The Killer Cottage

cottage
Newspaper image of the actual “killer cottage,” taken from the Salt Lake City Tribune. (Salt Lake City, Utah), July 31, 1904, Page 7, Image 7

There was once an unassuming house in Salt Lake City, Utah. The sweet cottage was surrounded by lush vines and flowers. At first glance, no one believed it was a cursed location, or that it had any propensity to kill.

 

Origins:

The cottage’s history goes farther back than what is documented. The first known owner was Brigham Young, who held the property in the 1850s. He saw much misfortune and disaster while owner, but no suspicion fell upon the house. It was just believed to be coincidence.

A traveling magician took over ownership of the place. He is only recalled by his stage name, Dante. He went on a hunting expedition in Australia soon after purchasing the property. His gun accidentally went off and killed him. Again, no one suspected it had anything to do with the property.

Many owners came and went. It seemed that it was up for sale just after every purchase. E. M. Onion was a noted auctioneer in Salt Lake. He purchased the house and suddenly his wife was stricken with a terminal illness. She endured months of suffering before she finally died.

A foreman of the Salt Lake Herald, C. S. Williamson, then purchased the home. He was in excellent health until he’d lived there a few months. He developed a severe case of tuberculosis. He struggled with the disease for two years, until it claimed his life.

 

 The Mickle Family

Finally, William and Mary Mickle tried to make a life there. They owned the house by the 1890s. Their luck would continue as so many others had done before.

William lost his sanity, soon after, and squandered every penny they had. He left. William wandered all over the western states until he was killed in a rail accident, between Salt Lake City and Omaha. Mary had no other option, but to rent the house where she held such high hopes. Her money was tied up in the place and she couldn’t sell it with the reputation it had. She rented a smaller apartment for herself while she leased the cottage. One night in her apartment, she suspected there was a small gas leak in the kitchen. The lighting was dim so she needed to use a match to see. As soon as she struck the match, her kitchen blew up. She was killed.

 

The Stones

A renter, named S. O. Synder, moved out. The home then fell into the hands of J. M. Stone, alias J. M. Stout. He was a regular real estate buyer in the region, but hailed originally from West Virginia. Stone met Mattie Reeves in West Virginia.

The couple eventually purchased the cottage in Salt Lake to rent. They had an apartment nearby. They had a quarrel and he left her. She ingested an ounce of carbolic acid. Neighbors heard the fighting and watched Stone leave. They went to check on Mattie and discovered her body. She was taken to the hospital and made her dying statement hours later. She married Stone 5 years earlier in Columbus, Ohio. Her mother lived in Richmond, Virginia. Her husband sold the cottage and left with the money. She was now destitute.

Stone had his own issues to deal with. Despite having several children with his actual wife, Stone abandoned them in 1903 and came west with Mattie. He was a member of the Stone & Gates Firm. His family was wealthy through timber and coal deals. He returned home, but none of his wealthy family wanted anything to do with him. He’d borrowed from everyone and had nothing left. He left his wife and children penniless, any stock or produce from their farm had to be used to pay for his debts. News of Mattie’s suicide hit the region with a force Stone never expected.

That wasn’t the end of the bad news for him. Frank Clark, of Salt Lake, was appointed to be over Mattie Reeves estate. He brought a lawsuit against Stone prohibiting him from any claim to her estate and demanding the $9,000 he stole from her.

In 1903, John M. Stout, alias Stone, filed for bankruptcy.

 Finally

As for the cottage, at the time of the last information, the current lessee had been Frank Gattung. He was the Manager of the Salt Lake Tent and Awning Company in 1904. He’d recently fell from a ladder, but something happened during the 15-foot fall. Gattung required a straightjacket from that point forward.

The house’s ultimate fate remains unknown.

 

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