MISSOURI - The John Wornall House Museum
by: Kelli Patrick
The John Wornall House was built in 1858 by Kentuckian John Bristow Wornall. This once sat on a 500-acre farm. Now, there are homes all around it. In the 1860's Battle of Westport, the Confederate and Union armies used this farmhouse as an emergency field hospital. The surgery "suite" was located in a first-floor room and then the soldiers were carried upstairs to recooperate. To get them upstairs, they had to take the railing off to get the stretchers up the winding staircase. This was a reverse of most of the civil war hospitals you hear about. Usually you hear the surgery "suite" being on the second floor and the patient rooms on the first floor. They were up on the second floor because they would throw the amputated body parts out the window. There were so many parts, they would stack up above the windows sills.
John Wornall was the oldest son of Richard and Judith Wornall and was born on October 12, 1822. He moved to Westport, Missouri in 1843, with his family. John's father bought 500 acres for a total of $2,500. John's brother, Thomas, died of cholera, so this made John sole titleholder.
In 1850, John married Matilda Polk. She died a year later, childless. In 1854, he married Eliza Johnson. John and Eliza had seven children. Two lived beyond infancy. Eliza died a week after giving birth to her last child. She was 29 years old. In 1866, John married Eliza's first cousin, Roma Johnson. They had two children that lived beyond infancy.
The 1860 census shows that John Wornall had four slaves and two hired hands. John served on several boards and helped lead this area in to what it is today.
Today, The John Wornall House is registered as a historical place. The Museum hosts several activities besides tours of the house, so check out their website or call them. www.wornallhouse.org
As for the ghosts...
It has been reported that a couple of tour guides at the John Wornall Museum have smelled pipe smoke. No one is allowed to smoke, eat or drink in the place. There are also reports of seeing a lady on the second floor landing.
I went there on a field trip in high school and we were listening to a guide speak in one of the rooms. I was standing in the corner of that room and could see across to the room adjacent to the one I was in. I saw a lady in a blue dress playing the piano. I told this to the director and she thought this might be one of John's wives. When I saw her playing, there was no sound coming from the piano or out of that room.