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St Louis Post-Dispatch

Friday Evening, March 13, 1903




Wife and Six Children Murdered With Hammer and Razor by August Krause, Who Then Fatally Slashed His Own Throat, Dying Before His Relatives Reached Scene of Horrible Butchery.




St Louis Physician Had Told Farmer His Mental Malady Was Incurable, Causing Recurrence of Frenzy Which His Wife Had Formerly Dreaded. 


By Telephone from Post-Dispatch Reporters on the Scene of the Tragedy.


August Krause, a farmer living two miles south of Bellefontaine, St Louis County and 21 miles from St Louis, killed his wife and six children with a stone-hammer Thursday, and then cut his own throat, dying before any one reached him. (south of 40/64, north of Clayton Rd on Schoettler Rd-LB)


Fear of becoming permanently insane is believed to have been the motive which actuated the fearful butchery.  Krause saw a St Louis physician Wednesday, according to members of his father’s family, and was told that his mental ailment was hopeless, and that he could not be cured. 


No one witnessed his deed Thursday morning.  The person who first discovered it was Mrs. Mary Krause, wife of Philip and sister-in-law of August.


The exterminated family was composed of eight members; father, mother and six children.  The mother was Mrs. Lizzie Rice (Reiss according to the other article-LB) Krause.  She was 38 years old.  August Krause, the father, was 40 years and 11 months old.  The children were:  Carrie, aged 11; Emma, aged 9; Phillip, aged 7; George, aged 6; Genevieve, aged 3; and Fred, aged 4 months.


Sister-in-Law First Found Bodies

When Mrs. Mary Krause was passing the house about 5:30 o’clock Thursday afternoon, she glanced in the window and saw the body of the mother lying on the floor.  In terror at the sight, she screamed, but did not try to enter the house.


Five men at work on a granary, one-fourth of a mile distant, heard her and came to her assistance.  The men were Cornelius, George and Henry Schoetler (Schoettler-LB) and Otto and George Mertz. 


They thought it was Mrs. Lizzie Krause, the murdered woman, who was screaming, and George Mertz remarked, “Gus must have gone crazy.  Let’s see what’s the matter with Lizzie that makes her scream.”


They ran to the Krause home and looked in the windows, seeing the bodies of August Krause himself and those of his wife and children lying in blood on the floor.


They did not enter the house, but went in search of John Krause, brother of the dead man.  John was the first to enter the house.


“The bodies were lying on the floor of the front room, covered with blood,” he said to the Post-Dispatch. 


“From all indications the deed was committed before noon.  I believe it must have been a little after 10 o’clock when my brother, August, was, so far as I know, last seen.  He was doing his work then.”


“The body of Mrs. Krause was lying in the middle of the floor, and there was nothing to indicate that she had made any struggle.  She was probably killed first, and from all appearances, six blows had been struck on her with a four-pound stone hammer that August used.  Her throat was cut with a razor.”


“The five children were lying on the floor, apparently where they had been struck.  The two older girls had on fascinators (bonnets-LB) which covered the gashes, which had been cut in their throats with razors.  The eldest girl’s head was almost cut off.”


Dead Man on Hands and Knees

“The baby was in the crib, and its throat had not been cut.  It had only been struck with the hammer.” 


“August himself was on his hands and knees, with his head almost touching the floor and he was dead, although I didn’t think so at first.”


“The room was spattered with blood, and there was blood all over the clothes of the dead family.”


After making sure that all the members of the family were dead, John Krause mounted a horse and rode to the nearest telephone to notify Dr. Otto Koch of Clayton, coroner of St Louis County, Fred Andre, postmaster at Bellefontaine, was also notified, and the news spread rapidly throughout the neighborhood. 


Coroner Koch arrived at the Krause home a little before midnight, and at once summoned a jury for the inquest, which was completed before 1 o’clock Friday morning.  Little testimony was heard, and the verdict returned was suicide in the case of August Krause and murder in the cases of his wife and children. 


Was in Hospital for Mental Malady

Members of the Krause family and neighbors have long known of the mental trouble of August Krause.  He has taken treatment from various physicians and was once in a St Louis hospital for some time.  The trouble began about four years ago, but Krause’s condition improved until one month ago.


At that time he was thought to be most cured of his ailment, but as ….. the grip brought it back.  That was Feb 15, and as Krause recovered, ..... attack his old mental disease returned. 


Mrs. Lizzie Krause, his wife, wrote to Postmaster Andre at Bellefontaine Wednesday, saying that she feared her husband would commit suicide.  She did not, however, according to Mr. Andre, express any fear for herself.


Happenings beginning Sunday are taken by members of the Krause family to indicate the condition of August’s mind.  He started Sunday for St Louis, but changed his mind and returned home without reaching the city. 


