The 1927 Disappearance of 3-Year-Old Forrest Glenn Anthony

The following is based on articles in the St. Louis, MO newspapers for Wednesday, 2 November 1927: St. Louis Post-Dispatch pg. 26 and The St. Louis Star pp. 1 and 2. Also census records were consulted, to learn a little more about neighbors mentioned.

It was 7:30 o’clock Halloween night, 1927. Zelma (Robinson) Anthony dressed her light-brown-haired three-year-old son in a costume for the occasion. His overalls were covered by a long red dress with a necktie “belt.” His dark brown eyes peered out from a false-face mask. The boy’s full name was Forrest Glenn Anthony, but as his father was Forrest Elmo Anthony, the boy went by “Glenn.”

Glenn’s mother Zelma was first wife of Forrest Elmo Anthony. Forrest Elmo Anthony was son of Joseph Wesley Anthony, son of Sarah Cordelia Anna (Isley) Anthony, daughter of Stanford Isley, son of Mary (Loy) Isley, daughter of George Loy, son of John Loy, son of Martin Loy (to America 1741). Despite the nearly 40 year difference in our ages (Glenn was born 1924, same year as my dad), Glenn was in my “generation,” we being 7th cousins.

The family lived on a second floor flat at 2803-A Ninth Street, in North St. Louis. As the boy and his mother were walking outside and approached the corner of Ninth St. and St. Louis Ave., Zelma met a neighbor and began conversing. Unbeknownst to Zelma, during this distraction, Glenn wandered off. After she realized he was no longer beside her, the long search began. An exhausting search that entailed not only Glenn’s parents and those of their entire neighborhood, but local police, many of whom who were off duty. The fear among them was little Glenn had been kidnapped!!

The frantic ordeal lasted 22 hours. Search parties looked everywhere possible. They even looked into the basement window of one establishment, on the corner of Ninth St. and St. Louis Ave., mere feet from where the boy was last seen. No trace was found.

Among the searchers was 54-year-old widow Amanda Clark and her 25-year-old daughter, Miss Mandy Clark. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch account, the Clarks lived at 902 St. Louis Ave. but the more-detailed The St. Louis Star gave their address as 2801 N. 9th St. However, the 1930 census shows the Clarks at 2805 9th St. Had this been their 1927 address, too, the 1930 address would have put them as next-door neighbors to the Anthonys.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch and The St. Louis Star each have conflicting accounts as to who found Glenn. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Mrs. Amanda Clark “was more thorough than the rest,” going into the basement of that establishment, then, upon seeing Glenn lying motionless on a coal pile, she screamed and fainted. Hearing her screams, neighbors came and revived her and took Glenn home.

A better-detailed account, from The St. Louis Star, states it was the daughter, Miss Mandy Clark, who found the boy, unhurt.

According to The St. Louis Star, after her tiring and fruitless search, Mandy sat down to rest on a steel coal door of that establishment on the corner of Ninth St. and St. Louis Ave. This business had originally been a saloon, but due to Prohibition (1920-1933) it was now operating as a soft drink bar. For some time Mandy sat there, then, on a hunch, she opened the coal door and peered inside. Four feet below was Glenn, sitting on a coal pile. The boy was immediately lifted out by a man standing near Mandy.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch briefly states that when he was found, Glenn was hungry, his mask was lost, his face tear-stained, and his hair was streaked with coal dust. Glenn said he “had fallen down a stairway into the saloon basement and had been unable to get out.”

But the St. Louis Post-Dispatch account had more to the story: After Glenn was taken home, the family questioned how he came to be in the saloon basement. An hour after Glenn had disappeared, Glenn’s father and some of the search party searched that cellar and vouched that at time of their search he was not there.

The story explained that this “stairway to the basement is long, steep, and has no guard rail. [Mr.] Anthony is certain no child Glenn’s age could walk down the stairs, without injuring himself or could have fallen down the coal hole without being hurt. The boy is unhurt save for a tiny bruise on one thigh. It is Anthony’s belief that someone had the child all night, being frightened yesterday when newspaper accounts of the search were published, and hid the boy in the basement. There was evidence that he had been cared for overnight and his face was not dirty. Another odd circumstance was the finding of Glenn’s false-face and the handkerchief he had worn about his head, hanging from a piece of wire in the cellar.”

Other than his account of falling down stairs, the family could get no further details from Glenn to learn what had fully happened that night.

 

POSTSCRIPT

On 17 July 1944, the month before his 20th birthday, Glenn enlisted at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri to serve in World War II. He was an infantryman Private First Class when, on 13 April 1945, he was wounded in action in Germany. Ten days after Germany surrendered, the Thursday, 17 May 1945 St. Louis Post-Dispatch told of Glenn’s injury and that his [first] wife Betty had been informed.

Five months before his 78th birthday, Glenn passed away in 2002.

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