Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Yes, boys and girls, the state of Missouri has its very own X-Files--that is, weird, unusual, sometimes seemingly unexplainable occurrences and phenomena that continue to baffle (and sometimes amuse) researchers years after the events in question take place. We would like to hear about Missouri Odd Phenomena not mentioned in this list. Please e-mail us with your own examples of Show-Me State odd and unexplained events, and mention Missouri Odd Phenomena File (MOPF) in the subject line (an odd phenomenon can only be added to this list if it has been mentioned in some printed source that can be cited here, and only if the phenomenon or event took place wholly or partially in Missouri or in those Illinois or Kansas cities and towns that are considered part of the St. Louis or Kansas City metropolitan areas.)

The St. Louis Public Library has no ghost hunters, psychics, or tarot readers on the payroll, so we cannot guarantee the accuracy or veracity of the below-recounted phenomena and events, and cannot undertake field expeditions to investigate such phenomena or events.

St. Louis Public Library owns at least one copy of all sources cited. Check our online catalog ( for more information on individual items. Our Microfilm Department can provide copies of newspaper listings, while our Information Center can provide copies of listings for items in other Central Library locations.

Ancona, John. Mr. Ancona died immediately after being told that his father was not expected to live through the night. His father then died one hour after John's death. Father and son were interred shortly thereafter in a joint funeral and burial. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January 27, 1991, p. 8D.

Banvard, John. Banvard was a fine artist who painted a Mississippi River panorama that measured 12 feet in height and (supposedly) 3 miles in length. He displayed the canvas at exhibits at which persons paid an admission fee and were then allowed to walk along the entire length of the canvas. Havighurst, Walter. Upper Mississippi: A Wilderness Saga (1944), pp.187-188. See also Smith, John Rawson.

Bears, Grizzly. See Grizzly Bears.

Bennett, Kate Brewington. A mid-nineteenth century St. Louis beauty who died due to the cumulative effects of a daily dose of arsenic taken in order to maintain her strikingly pale complexion. Coyle, Eleanor M. Saint Louis: Portrait of a River City (1970), p. 53.

"Big Bird" Sightings. A "big bird" was sighted several times in the St. Louis area in April 1948, including an April 24th sighting near Alton, Illinois--purportedly the home territory of the Piasa Bird, a huge winged creature mentioned in accounts by Indians and early French missionaries to the Alton area. Brandon, Jim. Weird America (1978), p.79.

"Blob." A grayish-white "blob" that reportedly grew larger and larger was sighted near Wood River, Illinois. Brandon, Jim. Weird America (1978), p. 79.

Bodysnatching. St. Louis was the home of numerous medical schools in the 19th century. The need for cadavers for anatomy courses led some enterprising local suppliers to resort to bodysnatching, that is, stealing recently interred corpses from their graves. Missouri Historical Review 83 (July 1994): 441-442; Dacus, J. A. A Tour of St. Louis (1878), pp. 429-435.

Bodysnatching. See also Dissection Riot.

Bolin, Alf. The severed head of this notorious nineteenth century Missouri outlaw was displayed for a time in the town of Ozark, Missouri. Beveridge, Thomas. Geologic Wonders and Curiosities of Missouri (1978), pp. 227-228.

"Bomb Blast." A "bomb blast" of unknown origin jolted the St. Louis area on October 8, 1857. Brandon, Jim. Weird America (1978), p. 124.

"Bomb Blast." See also Explosions, Unexplained.

Bounties. See Wolves.

Brains, Nuns. See Nun Brains.

Buffalo, Drowning of. Most persons have heard about the American Indian hunting strategy of stampeding buffalo off a cliff in order to kill them and harvest their meat and hides. Some enterprising Indians in Barry County, Missouri, drove a herd of some 300 buffalo into a natural bog, where all of the animals became trapped and drowned. The Indians then hauled out as necessary the corpses of those animals necessary for the tribe's needs. Beveridge, Thomas. Geologic Wonders and Curiosities of Missouri (1978), pp. 203-204.

Bullfrogs, Rain of. An Army Signal Corps observer stationed near St. Louis reported a "rain of bullfrogs" on July 2, 1875. St. Louis Globe-Democrat, February 29, 1964.

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