Macabre St. Louis

In honor of the upcoming Halloween, I give you this gruesome tale from 1898:

Haunted by a boy’s ghost, strange story about a Page Avenue House.

Little Edgar Block will not leave it.

Boy who hanged himself last year seen and heard.

The Bates family are used to him.

They state that the boy’s spirit has been seen once and is frequently heard laughing and playing about the house.

 St. Louis Post-Dispatch; Sept. 5, 1898

The spirit of Edgar Block is said to frequent the house where he died.

Indulging in all the humors and moods of a boy of 11, the spirit goes playing about the house, now laughing now calling in a happy voice or speaking in gentle tones to the little sister Helen, now flying into a passion and crying with rage, kicking the door and breaking the dishes, to be avenged upon the mother.

4124 Page Ave. today, via Google maps

4124 Page Ave. today, via Google maps

Mr. Charles L. Bates and his wife, two daughters, Misses Helen and Dorothy, and little son, Albert, live in the house where Edgar Block died.  Mr. Bates is an employee of the Mermod-Jaccard Jewelry Co.

A year ago Edgar Block, the 11-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Theodore Block, living at 4124 Page avenue, hung himself in the front room on the second floor of the house.

The child quarreled with his older brother and was punished by his mother.

He went upstairs, and soon afterward he was found suspended from the bed with a strap about his neck.  He had strangled.  It was thought at the time that the youth had not intended taking his life, and that he had undertaken to frighten his mother when she should see him dangling.  The noose which he fixed was more deadly than his thought.

Mr. Block and his family moved from the house in April last and went several blocks up the avenue to reside.  Mr. Bates and family lived in the house adjoining that vacated by the Blocks.  The vacant house was a nicer one than that occupied by the Bates family, and Mr. and Mrs. Bates decided to move into it.  This they did a few days after it was vacated.

Edgar Block's death certificate

Edgar Block’s death certificate

Miss Helen Bates, the eldest daughter of the household, told a reporter Monday morning this strange story of what has happened in the house since they have moved in:  “We had not been there many hours when we became convinced that the spirit of little Edgar Block was in the house.  We would hear strange sounds every night and day, and knowing him as we did, we recognized in the sounds the voice of the dead boy and things which we knew him to have been in the habit of doing.  I could not tell you all the strange things that have happened, but things went along without anything more than the noises until two weeks ago, when my mother sat here in the room.  It was broad daylight.  She heard a low voice, and looking up, saw there, standing in the door straight before her, the form of Edgar Block.  The boy stood there just as in life.  My mother knew him well, and recognized him.  He did not speak, and before she could recover from her surprise and speak to him he disappeared as noiselessly and mysteriously as he came.

“That is the only time we have seen him, but he has been around ever so many times.  One night we sat at the dinner table.  The whole family was there and there was not a ting to shake the table and cause what happened.  Suddenly one of the dishes was lifted up and hurled to the floor, where it broke into fragments.  Since then this has occurred frequently.  In the corner of the library there is a little drum.  It belongs to my brother Albert, a boy 13 years old.  This drum beats almost every night and day.  We have hung it up, laid it down, put it in the bookcase and did everything with it, but we cannot stop its beating.  It is sure to beat every time we have company, and has done it so much now we no longer mind it.  The beating is not the noise the drum sticks would make.  It is more like the thrumming of a child’s hand.

“Last Saturday night my sister and I came home from rehearsal and went to our room.  There is a folding bed in the room, and when we entered it stood upright.  As we stood talking, the bed suddenly lurched, as though someone behind was pushing it, and had we not caught it, it would have fallen to the floor.  We often hear Edgar’s voice.  We can hear him laugh and cry, and sometimes when he calls to his sister, whose name is Helen, just as mine, it puzzles me much to know whether it is not me someone is calling.

“Our attention was first attracted to Edgar’s presence in the house by a kicking upon one of the doors.  We would hear the noise and rush quickly and open the door, thinking it was someone playing.  But there would be no one there.  Then we learned that it was Edgar, for some times when he kicked he cried, and we knew his voice.  I asked his brother Albert, afterward, if Edgar ever kicked the door and cried, and Albert said he did it a great deal.

“The noises do not annoy us now.  They did for a time, but we have become accustomed to them, and now the only objection we have to the presence of the spirit in the house is his bad temper and angry moods.   When he has these he breaks the dishes and we have lost many nice pieces of queensware in this way.

set of Wedgewood Queensware via

set of Wedgewood Queensware via

“It does not frighten us to have the boy’s spirit in the house.  My  mother, who is not home this morning, has been a spiritualist for years.  My father did not at first believe in it.  He would have nothing to do with it, and we girls were not permitted to have anything to do with it.  But now that all these things have happened in the house, Papa and both we girls are just as much spiritualists as mamma, for we have seen and heard too much not to believe.

“Before we moved out on Page avenue we lived at 1109 Menard street.  Years before, an old man had been murdered in the place and we could often hear the old fellow’s spirit walk heavily up the stairs and roll down as his body did when he was murdered.  This isn’t as bad.

Miss Bates says they have no servant at the house now.  They cannot get one to stay.  The last one to work was Mary Blocksey.  The presence of the spirit of Edgar Block in the house terrified her, and despite the assurances of the family that it was nothing that could harm her, she left her place and went home.

“When a dish would be lifted off the table and hurled to the floor,” Miss Bates explained, “It would frighten Mary almost to death.”


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