Home » Episodes » Episode 1 – St. Louis, MO & Colorado Springs, CO (The Morbid Curious)

This week, join Emily and Rachel as they talk about their hometowns of St. Louis, MO and Colorado Springs, CO. Spend a little time getting to hear them working through their Type 3 anxiety or just skip right to the horrible. Rachel covers the double-murder of the Burnham Family and Wayne Family in 1911, and Emily covers the Great Fire of 1849. 

Content/Trigger Warnings: child abuse, sexual assault 


Rachel 0:15
Okay, so take a breath.

Emily 0:21
And now a drink of wine.

Rachel 0:23
Yeah, yeah, Oh, hi. Hi. Hi.

Emily 0:29
Welcome to horrible history. I’m Emily Balean.

Rachel 0:32
And I’m Rachel Everett-Lozon.

Emily 0:34
And we are overachievers with anxiety as you just heard, who are way too invested in all things horrible. And since we can’t travel right now, thank you COVID. We’re gonna take each other on a podcast journey into places we’d like to go. And of course, all the absolutely horrible, tragic and traumatic things that happened there in the past.

Rachel 0:57
We are going to be doing deep dives into things you won’t read in the travel brochures, trigger warning, we talk about horrible shit. And we like the word fuck. So if that’s not your thing, this isn’t the podcast for you.

Emily 1:10
But honestly as overachievers it will devastate us if you don’t like us. Cheers said Hi, girl. Do you want to you know, tell the good people about your fabulousness?

Rachel 1:21
Yeah, of course. So I am a full time mom and marriage and family therapist. I honestly cannot remember what kinds of things I used to like before COVID. But now I’m pretty much a hermit. I like to bake and hang out with my rescue pups and my feral toddlers and I binge on a steady diet of true crime and Paw Patrol. Emily?

Emily 1:42
I am by day and internal communications and change management consultant. And like Rachel by night, I am a hermit who likes to bake and cook. And you know even more so, drink wine and or coffee. Actually no, not together, wine or coffee together. Never together. I do not have feral toddlers. But I do have two cats named Cali and Cheddar who I’m sure will make appearances at some point. And I grew up in small town Nebraska. So I could drive legally drive a tractor before I could drive a car because you know, literally I had a license to drive a tractor when I was 13. Because you can get this special like help your data with farming license. And I couldn’t drive til I was 14.

Rachel 2:30
They make special licenses for like teenagers who were not mature enough to drive but they’re, they’re saying here’s this heavy machinery Yes, go forth. And don’t let anyone actually a farm is probably a really good place to learn to drive.

Emily 2:45
I’m not kidding when I learned to parallel park. I’m really good at parallel parking first of all. Brag. Humblebrag not so humblebrag

Rachel 2:54
Hashtag Humblebrag

Emily 2:55
But I learned to parallel park my dad just parked two grain trucks like the appropriate amount away from each other in a field and gave me his like beater shit pickup truck. It was like just go practice and I hit shit. Like I hit things several times. But I learned and because I wasn’t afraid. And it was awesome.

Rachel 3:16
I don’t have any farming stories. Because I grew up in the suburbs. I did date this guy for a while in my 20s he was like, like the kind of guy we all day in our 20s talking about. But so we well, I bought this car and it was like a piece of shit $400 car on Craigslist. And he was like, I can fix it. I can fix it. I was like, great, because it didn’t go but he made it go which was cool. What I didn’t realize until later was going to be a huge issue was that it was a stick shift. And I did not know how to drive a stick shift. I was like 2 3and he was not a good teacher. And this was like pre sold after age. So I was like not a very patient person, especially when I was feeling super anxious and really frustrated. And so the reason I learned how to drive is that we had a party at our house. Do you remember parties before COVID I don’t miss them but I do. I kind of do and so like everybody got drunk and I really wanted a breakfast burrito that’s like my go to hangover care at least it was in my 20s now it’s like all the Tylenol I’m allowed to take and like three days in bed but like when I was 23 it was like a greasy breakfast burrito and a date. And so nobody would wake up because we had like people crushing on our couch. Nobody would wake up to take me to get a breakfast burrito. So it’s like, so I like got into my six shafted like jolted like Herky jerky all the way. a burrito never tasted so good.

Emily 4:49
That is a really good reason to learn how to drive. Thank you. For my entire high school career. I insisted I didn’t drive a stick shift but I insisted that I knew how because I had watched I’m one on TV, explain it to someone else on TV. And I was like, I get it like I get the basics. And that is the epitomitely… Epitome Epitome. That’s the epitome of the title of this episode. intimately, intimately. That’s like me in a box, like overly confident, but not at all good.

Rachel 5:23
Yeah, like worried all the time. But also like putting on that front. Have I got this? Is that just a type three, like, stereotype that we all feel?

Emily 5:35
I think so. I mean…

Rachel 5:37
Or is it just human experience? It could be either or? Yeah, write us on our Instagram and tell us if you also are anxious, but want people to think that you’re not at horrible history pod on Instagram. There’s a picture of us, Cuba, white girls doing a true crime podcast. It’s not it’s a novel idea. I know. I know. It’s, it’s brand new. It’s brand new. So but in this one, Emily, and I just decided we didn’t put this in our written out intro, but that we should throw it out there. We were both born in 1987. So we decided that in order to make it history, for now, at least, we will only be doing stories pre 1987. Pre our birth year. So that is what makes it history.

Emily 6:29
Right? Because I literally googled what counts as history. And it said like before, what was it like, waking memory or something like that? Like,

Rachel 6:39
It sounded incredibly profound?

Emily 6:41
Yeah, it really did.

Rachel 6:42
But I mean, you texted me that when I was on the toilet, and I was like, This is way too profound for me to be reading at this moment, and really like soaking it in this way that it needs to be soaked in.

Emily 6:56
Maybe don’t say soaked, you’re talking about sitting on the toilet.

Rachel 7:02
I mean, speaking of horrible, maybe we should just like stop sharing too much information and get to the fucking horrible. Are you ready to hear my story?

Emily 7:12
I am so ready to hear your story like I am. Okay, guys. First of all, I am not good at keeping secrets. And so in a type in a type a type three moment, I made a Google history or a Google Doc folder, and put in it like, you know, an episode tracker and a Google Doc that has my script in it. And Rachel, of course, goes in and like starts reading it and sees what my story is. And I was like, but you you are good at keeping it under wraps. And I have no idea like, you know what my story is, but I only know where your story is. So I’m so excited.

Rachel 7:51
That’s true. I didn’t read your story. I only saw the title and then was like, Oh, fuck, she doesn’t want me to read this. I did. Scroll down to the end because you put a cute little closing in there. And I just I like to be prepared. I like to be prepared. But I am so excited. And speaking of too much information. I mean, that is essentially what this kind of podcast is. It’s like we’re all fucking rubbernecking. Horrible things like, what was that? I have to see it. And it somehow makes our experience as humans seem safer, or? I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m sure there’s some psychology behind it that I probably should know.

Emily 8:32
I can’t decide if I love it. Because my parents think that I’m like, fucked up. Because

Rachel 8:37
Oh, mine too.

Emily 8:38
I talk about true crime and murder and crime. And I know like obscure facts about serial killers and stuff. And they’re like, maybe tone it down. I mean, I fall asleep to like dateline podcast. And so they think I’m gonna be a serial killer. Lester Holt is incredibly soothing.

Rachel 8:53
voices are like butter.

Emily 8:55
I love them. Josh Mankiewicz oh my gosh, like even more so come on. Is it because it’s just fucking fascinating? Or is it because it makes me feel like, Okay, I’m at least slightly prepared. I know, some red flags to to look for like, I don’t know, there has to be some like deep psychological component here.

