The following excerpts were taken from my friend Lisa Livingston Martin’s book Haunted Carthage Missouri:
“Antebellum homes are rare in Southwest Missouri due to the scorched-earth policies employed by both sides during the Civil War. The term conjures images of large plantations as are found in the Deep South. Though plantations were located along the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers in Missouri, the land in southern Missouri did not lend itself to large-scale crop farming. Nonetheless, elegant antebellum homes were built here. The oldest surviving example is Kendrick House, on the northern edge of present-day Carthage, at the intersection of Garrison Avenue and VV Highway. When built, it was considered a mansion and one of the most beautiful homes in the area. It was one of three homes in the Carthage area to survive the Civil War and is the oldest standing house in Jasper County. The house was built beginning in 1849 and completed in its current state by 1856.
When the house was built, there were no roads leading to its site. There was a trail off to the east, and the trail that would become Garrison Avenue would be forged from an Indian trail that led to Fort Scott, Kansas, and later would be part of the original Route 66. However, in the 1840s, there was nothing but prairie grass and trees outlining Spring River, several hundred yards to the south.
Sennett Rankin was drawn to this spot in the mid-1840s, building a small log cabin on the northern bank of Spring River just southeast of the house, on which he began construction but that never bore his name. A prosperous farmer with large holdings in the area, Rankin broke ground on the rolling hill above the river in 1849, as slaves tended a forty-acre field carved out of the prairie by horse and man. We have no idea what plans Sennett Rankin and his wife had when they started building what later became known as the ‘Mansion.’ After a couple years, Sennett and his wife moved back to their large farm near present-day Jasper, Missouri, some fifteen miles north, without finishing or ever living in the house. The partially constructed house was sold to Sennett’s son-in-law, Thomas Dawson. Soon, the lure of gold took Dawson to California to seek his fortune. Dawson did not find gold in California. He didn’t finish construction either and never lived in the house. Perhaps as a means of recouping his losses from that search for gold, Dawson sold the still unfinished house and 640 acres of future farmland and orchards to William and Elizabeth Kendrick for the sizeable sum of $7,000 in 1856. At the same time in Jasper County, farmland was selling for approximately $1.25 an acre ($800 for 640 acres). The Kendricks finished the house on the hill and made it their home. They turned the 640 acres of virgin prairie grass into cropland and orchards and operated a successful blacksmithing and gunsmithing business for many years. The Kendrick family and their descendants, including several generations of the Janney family, lived in the home continuously for approximately 130 years, until it was sold to Victorian Carthage in the 1980s, which still owns the home. Approximately 20 acres of the original 640 acres remain with the house.
Although the city of Carthage had been established by the time Kendrick House was built, it was still a small collection of houses and buildings. It was not readily accessible from Kendrick House, as there were no bridges across Spring River or in all of Jasper County until the 1870s. Everything that was used in construction of the house except for glass for the windows was either material found on the property or items that were made by the workers. For instance, there were no store-bought nails available, so each nail was made by hand by a blacksmith in a forge. The outer walls are red brick, made from the clay from the banks of Spring River, just a few hundred yards from this spot. Sennett Rankin, as well as Dawson and the Kendricks, owned slaves. Rankin was the largest slaveholder in Jasper County, and his slaves built the brick walls. The bricks are concave on the interior side so as to hold more mortar. The exterior walls are three bricks thick, very unusual for construction of the time in the region, where a small log cabin with a hole cut out of one of the logs for a year-round open window was a symbol of permanence. The thickness of the walls meant that the house was better insulated than most buildings of the time. If you look closely, you will find bricks with areas of gray glazing, which was caused when a brick was too close to a hot spot in the wood-fired kilns.
The house is Federal-style architecture, which means that there is an entryway and staircase with symmetrical wings on either side. Although the house looks large from the outside, the original structure consists of four rooms: the dining room and parlor on either side of the entryway on the ground floor and two bedrooms on the second floor. There was no running water in the home until 1954. Water was originally available from the hand-dug well beside the house and a cistern that collected rainwater. There were various outer buildings on site, including a kitchen, slave quarters, blacksmith shop, smokehouse, barns and later homes for family members and rental homes for men working in the nearby quarry. The old outhouse still stands out back near the slave cabin. The original slave quarters were brick, like the house, but were demolished sometime in the past. The slave quarters on site were moved from the Miller, Missouri area when Victorian Carthage opened Kendrick House to the public. There have been reports of an African American man wearing a white shirt standing and looking out one of the windows in the slave quarters, staring off into the distance. The sound of harmonica music has been recorded in the slave quarters as well.
