Friday, October 29, 2010

Part 5 of St Louis folklore and ghosts from the research of Devil At The Confluence.

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 stories from the leftover research of the book. 

The Ghost Of The St Louis Blues.

Jennie Sims lived at the first house on Linden Street at Twelfth, now Tucker Blvd. Her boyfriend was Alec Roal.  On Thanksgiving night 1895, She and Alec had a quarrel and with the butcher knife used on the evening's turkey, Alec slaughtered Jennie inflicting wounds numbering more than a dozen. The following is most of the legible part of the newspaper story from the nights following the murder.

A terrifying tale.

Twelfth and Linden will soon be a neighborhood that would meet the views of the most drastic of Connecticut reformers, for everybody with anything on his or her conscience, from craps to murder, is packing up to go away. Of course, it needs a ghost to get it right, and the ghost walks at 1201 Linden Street. This ghost is as discreet in death as she was indiscreet life, for she is scattered all over the place, and turns up in parts and sections here and there when folks least expect manifestations. Some of her has been seen in one place and other parts of her in others until she pervades society like measels. "She" is that poor girl, Jennie Sims, who was so cruelly murdered on the night following Thanksgiving Day by Alec Roal, now in the City jail, a candidate for the gallows. The focus about which the haunts seems to cluster is the house on Linden where the girl was butchered by the brute in the gray of that recent November morning. But Jennie defies all the rules laid down by the Society for Psychical Research in its book of etiquette for ghosts for she pulls off an appearance in two or three places simultaneously instead of haunting the one spot where she was done to death.
The witnesses are neither credible nor creditable, but they are, most of them, thinking very seriously of joining the church, as soon as the water is warm enough, and leading different lives.  
It began with Pearl Wilbur who lives in a court behind Linden Street in a house that never should have been allowed outside of a novel by Dickens. It is a cluster of moldy stairways, creaky passages and dank cupboards. Pearl woke up the night after the Sims girl was murdered and saw lying on the floor of her room a bleeding leg. The blood kept pouring out of the severed limb until it seeped underneath a doorway and began to drip, drip down the stairs. She could hear each drop falling on each step and gathering into a pool until it reached a point where it could break bounds into the next fall. It was a leg cut off just above the knee and it had a woman's shoe and long stocking on it, so that Pearl knew it was Jennie's, who was even then lying dead in the corner house.

Pearl's experience narrated to sundry friends the next morning prepared everybody for further manifestations that next night, and it does not take much stage-setting or costly properties to get phantoms to go abroad in a community like this.
Mrs Bentley, who lives over the grocery store on Gay Street near Fourteenth, had been sitting up waiting for her son who was due home Saturday night and she went to sleep in her chair. It was about ten minutes past two when there was a thumping at the door that startled her and a human head came rolling and bouncing into the apartment without anybody with it, only just a torn and bleeding neck and throat. The head kept on rolling and rolling till it got by the corner of the room and round to the dresser, and it rolled up the side of the dresser, in defiance of all known laws of gravity, until it reached the shelf, where it rolled all over the supper that Mrs Bentley was saving for her son and began to bleed all over the food. Then Mrs Bentley fainted right there and when she came to they were throwing water in her face and asking her whatever was the matter - and there wasn't a sign of the head or the blood to be seen anywhere - and the provisions seemed unhurt, although she would not let her boy eat them, no, not for a thousand dollars.

Mrs. Cane, a very practical woman residing a city block to the west, was awoken late one night by Jennie's form. In exasperation Mrs. Cane said to the spirit: "God's sake Jennie, what you want to be walkin' way up here on Thirteenth street for? If you has to haunt something, whyn't you haunt the place you was killed at?"

Devil At The Confluence is available at The Archive on Cherokee Street.

1 comment:

  1. This one is priceless Kevin. Thanks for spreading the spirit of All Saints Eve.............