A Christmas tale: How ‘Santa’ ended up buried in St. Louis

1900 SantaEarly on Christmas morning, in the year 1900 in the city of St. Louis, an old man with a long gray beard and shoulder-length hair wandered north on North Grand Avenue, leaning on a cane as a brisk cold wind stung his face and whipped his coat.

Sitting at the front window of 3615 North Grand the home of butcher Edward Ladain and his wife, Lulu  seven-year-old Elizabeth watched the old man with growing amazement.

Who would be outside on such chill morn were it not Santa Claus himself, weary from a night of hard toil and on his way home?

Little Elizabeth and other children in the house  their names lost to history  opened the door, and invited Santa inside to warm himself.

As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, then an afternoon newspaper, recounted in a story published Dec. 25 (“Mistook Him for Old Santa Claus“): “The old man paused, then he entered. He mumbled something and shivered with the cold.  The children bade him be seated before the big fire in the grate. He looked with vacant eyes at the demonstration of his little hosts. He could not divine the cause. It was so different from the other receptions he had had.”

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