Harvest House Mystery, Part II

The post is in relation to a previous story about the St. Joseph Baby Cemetery. If you haven’t read the original article yet, click here.

There’s a new update on the St. Joseph Baby Cemetery – and it’s all thanks to a KatyTales reader.

Two weeks ago, I had just finished the final touches on the Harvest House Mystery story and was ready to send it out into the world. After clicking “publish” that night, I woke up the next morning and checked my WordPress account to see how the blog post was doing. My jaw dropped open.

The stats showed that over one thousand people had read the St. Joseph Baby Cemetery story in under twelve hours. Over the next week, about four thousand people in total read the story. That’s about half the population of Boonville.

It. Was. Awesome.

The post also got some interesting comments. Although most were about the hospital itself – many of Boonville residents, past and present, were born there – one stuck out. It was from Judy Friedrich, who started very clearly that in fact the St. Joseph Baby Cemetery did not exist, or at least, not where we thought it was originally located.

After speaking with her via email, I’ve been able to learn a few more of the details. Friedrich’s parents lived in the house to the west of the St. Joseph Hospital – or what is now Harvest House. They moved there in the early 1960s after her father became maintenance supervisor of the hospital. Her parents lived in the house for more than ten years, and after the hospital sold the grounds her own growing family remained in the home. She lived in the home for more than two decades and raised her children there. It’s safe to say she knows the area well – and thankfully, was able to call me out.

“The property you are calling a grave site was where two large gas tanks were located,” says Friedrich.

stones

According to Friedrich, the tanks were there to provide gas in an emergency. The wire fence around the tanks was to stop visiting children from climbing on them. And the concrete slabs – what we thought were gravestones – actually supported the weight of the tanks.  The family mowed around the tanks until they were removed when the hospital relocated to Hwy B.

“I looked at these tanks for over twenty years trimming weeds and wishing they were not in my view,” says Friedrich.

Friedrich isn’t sure where the children are really buried. Records show there was an old grotto around the area that was used as a cemetery for former hospital nuns and priests. The grotto was destroyed after the hospital became unoccupied and the graves were moved to St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery.

This new information adds another complication to the story – Larry Long did speak to several sources around the area that confirmed the existence of an infant cemetery.  However, it seems likely that Friedrich’s story is the most accurate.

“The fact that I found a buried abandoned gas line in this plot seems to add credence to her story,” says Long. “I also found it odd that blank concrete slabs would be placed over the graves without even a hint of identification!”

Though Long (and myself) are both disappointed, we are also happy to be a part of correcting Boonville history. We’d like to send a big thank you to Ms. Friedrich for reaching out and helping solve a mystery.

Case closed…. For now?

If you have a story suggestion, a question or just want to say hello, feel free to comment below or email me at katytalesblog@gmail.com.