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Carl Herman "Santa Claus" Braatz
Birth: Aug. 5, 1846, Germany
Death: Nov. 11, 1934
District Of Columbia, USA

I feel this is the single most interesting and fascinating person - even more than many of my family (and there are 100s that I know of) - that I've run across while creating memorials on this website. Thank you Carl - may you truly rest in peace wherever you are...

***

As one meanders thru a cemetery, they may happen upon an odd or unusual marker completely at random and maybe even shoot a photo of it for whatever reason. Some folks will enter this data possibly with some historical or biographical information onto this website by creating a memorial. Sometimes nothing else is ever said about some folks but it is always better to have them online for posterity than not. Everything changes though sometimes when a story is uncovered and a life is discovered that was to say the least, fantastic. Just snapping a photo of this one marker led me to discover a truly wonderful person who might have just faded into history as the years flew by. Sorry Carl - fat chance! Since I found his marker and continue to uncover stuff about him, I stand in complete awe of and render a mighty heartfelt salute to him. To quote from a classic rock song from many years ago: 'Every picture tells a story don't it?'...

A simple grave lies down a hillside in the back of the cemetery under some large and rather leafy shade trees. Deer are often seen back here even though there's a fence and some apartments beyond that. Still, it's somewhat quiet and some would say maybe a tad serene...Carl Herman Braatz died around noon on Nov. 11, 1934 and was soon laid to rest here many years ago. But unless one were to trip directly upon his marker they'd likely never know that he is buried here. All the flat markers seem to blend into this large expansive grassy knoll. Truth be told, a real hero and one who lived his beliefs is buried here.

Carl came from Germany about 1870, after serving in the Franco-Prussian war where he refused to shoot or kill anyone. He fired his rifle only once and that was in the air. George Bancroft, a noted historian (Find A Grave Memorial# 5892), was serving as the U.S. Minister to Berlin and hired him as a household servant. Braatz was so beloved in his duties he was brought back to the states when Bancroft returned. Braatz was given a salary and later a pension. He was almost sent back when WW I broke out and he was caught without the right papers. When Bancroft died, Braatz became a social worker with the Central Mission in downtown D.C. where he had later spent most of his modest savings by helping others in dire need. He was cited in one news article about helping some 500 folks in their homes by getting turkey dinners to them. And 300+ others in the mission got the same. In 1912 he was again mentioned in another article for helping 100s of poor & destitute people to have a warm meal at the mission or their homes.

It was in 1924 that the Kiwanis Club honored him for his playing Santa Claus to area poor kids for nearly 30 years. And it was the same role that he performed for Woodward & Lothrop (a D.C. legend among department stores) in their massive toy department for many years. Many folks who had sat on his knee as a child would return later with their own to be placed upon his older legs. One woman recalled that her grandfather had died in Carls arms at the German Embassy many years prior but he told her he did recall the man as he doted on her beaming young daughter.

In March of 1930, the remains of William Howard Taft (U.S. President) lay in a casket in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, as dignitaries from everywhere in the world passed by, viewing him and paying their respects. Everyone from all walks of life. A few were mentioned by name in an article in the Washington Post. Carl was one of them.

In 1933 he had been replaced by a younger person to play the role. He was in good spirits though and was interviewed by the Washington Post in August of 1933.

Mr. Braatz proved that indeed there was a real Santa Claus. All of us have the ability to do the same as he did. Thank you Carl wherever you are for living your dream(s) & giving folks something to smile about for many more years to come...I continue to research your life and I'm blown away about how many folks were amazed with your dedication to helping the less fortunate all year and the young (or young at heart) at Christmas time.

****

In the Nov. 14th edition of the Evening Star it was reported that Carl would not eat anything at 12 noon or anytime later on the 11th, the day he died. He said 'I am going home'. He also said he was going to see lots of his deceased friends - 'thousands of dem' (in his German accent). On Nov. 13th the rush hour was said to have already started when the funeral procession left downtown D.C for Suitland in the near suburbs where his burial plot is. One can only wonder if anyone slowed up for a moment or so and actually knew how great the person in that hearse truly was. Maybe some did know it was Carl and gave a brief moment of silence when it passed by them...

****

Information depicted here was derived from numerous articles in the Washington Post, Evening Star and other long gone newspaper archives and information, some in the Historical Newspaper collection and the Photographic collections of the U.S. Library of Congress. Oh yeah - and there was some small dude dressed like a elf (I swear!)...
 
 
Burial:
Cedar Hill Cemetery
Suitland
Prince George's County
Maryland, USA
 
Created by: Fred Sanford
Record added: Aug 29, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 96241199
Carl Herman Santa Claus Braatz
Added by: Fred Sanford
 
Carl Herman Santa Claus Braatz
Added by: Fred Sanford
 
Carl Herman Santa Claus Braatz
Added by: Fred Sanford
 
 
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Rest in Heavenly peace. Deepest condolences to your family and descendants. May the Lord comfort those you left behind in their sorrow, and heal their broken hearts.
- PATTY McFERREN-BLANTON & JR BLANTON
 Added: Jul. 12, 2017
Was für ein toller Mann! Ruhe in Frieden Weihnachtsmann!
- Czepiel
 Added: Jun. 17, 2017

- Bryan Ainsworth Mooney
 Added: May. 28, 2017
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