In the book, Devil At The Confluence, the stories behind the songs from St Louis are revealed. But not all stories had surviving songs for them and so for this week of Halloween there will be a story from the leftover research of the book. This story concerns a haunting event that occurred around the time of the "Frankie And Johnny" incident in old St Louis.
The Bloody Third
The Third District police station in the 1890s was famous for being the headquarters of law and order in the most dangerous area of St Louis: The Bloody Third. The district encompassed Kerry Patch, Wild Cat Chute and the saloon playgrounds for the roustabouts known as Robber's Roost and The Bucket Of Blood. The characters of the bad part of town included members of the notorious gangs like the Limehouse gang. In the later 1800s the old station building had seen many murderers and criminals of all sorts within its doors and the walls had stories that could make a serial killer squeamish. But one story was beyond all of the rest and was discussed only once and afterwards denied by everyone as bunk.
Station Clerk Officer Daly, reported that many nights after midnight the sound of rushing water could be heard followed by a rumbling sound that would rattle the old windows. The sound of water flooding the building was especially frightening for the incarcerated locked in their cells and the policemen on duty inside of the barred and secured quarters.
Strange voices and blood-curdling moans accompanying a dragging sound along the asphalt flooring would echo in the halls. Clerk Daley had confided this to a reporter. Other officers had heard the noises but scoffed away the idea that the station was haunted. But that was only what they would say on the record.
Daley had let slip the details of a story that was never discussed in the open. A story of a vow of vengeance that was made by one of the meanest criminals in the city. A notorious street tough who had spent more nights inside of a cell than he had spent outside of one. He had been brought in drunk and belligerent a couple of months before and locked up for the night. But this was not typical of the repeat offender, this time was without the usual tooth-and-nail combat with the arresting officers.
"Some day, maybe after I'm dead, I'll get revenge." he said as he was thrown into the cell ending his spree that night that typically would have involved someone getting carved up by his razor. The following morning when the turnkey came to awaken him, he was dead. And it was that following night that the noises began.
Other than the clerk's off-record conversation, no mention of these incidents were ever made. The station house was sold years later and no further reports of noises were made by the new tenants.
Devil At The Confluence is available from all the better St Louis bookstores including The Central West End and Downtown locations of Left Bank Books.