Rachel 9:17
I think it’s both. And I really like that it doesn’t make sense. Like, with what I do as a therapist, it’s a lot of like, when my clients talk to me, and they tell me their shit. It makes sense to me. I had a grad school professor who said constantly, we don’t do nothing for nothing. Right? Like, there’s a reason our behaviors they have meaning they’re logical. So when people are like, I don’t know what the fuck I would have. Why would I do this? And I’m like, Well, obviously because you were anxious or you were feeling depressed or whatever. Like, there are reasons right? At least for people who come to therapy. Usually there are reasons for serial killers. Not so much like there’s no predictable pattern. There’s no reasons and like, other than that, like triangle, you know? Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Which, by the way, when you have toddlers, so I have a three year old and, and a two year old and a friend of mine, we like to call them tiny Ted bundys. Because it’s like, they’re Sour Patch Kids. Like, they make no sense. They’re just like, totally happy at one moment and totally, you know, not at the next. So the triangle is horrible when you have toddlers, because your toddlers are always bumping their heads. Always, like you saw my daughter, my two year old when you were here with a big ass bruise on her forehead. She keeps bumping your head in that same spot. It’s like a perpetual bruise. And so I’m just kind of like, and my husband is not super into serial killers or true firemen. So I’m like, he’s more worried about it, like a traumatic brain injury. And I’m like, Look, it’s not gonna be a TBI. I’m more like, should I be worried that she’s going to be a serial killer. And same thing with my son, my tiny Ted Bundy, right? Who just like, he’ll be so snuggly and so sweet. And then he’ll just like walk up to her, his sister who just built this like amazing tower and just be like, punch it. Just like, walk away and she’s crying. And she’s like, like, seriously, like, drops to her knees, like hands up in the air. She’s very dramatic. I love it. She’s so dramatic. It’s the best. I mean, no judgement, that girl is going to run the fucking world one day. But my son, and then I’m like, buddy, like, why did you do that? And he just looks at me and shrugs and kind of smiles. And occasionally he’ll be like, also, I’m like, with the bed wetting… And like everybody thinks fires are kind of cool. Like, when should I be concerned? You’re like, well, he led a fire. And then he went to bed and then he pushed his sister down. What do I do? I mean, like, if it’s not down a flight of stairs, I think I’m probably safe. Right?

Emily 11:58
I think you’re good. I have not seen any signs of serial killer ness in either of your children.

Rachel 12:03
Thank you.

Emily 12:04
More Vera than Lincoln. I’m not gonna lie.

Rachel 12:08
She is very smart. Yeah. And I think that’s the scary thing. She outsmarted me yesterday. Oh, which I was like, how was it yesterday, Saturday, maybe Saturday, I had a very full day of clients. And I was just feeling I mean, I’m sure this is no surprise to anyone. But the common theme in my sessions right now is like everybody’s burnt out because a fucking COVID myself included. And so then I’m like, Okay, I’m just going to take a minute, I’m going to go and I’m going to sit in bed. My husband had the kids, it’s going to be fine. Veera got up the stairs, and we have a child lock on our bedroom door. Not so much for privacy more because Lincoln was sneaking in there and like finding my makeup and making drawings on our bathroom vanity. It’s like, huh? But so Veera is like begging screaming bloody murder for like, five minutes, and I’m just like, she’s gonna get tired. She’s totally gonna get tired. And she didn’t. And so I was like, so I finished a different True Crime podcast, and open the door. And she immediately just drives her tears. They go, come downstairs, mommy. And she extends her little hands. And I’m like, she is an evil genius. So yeah, I mean, I’m pretty sure. I know, female serial killers are rare. But it’s either gonna be like a serial killer or a CEO. And I hope she goes to the CEO route because I think she would be amazing.

Emily 13:30
Yeah, for sure. I think all toddlers have that little like, they’re like pushing it right. Like, how far can I take?

Rachel 13:39
Yeah, well, and the therapist in me knows it’s normal. But then the other side of the therapist did me is like this is why only see adults. toddlers. Yeah, they don’t blink they see right into your soul. Oh, they’re creepy, but not they’re very loving and very sweet. I should rephrase that. But they also will just sneak up. Sneak right up in in when you’re sleeping when you don’t have a child lock on your door. And then they won’t say anything. And you wake up and you’re like, Look, it’s three in the morning and they’re just dead eyes.

Emily 14:13
They’re just so creepy. I love it. Also, it’s so easy. They’re just like unabashed, right, like they’re just like, I’m gonna do whatever the fuck I want. I’m gonna walk around this house naked if I want to like I’m gonna do well. Yeah, ever. I wish I could go back to being that confident. I’m not gonna lie.

Rachel 14:29
Yeah, me too. And we try to be very, like very body positive in this house, too. Because I don’t want like, my weird like, I’ve had babies. I’ve had surgery shit to make my kids think that they should be ashamed of their bodies. Right? And so it’s lots of talks about like, Mama, you don’t have a penis and I’m like, that’s accurate. You are right, sir.

Emily 14:55
Oh my goodness. There’s so it’s just precious and like other things. I’m so awkward.

Rachel 15:02
It’s, it’s so awkward. And you know, we talk about clothes because like Lincoln is very tall, very thin. And I don’t want him to get a complex because he already, he’s just very picky when it comes to eating, and so his pants, like will fit right in the waist, but they’re a little bit short. And when we switch to a size up, they’re very big. And so we we call it Lincoln sized, like it’s the perfect size for Lincoln. It’s not like, oh, you’re too big for that, or you’re too small for that. It’s like, well, this isn’t Lincoln size, and let’s find something that is so that’s kind of like my weird workaround.

Emily 15:34
I love that. I’m going to start calling things Emily-sized. I mean, I think it’s really good for our mental health, right?

Rachel 15:41
Like this doesn’t fit me it’s just not Rachel size.

Emily 15:43
I never could understand. So I’ve had body issues and like body dysmorphia and body like, you know, I always think that I’m way heavier than I am and like I go up and down all this garbage. But like, I think until I was probably 30 I just thought like, I have to be a size eight. Like I need to be this specific size. Like I want to be this specific weight on the scale, you know, that kind of a thing. And the older I get the more I’m like, I want to be confident I want to be healthy. I want to be able to look in the mirror and see something that I like you know, but if that’s a size 14 like cool, I would rather wear a 14 that fits and makes me look good. then squeeze into a 10 and have muffin top you know,so nobody likes muffin top. No one else knows besides is on the inside of your pants.

Rachel 16:41
Well, nobody’s like . Excuse me, Miss Barlean. But can I check the tag on those jeans to make sure that it’s single digits? Because if it’s not we’re no longer friends.

Emily 16:50
I mean, unless you’re what’s the guy from the Silence of the Lambs? Who’s like are you about a 14

Rachel 16:57

Emily 16:58
Buffalo Bill!! Yes. Oh my gosh, so no one else should care. Yeah, he was horrible.

Rachel 17:03
now in last year gonna fucking lock people in a well and try to wear their clothing. Maybe skin? Woman suit talking again? Oh, he’s not from Colorado Springs. It all comes back around. Okay, yes,

Emily 17:18
I think we should dive in. Like the thing with Rachel and I is that we could, we could talk forever. So let’s get to the horrible we absolutely could.

Rachel 17:27
Yeah, we have one more thing to say you can cut it out if it’s an interesting 100%. But Emily and I went to college together. That’s how we know each other. And we had mutual friends and we knew each other. And we hung out a few times, but never went on one. And then we rekindled at a friend’s wedding. And we realized that we both are pretty much the exact same person. And we are like sharing a brain. And we decided, let’s start this podcast because we are fucking bored. You guys. It’s quarantine. And if we keep baking, nobody’s going to fit into a size 14 maybe ever again. Baking a medium. Oh my god. Emily sent the most adorable, most beautiful care package to the point where my parents come over on Sunday night dinner. They’re part of our COVID bubble and they watch our children. Not that we go on date nights, but like I take Lincoln to speech. That’s like my one out of the house weekly situation. But so my parents are like, we had everything set out Robert and I because we didn’t want to eat it all. And they were like, Oh my God. And I was like you have to try the cranberry bread. And they’re like, yeah, okay, and they were like, Oh my God. And I was like, fun fact, that got delayed in Omaha that is six days late. And they were like our guests. They didn’t say fucking kidding. My parents don’t say fuck, well, my dad does with my mom. But my mom was like, Are you kidding me? She goes, you better get that recipe. I said, Mom, I already did. And she goes, make it for Thanksgiving. Okay, this is where I’m going to get back into it. I’m calling it so we’re gonna get to the horrible. I’m calling it. So we can’t travel due to COVID, obviously, but the premise of this podcast, like we said at the intro is that we’re going to take you to places that we want to go. But since we’re all stuck at home right now, we thought it’d be fun to start in our hometowns. So I consider Colorado Springs as much of a hometown as I’m ever going to get. I don’t know if I’ve ever actually told you anything about like how long I’ve been in Colorado Springs. I don’t think my family actually moved here. In the early 2000s. I was a junior in high school. So I was only here for two years before I went to college. I have never been angrier at my parents. Maybe in my early 20s but not up until that point. I hated this boring ass town with all of my 16 year old hormonal rage like and we moved here from Texas like I had a big friend group and a boyfriend and then one day I just like came Came home. And all of the lights were off. And I have identical twin brothers who are like three years younger than me. And so they would have been like 13 ish at this time. And I walk in and my parents are sitting at the kitchen table. Everything is fucking dark. My brothers are nowhere to be seen. They’re silent and no, they’re home. I came home from my boyfriend’s house or wherever I was. And I walk in. And most people would be like, who died but because we had moved Colorado was the seventh state I had lived in by the time I was 16. And so I was aware we’re moving. So I was so mad. However, over the last couple of decades, I’ve kind of been sucked back in, like, you know, that way that when you are cooking lobster, you slowly turn up the heat so it doesn’t know what’s going on. And then boom, all of a sudden, you drive a minivan and you live in the fucking suburbs. And now I’m into it.

