first brides graveBack in 2003, after I had moved home from school (don’t worry, I went back), I spent a lot of time either working at the then Country Kitchen (it’s since been renovated to a Family Table) or hanging out with my friends.

Being a teenager, my friends and I spent a lot of time going to the next nearest city, which was Sioux City, IA. We’d goof off, drive around (because gas was much cheaper then), go to the mall, and occasionally go on hare-brained excursions to areas best left alone. One such area was the site of First Brides Grave.

For those who may be unfamiliar with the First Bride, I’ll do my best to give you a brief history.

Roselie (Menard) Leonais
Roselie (Menard) Leonais

The First Bride, named Roselie Menard, was born in 1838, the daughter of French/Canadian fur trader, Louis Menard, and his Native American wife, Klanhaywin.  Around 1852, Roselie’s family moved into the area of Perry Creek and the Missouri River, which is where Roselie met her future husband, Joseph Leonais.

Married in 1853, Roselie and Joseph had four children together. Roselie died at the age of 27 shortly after giving birth to their son, William.

So why the term “First Bride?” The Pioneers Club – who created the monument in her memory – called her the “first bride” because she was believed to be the first bride of a non-Native American in the area that would become Sioux City.

For those who are unfamiliar with Sioux City, the monument to First Bride sits atop a hill overlooking the Missouri River in South Ravine Park. At the time that we went, there were wooden steps that led up the steep hill to the summit where the grave is protected by a thick fence.

Photo Credit: Sioux City Public Museum

Since then, the steps have rotted and decayed to almost nothing, and the hike up to the summit is steep, overgrown and time consuming. The gravesite is close to the edge of the ridge that towers next to Interstate 29, and the climb to the top can be treacherous if you aren’t careful.

So, all that being said, why is this such a “NOPE!” destination?

First Brides Grave is the site of a few urban legends. One story says she can be seen traversing the path from her stone, back and forth across the edge of the ridge. Another has to do with things that can happen to you if you visit, such as one tale that starts with a young boy who was killed when the stone toppled from its mount and crushed him. After that, the fence was put up around it. Yet another urban legend says that if you enter the fence, an unseen force will throw you off the stone, possibly over the edge of the ridge, which would be a quick way to an unpleasant death.

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The day my friends and I went to visit the grave, it was hot and sunny (because I’m not an idiot willing to go ghost hunting at night in the freaking woods). By the time we climbed the steep incline to the summit, we were all pretty hot and sweaty. That didn’t stop us from posing for a bunch of pictures in front of the grave though (we were teenagers after all).

I’m a lot more willing to believe in the supernatural than some, and as we were hanging around the site of the grave, I noticed that even though we were on the top of the summit, completely exposed to the full concentrated attention of the sun, it was much cooler than it should have been. And when I tip-toed close to the edge of the ridge (I’m deathly afraid of heights), some sense of self preservation made me pull back.

That was about the extent of the supernatural experiences that we encountered that day. I’m not sure if I would venture back, yet I’m glad that I experienced it.

Do you know of any “haunted” historical places of note?

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