Tuesday he went to Altheim to see his wife’s father, George Rice (Reiss according to the other article-LB), with whom he had trouble several years ago.  At that time, he had knocked Rice down.  Tuesday he apologized for the old offense, and left the Rice home on friendly terms with his father-in-law. 


Physician’s Words Disheartened Him

Wednesday he visited St Louis and called on a woman physician who had been treating his mental disease.  She told him that she could do nothing more for him, and he returned believing that he was …. to be permanently insane.


The Krause home is in a secluded area of St Louis County, six miles from a telephone and three miles from a telegraph station.  The roads to it are almost impassable, but Friday morning farmers from miles around drove through the mud hub-deep to the Krause home.


The house in which the murdered family lived in, is a single-story, steep-roofed structure, standing on a ridge.  It has four rooms.  The front room, in which the crime was committed and where the bodies were found, is about 10 by 14 feet square and contains a bed.  The furniture is plain and scanty, and an ingrain carpet covers the floor. 


The father and brothers of the dead man live in the neighborhood.  They are Conrad Krause, the father, and John, Philip, Henry and Louis Krause, the brothers. 


August cultivated a farm of 40 acres, which belonged to his father, and, although his father is considered wealthy, the son was not.  He occasionally talked about his hard circumstances, and last week asked his father for help, which was given him. 


Dr. Defoe, a physician, who was called to the Krause home Friday morning and examined the bodies said that Krause’s work with the razor was done with scientific accuracy.  The head of the eldest daughter was almost severed, but in the other cases Krause had cut gashes just deep enough to sever important arteries.


In his own neck he had cut a gash on the right side, which severed several large arteries, and Dr. Defoe says he must have bled to death almost instantly.


Burial Place Denied to Krause’s Body

Plans for the funeral of the murdered family and the father are unsettled on accounts o the rules of the German Evangelical Church, to which the family belonged.


The church forbids the burial of murderers and suicides in its cemeteries, and when the relatives of the Krause family tried to buy a lot in the Hilltown church cemetery Friday morning it was refused to them.  They were told that the body of August Krause could not be buried there because he was both a murderer and suicide.


That announced at noon Friday that August Krause and the members of his family would be buried in Hourrighara (Harugari, but now known as Armina Lodge-LB) Cemetery, near Fern Ridge.  The funeral, according to their plan, will be held at 10 o’clock Saturday morning. 

The family of Mrs. Krause, the murdered woman, have different plans, and her mother, Mrs. Geroge Rice (Reiss according to the other article-LB), of Altheim, declares that her daughter and the children shall be buried in a German Evangelical cemetery. 


She will not consent to the plans of the Krauses, she says. 


She has not announced any time for hold the funeral of her daughter and grandchildren, and no final arrangement between the two families has been made. 



St Louis Post-Dispatch

March 14, 1903




Slayer of His Family Interred Side by Side With Mother and Children.


The funeral of the Krause family of eight, father, mother and six children, took place at 10 o’clock Saturday morning from the home, the scene of the tragedy, at Bellefontaine in Bonhomme Township, 21 miles west of St Louis.  The interment of the entire family was in Hourrighara (Harugari, but now known as Armina Lodge-LB) Cemetery. 


Many gathered at the residence before the time for the services and watched the arrival of the coffins from the undertaking establishment of A. S. Baumann of Creve Coeur post office.


The brief services where led by Rev. Mr. Rest of the Bellefontaine German Evangelical Church, which the family attended, and the pastor of the German Evangelical Church on Manchester road, where Mrs. Krause’s people attend church. 


Owing to the almost impassable roads from the Krause home on the Schoettler road to the rock bed of the Olive road, no attempt was made to take the hearses to the house, but the bodies were conveyed in two-horse spring wagons to the cemetery, five miles form the residence. 


Although August Krause’s butchery of his family and his subsequent suicide shocked the residents of the “Hilltown” of Bellefontaine post office community, his becoming insane was not a surprise to them.


They all speak of him as a man of the most violent temper.  Without knowledge of fear, he was a fighter from early manhood.  He never allowed any one to abuse him in the least and seemed to be looking for fights whenever in public. 

Not even his own family or that of his wife escaped his temper or violent hands.  The venerable George Reiss (according to the other article-LB), of Altheim, the father of Mrs. Krause, and a much smaller man then Krause, once crossed him and was knocked down.


The hatred of that moment lived until Tuesday of this week when Krause went to the home of his father-in-law and apologized and told him they were to be friends. 


Mr. Reiss (Rice, according to the other article-LB) met him in a friendly spirit and told him their trouble would never be referred to again.



Transcribed by Lori A Burkhardt from the St Louis County Library microfilm collection. 


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