Emily 20:56
You just blink and oh my god, I have a 401k.

Rachel 21:03
Let me do my main source for this book, or for the story. It’s a book called The Man from the train as solving of a century old serial killer mystery by Bill James and Rachel McCarthy. James. I also got information from an article from the Colorado Springs Gazette, which is still our local newspaper. Yeah, girl, but it’s from September 21 1911. So, Emily, Let me paint you a word picture. Okay. It is Wednesday, September 20 1911. In Colorado Springs, Colorado. The quaint house at 321 westdale. Street was quiet it’s a woman approached. It was the sister of the occupant may Alice Burnham her name the sister’s name was Nettie Ruth. Neti, Neti, it’s not a great 1911 809 1011 It’s so nice. You love it. Anyway. So Nettie in May had been working on a sewing project together. And she was really surprised because may didn’t answer the door. It’s about to get way less precious. Spoiler alert. It’s a horrible story. It’s the name of this podcast. He should have read the cliff notes. It’s gonna be fine. So may didn’t answer the door and that surprise, Nettie. The house was locked. The blinds were drawn. There was a grocery bill tacked to the front door. Apparently, they used to just like show up and give you a bill in 1911. I don’t really know. Nettie thought maybe her sister was visiting a neighbor because they were really close with some of their neighbors. So Nettie checked and the neighbor said she hadn’t seen me for days, but she did have a key to her house. netease brother, mommy’s husband, AJ was staying at the sanatorium due to tuberculosis, which I’ll get into a little bit later. So Nettie called the sanatorium. He said he had not been home for a week. But like I said, nice neighbor. I saw her name and like one place, it’s not incredibly important to the story. But she had a key to the Burnham house. So Nettie and the neighbor Get inside. They see that the house is exactly you really like it had been on Sunday night when it was last there because they were working on that sewing project.

Emily 23:10
Why is that almost scarier?

Rachel 23:12
It is way scarier.

Emily 23:13
It’s like everything’s pristine. It’s like that cup is still there. That would freak out.

Rachel 23:18
Yes. Like there’s no smell of death. There’s no like, weird robbery situation. It’s just exactly the same. So they walk in dishes from Sunday night’s dinner are still on the table. seconds after walking into this home. The two women run screaming into the street. Again before I tell you what they find trigger warning, if you have not already got that from the name of this podcast. What the fuck are you doing? Get out of here. Okay, so inside. Like, listen, it’s not great. Inside the house. They find the dead bodies of malice Burnham and her This is the triggering part her two kids her two little babies. JOHN, who was three years old, and Nelly who is six years old. It’s awful. Yes. Like, it’s like the worst. I can’t. Like why kids 100% like three years old is the age of my son. Horrible. It’s completely horrible. And that’s what makes it so fascinating. Right? Like who can do that? Okay, sorry. I’m gonna Yes, like who could do. All three of them. All of their skulls had been crushed with the blunt side of an axe. Man john had been killed in their sleep. Nellie, the six year old may have woken up or her body was moved after her death. Police. Police at the same live later described the perpetrator as a quote, moral pervert, which probably means what we all think it means and I couldn’t find any more details than that. We’re talking summary we’re talking some rape or more likely from I’ll get into a little bit later some like killing and then like celebrate Tory disgusting masturbation. Oh, yeah. So what else the police found there was like a bowl of bloody water where the murder had probably washed his hands and there was a little pile of ashes in front of the stove that almost looked like maybe he was gonna try to burn the house down but like maybe not suck at it. I mean, it’s 1911 they don’t fucking know, like forensics are not amazing. He’s like, still trying to rub sticks together. Like how do you do this? He’s got like two stones. He’s just like this. There’s also I didn’t put this in my notes here, but I think I put it somewhere later. In the Burnham house, he had knocked over an ink like a jar of ink because they didn’t have you know, like Sharpie pens, like I like to use and left a fingerprint, or a couple of fingerprints around two, which of course in 1911 doesn’t really matter. So, of course, there’s police. So they’re swarming the scene and hundreds of looky loos, the article I found from the Gazette calls these people the morbid curious and I was like I call them looky loos my new podcast name called more curious, so morbid. Hashtag morbid curious. So the morbid curious, are all gathering in front of the home. It’s basically like, it’s 1911 there’s nothing to do. Everybody comes out of their house and is looking at what’s going on. And then all of a sudden, people realize that the house next door to the Burnham home is totally silent. So, uh huh. Police knock on the door. There is no answer. The screen door had been cut open. Sounds familiar. And inside, the police found three more victims. It is Henry Wayne. His wife Blanche Wayne, and their two year old daughter. They had all been murdered with you guessed it the blunt end of annex. Uh huh. And the bloody axe was resting against their house. The wainhouse is not fucked up to just leave the murder weapon there.

Emily 27:19
He’s like here’s some fingerprints. And also here’s my murder weapon. Come at me bitches

Rachel 27:24
cuz it’s 1911 we don’t even care. So like I said, AJ Burnham who is my husband, he was at the sanatorium when Nettie called. He was.

Emily 27:36
I thought you said my ex husband.. I was like

Rachel 27:44
Yes, my ex husband from 19. So like, obviously we know the husband always does it. So he was arrested immediately. Quick, fun fact, about the late 1800s and early 19 hundred’s fucking everybody had tuberculosis. That’s hyperbole. But they thought that then it’s, it’s another pandemic, except for COVID I don’t think makes you like shit yourself until you die, but tuberculosis. But for whatever reason, like people around that time, were like, okay, we don’t have any treatments for this. So what we’re going to do is just move to the mountains and maybe the fresh mountain there will make people feel better. And so Colorado at that point was called the world sanatorium, which is like an appraiser ever. Come here, sick people. They really won’t put that on the travel brochure. My goodness, though, it sounds like they maybe did. I mean, they totally they were like, Come here, you can live in Manitou, and be in the mountains. Yeah. But regardless, he Burnham he had an airtight alibi because he had TB, the sanatorium. So not only was he there with witnesses for a week straight, but he was too sick to have killed anybody. And then he actually died of TB like a few months after his family was murdered. So like, not a great couple of months for AJ Burnham. So Colorado Springs. It’s bigger now. But it was not huge. It was like a small mining community like a little town by a railroad tracks back then. So the local police called the Pinkerton agency in Denver to investigate the crime. And the Denver Chief of Police also volunteered all of his men they put together they didn’t call it this in the book they said it would now be called a task force which I like test. Joining Denver resources in Colorado Springs. We need to get some sound effects in here.

Emily 29:46
Oh, we’ll get them. I just go crazy. There’s like “ba-ding-ding-be-shing!” after every single thing.

Rachel 29:54
Please do. But the leader of the Pinkerton team was this man Should you not his name was pretty man. I could not find a first name but his name was PR e TT y. Ma n. Man pretty man. I tried so hard to look up photos of this guy to see if he is in fact a pretty man. There were no pictures. No, but I googled him to see if he was in fact a pretty man. Nothing. fucking nothing. So I’m going to picture him as like a young mustachio Jason momoa that’s a pretty man. That is a pretty man.

Emily 30:32
What do you like? Like Game of Thrones? Jason momoa. Wait, that’s just my mo right? No, yeah, it is okay. him like they’r Khal Drogo or like, long hair more like actions movies.

