Thursday, December 20, 2018

Santa in the News -- The 1957 Obituary of Santa Claus in Missouri

It's time for another edition of "Seavers in the News" - a weekly feature from the historical newspapers about persons with the surname Seaver that are interesting, useful, mysterious, fun, macabre, or add information to my family tree database.

But this week, the article is about Santa Claus - the real person - and his obituary, with a photograph!

This week's entry is from the Kansas City [Mo.] Times newspaper dated 2 April 1957:

The transcription of the article is:

His Name Caused "Trouble" at Times and Brought Thousands of Letters
Marshall, Mo. April 1. (AP) -- Santa Claus is dead.

"The retired Church of God minister who went through 63 years of life bearing the name of the Christmas saint died at his home here today of a kidney ailment.

"Claus never did know why his parents gave him the name of Santa, unless it was his father's sense of humor.

"A Source of 'Trouble' 

"'But it's a good name, even if it is a lot of trouble,' he said.

"By 'trouble' Claus mentioned such things as getting checks cashed.  Once an expressman refused to deliver a basket of fruit from California because 'there ain't no Santa Claus.'

"But through the years, many of them lean ones, too, he tried to live up to the  name. He received thousands of letters every year from all parts of the world.  Claus took great pains in answering all of them.  Sometimes, when the load became too great, he received help in providing postage.

"Sometimes he still had a large stack of letters to answer many months after Christmas.

"6,000 Christmas Letters

Sometimes his mail volume would reach 6,000 at Christmas time.  He was proud of his scrapbooks full of such letters.

"In addition to serving as a minister, Claus was a plumber.  Once he worked on WPA.  He and his first wife had seven children.

"Claus was smooth shaven, but once he did grow a beard so as to make his appearance more in character.

"He had spent most of his life around Marshall, except for two years when he lived in Ottumwa, Ia."

The photograph caption is:

"His Mail Always Heavy -- The Rev. Santa Claus, 63, who died yesterday at Marshall, Mo., for years received letters from all over the world and tried to answer each one. "

The source citation for the article is:

"Real Santa Claus Dies" obituary, Kansas City [Mo.] Times, 2 April 1957, page 36, column 3, Santa Claus obituary; ( : accessed 20 December 2018).

Can you imagine how hard he must have worked to answer the letters?  6,000 in a year comes out to be over 16 per day on average.  Heck, I don't write that many blog posts in a day.  

He sounds like a wonderful man.  

I wonder if the date of his death (April first) caused readers to wonder if this was an actual obituary or an April Fool's prank.

I recently had an email from his grandson who saw my 2017 posting of Historical Records of an American Santa Claus.  The grandson was 8 years old and lived next door when his Santa died.  He says he has a scrapbook with many articles from the 1930s to 1950s about his grandfather.  

Unfortunately, I don't think I'm related to this real Santa Claus, but I wish I was!

We'll be back to "Seavers in the News" next week.


Copyright (c) 2018, Randall J. Seaver

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