Or How a Little 5-year-old Boy Raised a Commotion in the Police Department

This may be the earliest reference to the St. Louis neighborhood of Dogtown

The Missouri Republican
August 14, 1889

Special thanks to Martin Fischer for this find.

Arthur Ross is the name of very small boy, not more than 5 years of age, who has a very vivid imagination and not a very broad or sweeping respect for the truth, as the following statement of his remarkable doings yesterday will show. The boy's father, is a mechanic works and lives in the southwestern suburbs near Cheltenham. He separated from his wife a short time ago, and since then Mrs. Ross and her 5-year-old have been living in the classic precincts of Dogtown, near Cheltenham. About 8 o’clock yesterday afternoon Patrolman Dillon saw a little boy with a dirt-begrimed face at Union Depot, crying as though he were in great distress. The officer concluded that the boy was lost and began to question him.

The little boy stated between his sobs that he that he stole a ride on the Kirkwood train from Cheltenham because his father had killed his mother. This bit of information startled Officer Dillion and he lost no time getting the boy up to Capt. Joyce’s office at the Central Station. There the boy made the same statement and spoke in such a serious and unaffected manner that some importance was attached to his story. He said he saw the killing, and gave a graphic description of it in an apparently innocent and artless manner. He told in a lisping, childish way that his father came home drunk, and after quarreling with his mother, picked up a big knife and killed her.

The mounted police station were informed of the little fellow’s statements without delay and in a few minutes the boy was on his way to the mounted station in a patrol wagon. He was received there by Capt. Fruchte and though subjected to a rigid cross-examination stuck to his story.

Sgt. Keeble, one of the mounted sergeants, happened to call up from the Cheltenham box when the boy was in the station, and Capt. Fruchte told him to lose no time investigating the story. The sergeant found the boy's father working in a fire-brick yard, and told him the story his child had given the police. He said it was preposterous, and told the sergeant that although he did not live with his wife, he would go with him to the house and convince him that she was alive and well. They did this and found Mrs. Ross at work in the back yard of her cottage, washing clothes. She looked strong and healthy, and there was no sign of blood anywhere about her or the house. She said she could not account for her little boy’s sensational story. She said he was too young to concoct such a story himself, and gave it as her opinion that somebody had prompted him.

When the child was reprimanded by the police for circulating such a story, he shut his fist, assumed a Sullivan position and started in to whim the captain, sergeants and everybody else present.

His face was thoroughly cleansed by a turnkey and he was then sent home with the understanding that his jacket would be well dusted if he ever told another cock-and-bull story to the police.


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Bob Corbett corbetre@webster.edu