What fun it is to poke around in the spooky and the unknown territory of the haunted. This time of year, Missouri glows with stories of ghosts and things that go “bump in the night.” Just ask Freddy Bee, the owner of Iberia Academy in Miller County.
What fun it is to poke around in the spooky and the unknown territory of the haunted. This time of year, Missouri glows with stories of ghosts and things that go “bump in the night.”
Just ask Freddy Bee, the owner of Iberia Academy in Miller County.
Classes began Oct. 1, 1890, for 18 eighth-grade and one high school student in a one-room building. A newlywed couple from Illinois had been invited to teach at the new academy built by Pastor Richard Marlow.
George and Mabel Smith taught at the Iberia Academy throughout their teaching careers. Their purpose was to make an impact on education in a rural area. The school eventually became a well-known junior college.
Bee has owned the property for the past 30 years. He would drive by the old structures thinking “what a great place to have an antique shop.” In a moment of “temporary insanity,” he purchased the property and set up his antique store.
For many years he rejected the idea of ghost hunting in the old academy buildings. In August of this year, he agreed to allow ghost hunters from St. Louis to visit the grounds.
The group of 18 hunters divided into groups and armed with a variety of cameras, they canvassed the entire property. A multitude of flash photos revealed what they were seeking – ghost orbs.
Beginning in 1994, the International Ghost Hunters Society began using the phrase “orb theory.” An “orb” may be dust or pollen or the supernatural caught on film or digital cameras.
The number of orbs was much more intense than the hunters had thought they would find at the academy. The hunter’s best findings were in a room that Bee’s daughter had used as a bedroom. His daughter said that while staying in that room, she had been visited by ghosts on a nightly basis.
It was in this room that a ghost hunter (using a hand-held communicating device) spent several minutes corresponding with a ghost. The device would light up when the ghost’s answer was a “yes”.
This writer viewed the video made in August. The conversation established that he was a slave and that his name was John. He and his wife had lived in the circa-1830 log cabin. The cabin was remodeled and enlarged for the Smith’s to live in when the academy began in 1890. The residence still stands, but is unsafe to enter.
John’s master was “taking advantage” of the ghost’s wife. John then “took advantage” of the master’s wife. The master caught the two of them together. He killed his wife and her unborn child, the slave, and the slave’s wife.
John’s ghost remains near the academy. He told the ghost hunter that he “did not want to cross over because of his lost child and because he knew what would be in store for him on the other side.”
Another ghost hunting group visited the academy in September. The 12-member group made the same findings.
Bee related that the ghost “orbs are constantly on the move.” Neighbors walking past the empty building have asked him “who are the people looking out the academy windows?”
This writer took many photos (in the dark) of the same area for several minutes. Some photos contained nothing out of the ordinary, several captured round unexplained “orbs.” The objects would move, disappear, and reappear is several sizes, but none of them were ever the same.
The Iberia Academy is for sale. Whether it would be lights and scents or apparitions and sounds, or just a “strange feeling,” the curious and the adventurous continue to attempt to explain the unexplained.
About Iberia Academy
The academy encompassed five buildings.
A fire in the main building on Oct. 30, 1917, was a complete loss.
The replacement structure was dedicated in 1920.
The academy is on the National Historic Register.
The academic building and the gymnasium are made of hand-carved stone that was quarried on the site.
The academy walls are 2 feet thick.
The last commencement was held in 1951. School records remain at the Drury College in Springfield, Mo.
The chapel still houses its square grand piano, class-room chalkboards remain with recent writings, and vintage laboratory apothecaries.
Lake Sun News