Death was a frequent visitor to the Kendrick-Janney family. Three of William and Elizabeth’s sons died while the Civil War raged around the family: Richard, Alex and Austin, all in their early twenties. William passed away in 1868, followed by Elizabeth in 1878. Joshua’s wife, Elvira, followed in death in 1884. Joshua and Elvira’s daughter, Fannie, with her husband, Carl Janney, raised their family in the mansion. Tragedy struck again in 1899, when Fannie and Carl’s four-year-old daughter, Pauline, died in the house of an unspecified spinal disease. Joshua died in 1901, and Fannie inherited the house and farm.
The last person to die in Kendrick House was Carol Sue Janney, Fannie and Carl’s granddaughter, who lived in another house on the family land at the time. Carol became ill on or about April 23, 1936, a few months short of her third birthday. To protect her four-year-old sister, Jackie, from contracting the illness, Carol was brought to the mansion. A doctor was summoned, and it was discovered she had contracted polio, for which there was no vaccination or cure at the time. Approximately thirty-six hours after becoming ill, little Carol died in the big house.
It is here that Paranormal Science Lab (PSL) conducts Haunted History Tours and paranormal investigations, raising funds for preservation efforts at Kendrick House. Historic homes such as Kendrick House face very difficult obstacles to maintain the property and keep the doors open to the public. Victorian Carthage and Paranormal Science Lab have worked together to raise awareness of the history of the house, as well as offering people an opportunity to experience a real-life paranormal investigation. People have traveled from across the United States, as far away as California and Georgia, to attend Haunted History Tours and paranormal investigations. Tours focus on the history of the house and Civil War history of the area. Guests review evidence of paranormal activity documented at Kendrick House by PSL and then participate in a live investigation. Proceeds are donated to Victorian Carthage for preservation efforts. PSL members also donate labor to Victorian Carthage to make repairs and maintenance. The Missouri Humanities Council, which, among other things, promotes public awareness of history and works with museums and historic sites to provide educational experiences for the public, has used the Haunted History Tours offered at Kendrick House as an example of combining the interest in history and the paranormal for fundraising at historic sites.
There is a modern addition on the back of the house used as part of the museum. The original frame structure kitchen, which was behind the west end of the house, is long gone. The purpose of locating the kitchen outside the main structure was for safety. Cooking was done on open hearths and ovens with wood fires. Kitchen fires, including catching floor-length skirts on fire, were one of the most common causes of injury and death to women of the mid-nineteenth century. The kitchen also contains a large long room with various artifacts found on site from the 1800s. The room is dominated by a long, narrow dining table that is original to the house and, according to family lore, was used as the field hospital operating table during the Battle of Carthage. This was merely lore until Paranormal Science Lab employed techniques used in crime scene investigations to supply corroboration of the story. As demonstrated on crime investigation television shows, law enforcement uses UV (ultraviolet) light to search for bloodstains. Paranormal Science Lab approached the table as a crime scene. Blood appears violet or purple under UV light. It is extremely difficult to eliminate all traces of blood, even after long periods of time. Turn out the lights and turn on UV flashlights, and the ordinary, antique table takes on a vastly different appearance. At one end there are violet spots in splatter patterns, and as the UV passes down the length of the table, lines of violet illuminate the grain of the wood planks forming the tabletop and violet drips down the side edges and legs. Although a bit macabre, it makes perfect sense. A military field hospital of the 1860s could be anywhere from a tent to a barn to a house commandeered, as was Kendrick House. A long table worked well, and one end would be propped up so that fluids would run off into buckets or bowls at the other end. The UV test supports the family lore handed down through more than 150 years that this table saw a lot of blood and thus very likely is the operating table used by army doctors during and after the Battle of Carthage.
A large number of EVPs (electronic voice phenomena) have been recorded in the room where the table now sits, which is in an addition that did not exist in 1861. It is believed that the table does sit in the general location of where the operations were performed, as the room sits directly behind the original back door to the house. It was a very hot day on July 5, 1861, and no evidence of bloodstains have been found inside the house, so it is likely that the table was carried out the back door and set up as an operating table. EVPs are voices captured on audio that were not audible to those present at the time of recording. Many are at frequencies outside the range of the human voice. EVPS have been captured in the room containing the operating table that seem to be related to the Civil War period, including one that says “General —E Lee” and another that names Peter Hahn, a German name. The Union troops headquartered at Kendrick and working and bleeding in the field hospital were mostly German Americans.”
They have several reports of interaction with a spirit that is referred to as “Carrot” which is more than likely the nickname for one of the children that passed on the property. Shadow figures are also seen upstairs and until recently there was a voodoo protection on the home that the slaves placed upon the home to protect the women and children in the home during the war.
This house is full of incredible history and paranormal activity is off the chain!! i would recommend this place to anyone!!
To read more detailed information please grab haunted carthage missouri and brush up on this amazing place and it’s rich history.