Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Mrs. Denstadt's Task, Mrs. Lancz's Plea & Frederick Buetler's Rude Welcome to Pauperhood

Detroit Free Press, September 20, 1896

The disappearance of August Denstadt began on August 9, 1893 when he left for the World's Fair in Chicago along with a fellow tailor named Karapkot. Carrying $400 he embarked for a week or two journey but never returned to his home in Detroit. 

His mother, obviously concerned, contacted authorities and friends in Chicago land who oddly enough knew a farmer that had seen a man matching her son's description being whisked away to an insane asylum. The fact that August had been a patient at the Wayne County Asylum as a 17-year-old lent credence to the suggestion but the trail to that end ran cold.

Another suggestion is that he ran away to be with a woman named Bernhardt and they traveled on to California when Karapkot returned to Detroit. According to Karapkot, Denstadt had written him several times from his new home but refused to turn the letters over to the grieving mother. 

Why, you ask? Because they were in Latin and Mrs. Denstadt wouldn't be able to read them since she was only proficient in German! A mighty suspicious yarn for even that day and age. The fact that Karapkot returned only 3 days after the trip commenced suggests that Denstadt either met with foul play at his friend's hand or the man was his accomplice in disappearing. That he did and there is no trace of him thereafter.

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Detroit Free Press, March 29, 1913

Another mother missing her son and once again the papers yield no solution. Though I think it's safe to say that Bernard Lancz was probably just on a bender and most likely met with no foul play. Either way the festive fleur-di-lis emblazoned in the byline probably gave mama Lancz great comfort that all would turn out well.

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The Evening Argus, May 23, 1904

For all the folks these days crying out that journalism used to be the serious trade of earnest men need only read a few of yesteryear's dailies to see that they were gossipy rags as well. More surprising to me is the fact that a shoe salesman was worth $150,000 (or roughly $4 million in today's terms) at the turn of the 19th century! But Frederick Buetler lost his fortune and after being reduced to living off his brother was sent to the poorhouse upon his benefactor's death. Apparently, his estate wasn't in good order either. 

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