Rachel 30:48
like Aqua man. Yeah, I do. I like the ponytail. And I have to picture him with like a thick, early 1900s mustache, because that’s what all of the hot dude had in the early 1900s. Now, don’t do it. Please don’t grow a mustache. My rule of thumb for whether or not you should grow facial hair. If your facial hair is the same texture and consistency of your pubic hair? The answer is no. You showed that girl any sort of facial hair? Nope, can’t do it. Don’t do it. So anyway, pretty man slash Jason momoa. With a mustache, he thought that a murder like this would have had to have left behind some sort of clue. So remember, this is two families. The thought is that the family that was discovered first was actually killed second, because that’s where the imprint was. But the Bronx was at the second house. Right, which is weird, but they’re right next door to each other. So the killer had knocked over the ink and the Burnham house and left the fingerprint. So the book said a Kansas fingerprint expert, which I’m pretty sure is an early 1900s forensic scientists use a fingerprint expert. Yeah, so we took pictures of them and there were fingerprints on the x and the metal basin that he washed his hands with but like no luck. Um, the Burnham’s the second fam, or the First Family I described with the mom and two kids. They lived in a modest home like not a huge home, but it had a spare bedroom that they would occasionally rent out like an early 20th century Airbnb. So of course, all the ladders for now suspects but like, there was no evidence, the task force didn’t find anything. May Alice Burnham also had some sort of like, questionable relationship with an ex boyfriend, who also didn’t seem to have any connection to the case. But of course, because she’s a lady and ladies don’t get rights in the 20th century, maybe the end. Still, it’s 2020 What the fuck pass the same. Okay. But like, of course, like this poor woman’s personal life that had nothing to do with her murder still ended up in the newspapers. And it was like all of this gossip but no convicting Evidence the Case goes cold. So it’s over 100 years later, and this case has still never been officially solved until tonight. This is the first podcast and we’re not going to I wrote we’re not going to let our mouths write checks that our detective abilities can’t cash, which is actually a tongue twister. When I’m ready to get back it is not as funny as I originally thought write on paper looks really good. It looks really good until I try to say it on my second glass of wine. And then I’m like, wait a minute. Why? But the authors of that book bill James and Rachel McCarthy, James, do you have a theory about a suspect? So I want to get into it. I love a good theory. I do too. And this one seems to have some weight behind it. So between 1890 and 1912, there were a surprisingly high number of unsolved family murders, especially when you consider most families are murdered by someone they know, not some random traveling x man in the middle of the night. They also it’s usually like family murders or like family Annihilators, which is kind of a different thing because they don’t always kill themselves. Or like midday, like somebody just walks in the house because they know them, they let them but the James has think that it was a serial killer that committed 14 family murders totaling 59 victims. And those are like the ones that are pretty sure about and probably also another 25 family murders totaling an additional 94 victims Holy shit. So here’s some similarities of all of these murders, including the two that I just talked about, but this was his only double, all across the US between 1890 and 1912. a family’s murdered in the beds. The family lives within walking distance of the railroad tracks. The crime occurs near midnight. The deaths are caused by the blood side of an axe. The crime occurs in or near a small town with little or no regular police presence. There is no clear motive robbery or suspect

Emily 35:00
It’s like, he’s some homeless guy riding the train. And he probably goes into their houses because he’s like, need some food and wants to like, chill for a second. And then he has to kill the family, obviously, because he, they’re gonna freak out when they find them. They’re you and he’s so dirty.

Unknown Speaker 35:17
Yes, he’s very good. Have you read this book like you’re getting, you’re absolutely getting it right and there’s fucking more like, as if that wasn’t enough, I didn’t even get into this particular motherfucker is like idiosyncrasies like just for him. So not only were there like all of those similarities and the depth of a talent, but the killer frequently moved or stage bodies of young girls often masturbating near them, while the rest of the family members were left untouched after death, pulled blankets over the victims heads before they were attacked, as well as covering them with a cloth postmortem covered windows and mirrors with class moved lamps and left them burning, locked or jammed doors shut after the murders to keep people from discovering the crime and then snuck out of a fucking window.

Emily 36:06
So this same like kind of pattern was followed in all like 90 150 whatever murders, holy cow,

Rachel 36:15
yeah, what did they call it? It’s like a serial killers Mo, it’s fucking mo and it’s the same, but remembering like, this is 100 years ago, and there’s very little communication, you have to like send a pigeon between police jurisdictions, smoke signals well, and there’s like this human nature thing that’s not just 100 years ago, it’s also now where like, we would rather believe that we can catch somebody and punish them for something terrible they do, then that like there’s just this crazy murder of going from town to town, escaping by train before anybody even realizes what happens and then popping up unexpectedly, maybe in your town, because that means it could happen to you.

Emily 36:52
There’s too much vulnerability to that, like you have to find a better outcome because it’s like, I don’t want to think that I could be next. I think you

Rachel 37:02
No, I mean, 100% like, and that’s what’s so scary as this could happen to you. It’s the reason I couldn’t watch anything on the Golden State killer until after he was killed because that motherfucker

Emily 37:15
After he was caught, yeah,

Rachel 37:17
I mean, yes. Did I say killed?

Emily 37:19
Yeah, girl wishful thinking

Rachel 37:21
Cuz I meant caught. You got me. I mean, he’s old now he’s gonna die in jail. But like, the idea of the amount of psychological like, sociopathy, I don’t even know to be not only raping and killing women, but making their partners just stay there and listen, and not move. And it’s just, it’s horrible. It’s the worst.

Emily 37:46
It’s like total helplessness. And I think especially, I mean, you’re the one with a degree in psychology whatever. But, uh, I, I just feel like that is such a man’s desire, right to be the protector to protect their family and provide for their family. And so it’s such a mindfuck like, it’s like, pick the one thing away from you that you want more than anything? Well,

Rachel 38:11
I mean, it’s like, I mean, this is a whole soapbox issue we can get into with another specific murderer or whatever. But it’s like the socialization of how men are shown that they’re worthy, right? Like, you need to be strong and you need to be a protector and a provider. And although like, we know now that like no, you actually don’t have to be and there are lots of other ways that you can meet a partner’s needs or a family’s needs. That’s been ingrained in their brains, you know, multi generationally. Yeah, so he, he took that from them. He took that safety from them, and it’s horrible, but other than Him, what kind of fucking sociopath or psychopath would do this going from town to town? Are you ready for the theory?

Emily 38:54
Oh, yeah, girl! Oh, yeah.

Rachel 38:57
So we’re gonna transport back in time even further. From 1911 Colorado to 1898 Massachusetts. Neighbors of a farmer Francis Newton were concerned when Newton’s cows you know about this Emily, you lived in Nebraska slash are visiting Nebraska for moving to to not be milked or fed. When they made their way neighbors were like, What the fuck are you doing with these cows? Because Newton apparently was like, I didn’t put this in here. But apparently he was like a really responsible dude like he had. He was pretty famous for how he was farming his cows, etc. So they go inside the house farm house, they find Francis Newton, his wife and his daughters all bludgeoned to death by the blood side of an axe. The murder had snuck out of the house through an open window and the doors were locked from the inside. It’s if it sounds familiar, it’s because it is. He also flung a kerosene lamp into the wood fireplace. But it didn’t burn.

Emily 40:01
He’s sucks at arson. Let’s just call it. Good at murder, bad at arson.

Rachel 40:09
Is that insensitive good murder bad at arson. But obviously missing from this scene is the Newton family farahan. farmhand Paul Mueller. So this was what the authors of this book think was this motherfuckers first murder. Oh,

Emily 40:30
you always your first is always somebody you know. Boom. I’m a detective.

Rachel 40:34
Yes, and you’re a little bit sloppier. That’s what they said. That’s part of the theory. That was like the right mo the right time. And it was by a train track and people saw him but let me I’m gonna get into that. So this motherfucker, Paul Mueller. He was probably about 35 years old and at 98 he was this was my favorite description of this guy. He was five four described as short and stout. With long dark greasy hair. This is my my writing style, not what I read in the book, but long dark greasy hair and Shaggy asked mustache. That’s mine. And occasionally a beard. It’s like sometimes he had a beard sometimes not so much just like a summertime beard. Yeah, you said a summer in the winter I mean a beard in the winter. Listen, this guy doesn’t know he’s like greasy. He’s most likely European. Probably German. He spoke with a heavy accent. This is the weirdest part and this is a quote from the book he had quote tiny widely spaced teeth. Why?

Emily 41:36
Okay, I’m trying I’m picturing them pointed as wrong. You mean just like they’re like just tiny gaps.

Rachel 41:43
extremely tiny little like Tic Tac teeth with like gaps in between.

Emily 41:49
Like when you get veneers and they shave your teeth down but like before they put them in Arizona.

