Maplewood ghost tale from 1908: it’s a bit gruesome


Screen shot 2013-10-30 at 2.37.25 PMIt’s the season for ghost stories, and the Maplewood Heritage Society blog gives us an almost too-detailed report published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 1908.

It’s about a bankrupt newspaper man who kills himself, then goes next door to use a neighbor’s phone to call an undertaker. Warning: It doesn’t skimp on details.

Here’s a copy of the original article.

Following is a transcription of the article from the Post-Dispatch:


Mrs. Fleming Heard Ames’ Spook Ask for an Embalmer

Maplewood is profoundly exercised over circumstances which its citizens cannot explain except to admit they are caused by ghostly or supernatural means. A half hour after Charles H. Ames, bankrupt newspaper man, committed suicide by cutting his throat,  Mrs. Bernard Fleming, a neighbor and old acquaintance of the dead man, declares that he appeared at her home, apparently in the flesh, used her telephone to call up Cullen & Kelly, and requested them to send a representative to his home to embalm the body of a dead man.

Mrs. Fleming told a Post-Dispatch reporter that Ames came to her home at 9 a.m., Wednesday and asked to use the telephone. When she heard him call an undertaking firm, she listened with all ears.

Asks for Embalmer

With seemingly earthly hands he took the receiver from the hook, and in his usual tones, with which an acquaintance of may years had made her familiar, he asked that an embalmer be sent to his home.

A peculiar chill, which seemed to surround the apparition, and an extraordinary aloofness, kept her from inquiring who was dead. He left the house, and Mrs. Fleming, awestricken, watched him stalking toward his own home, which was in the same block.

At precisely the same hour, according to the statement of Mahler, the Kelly & Cullen undertaker, he was engaged in “laying out” the body of Charles H. Ames at his home.

Summoned by a relative at 7:15 a.m., Mahler had obtained a buggy, and driven to Maplewood, arriving at 8:30 a.m.

He found Ames’ body, he asserts, lying in a pool of blood in his home, with his throat cut, and at once se about his duties as an undertaker.

He believes the man had been dead several hours, and puts the hour of death at 2 a.m., seven hours before he appeared at Mrs. Fleming’s home.

Ames’s family told the undertaker that they heard groans in the early hours of the morning, and rushed downstairs, to find him dying in the kitchen.

Mr. Cullen, one of the members of the undertaking firm, remembers that a man’s voice called him on the telephone at 7:15 a.m. Wednesday, and that he telephoned Mahler to take the assignment in Maplewood.

No member of the firm heard the telephone call from Mrs. Fleming’s home at 9 o’clock a.m.




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