Austin's Store - Potosi, Washington County, Missouri

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Austin's Store - Jefferson Street as it looks today. The front section of this building is believed to have been built circa 1797/98.  It later became Milam's Store.

Photographed: October 1998.

When the "Trail of Tears" came through Potosi in 1838/39 Indians purchased supplies here at Austin's Store.

During the Civil War this store was also a witness to events when Sterling Price's Confederate Army invaded Potosi in September 1864 & bombarded the Courthouse.

On January 17, 1932, Mr. Frank J. Flynn, a cashier at a local bank committed suicide in one of the upstairs front rooms by shooting himself through the heart. 

Newspaper article-January 21, 1932
(poor quality - difficult to read - transcribed as best I could)
F.J. Flynn Dies In Potosi January 17th

Our whole community was shocked & grieved Sunday when the news spread that Frank J. Flynn, Cashier of the Washington County Bank was dead his death being caused by a gun shot wound inflicted by himself at his old home on Jefferson Street.  Mr. Flynn's friends had been apprehensive about him for several days due to his actions but had no idea that he was in such a nervous state of mind.  His health was bad & this is the only reason that could have prompted such an act.  Frank Flynn was one of ___ most highly respected  business men.  For thirty one years he had been a faithful & trusted official of the Washington County Bank & was always active in community ____   _____  ____ last week of his life he attended the ____  ____  & evening at St. James Church of which he was a devout member.  Sunday morning he left the home of his sister, Mrs. ??  ?Roger or Boyer?  whose ___ boarded saying that he was going to attend Mass.  When he did not appear at church & was not seen by noon that day Mrs. ?Boyer? became uneasy & with her daughter, Miss Madeline, started a search for him.  They found him in an upstairs room at the old home on the floor dead with a gun he had taken from the bank near him.  It is thought he died about 8:30 that morning.  The body was removed to the Boyer Undertaking parlors where an inquest was held Monday morning.  Mr. Flynn's death is ___  ___  to his family, the bank, the church, community & friends. 

Frank Joseph Flynn was born in Potosi, August ??  ????  & was the son of the late John & Mrs. _____ Flynn.  He was reared & educated in public schools in Potosi & soon after graduating became deputy Collector of the County. In ???? he was elected assistant Cashier of the Washington County Bank & about fifteen years ago  was advanced to cashier.  He was married Oct. ?? 1905 to Miss Madge Dinning & to this union a son, Louis, who died at an early age & one daughter Miss Rushia Lee Flynn who survives him were born. Mrs. Flynn preceded him in death on May ?, 191?.  Besides his daughter he is survived by three brothers, ?Benj.? Potosi, Edmond of St. Louis & ?Lawrence of Bellview, Mo.  six sisters Miss Rose, Miss Lou & Miss. Paula ? Flynn of St. Louis, Mattie now Mrs. J.B. Boyer of Potosi ____  ___  Mother Gertrude Flynn of St. Louis & Catherine now Mother Catherine Flynn of New Orleans, La.

Funeral services were conducted at St. James Catholic Church Tuesday morning Mass _____  celebrated by ?Rev.? Father ____ Ginley pastor & the remains were laid to rest in the family plot in St. James cemetery.  There were many beautiful floral offerings.  The funeral ____  was one of the longest ever seen in Potosi.  The pall bearers were Henry ? Flynn, B. ? Casey, ?Paul? ? Casey, Virgil ? Smith, Wm. ? Casey, & Wilson ?Bell?.  We extend our sincere sympathy to the bereaved family.


In September 2007 The Paranormal Task Force (Missouri Paranormal Research Division) conducted an investigation at the Austin Store.


INVESTIGATIVE REPORT OF Mine Au Breton Historical Society 9/8/2007


People have reported seeing the shadow figure of a man peer at times from the window in the room where the suicide happened.  People on the outside have observed a shadow figure passing by an upstairs window on the inside.  Other past reports have included odd odors as well as unexplainable electrical problems such as lights and other appliances turning on and off on their own when this was once an apartment building.  

Various odd and unexplainable experiences of investigators and attendees included:

1. Steven R. - readings of 0.4 milligauss were observed on the Cell Sensor Electro Magnetic Field Meter upon entry to the log cabin adjacent to the Austin Store.  Readings dissipated upon entry of 5 other people and within 20 minutes of four people leaving and three remaining, readings spiked back up to the 0.4 milligauss level.  An unexplainable temperature drop from 82.0 degrees F to 74.0 degrees F also occurred during this period.