Rachel 41:54
Exactly like that so like I’m picturing him this I couldn’t find pictures of him either. There’s like no drawings of this guy even though a bunch of different people describe him to the police. So I’m picturing him is like a very hung over greasy psychopathic like jack black but with worse teeth, right like jack black if he never has been to the dentist ever. No offense jack black. I know obviously, you’re listening to this podcast. I love you. Not this the best and the holiday. You are the sucking best, the most basic bits. Cut it out. Absolutely. So if we go with the theory that Paul Mueller was the serial killer that eventually killed these two families in Colorado, we can say his first murder was sloppier because he knew like he said Emily and notably disliked Frank Newton. However, some of his telltale idiosyncrasies that he would develop over time are present. The family was attacked while they were asleep. All the victims were hitting the head with an axe. The victim’s head were covered with class. This is terrible again, pre pubescent girls were left with their genitals uncovered. The axe was in the house in the first murder. It was left next to a little girl’s bed in the two murders from Colorado Springs. It was by the wing family’s house. And nothing significant was stolen. He sold like 40 bucks off of the Father has been in that house during Newton but nothing like crazy. All of his valuables was still there. Wow. So the last known us murder with this time period and mo was in September of 1912. almost a full year after the murders of the Burton family and the Wayne family in Colorado Springs. Most likely, Mueller either died or went back to Europe and continue to murder people, which is what the authors of the book think. Regardless, the murders in Colorado Springs have never been officially solved. Yes, so I would like to end my story with a quote of an article from the Colorado Springs Gazette from September 21 1911. So a day after all bodies were found. The quote says stories, some with merit and others without any foundation were flying thick and fast yesterday regarding the murder. A man would whisper some theory or repeat a rumor in the ear of a neighbor. And almost in an instant it would sweep over the crowd gathered in front of the homes and revert back to the man highly magnified. And if the same man after telling the tale would start for the city. He would be met with the same story going from mouth to mouth on the streets. And that my friend is how the morbid curiosity evolved in a couple of ladies doing this nightmarish podcast.

Emily 44:45
Oh my gosh, that is so creepy and just like I have such a picture of this guy like your description. Plus just my own brain going like ruin like going crazy with it is like I picture him and I can like see him. I maybe have seen an ID discovery about this. I’m not sure. It seems so bad that I’m like, maybe I watched something about this.

Rachel 45:10
But like, the man from the trains, like highly recommended book, I mostly read the chapters about like their theories about Paul Mueller with the first murder. And I read the I think the chapter is called, like the double event, which is the Colorado Springs one, but I just found it really fascinating. So I would highly recommend

Emily 45:27
And if you think about it, like if that’s all true, and he really did kill, what was the total it would have been, like you said, 50, and then maybe 90 something more, right. So 148. So like, somewhere? Yeah. Some individuals Yeah, between 125 150 people. It’s like, he could very well be one of the most prolific, prolific serial killers ever. Yeah, maybe he’s also the Zodiac.

Rachel 45:55
Maybe no the Zodiac was later.

Emily 45:58
Yeah. I don’t know what timing. Maybe when I get to that city will do that. That was so good. Oh, my gosh, that was horrible.

Rachel 46:12
It was awful. You are welcome. That’s awesome.

Emily 46:17
Okay. Well, it’s gonna be hard to follow that up. And actually, I I feel weird saying this, but this feels almost like a lighter. It’s like a lighter story, which is weird.

Rachel 46:30
So excited. I can’t wait to just like sit back and be told a horrible story. Like, this is my favorite

Unknown Speaker 46:36
GIrl. Okay, so I was laughing when I was listening to your intro because we’re such fucking similar people. So I was going to go ahead and start my story by telling you a little bit about how I came to live in exactly how you started your story. So my story, as Rachel kind of said, we’re starting this podcast by talking about our hometowns. Before we start our, you know, travels around the world. So like Rachel, St. Louis is not actually my hometown. I’m actually in my hometown right now, which is good old David’s city, Nebraska. 2500 people population. It’s not that exciting. So I’m going to tell you about St. Louis, because that is where my permanent addresses. I’m just here visiting right now. So that’s good. Let’s dive in. Okay, so I have lived in St. Louis for, I guess, almost 12 years now, which I would say is kind of like an unexpected place for me like it feels right now. But if you would have asked me in college, like when we first met each other, if I ever thought that I would live in St. Louis, I would have said like, what? No, of course not. Because I had never been to St. Louis before. And literally only made me driven through it one time, like once, what did you know about it? Other than the arch, I knew the arch. And I knew that my dad said that it was the most dangerous city in America, like I have to go there. Like it’s a bullshit statistic now that I know. But like, it does make that list most every year. So I just did that ever put myself in St. Louis. But Rachel and I were lucky enough to graduate in 2009. from college, and if you’re young, and you don’t know, 2009 was the great recession and jobs were hard to come by.

Rachel 48:35
If you’re curious about that, watch the movie The Big Short. And that’s why nobody could get a job when we graduated.

Emily 48:41
Exactly. And like I not to be a braggy. But like, I had almost a 4.0 in college. Like I started applying for jobs way before all my friends like I was motivated to get a job. And I got one. I got two interviews out of the like 50 job, things I applied for probably more. Two of them called me for interviews. One was in Lincoln, Nebraska, and one was in St. Louis, Missouri. And so I decided I’d go for both of them. And I applied, I did my phone interview with the one in St. Louis, and then went super well. And they asked me if I’d come out for an in person interview, which I was like, This is so exciting. Like, you know, when you’re blind to the actual, like, end results of what happens if this happens to you, but like, I was like, Yeah, get on a plane and go to a city and be a grown up or whatever.

Rachel 49:35
I mean, like you’re 22 like you don’t think about long term consequences. You just think likegirlfriend’s gonna get paid.

Emily 49:42
Gonna get a free fly. Yeah. So I’m sure I put on my best JC Penney’s, pant suit. And like, got on that Southwest flight and flew to St. Louis. And I get off the plane. And this was before Uber and so they had hired a cab to pick me up at the airport. The guy like how does little sign up that said, Emily bar lean on it? Oh my god, that’s so fancy. I love it. I know right? But it wasn’t a black card though. It was still a yellow cat, but

Rachel 50:11
I mean, fine. You’re halfway there to where you’ve made it at that point when it just got your name but it’s gonna yellow cap spelled wrong. No. It’s like Emily with an eye instead of a y you’re like what the fuck?

Emily 50:27
Oh my God in high school. I convinced my friends that my name was spelled Emma Ma Leigh. And she spelled that like that for like years. I’m like, You’re so stupid. But it’s like a stupid prank because why would you? Why would you second guess me when I told her how to spell my name anyway. Anyway, yeah. Okay.

Rachel 50:45
So we all have tiny sociopathic tendencies that start where we’re toddlers crushing it. And eventually sometimes stay with us until high school just to see what we could get away with. Huh? Please continue your story. I’m sure everything’s fine.

Emily 51:01
So I get into the cab. And I will distinctly remember driving down interstate 70 and interstate 70 Now I know is the interstate that goes like around the outside of the city as most big cities have like the like bypass to get from the airport to the downtown. I didn’t really know this when I flew in. And so I’m we’re driving through. Well, we’re not driving through but we’re on the interstate going past like industrial industrial gray building graffiti building. That smokestack with smoke pouring out of it, like just dismal looking shit. And I was like, I don’t think we’re in Seward, Nebraska anymore. I want to go home, I want to go home. And so we get off the interstate and get on to Jefferson Street, which is the street the company was on and again, it’s like boarded up house boarded up house broken window boarded up house car on cinder blocks, like, you know, the big, or the small little strip mall type places that have like the yellow and red signs, like dirt cheap cigarettes, you know? And I was like, Oh, my God, like, This is bad. Like, the only thing it says is pawn, and you’re like pawn What? Just pawn like, no. So we eventually pull up to the company, which is actually like a nice big brick building. And I go in and it’s, you know, it’s a nice place, I have my interview, I kill it, of course, because I need and they obviously offered me the job on the spot to wow there, which I had not gotten any other job offers. The other job I had applied for the one other job I interviewed for. I had recently found out I did not get so although I had no other prospects, I still said, Can I have a night to think about it? Like I just want to, it was a Christian company. And we went to a Christian college. And so I said, Can I pray on it tonight, which is so funny, because I would like never fucking say that in my life right now. But I asked them if I could pray on it. And then

Rachel 53:04
I would have said the exact same thing when we were 22…21. Somewhere in there. Right? We that’s a whole other issue. When we start talking about cults, you can cut that out.

