Robert the Doll

Ever heard of Robert the Doll? Because if not, you are about to. Robert the Doll is a unique story because we all have heard about haunted dolls, but the fact multiple people have encountered this doll’s mischief first handled makes Robert’s story more unique than others. So, why talk about him, you might ask. When I was a child, I had a bunch of dolls. These dolls were the light of my life, and before you ask, they were not haunted. Instead, they got me into watching videos about haunted dolls, which led me to Robert. His story is an interesting one, and I constantly learn new things about him whenever I return to looking up his story. This time I came, a crossed him in a book I have been reading called “Weird Ghosts.” It is very intriguing and has multiple stories about haunted houses, dolls, buildings, graveyards, etc. I highly recommend if you enjoy this topic.

So, onto Robert’s story. In 1898 Thomas Otto and his wife ended up building a beautiful home, now known as the Artist House. The Otto couple was known to be abusive towards their servants, leading to one of the badly mistreated servants, who apparently knew voodoo, giving Otto’s child named Robert Eugene Otto or Gene this doll. Whose name is also Robert… strange, I know. Robert is a straw doll standing about three feet tall, dressed up in a sailor suit, and has a stuffed lion. At first, Robert seemed to be the perfect doll, but he soon became people’s worst nightmare. For Gene, Robert became his childhood friend and the one who got him in trouble. Whenever something happened in the house, like a broken vase or food thrown everywhere, Gene would say, “Robert did it!” Gene’s parents didn’t believe him because there was no way a doll could do anything. Oh, how they were wrong.

One night Gene was sleeping peacefully in his bed, while Robert was sitting at the foot of the bed. This is where Gene placed him every night, but this time Gene wakes up and sees his doll is just staring at him. This felt different, unnatural, and disturbing. Which told Gene something was wrong, but before he knew it Robert started throwing furniture all over the room, while giggling like there’s no tomorrow while Gene screams for his parents. His mother wakes up, rushing to her son’s door to find it is locked. While hearing giggling and her son screaming, she is breaking the door open to get to him. Once she gets in, she finds her son huddled in his bed, his room is destroyed, and Robert is sitting on the foot of the bed as if nothing happened. This caused his parents to put Robert into the attic forever.

Years later, when Gene’s parents died, he inherited the house and moved in with his wife. While they were in the process of moving in, they found Robert in the attic. Gene looked at him and again fell under Roberts’s influence. His wife looks his way and swears she saw Robert’s facial expression turn into a smirk, and she makes sure Robert stays in the attic. Gene is upset by this and thinks Robert should be placed in a room in the house. His wife gave in, but Robert did what he did, and it caused Gene to be put back into the attic. This didn’t stop Robert, though. Sometimes Robert would be heard walking back and forth in the attic while they would be having people over for dinner, or evenings would be disrupted by demonic giggling. Other people passing by swear to have seen the doll in the window mocking the school children. Gene would try to keep Robert in the attic but would constantly find Robert rocking in Gene’s rocking chair by the turret room.

Gene Otto or Robert Otto died in 1972, and people thought Robert’s evilness might stop now that Gene had passed. How I wish it was that simple. A new family bought Otto’s family home and had a ten-year-old daughter. She found Robert, and he traumatized her. This woman still thinks Robert is out to kill her and that he is alive whether or not you believe in the supernatural. Nowadays, people can find Robert in the Martello Museum or the Custom House. You might want to remember that cameras tend not to work around Robert. If your camera does end up working, ensure you get Roberts’s persimmon for taking a photo because if you don’t, he will make sure you pay for it. There is a Facebook page for him as well, and it allows people to say sorry to him if they felt Robert cursed them. For most of the year Robert is at the Martello Museum but for the month of October they place him in the Custom House. They do this because he becomes more active during this time of year. Employees also say they leave a bag of peppermints in his case to keep him from misbehaving and they swear each morning many of the peppermints have been eaten.

Robert has also been known to pull games while at the museum. He has been known to play with the lights, get out of his cage and walk around, put himself in different positions, or place his hand on the glass of his cage. He is something I wouldn’t want to mess around with, but I do find him to be one of the most incredible things ever to be on Earth. Also, if you were wondering where this all happened, this happened in Key West, Florida. If you decide to see him, be respectful; if not, then good luck!

Fort East Martello Museum address: 3501 South Roosevelt Boulevard, Key West, FL 33040 – This is the museum Robert is kept in.

Custom House (Key West Museum of Art and History) address: 281 Front Street, Key West, FL 33040 – This is a museum now that help holds Robert when he tends to be more active

The Artist House Key West address: 534 Eaton Street, Key West, FL 33040 – This is Otto’s family home which is now a bed and breakfast. Many people like to go since it was basically Robert’s home as well, and at night people claim they can hear something or someone walking in the attic and turret room. Many believe it to be Robert, but this is actually Anne (Gene’s wife) who passed away in the house and tries to protect it from Robert.

I used the book “Weird Ghost” compiled by Joanne Austin and presented by Mark Moran and Mark Sceurman. Robert, the Doll section is by Scott A. Johnson.