2. Various investigators at the Austin Store experienced moving cold spots at various times within the building as well as odd knocking and other noises.

The Daily Journal newspaper covered the investigation:
Researchers investigate ghost stories Video Available
Paranormal investigators research the old Austin store
Daily Journal Staff Writer

Editor’s Note: On Sept. 8 a paranormal group investigated alleged supernatural phenomena at various locations in Potosi. In addition to the Missouri Paranormal Research (MPR), a Daily Journal reporter along with the newspaper’s information technology manager participated in the investigation. The following is the second of a three-part series that deals with the investigation.

POTOSI — The Austin-Milam-Lucas Store is believed to date back as far as 1798. Historians believe it was built by Potosi’s founding father Moses Austin. A rich history and tales of a suicide spark stories that this one-time store, now museum, is haunted.

“If it was indeed built in that year it would have been present in 1802 when the Osage Indians attacked Austin’s home which was a few hundred feet away,” said Esther Carroll, a town historian and member of MPR. “In 1838-1839 when the Trail of Tears came through Washington County, Indians purchased supplies from the store. It was also a witness to Civil War events when General Sterling Price’s Confederate Army invaded Potosi in 1864.”

Carroll researched the alleged suicide that occurred inside the store and found an article that was published On Jan. 21, 1932 in the Potosi Weekly Independent that she believes was the suicide. The headline read “F.J. Flynn dies in Potosi January 17.”

According to the article, Frank J. Flynn died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in an upstairs room of the store. At the time of the suicide, the store was a private residence. Flynn was a cashier at the Washington County Bank. The article said Flynn’s friends had been apprehensive about him for days leading up to the shooting, but they had no idea he was in such a nervous state of mind.

“I’ve heard old ghost stories,” said Jerry Sansegraw, president of the Mine Au Breton Historical Society. “Some of the old-timers used to say when they would walk by the store they would see somebody looking through the upstairs window where Mr. Flynn shot himself. Others would say they saw a light flicker in the room.”

Judy Myers, a sensitive investigator with MPR, said she picked up on several spirits inside the store.

“There is a child in here running from me,” Myers said. “I think she was battered by a woman. I feel that the child is afraid of me. It’s a very overbearing feeling. I also sense that a man hung himself in here and that another shot himself. I am also picking up that there is the spirit of an African American woman in here.”

During an Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP) session in the upstairs room where Flynn allegedly shot himself, MPR investigators got what they believe to be startling evidence that paranormal activity does exist inside the historic building.

A voice on an EVP track produced by MPR said what sounded like “get out.”

“The Old Austin Store produced what I believe to be the disembodied voices of spirits as well as other potential evidence still undergoing analysis and evaluation which includes an odd "black" orb about door knob size traveling in a room of the old store,” said MPR President Greg Myers. “Our sensitive investigators, Matt Hendrix and Judy Myers also had several experiences in both the Long-Banta Home and the Old Store as well.  They also sensed a suicide at the Old Store which was later validated through research.”

During an investigation of the exterior of the property, an old cabin that is being constructed next to the store seemed to be a hot bed for electromagnetic activity.

“The EMF (Electronic Magnetic Field) meter never went off once inside the store,” said Steve Rusbarsky, an MPR investigator. “It went nuts in the cabin. EMF meters an be set off around circuit breakers and breaker boxes, but there is no electricity out here.”

Paranormal investigators believe that supernatural entities can cause fluctuations in electromagnetic activity.

“When an entity manifests it can cause an increase in electromagnetic activity,” Greg Myers said. “When there is a strong base in electromagnetic activity, the entity can also draw from it and cause a decrease.”


A follow up investigation was done at the Austin Store as well as The Long-Banta House in Potosi on June 28, 2008 & evidence from that investigation is still being analyzed.



BELOW: Gene Carroll, Jerry Sansegraw & Tim Dougherty in costume building the oven.  This picture was on the cover of "The Parkland Voice" a supplemental magazine to "The Daily Journal" newspaper.

BELOW: Four-a-pain (Clay Bread Oven) - Gene Carroll helped to build this oven behind the Austin Store in 1994 & helped with baking bread in it.   Photographed: Oct. 1998

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