Emily 53:14
We’ll get there. So we’ll get in there. So I asked them for a night to think about it. And they were very gracious. I’d like of course, of course, it’s a big decision, which is true, like I would be moving to a new city. And I’ll put the added caveat on to this that I literally didn’t know a soul in St. Louis. Like, I’d never been there. I didn’t know anyone that lived there. And from what I’d seen now, it was a garbage town. So I I walked down or took the elevator down and I went to the front desk after my interview and you know, ask them to call me a cab to get back to the airport. And I remember I was just like, you know, that like edge of tears feeling where your voice like wavers, and you’re like, I’m trying to be strong. I don’t want to cry in front of this, you know, receptionist woman, and I’m like, I’m going to go outside for my cab. And I remember I put on my like massive sunglasses because it was 2009. And we all were like fucking huge sunglasses. And I stood there on the corner and with my sunglasses on waiting for my cat just like tears pouring out my face. Because I was like, I do not want to move here. Like I don’t. Everything I’ve seen is horrible. Like, this. Job’s not great. But like, No, I can’t picture myself here. This is awful. And I remember gotten to the cab and I called my mom. And I was like crying on the phone. And I was like, This is so bad. You know, we talked about it. And inevitably, as I’m sure you’ll guess I did take the job and move to St. Louis. Oh my gosh, right. Moved to St. Louis. And this was you know, 12 years ago now. So apparently it worked out pretty well. I don’t work for that company anymore. But I have maintained a lovely life in St. Louis. It’s actually a gorgeous little place to live. Live Once you get off of the industrial side of town, there’s like, three museums and great restaurants. And it’s got that like, it’s still in the Midwest, but there’s 3 million people there. So it has like amenities met big city feel and so, I mean, it’s got the fucking arch. So come on, like that’s a modern architectural Marvel, right?

Rachel 55:21
Girl, you had me a free zoo. I’m into it.

Emily 55:23
Hey, have you ever been in the arch? By the way?

Rachel 55:27
I’ve not been you can go in the arch.

Emily 55:29
Yeah, girl.

Rachel 55:30
I seriously did not know that when COVID is over. I’m coming to visit you. I probably should bring my kids because of all the free shit to do. But like, right, we’ll leave the kids with my husband and your cats. And then you and I will.

Emily 55:43
I will say the arch experience is garbage. I built it up. It’s okay. So here’s the funniest thing so the art is the very best thing to look at in St. Louis. Right? Like it’s the only 100% St. Louis has a law that you cannot build a building taller than the arch because it has to be like cut out the big thing in the city. Right? So there guys scrapers like the arches, what you’re there to see. And yet people think let’s go up inside the arch to look out of the arch at the nothingness. You know, like at the river and the courthouse and, and the experience you you wait in line for two hours, probably you pay like $30 to wait in line for two hours. And then you get into this like egg shaped compartment that fits, quote unquote, five adults that you’re like, smashed in there. And it’s very claustrophobic. And then you go on this very slow like Click, click, click, click, click like ride. Arch. And it has to be a circle. That’s why it’s an egg because it like has to like go like spin. Yeah, like it has to fit up the arch. And then you get up to the top. And it’s like, a fucking like a herd of cows up there. Like everyone’s packed together. We’re talking cows, this episode, guys, all the cows, you have to fight to get to one of the windows. And the windows are like maybe the size of a shoe box. Oh my god. And so you take hours and hours to get up there. And then you look out the shoe box size window. And it’s like a dirty River. And like a residential looking. It’s so stupid. So

Rachel 57:17
I mean, can we get tacos after?

Emily 57:19
Yeah, we can get tacos.

Rachel 57:20
Then I’m in!

Emily 57:24
It’s a fun experience. So like say you’ve done it, you know, check it out the bucket list, but it’s not great. That all had nothing to do with my story. So it was a little narcissistic, tangent. Okay, I loved it. If you feel the need to cut it out. No, like, I’ve listened. I need people to know me. So I will say like, now I consider St. Louis to be a really great place to live. But damn if we do not have some horrible history girl like, I had spent way several options of things to choose from when I researched for, like horrible shit in St. Louis. We’re talking like serial killers happening there. Sarah, and St. Louis. We’re talking plane crashes. I found a factoid that once said that a governor of Missouri once told all the Mormons that they needed to leave the state or they’d be killed. Like, oh my god, straight up genocide. Yeah. And to top it all off the exorcist story that happened in St. Louis, like the Act, the actual thing that happened how no we did not. Yeah, like, go guy. I think he started in Massachusetts or something somewhere on the East Coast, the kid that was possessed, and then they brought him to St. Louis, because St. Louis has this like massive Catholic like hospital system and church. And there’s this lore that one of the buildings on the campus of the college that’s very Catholic, has an entire floor that is like sealed off because it houses, artifacts and files about the exorcism. And like the Vatican is like no one needs to access these or be around these hours, but the files, the files are haunted. I hope that’s true. That is really amazing. I almost did that one, but I did that. But what did you do? You have to tell me, I know now that I’ve talked for 37 minutes. Okay, so I decided to do something that I kept reading as a major contributor to what is commonly called the worst year in St. Louis history. And so I thought that sounded pretty on par for horrible history. And so today, I’m going to tell you the story. The Great Fire of St. Louis in 1849. Fuck yes, let’s hear it. And I won’t say after oceans like after the ocean fires I my next biggest fear like, I hate the ocean. I love like the beach, but I hate the deepness of the ocean. It freaks me out and then fires like I am the person who gets all the way to work and turns around to go home and check because I thought my I think my straighteners on and then like certain I’m gonna burn my house down and kill my cat like I do not like fire.

Rachel 1:00:09
Can we just talk about how terrifying The ocean is like we’ve explored most of the earth, not the ocean though it’s too deep. It’s too big. We don’t fucking know it’s down there I am with you that

Emily 1:00:20
is have you ever seen there’s like a graphic and it shows like the ocean and it has like here’s a person in here. So a whale and here’s how far down a human can swim and here’s how far down a submarine can swim. And here’s how far down the human has ever been in the ocean. And here’s the rest of the ocean. It’s like five times. And it’s like huge. I hate it. I hate it. Okay, now. So

Rachel 1:00:47
at some point, we’ll have to do an ocean story. My son is fucking obsessed with sharks. And he’s like, Mama watch Shark Week. And I’m like, cool, but I don’t want to. Okay, okay, you know what, it’s the same reason we love true crime.

Emily 1:01:03
So I’m gonna start by just like, I don’t know what the world looked like in the 1800s. Like, I didn’t really pay attention history class. So I’m an English person, people. So I, you know, I think of it in a certain way, like old timey and like old timey dress and stuff. But I’m gonna set the stage for you a little bit of what the world was like in 1849. So James, Paul was the president of the United States for the first time. All right, for the first couple of months. And then in March, Zachary Taylor took over in what I can assume is a more peaceful transfer of power than we’re experienced in 2020. Politics, okay. We’ll get there later. But surprisingly enough, also, in 1849, Elizabeth Blackwell became the very first female doctor in the United States, which seems super progressive, considering that James Polk was the first president to have his photograph taken. So like, what kind of impressed right. It’s almost like women have been capable so much longer than we’ve had, right? Oh, that’s amazing. Who would have thought there were some exciting inventions, you know, the safety pen was pin was invented. So there’s that Minnesota became a thing, which is exciting. And then, relevant to this story, regular steamboat service from the west to the east coast of the United States was established. And the Gold Rush began and yeah, so do you have a good picture of what the US look like in 1849? I gotcha. Good guy. Gotcha. So now we’re gonna flip up to may 17. On the calendar and we’re going to zoom in on good old St. Louis, Missouri. Okay, so may 17 1849, in Missouri, and St. Louis, is probably stupidly hot, because that is what St. Louis does in the summer, super humidity. There were more people in the city than normal, likely because of the gold rush. You know, you don’t the Oregon Trail when they’re like stock up on all of your goods before you leave New York or whatever, and head out

Rachel 1:03:26
before you get dysentery and die. Totally. That was like, for those of you born after the late 80s and maybe even into the 2000s I hope you listen and think we’re cool 20 somethings. We used to play a video game called the Oregon Trail and it was like our special treat in computer lab when we were learning Mavis beacon typing the 90s while we sound ancient,

Emily 1:03:49
is this sad? And we’re not only in our 30s Okay, so

Rachel 1:03:56
I mean, it depends on who you ask.

Emily 1:03:59
So in real life, that hub like was kind of St. Louis like it was the last big hub that could stop at on their way to California to get supplies was it already established, it was already established. It was like there, like 70,000 people there like it was a city or city goes back then. In fact, the population had recently increased by 375%. Which I would venture to guess is all the people who did half their trip to California and we’re like, fuck it. This is good enough.

