Independence, Missouri is best known for the Truman Library & Museum and it includes many exhibits regarding the life and career of the former U.S. president. Independence is also known as the “Queen City of the Trails” since it was once a point of departure for those heading to California, Oregon, and Santa Fe.
A photo of downtown Independence, Missouri. (Link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/4263915342)
Other people also visit Independence, Missouri because this is where the Harvey M. Vaile Mansion is located. It is reportedly haunted and many people are drawn to it because of the stories that others have shared regarding this place.
A photo showing the facade of the Harvey M. Vaile Mansion. (Link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tc57/25115047397)
History of Harvey M. Vaile Mansion
The Harvey M. Vaile Mansion is located at the 1500 North Liberty Street. It was built in 1881 for Colonel Harvey Merrick Vaile and his wife Sophia. He was a prominent businessman and settled in Independence, Missouri in 1870. He was well-known in the area and to express his wealth, he had the Harvey M. Vaile mansion built.
A portrait of Harvey M. Vaile. (Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaile_Mansion)
The total cost was $150,000 and it was one of the best examples of Second Empire architecture during that time. Accordingly, it was dubbed as “the most princely house and the most comfortable home in the entire west.” It had 31 rooms and ceilings designed by French, German and Italian artists.
An old photo of the Harvey M. Vaile Mansion. (Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaile_Mansion)
Because of how amazing and homey it was, the mansion was used as a receiving area for notables in the 1880s through 1890s such as U.S. Senators and congressional representatives.
A photo of one of the rooms inside the Harvey M. Vaile Mansion. (Link: https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/vaile-mansion)
However, Vaile’s reputation was tainted after his name was involved in the Star route scandal where United States postal officials received bribes in exchange for awarding postal delivery contracts in southern and western areas. He was then charged with defrauding the government and faced trials in 1882 and 1883, which both found him not guilty.
In 1883, his wife was found dead in their home while he was in Washington, D.C. She died from morphine overdose and it was believed to be a suicide. Vaile stayed in the mansion until 1895 until his last breath. Later, his heirs had a legal battle regarding the ownership of the mansion for the next five years.
A photo of the undated illustrations of Harvey and Sophia Vaile at the mansion. (Link: https://ourchanginglives.com/a-story-of-passion-extinguished-vaile-mansion/)
After the legal battle, the ownership over the mansion went to different owners. By 1908, it became a Sanatorium, an establishment for the medical treatment of people who are convalescing or have a chronic illness. Later, it was converted to a nursing home by one attorney named Carey May Carroll and then became an operating site for Vaile Pure Water Co., a spring water bottling company. When Carroll died, the mansion was supposed to be demolished until it was purchased by Roger and Mary Mildred DeWitt. They then made repairs and opened it as a historic house museum after their restoration project.
It is now open to the public daily from 9:30 A.M. through 4:30 P.M.
The Ghosts Of The Harvey M. Vaile Mansion
It is believed that the Harvey M. Vaile Mansion is haunted by the ghost of Sophia Vaile. There are no recent accounts as to the hauntings in the mansion but there have been reported in the past such as seeing Sophia looking out the windows even after her death. Some claim that Harvey does not want to part with his wife so he buried her on the front lawn in a glass-topped coffin. Later, there were protests about this burial so he was forced to give her the conventional burial at that time.
One of the windows at the Harvey M. Vaile Mansion. (Link: https://thirteenghosts.wordpress.com/tag/colonel-harvey-m-vaile/)
It is unclear if Sophia is also the ghost responsible for why many ghost hunters do not want to go back there anymore due to their bad psychic experience. Accordingly, there are no details as to what happened during that event but it caused the closing of the mansion to ghost haunting events. All that people know about that event was that it caused trauma for the staff. The mansion was closed to ghost tours for many years but it was re-opened recently.
Another ghost that frequents the Harvey M. Vaile Mansion is Harvey himself. He allegedly walks the grounds at night and he is glowing. He is also reportedly seen peering out of the little room he built. This is probably the reason why many locals do not walk across the area in front of the house but they walk across the street in front of the house especially at night.
The walkway in front of the Harvey M. Vaile Mansion. (Link: http://kansaswiki.blogspot.com/2018/04/vaile-mansion.html)
An Account From A Group Who Toured The Mansion In 2016
A group went to the Harvey M. Vaile Mansion in 2016 and Carla Cole, the host and guide of Amazing Ghost Tours in Independence, took their photo at the steps located on the north side of the mansion. Cole shared, “They were posing on those steps when the woman standing in the back of the group was ‘pushed’ into the other members standing on the stairs.” Cole said it was the first time that they experienced such aggressiveness.