On this day in Missouri History in 1887: Missouri’s second Governor by the name of Thomas Reynolds commits suicide. 

In an eerie episode from our state’s past, this Governor named Thomas Reynolds was found dead at the bottom of a freight elevator shaft in what was then known as the Custom House, in St. Louis. Now known as the Old Post Office (OPO), the historic building houses the offices of the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District.  

Reynolds plunged headfirst from the third floor of the building down the shaft to the basement, a distance of 80 feet. A note found with his body suggested he was afraid he was losing his mental faculties. 

Whether he was actually even Governor is debatable: A short descriptive card alongside his portrait in the capitol does not describe him as governor. It notes Reynolds was elected lieutenant governor, “fled south with Governor Claiborne Jackson when Union troops prevailed in Missouri” and was recognized as governor by the Confederacy after Jackson’s death. Hence the reason he’s sometimes called “The Confederate Governor.”

Reynolds was 65 years old when he died and he’s buried at Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis.  

The previous Governor Thomas Reynolds committed suicide in a more conventional manner in 1844 – after breakfast, the  47-year-old seventh Governor of Missouri shut himself in his office at the Governor’s Mansion and shot himself in the head. He’s buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in Jefferson City.

This post was contributed by Ross Malone. A historian and a retired school teacher, Ross has authored many books about Missouri’s history, weird facts, and folk tales. He has also written children’s historical fiction. Visit his website, and buy his books in the Missouri Life store.