they did. The story is, that guy was heading back home that night and was killed in a car accident. This woman said that her and her girlfriend decided to take the stone back up the graveyard a few days later to get rid of it. On the way home, they were in a car accident and her friend was killed but she survived it. Many years later, she said that she had found out that another person at that party where the stone was taken to had died after falling from a roof. Coincidence, I don’t know.
There’s more, and I might stop by and write later. There’s some other places in St. Joseph that many don’t know about. Check out Mount Morah cemetary if you really want to get into the haunted history of St. Joseph. I know a few people that own some historical homes that have had some experiences too.
I have lived in Saint Joseph most of my life, would love to hear more. I find all this interesting. Feel free to email me, email@example.com. thank u.
I seen the guy in black in the photo as well. I love this kind of stuff…
Been to cemetery a lot of times day and middle of the nite.We had a few experience from hearing things to gate closing on its own..The caves weren’t so bad when we used to go in them.They had a bunch of burnt spots on the floor look like kids used to start fires had writing on the walls and old bed springs.I think a lot of the cult rumors about the caves made up with people with a wild amagiation
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I just wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed reading this and remembering some of my teen years! I’ve never thought of taking my kids up there. I may just do that this weekend! Thank you so much for bringing a smile to my face!
Aw thank you so much! Glad you enjoyed it! My brother and I had fun when our parents took us up there! 🙂
We didn’t call it Felix’s Grave. It was known as “Felix’s Graveyard” You could not walk it because it was too frightening. The road was very very narrow and trees grew up alongside nearly into the road so that all you could see on either side was trees and shadows. Once you got to the very end, there was a small area to turn around in front of the rickety gray metal fence that ran across the front and the gate was back and never closed. Eventually it was stuck in the ground and one day it was just gone. If you were coming in or out on the long road and another car came in the opposite direction, there was only one choice, one car would have to back up as there was not enough room for two cars to get by. We only went at night for fear we would be “caught” in the cemetery. We never vandalized or left trash and felt that was disrespectful even as kids. We saw things in the woods, we heard sounds we could not explain. Once I became an adult, I was taking someone to see it from out of town, and it was all changed. Someone bulldozed out the road, a gate was put up and you could no longer drive up to it. We don’t go up there anymore. But I remember standing in the night, at the edge of the cliff looking down over the river. Listening to the wind….nothing but the light of the moon to illuminate our path. Then hearing an eerie sound or seeing something moving quickly through the woods…. and running to the car for our lives. Rest in peace Felix.
Thanks for your reply! I love hearing people’s stories and experiences at Felix’s Graveyard!
My brother and I actually managed to get one of those huge stones that were lying facedown upright and back on the base. It’s one of my favorite memories of my brother and me. Thanks for the blog post!
That’s really cool! Thank you for sharing and glad you enjoyed the post! 🙂
I left St. Joe in 1966 and remember going to Barbosa’s for dinner. Your 1974 date puzzles me. Are you sure? Dixie Barbosa worked at Seitz Packing Co. and Pelon Barbosa was a meat inspector for the USDA. I started eating Dixie’s cooking when they had a take out from their back door long before they bought the big house downtown.
Thank you for commenting! I just pulled the history from the restaurant website so I can only confirm what’s written there. https://www.barbosascastillo.com/about
Wow. What a trip down memory lane. As a teen i spent a lot of time here. Either just visiting and walking with friends, or by riding the bluff trails by quad, (Which i think is not legal by the way) i always liked the seclusion, the history and legends of the cemetary, the stunning view of the river valley. It is certaily a very unique and endearing attraction to the awesome run of parks in Saint Joseph.
Thank you for sharing!
Thank you for your comment and I agree! Glad you enjoyed my post! 🙂
I grew up on Huntoon road in the mid 70’s and had never heard of any of this . Now at the age of 53 with health issues I’d like to go there . Also Barboosa the castle is closed because people stole the A/C unit from there twice and they are not going to reopen . So much history in this town . Love Saint Joseph , Missouri .
I love St. Joe and it’s history too! I hope you can make it up to the cemetery and trail! I want to make a return trip since it’s been 8 years since I wrote this post and visited! 🙂 and on that note I should edit that that Barbosa’s location is closed. 😦
We used to go up to the Witches grave in the Southend in mid 90’s. If I remember correctly, there was an inscription on the back of the headstone. I forget what it read. It was a paragraph or so long. Presumably a hex or witch recipe or something. The grave was on east side of the cemetery road where the road is near a steep bank.
So fascinating!! Love to hear different people’s stories of the area!
Felix was Felix Eberle a German box-maker who was a neighbor of the Liliger’s. He died age 99 after falling down some steps. I find it rather SAD that these people are not allowed to Rest In Peace. Doing a bit of research on the family they had more than their share of grief. If you would like more info I would be happy to share.
I’m a St. Joseph native. Late one night, my friends and I drove to this graveyard in the late 70s. We were all drunk–I was only 13-years old–and the most amazing thing about that trip was that we got home alive. I don’t remember anything supernatural happening there, but one of my friends claimed a cross burned into his hand after he touched Felix’s tombstone. This friend died in a house fire four years later. I remember the tombstone, which was on the left side of the graveyard at the front. It was square with FELIX in big, bold letters.
Loved your blog, 9 years later…. Born and raised in saint joe and used to hang out at Felix’s grave. So many stories. I’m related to the Hoppe’s as well.
I’m glad you enjoyed my blog! Thank you! How are you related to the Hoppe’s if you don’t mind me asking? 😊
Barbosa’s opened in a small home in St. Joseph in 1960!