Generally, getting young children's attention isn't too difficult for docents at the Missouri Governor's Mansion.
There are 1,000 stories to tell. However, sometimes it takes a ghost story to get their attention, docent Bridget Dalton said.
"We kind of go to the 'children's scale' during the tour," Dalton said.
The mansion's most famous ghost story is that of Carrie Crittenden.
Carrie was the daughter of Gov. Thomas Theodore Crittenden, the 24th governor of the state who held the office from 1881-85. In 1883, at 9, she died of diphtheria. She was the first person who died in the mansion.
One hundred years later, in 1983, a man was working on the third floor of the building. At the end of the day, he went down the stairs to leave for the day. At that time, legend says, he told staff they should check on the girl who had been playing up there near him all day.
"Well, we don't have any little girls who live in the mansion at this time," they responded.
The man left and never returned to finish his work, Dalton said.
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Dalton, herself the grand-niece of former Gov. John Dalton, who served from 1961-65, said she remembers having tea at the mansion as a little girl.
"One of the memories I have of the mansion is being able to go there for tea after school," said Bridget Dalton, who has two sisters. "Mom would get us dressed up, and we would go to the mansion for tea."
The little women would walk up the steps to the second floor and drink tea at a "little cast-iron table and chairs."
The governor and first lady would have breakfast at the table, Dalton said.
"That was the time when they got to have their personal conversations — their personal time together," she added.
Her family lived on Elmerine Avenue in a neighborhood filled with some of the city's most prominent families.
She remembers the great Halloween parties Howard Cook would throw for neighborhood children in his house.
"He would have hot cider and hot chocolate, doughnuts and cake," Dalton said.
Former Gov. Jay Nixon later lived in the Cook house.
"My mom and Mrs. Nixon used to talk across the fence and had a pretty good relationship," Dalton said.
When she was young, Dalton and her siblings would join with other children and ride their bicycles all around the city.
"I had a lot of friends growing up who lived on Green Berry (Road) and West High (Street). We would meet at the Capitol and ride our bikes everywhere," she said. "You could do that at the time. It was safe. It was fun growing up in that neighborhood and going to Heights (Elementary School)."
After graduating from high school, Dalton attended the University of Missouri for a time. She got married and left when her former husband accepted a job as a mining engineer at a coal mine in Gillette, Wyoming.
Gillette was 1,000 miles away — and "a little barren."
However, while she was there, she used her LPN license to work at reservation nursing homes. She also worked in the coal mine.
She started by working in a processing lab, where staff did quality checks on it. Later, she went into coal production and eventually became a supervisor.
Dalton's mother's death brought her back to Jefferson City in 1999.
She went to work for her father, an attorney, until he retired in 2005.
As 2007 neared, a friend suggested she look into serving as a docent.
"It was such a learning experience, to be absorbing the rich history of the mansion," Dalton said. "It was something that filled a need that I really had to fill at the time."
The work got her off her father's farm.
There are so many stories about the mansion to tell.
Take the tale of Caroline Hyde, the daughter of Arthur Mastick Hyde, who was governor from 1921-25. Caroline was known as "The Terror of the Mansion." She would trick people by hiding behind furniture and popping out, Dalton said. She would slide down the banisters. Caroline would hide behind her mother's skirts when photographers were trying to shoot photographs. She would hide candy in the bottom of the grandfather clock.
Caroline may have been considered precocious, Dalton said.
However, some of the most interesting tours, she said, happen when people who don't speak English bring interpreters to the mansion, she said, and people are speaking different languages and hope the interpretations are correct.
She remembers families from Brazil, Germany, Japan and Norway.
She hasn't been a docent long enough to know if many of its residents have been as receptive to visitors at the Missouri Governor's Mansion as Gov. Mike Parson and his wife, Teresa, Dalton said. She knows the stories she's heard.
"Since the Parsons came, it has been wonderful," Dalton said. "They are so open, so generous, so gracious. And they just love to meet people."