Robert, the Haunted Doll

We’ve all heard of haunted houses, but have you ever heard of a haunted toy? Visitors to Key West, Florida’s Fort East Martello Museum can see just that: a reputedly haunted doll by the name of Robert.

Gene Otto received the doll (a very expensive one made by the German toy company, Steiff) as a gift from his grandfather in 1904. Gene named him “Robert” and took him everywhere he went. Robert had his own chair at the family’s dining room table, and Gene slept with him at night like many other kids do with a favorite teddy bear. He would also hold conversations with Robert in his room, and he would change his voice to make Robert reply.

static1.squarespace.com

All this sounds pretty typical for a pampered child and his toy, but things were a bit stranger under the surface. Gene had a terrible temper and would often go into violent fits of rage, where he would knock over furniture or destroy things. Gene began to blame the destruction on Robert. People often described Gene’s relationship with the toy as unhealthy. He even referred to Robert as though he were a living person.

Eventually, Gene grew up, got married, became an artist, and bought a mansion that he called the “The Artist House.” Robert ended up stashed away in an unused upstairs room, near a window. Local schoolchildren sometimes claimed that the doll would disappear and reappear at the window, which scared them.

After Gene Otto’s death in 1974, a woman named Myrtle Reuter bought the house and its contents, including Robert. She and her guests claimed to hear giggling and footsteps coming from his storage place in the attic. Some who saw the doll also said it changed its expression when it was angry and that it could move around the house on its own, as it was sometimes found where no one could remember leaving it.

Ms. Reuter eventually decided she could not put up with the stress Robert caused her anymore and donated him to the museum in 1994. He is so popular that he even receives his own fan mail. He recently also got his own Facebook page.

Museum employees do not report any strange occurrences connected with the doll since he has been on display. But just to be sure, they take very good care of him.

Next Article
ADVERTISEMENT
  • Dutch Company Wants to Train Crows to Pick Up Cigarette Butts

    Pollution in the form of garbage on city streets is a major problem in cities worldwide. Discarded cigarette butts make up a large portion of this street rubbish as more than 4.5 trillion of them are thrown out every year. These cigarette remains then go on to contaminate the environment with toxic chemicals and carcinogens....

    Read More
  • The Surprising Diet of the Vikings

    The Vikings are well-known for their warlike nature. It is no wonder then that images of a Viking feast often contain large platters of roasted meat and mugs of some strong alcoholic beverage, with little else as an accompaniment besides perhaps some type of bread. You might be astonished to learn, then, that the Viking...

    Read More
  • Whales and Dolphins Have Human-Like Societies

    Whales and dolphins have long been known to be smart animals. Some of these oceanic mammals can communicate with each other using a special language, and some, like bottlenose dolphins, even use simple tools. They are almost human-like in their intelligence at times. And a new study, published in the journal Nature and Ecology, shows...

    Read More
  • What Happened to Bobby Dunbar?

    On August 23, 1912, the Dunbars, a wealthy family from Opelousas, Louisiana, went on a fishing trip to Swayze Lake, also in Louisiana. The small family group consisted of Percy and Lessie Dunbar and their two young children, Alonzo and Bobby. At some point that day, four-year-old Bobby went missing. Volunteers and police searched the...

    Read More
  • The Unlikely Witch of Edinburgh

    From late 17th-century Scotland comes one of the strangest stories of witchcraft to emerge out of that period. Most people who were convicted and executed for the crime of witchcraft had to have their confessions tortured or bullied out of them. But this person’s confession was totally voluntary and completely unexpected. Major Thomas Weir was...

    Read More
  • The First Vending Machine Was Invented 2000 Years Ago

    Vending machines are a part of everyday life for most people. They can be found just about everywhere, from offices to schools to rest stops on the side of the highway. With the vending machines of today dispensing everything from sodas to electronics, one could be forgiven for thinking they are purely a modern invention....

    Read More
  • Origins of Easter Island’s First Inhabitants Remains Mysterious

    Easter Island, also known as Rapa Nui, is one of the most mysterious places on earth. The tiny, isolated island, with a total area of only 64 square miles and over 1100 miles away from any other inhabited area, is perhaps best-known for its giant statues. These statues, known as moai, are themselves a mystery....

    Read More
  • The Mysterious Tunguska Event

    On the morning of June 30, 1908, a huge ball of fire was observed streaking across the sky in a remote part of Siberia, in Russia. No one knew what it was at the time, but whatever its origins, it exploded above the Podkamennaya Tunguska River, flattening nearly 800 square miles of forest. This strange...

    Read More