Recently a guest on my Lemp “America’s Most Haunted” Neighborhood Walking Tour told me about the “Ghost on the Hill” in Calvary Cemetery. I have to admit; this is the type of ghost story that gets me excited. The premise of the story is about motorists seeing a person standing on top of a hill located on the very southeast corner of Calvary Cemetery that overlooks Calvary Avenue. While researching the story, I couldn’t find any internet references, but did manage to find another person that knew of the story, and according to him, it was popular around the turn of the last century.
I took a trip to the corner described to me by my tour guest and found the hill he described overlooking Calvary Avenue. Today, most of the hillside is overgrown, but there is still a section where you can look down onto the street.
As I started researching the story, I found a possible candidate for the hillside ghost. On top of the hill, there is a small mausoleum belonging to the Reynolds Family. At the time of its construction, the Reynolds' mausoleum had an impressive view of the Mississippi river valley. Interned in the mausoleum are Heloise Marie Reynolds, who died in 1882, and her husband, Thomas Caute Reynolds, who died in 1887.
Thomas Caute Reynolds was an interesting figure in Missouri’s History. During the Civil War, Thomas Reynolds was Missouri’s Confederate Governor in exile. Since a large part of Missouri’s population had Confederate-leaning tendencies, Jefferson Davis decided to assign neutral states such as Missouri with de-facto governments in the chance they ever switched sides and became part of the Confederacy. Thomas Reynolds also led a raid into Missouri that was supposed to incite an insurrection but failed when Missourians refused to revolt against the Union.
After the Civil War, Thomas Reynolds and his wife returned to St. Louis where he practiced law. After his wife’s death in 1882, the distraught Thomas Reynolds was said to have visited his wife’s grave daily. Thomas also started struggling with depression, insomnia, and nervousness. In 1887, Thomas Reynolds was found dead at the bottom of an elevator shaft in the Old Post Office. A note was found in Thomas Reynolds’ coat pocket saying if anything was to happen to him, blame it on his insomnia and nervousness. Many took it to be his suicide note.
The Reynolds’ mausoleum overlooks Calvary Avenue, and I think it was the ghost of Thomas Reynolds everyone saw on top of the hill. It's obvious that he was very distraught over the death of his wife. His daily visits to their mausoleum are proof of his mourning. I think Thomas’ daily habit of visiting his wife's grave in life became the haunting of their grave site after his death. The disparity felt by Thomas Reynolds over the loss of his wife, supports my belief that it is his ghost haunting the southeastern Hill of Calvary Cemetery.
Today the story of the “Ghost on the Hill” is almost forgotten, and nobody has reported seeing Thomas Reynolds’ ghost for years. Maybe the tall overgrowth obstructs his view of the street below, or maybe his soul has finally found peace. For me, every time I drive up Calvary Avenue, I will look towards the hill in the hope of someday seeing the ghost of Thomas Reynolds visiting his wife’s grave.