Hochstein, a professional genealogical researcher who lives in Oregon, says he tried to read his great-aunt's novel but could never finish it.

"If you pick up Jap Herron, you will see that it is more or less unreadable," he says. "That was my experience, anyway. It is truly an awful piece of writing."

He says the family was never sure if Aunt Emily was a sincere spiritualist or a fraud out for a quick buck. According to family lore, Emily was the "alternative" sister, the one who often struggled to make ends meet.

Mark Twain's Ghost's Ghostwriter
Tim Lane
Mark Twain's Ghost's Ghostwriter
Monkey Business in the Lemp Family
Tim Lane
Monkey Business in the Lemp Family

In 1932, Cyril Clemens published a book of letters that belonged to his famous cousin, Samuel. Included in the trove were at least two fan letters from Emily Hutchings from the summer of 1902, after she'd met Twain at a reading in St. Louis. According to Sweets at the Mark Twain museum, the famous novelist and humorist scrawled the word "Idiot!" on the envelope of Hutchings final letter before filing it away in a box.


Monkey Business in the Lemp Family
The boy was said to occupy the third floor of the Lemp Mansion in south St. Louis, striking fear in passersby who caught glimpses of him through the attic windows. The child seemed to be of a different world — half human, half primate.

Some believed he belonged to beer baron William Sr. and his wife, Julia, who first occupied the 33-room manse in the 1860s. Others thought the boy was the illegitimate child of William's adult son, William Jr., a notorious philanderer who took over the brewery and family home following his father's suicide in 1904.

William Jr. — like his dad — died inside the home of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 1922. A third Lemp family suicide in the mansion in 1949 secured the legend that the property fostered evil spirits.

But what about the lesser-known story of the monkey-faced boy? Did he exist, and what spawned that legend?

Christopher Gordon of the Missouri History Museum believes the tale may have sprung from the attitudes at the time toward the mentally disabled. In the early 1900s eugenics was all the rage, and families — especially the well-to-do — didn't want to be perceived as having "impure" bloodlines. It was not uncommon for offspring with physical or mental disabilities to be institutionalized or kept out of view in basements or attics.

The monkey-faced boy was probably "someone with what we'd now call Down syndrome," surmises Stephen Walker, the author of the book Lemp: The Haunting History, who has studied the story exhaustively.

Walker says the legend of the boy grew in the 1970s when the Lemp Mansion opened to the public as a restaurant and inn and immediately caught the attention of ghost hunters and clairvoyants. At one point a psychic held a séance in the mansion in which a spirit allegedly confirmed that he was the monkey-faced boy and gave his name as Zeke. The psychic claims he told her that he died falling down the stairs in 1943, when he ventured out of the attic to look for his mother. That story — apocryphal as it may be — stuck.

Adding to the myth was the rumor that the boy's remains now reside in the family's mausoleum, tucked away inside a crypt that carries only the generic label "Lemp."

But Richard Lay, vice president of Bellefontaine Cemetery and a man who has studied the Lemps for 30 years, says that is incorrect. There are only sixteen bodies in the Lemp mausoleum, and each is accounted for.

"I've heard so many different variations of this story over the years," Lay says. "People keep coming back to it, but the stuff about unmarked graves in Bellefontaine is just not true."

Andrew Lemp Paulsen, one of the last living descendents of St. Louis' once mighty beer family, echoes that sentiment. He wishes the story of his ancestors locking up a so-called monkey-faced boy in the attic would go away.

"It's bogus. He never existed," says the 27-year-old Paulsen. "People think the Lemps were just suicides and ghosts, but we weren't. We're a real family, and these were good people. To claim that they would do something like that to a mentally handicapped child is extremely insulting."


Zombie Road: Never a Dead End
Long before the 1968 film Night of the Living Dead and Michael Jackson's 1983 "Thriller" ushered in a preoccupation with all things zombie, there existed a wooded trail stretching along the hills and hollows of far west St. Louis county. Kids called it "Zombie Road."

