Did you know the real Santa Claus came from Missouri? On April 4, 1888, William and Henrietta Claus of Saline County, Missouri, gave birth to a baby boy. They named him Santa. When he was young, Santa Claus was often teased about his unique name, but eventually, he learned to embrace it. During his lifetime, Claus responded to tens of thousands of ‘Dear Santa’ letters, grew a beard, and became somewhat of a local celebrity. He died in 1957 and was remembered for his efforts to make the world a happier place.

The Weekly Kansas City Star: December 2, 1936

Santa Claus (some records spell the name Clause) was born in Blue Lick, Missouri, the son of a farmer. “Naturally, when I was a child, I took a lot of punishment over my name. I continually was the object of jokesters, and as I grew older, the name had its drawbacks,” said Claus in a 1936 interview. In attempting to explain his unusual name, he said, “My father had a sense of humor.”

It wasn’t until 1929 that Claus’s fame extended farther than his hometown. While working on the Missouri River, he broke his leg. Papers all over the country carried the story of Santa’s accident, bringing fame to the young father, now living in Marshall, Missouri.

The Weekly Kansas City Star: December 15, 1937

Letters addressed to Santa Claus began arriving at the Claus home. Claus was a part-time minister and struggled to support his family, taking on odd jobs, including plumber and ditch digger. Nevertheless, he worked hard to respond to each child’s letter. In 1935, he appeared on the national radio broadcast for Ripley’s Believe It or Not. His fame spread, and soon Claus was responding to 6,000 letters each holiday season. When the postage became a financial strain, others stepped in to help. Claus received checks from the local Chamber of Commerce and even Hollywood actress Mae West.

Hollywood Actress Mae West Reads About Santa Claus – St. Louis Globe-Democrat: December 23, 1937

In 1944, Claus’s wife died. He remarried in 1948, and the new Mrs. Claus stepped in to help Santa Claus keep up the holiday tradition. On April 1, 1957, Santa Claus died of a kidney ailment in Marshall, Missouri. He was eulogized as a man who always lived up to his name.

Do you have any unusual holiday names in your family tree? Learn more about Santa Claus and search for stories about your relatives on Newspapers.com™ today!

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11 thoughts on “The Real Santa Claus

  1. Thanks for telling that story, I enjoy it and now can tell my grandkids. That there is a Santa Claus and I have proof. Smile.

  2. It would be nice to say he is the real American Santa Claus so people don’t start believing he is the original Santa Claus.
    I have a friend and her mother’s name is Santa, though the last name is not Claus.
    Interesting read.

  3. I heard about the ‘real’ Santa Claus before but that account said that Santa got married and when he, with his bride, tried to check into a hotel after the wedding they refused to grant him a room unless he signed in with his real name! True?

  4. Except that they have Sinterclaus in Holland. This story makes it sound as if this guy is who the story is about. He just happened to be named after Santa Claus, but he isn’t the guy who all the stories are about.

  5. what a cute little story! the man seemed to live up to his by answering children’s letters at his own time & expense for so long. I am kinda wondering why I have never heard this story before……

  6. I love this. I shared this with my family. I have always believed that Santa was real. I am almost 50 and my mother taught us that Santa was someone who gave you something and didn’t want you to know who they were. I passed this on to my children and they to theirs. It makes my heart smile to read this beautiful story of a man who did something so special for thousands of families. This is what life is all about

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