Saturday, October 30, 2010

Part 6 of St Louis folklore and ghosts from the research of Devil At The Confluence.

This week of Halloween there will be a story each day from the leftover research of the book. These are rewritten from reports made by witnesses. There are some very popular and often repeated unexplained incidents from St Louis' history, but these are the less well-known stories.
Two very old areas of the city were the locations of numerous supernatural occurrences. Lafayette Park has a history dating back to the mid 1800s, and the suburb of Maplewood was the western edge of St Louis in those days.


The Lake
In 1888 a small boy drowned in the lake in Lafayette Park. The boy's mother was overtaken with grief and sat watch by the lake every night for many weeks. Some park visitors told of seeing a misty figure of a boy over the water and some said that they had seen the woman alone by the lake, talking as if in conversation with her child.

The Investigative Reporter
One evening in December, 1889, Charles Uhde sat down on a bench in Lafayette Park and fired a bullet into his head.
By the next night there were reports of an apparition in the park. George Wilson said he was chased by it late one night. The milkman driving up Mississippi Avenue said that he saw something white inside of the fence. Two boys entered the gates late at night on a dare and saw it coming across the grass. Uhde's ghost was the subject of many conversations and several neighborhood meetings held at the Park Methodist Church. A newspaper reporter was assigned to investigate the story and he went to the park late one evening. The garden was dark and empty and he sat on a bench and waited. He was a bit nervous but would not admit to himself that he was afraid. Wait, is this the bench that Uhde killed himself in? He moved to another one, even though that one was just as liable to be the one. So he stood up. No scenery is more suited for a ghost than Lafayette Park. There was a white shape moving in the bushes, but before he got too worked up about it, he realized that it was one of the swans. Satisfied that he had given sufficient opportunity to any spirits, the reporter went home to type up his story denouncing the sightings of ghosts in Lafayette Park.


The Ten Foot Lady
On Monday night, the first of June, 1910, two men walking along Manchester Avenue in Maplewood saw a seven or ten foot tall woman in a long white flowing robe. She turned and floated south on Sutton Avenue. The startled men followed for six blocks as she glided down the sidewalk many paces ahead of them. At the train tracks she stopped and seemed to be looking for a train to arrive. The men kept their distance while she paused for a good five minutes before turning down Greenwood Avenue. Scrambling across the tracks, they followed the figure to the far end of the road and lost sight of the specter where there are no street lamps. The entire police force and most of the townspeople spent Tuesday night vainly looking for the towering matron.

Urgent Call For The Undertaker
At 9 am one May morning in 1908, Mrs. Bernard Fleming of Maplewood answered a knock at her door and found her neighbor, Charles Ames, who asked to use her telephone. Of course he could, and Mrs. Fleming went back to her chores in the house. She heard him dial and ask for an embalmer to come to the Ames residence. The shock of such a call stunned Mrs. Fleming and by the time she got hold of her thoughts again, Mr. Ames had hung up the phone and left the house. She saw him stalking back to his house a few doors away. She was in a fit of worry for the Ames family and trying to remember if Mrs. Ames' elderly mother had been staying with them.
An hour or so later, a newspaper reporter knocked on Mrs. Fleming's door. He said that he had gathered all of the important information but wanted to get the reaction of the neighbors. What was her reaction when she heard the news? "And what news would that be?" Mrs. Fleming inquired. The reporter read his notes to her: "Despondent over the repeated failure of his newspaper, the Maplewood Mirror, editor and publisher Charles Ames drew a razor across his throat, severing his windpipe and carotid artery at 3 am last night."

Devil At The Confluence is available at Subterranean Books in the Loop.

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