Rachel 1:04:33
This is really hard, guys. I don’t want to travel by horse and buggy all the way out to California. All my oxen have died. I’m wearing too many layers. I can’t horses. And

Emily 1:04:48
so because of this St. Louis is in a pickle, right? So it’s still it was what like, probably a 4030 40,000 person, city and now all of a sudden that’s 75,000 people And there’s all these people coming through all the time, you know, on their way to California. And so their sanitation systems could not keep up. Their water systems could not keep up. And they’re slapping up these like wooden buildings all over the place because they need to build fast they need to like get people housing because there’s so many fucking people. And so they’re building up super close together on these narrow streets to accommodate for the growth side note, there was a massive cholera outbreak, not to bury the lead. But Sure, sure, yeah. No, huge cholera outbreak. I think it killed like 4500 people in St. Louis that year, so Oh my god, it was kind of shitty. There we go like cholera and then TV like six years. Literally, when you were telling your story. I was like, Why don’t our stories have all the same? Same. Has everything the disease? parable people? Yeah, gold rushes Hi, literally, my next line is like so it’s hot. It’s crowded. The sanitation system is so bad that trash and probably poop are flowing down the streets, which is only made worse by the fact that people have crazy color or diarrhea. Oh,

Rachel 1:06:12
yes. That diarrhea and both stories because we’re the same and also that history vicious. And I mean, if you can’t handle a little bit of diarrhea and people not bathing regularly, what are you doing studying history?

Emily 1:06:25
You don’t want to see poop floating down the street? Do not go back in time, okay?

Rachel 1:06:32
Is this morbid? Because like, I kind of do want to see like, I want to be safely in my house. It’s like, you know, when there’s a nice snow and I’m like, Look, I don’t want to drive in it. But I want to see it and have a cup of hot chocolate and turn on my fireplace. It’s like, I’d love to see shit in the streets. Like if it doesn’t actually.

Emily 1:06:51
That is very weird. No, I love it. I told

Rachel 1:06:55
Okay, nevermind. Everything’s good. You’re like, No, I don’t understand that at all. That’s so weird.

Emily 1:07:03
So basically, that’s a nice picture of what may 17 look like in St. Louis. And then around 9pm in the evening, something happened. So remember those lovely little steamboats that I mentioned before and how everyone was all excited, because they had these great new ways of transporting goods. And so if you don’t know geography very well, listener, St. Louis, I know it’s not you. I know Rachel knows geography.

Rachel 1:07:27
Like it’s not you. I’m like, you’re you’re showing all of that you’re poking holes in my intelligence. And like, Listen, I wasn’t about to let the listener in right now. But I’m here for it. So I appreciate.

Emily 1:07:38
So if you don’t know geography very well, St. Louis literally borders the Mississippi River. In fact, it’s kind of like split by the Mississippi River. There’s some city on the Illinois side and some on the Missouri side. So, and sorry, I don’t know why I’m giving this lesson. I don’t know this stuff very well. But like, it goes all the way down to the Gulf, right. So people can actually get from, you know, the West Coast and the East Coast up to St. Louis up the Mississippi River. And so

Rachel 1:08:06
that’s why they like have that saying right, like the best barbecue east of the Mississippi or whatever.

Emily 1:08:12
Well, that’s not why they’re that saying, but they do have that saying.

Rachel 1:08:16
No, Emily, it’s why

Emily 1:08:24
So everyone’s all excited about these new ways to transport goods. And so unfortunately, on that fateful night in St. Louis, the steamboat that was called the white cloud, which I keep thinking it says white claw I’m not gonna lie. Can you imagine if that’s what white cloud was named after? I hope not because that would be bad. So the white cloud was docked. Really close to the Bay, the bay the you know, is docked, and then somehow, somehow, one of the mattresses on board caught on fire. I don’t know how I’m acting spontaneously catches on fire. like nobody’s leaving a fucking flat iron on their like, vigorously rubbing rocks together near their mattress. Oh, maybe. Wink wink. They were bigger as they do and something else. I didn’t mean to wink

Rachel 1:09:16
like that. It’s just happened. You said vigorously rubbing and like my 13 year old child came out and I was like, a sex joke.

Emily 1:09:25
So insert sex joke here. The mattress actually caught on fire. And so pretty soon the whole damn boat was up in flames. and stuff but it’s still on the water is on fire on the water, but it’s on fire. It’s really close to the land though, which is important to know. So the volunteer fire department brings out their nine hand engines and their hose reel wagons because they didn’t have like steam powered anything at this point yet. But before they could put out the fire on the white cloud, the rope holding the white cloud The dock, burned all the way through and the steam boat that was engulfed in flames drifted away down the river. Oh my god towards all the other steam boats that were docked. In fact, within 30 minutes 22 other steam boats and several flood boats and barges were on fire. And so like,

Rachel 1:10:19
let me just clarify because I’m not up on my boat history means coal, correct? Yeah, I think so. Like very flammable. I’ve been like the shit you use to start a barbecue. Yeah, got it. Got it. I’m with you. It wasn’t great. Not great. Not a great situation. Like we just circle back to the fact that they were all volunteer firefighters.

Emily 1:10:46
Seriously, I will touch on that a little bit later. But like, there were no paid firefighters in St. Louis at this time, like everything was volunteer. Please tell me that changed after the story yet on the nose, on the nose. So um, so the boats that are close to the shore have these massive flames and they’re leaping up onto the buildings that are built really close to the shore. And all those nice narrow streets full of shitty wooden buildings really came back to bite St. Louis in the ass. Because very quickly, this fire swept across like all of the downtown city like knocking out entire city blocks and basically burning everything on the waterfront to the ground like wooden homes. God got business district lit up like there are some reports that say that lawyers and bankers were frantically retrieving their books and their papers from the burning buildings which I don’t know why just sounds like such a lawyer thing to do. Like I picture

Rachel 1:11:48
them all wearing like Chandler bang sweater vest, and they just like have these big, like bigger than I’m wearing now glasses that they’re just like putting up but there’s tape in the middle. And they’re like, oh my god.

Emily 1:12:03
So basically, like, essentially, other than a few brick buildings, 15 city blocks got taken out pretty quickly. Oh my god. Yeah, it’s insane. Now, so there’s the incredible efforts being made by volunteer firefighters. But they’re, they’re volunteer and they have limited resources. Like I was reading about how they were putting fires out. They have hand power pumps, that hooked onto hoses that they hooked on to the city hydrant, which drained out of the reservoir which was a hollowed out Indian mound, which I’m like, oh, it did but whenever. And then once they drained they drained the entire reservoir of water and so then they put their hoses in the river that’s on fire and are trying to suck water out of the river to put the fires out. And it’s like insane. Eight hours go by.

Rachel 1:12:57
Are they like when you say like their hand crank? Are they cranks? Yeah, that’s what I’m picturing is like, you know, when you are first cars Do you remember how you didn’t just push down a button to roll down the window? You had to fucking crank it? It’s like that but to put out a fire

Emily 1:13:15
probably much harder to like you really need to really get your arm going. Yeah. Oh my god, like churning butter. Yeah, awful. So and they’re doing this for eight hours. Eight hours. I’m thinking they’re looking around the room like do we call it like Should we just Should we just let St Louis burn like let’s just back away slowly. It’s like Ashes to ashes dust to death will get real Christian on this ship. No. So they’re good people and they started to they decided they’re gonna do something drastic because they’re like, we have to do something drastic to save the city like and I’m thankful for that. You know, my hometown. Did they just have like a giant blanket that they’re like smother the women were stitching as fast as they could say a lady’s doing shit even stitching and quilting. But they actually turned to something called a fire break. Have you heard about fire break before?

Rachel 1:14:11
Is it in my car right now? Then no.

Emily 1:14:16
I’m there I’d never heard of a fire break either. But I looked it up and it’s it’s essentially saying fuck it and like sacrificing building. So so it’s like this building is going to be a buffer for the fire. Yep. So they decided to let it legitimately blow up buildings that are in the fires path so that there’s nowhere for it to go. So they’re like okay, the fires all spreading this way and they picked six buildings that they’re going to blow up before the fire got there. So that on the fire did get there had nothing to jump to and nothing to burn. It seems you know, if he but fine, you know

Rachel 1:15:00
So they happen not please be the name of our first episode iffy, but fine, definitely.