Originally the path served as a crossing point over the Meramec River for members of the Osage tribe. When white settlers arrived in the 1800s, natives didn't hand over the land or the crossing peacefully. In his 1883 history of St. Louis county, John Thomas Scharf reported that Native Americans regularly attacked early pioneers from behind trees and atop cliffs, establishing the area's reputation as a place where danger lurked.

Later, in the 1860s, the path became known as Lawler Ford Road and was used to connect the train station at the Glencoe resort community to the Meramec River. One of the first documented deaths along the path occurred in 1876 when Della Hamilton McCullough, the wealthy widow to a prominent St. Louis judge, was hit and killed by a train. Legend has it that McCullough's ghost continued to walk the railroad tracks near the path following her untimely passing.

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12 comments
mortimerhorowitz
mortimerhorowitz

I drove down Bubblehead Road one night and some crazy old naked bastard came running out of the woods with ranch dressing all over his ass. He ran up to my window and started beating off until he shot his load all over my car. He then ran back into the woods screaming "woooooooo" like Ric Flair over and over again. Stay away from Bubblehead Road unless you want some crazy old naked bastard to shoot his load all over your vehicle.

JayAitch
JayAitch

When I was a kid we lived on Broadway and Cherokee, right across from the Lemp Mansion and Cherokee Cave; the brewery was by then the International Shoe Company factory.  We walked past the mansion every day going to Shepard Elementary, where I went to school with two kids whose family lived in the servant's quarters on the Lemp grounds.  We moved in 1961; our house and most of the neighborhood on the east edge of Broadway went under I-55 not long after.  The kids always said there was something creepy about the mansion but never anything specific, just a weird atmosphere.  There were places ON the grounds their parents told them to never, never go near.     

rickeybrock
rickeybrock

Interesting story and lots of fun, regardless true or not!

gregory.echelmeier
gregory.echelmeier

There is rock climbing at Zombie Road! Creepy, freaky and desperately difficult bouldering, plus some scary cliffs too! Great article! -Greg E

DeeBee
DeeBee

I graduated from Francis Howell in 1970,  back when it was way out there by itself in the stix, half abandoned Army barracks and half Busch Wildlife woods, and I have absolutely no recollection, none, of ever hearing anybody say anything about Molly Crenshaw.  I was quite active on campus and knew all sorts of people who were into magic and all sorts of witchy stuff (this was the era of Black Sabbath, Zepplin and Charlie Manson) being a teen-bohemian much into the art, theatre and music programs -- and no one ever mentioned anything about a Molly Crenshaw.  First I heard of it, RFT.      

smdrpepper
smdrpepper

Seems as if some have not noticed the meaning of this article.  Its not praising the harassment to the families but rather it shows some of the urban legends and ghost stories from the St Louis area.  Personally I find some of this fascinating to see where some of these stories came from.  I spent a portion of my life in House Springs and that place is nothing more than a bunch of lost graveyards.

anonymous
anonymous

Loved learning about the past of St. Louis, real and/or imagined. Well done, and lots of fun to read about these legends. Thanks for the holiday treat!

christmas
christmas

I have lived in the Bubblehead house for 8 years.  I didn't know about the legend when we bought the home.  People come by at all hours of the day and night to honk, curse at the "Bubbleheads" and generally be a pain.  I'm sure it is fun for you but what would you think if someone did that to you or your parents home?  It also sickens me to hear that the Crenshaw family has to remove their loved one's grave stone to protect her final resting place.  Try and put yourself in these situations and have some compassion for others. 

mjohns2
mjohns2

The whole Molly Crenshaw story is sad. If I were a Crenshaw descendent, I would be angry and appalled. Your sentence, "None of that stopped the fun" is callous and disrespectful. I speak as a former reporter and journalism major who cares about the reputation and ethics of my profession.

xmas
xmas

 @smdrpepper

 I understand this but it also draws attention to the legends and then more people come down and harrass us.

JamesMadison
JamesMadison topcommenter

 @mjohns2 , it is the new RFT. Mock what is different. Do not confuse journalism and reporting with what the RFT is doing. The RFT is only entertainment catering to a smaller and smaller crowd of adolescents.

 
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