Emily 1:15:06
So they load these buildings up with kegs of black powder. And then they’re gonna blow them up like in succession. And so this was the idea of fire Captain Thomas B. tarji, are tarjay of the Missouri Fire Company number five. And so I thought, I’m going to share a little bit more about Captain tarjay, because he’s the only player in this story that I could find any information on. So far, a little background information. tarjay was born in 1808, in New York City. And then in October of 1836, he moved to St. Louis with his wife and three children. So he got to St. Louis, and he was an auctioneer, which I didn’t know was a job. And then even more, I didn’t know what a job was a job. He was appointed to be in the ever important and lucrative position of the city where, which meant he was in charge of weighing things that were shipped in and out of the city, and then charging fees and duties for them. So he had this office in the City Market building. And basically, he was in charge of the large scales that were positioned or along the levee. And he just had to, you know, like, weigh the things that were coming in and out. I don’t know. I’m sorry. This guy ends up is like a fire chief. Yeah. Well, so Okay, girl on top of that, but he’s actually like a big deal in town. And so he became a volunteer firefighter, which is like, sure. That seems weird. Like, going from weighing shit to fighting fires. I mean, totally logical. Because Science. Yeah, I think the firefighters was like the salt of the earth people and like brani being run, not like the city where who sits in an office, but apparently, back then it was really actually quite common for prominent citizens to join the volunteer fire department to show their support for the city. Probably did not ever expect a massive fire to break out like this. Yeah, no, but he’s signed up and he actually served for the Fire Company until he until this fire and he was the president of the Missouri Fire Company number five, so he was top top shit there, too. Okay. Okay, so like back to the 17th of May. So he’s actually the one who suggests this firebreak and they identify the six buildings, yada, yada, yada. And of course, someone had to go into the buildings to set up these explosives, right? So he was tasked with placing the gunpowder in the final building. So the sixth building, and I don’t know why this is important, but I wrote it down. The sixth building was the Philips store, which was a music store. And it was full of sheet music and pianos and according to the internet, military paraphernalia, which makes me think it was a front for something, but you know, whatever. I don’t know. I don’t know.

Rachel 1:18:06
1850s. How far how close to the Civil War. Oh, I don’t close. I think Civil War ended in like, 1860s. Please don’t ask us. I don’t know. But I’m going to assume somewhere in that.

Emily 1:18:21
Yeah. Yeah. That’s possible. Maybe it was like, you know, Philip, Sousa, whatever his name is Star Spangled Banner. It was

Rachel 1:18:28
like the fucking Union Army was like, we’re doing good shit here. Please don’t light us on fire, music and army

Emily 1:18:34
stuff. It’s great. So, unfortunately, Philip store is where things went bad for Mr. tarjay. So there are different accounts of what happened. Some people say that the explosives went off prematurely in his pocket while he was walking to the store. And other say that someone else had already placed other explosives in the Philip store and he walked in right as they they like went off and but no matter which way like why would he have explosives in his pocket while he was walking to go put them like he was tasked with putting them in the six buildings when he was like carrying them. And so can you imagine

Rachel 1:19:15
just like skipping to work with fucking dynamite in your pocket? No. Can I better save tarjay Yeah, what the heck? Yes. Like some sort of like Ziploc bag that’s fire resistant. I don’t fucking know. Yeah, either way.

Emily 1:19:31
I don’t know how it happened, but the final explosion of the firebreak was pretty mature. And bracers help. Trigger warning. This is nasty. According to historian Walter Barlow Stevens accounts of tarjous death state. The explosion was almost instantaneous and that poor tarjay his body was found in pieces here and there. His head was discovered on the roof of a building nearly a block away.

Rachel 1:19:59
Can you imagine? being the person who discovered that head through that’s a horrible like, basically all of the limbs and head and other body parts fucking organs that he had everyone, everywhere

Emily 1:20:14
well and remember how you were like not not a great month for the family in your story. Same I literally have the same fucking thing written in here because at the time of his death, he had nine children. And on the day my god day after his death, his wife gave birth to his 10th child who died nine, nine days later, which just like it just like was a rough month for them. Like it sounds awful.

Rachel 1:20:39
But yeah, yeah, no, I’m with you. Also. I mean, first of all, we’re the same person. But also like, I know this dude got blown up. But his baby dying is very, very sad to me more sad. I know. And also, how much do you miss target? Every time you say tarjay I’m like, all I want is to get a fuckin caramel macchiato and just walk through every aisle and be able to drink it freely without worrying about dying. Why not that?

Emily 1:21:08
Why not? Okay, so luckily, it seems that tarjay did not give his life in vain, because the firebreak did help. It’s it helped control the fire. And then in the morning, the wind settled down, and the fire finally got fully under control. And then, Afterwards, he was hailed as like the hero who saved the city. And he was buried at Christ Church with like public honors, and the city appointed his widow to succeed him and his job, though I’m not sure how you’re like, supposed to raise nine fucking children as a single mom and weigh all the goods coming in at the lobby. But you know, you go girl, whatever you do, how

Rachel 1:21:47
likely was she literate versus illiterate? Like mid 1800s? Like, did they teach women to read like,

Emily 1:21:55
I don’t know, probably not.

Rachel 1:21:58
So good luck, Mrs. Turner.

Emily 1:22:05
So to this day, he’s actually remained a pretty important part of St. Louis his horrible history. His portrait is still hanging at the Missouri Historical Society. And his portrait was painted by one of his fellow firefighters, which is just precious to me. That’s really sweet fire. prograde brigades in St. Louis have continued to honor him for over 170 years. In 1979, the fire department got its very first fire boat, and they named it the captain parfait. And then actually, in 2011, a researcher compiled a bunch of materials on the fire and on Captain tarjay. And they kind of did like a dedication ceremony. And all four of his living generations came together to like, celebrate and commemorate their fearless hero relative. And it’s a lovely end to his story, at least. And in the end, it’s really sweet. Yeah. And so to wrap up, like the great buyer, it was obviously quite horrible, quite devastating. Some stats it burned for 11 hours, it destroyed 430 buildings across 15 blocks. Three people were confirmed dead, but more are assumed to have perished in the wooden houses that were basically slums, that people didn’t, you know, know who lived there. And at least one of the boats actually blew up. So they assume anyone on board of that died. Yeah, the fire caused around $6.1 million of damages, which in today’s money would be about $200 million. But another positive note, despite the destruction, it was actually kind of like an important event for the city. Because it, it created the opportunity for rebuilding as a substantial rebuilding in the city, you know, able to figure out how to accommodate all of these new people and build buildings that were made of brick and steel instead of wood. And I don’t know the building codes and make sure the structures are fireproof and that kind of thing. They cleaned up the city’s water system, so that poop wasn’t floating down the street. And then although it did take eight years, they did create a paid fire department that had three steam powered fire engines instead of hand pumps so that they they made a lot of good changes. And then today, if you would want to see the sight of the fire, all you’d have to do is visit the arch because that is exactly where the fire took place. It’s where the arch stands today. That arch was actually built exactly 100 years later. And I also think it’s ironic because it’s like, there are no buildings really close to the shore anymore, like maybe a couple but mostly there’s like, you know, stairs leading up to a grassy knoll, that kind of thing. So They’re like, let’s learn from our mistakes, everybody. And that is the story of St. Louis is a Great Fire of 1849.

Rachel 1:25:10
Oh my god, that was amazing. story has everything. No, it was horrible. But like heads in the street. Third, that dude getting literally blown up. There’s boats on fire. I am here for right. I cannot even believe how good that was. Great job.

Emily 1:25:32
No idea either. Like I’ve lived in St. Louis for 12. I’ve never ever heard of it. And that was one of the things in one of the articles, which I’m not as good at as you and I didn’t. I know one of the articles that I read was from the St. Louis post dispatch and another was from stainless today. And then I can’t remember one way Come on our Instagram followers. But one of them did say you know that it is a really important part of St. Louis history that a lot of people don’t know about. So I’m happy to share.

Rachel 1:26:02
And also it makes me just really want to do the arch tour with you and then eat tacos. I

Emily 1:26:07
know we’re gonna do all those things someday. COVID is going to be done. Yeah. And then we’re going to partay

Rachel 1:26:15
Okay, I’m hoping this podcast goes for a long time. And we can just continue to horrify each other because

Emily 1:26:22
god that was so much fun. I loved like not knowing what your story was going to be and then hearing about it and like, there’s so many more cities and so much more to come everywhere has some kind of like really shitty, horrible history, which is yes, in fact, if you have a story you’d like to share if your hometown or the city you live in has some sort of horrible history that you know about and would like to share with us. Please feel free to send us a suggestion for a location. Our email is horrible history podcast@gmail.com

Rachel 1:26:55
also we have an Instagram account at horrible history pod where we’ll share photos associated with today’s episode and other bunch it between now and next week. And please rate review Subscribe us because it helps and we want people other than the two of us to listen to it. And this is my first episode. So if you like this and you made it through for the love of God, what are you waiting for

Emily 1:27:19
download that. Give us five stars, leave a little thumbs up review. And until next time, thanks for listening.

Rachel 1:27:30
Hopefully you’re horrified.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai


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