Archive for Tuesday, September 6, 2011

100 years ago: Lawrence woman disappears during train ride

September 6, 2011


From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for Sept. 6, 1911:

"Do you want to buy the post office in Lawrence? It is for sale. At any rate the city treasurer says it is and he ought to know. The situation is just this. The government has gone to great expense to put up a fine building and has equipped it with every modern convenience. But it has failed to pay its special improvement taxes. Therefore the county treasurer has the building on his list for sale. Do you want to buy this splendid new building? If so go to the county treasurer and get a tax deed for it."

"The books for the school year of 1911 and 1912 were opened by Registrar Foster at the University today, and at 2 o'clock twenty-four had registered.... From all indications there will be more than 2,500 enrolled this fall.... The returning students will not note as many improvements during vacation as have been seen at times in the past, but everything has been kept in good shape considering the drought. The first wing of the new administration building has been nearly finished and the grounds in front have been brought to grade, which adds greatly to its appearance."

"William Brown, who was afflicted with heart failure last week, was reported to have had a second attack last night and to be in a critical condition. Mr. Brown is the janitor of the city hall."

"Mrs. O. F. Bullock of this city left yesterday for a visit with relatives in Springfield, Mo., but according to word that has been received here from those relatives, she did not arrive and it is not known what has become of her. [Her daughter] Miss Bullock accompanied her mother as far as Kansas City and safely aboard the St. Louis & San Francisco train, which left the Union Depot at 11 o'clock and was due to arrive in Springfield at 6:25 last night. Immediately after the arrival of the train at Springfield, the relatives at that point telegraphed the daughter in Lawrence that the mother was not aboard the train. Miss Bullock returned to Kansas City in the hope of being able to find some clew as to her mother's whereabouts."


Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 6 months ago

I can't seem to find a thing about her online. Stay tuned to '100 years ago' for more details!

Sarah St. John 6 years, 6 months ago

This is going to keep me up nights, I swear. I figured there would surely be a follow-up in one of the following days. I checked for a week ahead and kept on checking. They just dropped the story, apparently! (At least, I haven't found it yet....) I wonder if there was a massive cover-up... The Mysterious Case of Mrs. O. F. Bullock....

Also, I love how they were still spelling it as "clew" in 1911. I thought that was a "chiefly British" spelling (as they say in the old Merriam-Webster) but here it was in Kansas.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 6 months ago

That's very true. But I have a "running away" fantasy thing. And I want Mrs. O. F. Bullock to be leaving of her own free will, I would not want the story to include her being forced into anything that she did not want to do.

Not after her running away, anyway. Before that, of course, there were problems that had caused her to run away in the first place. And after that, there was a life of freedom for her.

I like to think of 'The Mysterious Case of Mrs. O. F. Bullock' as being a well planned out running away, which she kept hidden from everyone. No one knew she was going to do it, and her whereabouts were forever after a mystery from everyone in Lawrence.

And, what she was actually running away from was her cruel and uncaring husband. That's a plot that was very typical of old Victorian novels.

Mrs. O. F. Bullock packed her bags, collected money, and prepared for a totally different life under a different name, which was very easy to do in 1911.

And then, write a whole new biographical story.

At one point much later in the story is to come the statement:

"Mrs. Bullock looked into the (insert adjectives of your choice) eyes of the man she knew would be her new husband. And then, her name would no longer be Mrs. Bullock. She would never be reminded of her old husband's cruelty again."

Just - don't include Lawrence anymore!

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 6 months ago

Whoops, I meant for this to be a response to none2. Sorry!

I think this plot lline is reminiscent of one of the Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but it would take me months to determine the exact one.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 6 months ago

Clew - Definition of Clew is presented by 1913 online Webster's Dictionary. See Definition n. 2.

Clew Definition of Clew Pronunciation: klū n. 1. A ball of thread, yarn, or cord; also, The thread itself. Untwisting his deceitful clew. - Spenser. 2. That which guides or directs one in anything of a doubtful or intricate nature; that which gives a hint in the solution of a mystery. The clew, without which it was perilous to enter the vast and intricate maze of countinental politics, was in his hands. - Macaulay. 3. (Naut.) A lower corner of a square sail, or the after corner of a fore-and-aft sail. Clew garnet (Naut.) one of the ropes by which the clews of the courses of square-rigged vessels are drawn up to the lower yards. Clew line (Naut.) a rope by which a clew of one of the smaller square sails, as topsail, topgallant sail, or royal, is run up to its yard. Clew-line block (Naut.) The block through which a clew line reeves. See Illust. of Block. v. t. 1. To direct; to guide, as by a thread. [imp. & p. p. Clewed p. pr. & vb. n. Clewing.] Direct and clew me out the way to happiness. - Beau. & Fl. 2. (Naut.) To move of draw (a sail or yard) by means of the clew garnets, clew lines, etc.; esp. to draw up the clews of a square sail to the yard. To clew down (Naut.) to force (a yard) down by hauling on the clew lines. To clew up (Naut.) to draw (a sail) up to the yard, as for furling.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 6 months ago

Actually, I wasn't a bit surprised by the spelling of "clew", because I read a lot of kid's mystery books from the early 1900s when I was young, and that is simply how it was spelled back then.

So, when I read the article, I never even noticed the archaic spelling.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 6 months ago

That's a book for you to write, Sarah. Here, I'll help you out by getting you started!

'The Mysterious Case of Mrs. O. F. Bullock' - by Sarah St. John

"It was a dark and stormy night when Mrs. O. F. Bullock boarded the train at the station, headed east. She took one last look back at the town of Lawrence, which she knew she would never see again,,, "

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 6 months ago

"It was a dark and stormy night,,," is the beginning line of every one of Snoopy's novels that he was forever typing on top of his doghouse, did anyone notice that?

msmacgregor 6 years, 6 months ago

It appears from looking at census records she was about 74 years old when she disappeared if this is the same woman. In 1920 she was living with a granddaughter and her family.

Danielle Brunin 6 years, 6 months ago

Maybe her granddaughter was a cruel woman who only wanted her fortune so at 74 years old she was forced to escape and start a new life. However, she didn't count on a mysterious young stranger sweeping her off her feet. The mysterious stranger planned to capture her fortune, but he didn't count on her capturing his heart...

Sarah St. John 6 years, 6 months ago

My genealogical-researching sister sent me all the census data she could find. Msmacgregor, probably the same stuff you already saw. Here's the rundown:

(Mostly from census data and Find-A-Grave, I think) --

Olivia Frances Woodward Bullock was born 3 March 1833 in Illinois to James W and Mary Blakemore Woodward, both of Virginia.

She married John Wesley Bullock on 14 March 1853. He was born 16 March 1819 near Montreal, Canada. He worked as a carpenter all his life except during the Civil War, when he served the Union Army: 8 May 1861 enlisted as First Sergeant 5 Aug 1861 joined Company C, Illinois 41st Infantry Regiment 15 Nov 1861 promoted to 2nd Lieutenant 15 Oct 1862 promoted to 1st Lieutenant 14 Aug 1843 mustered out

They had: 1. Margaret A. Bullock Woodward (4 October 1858 in Illinois - 23 October 1918, buried in Clinton Cemetery, Section 4 Lot 12) 2. S.W. Bullock (died) 3 & 4 who died 5. Minnie Olive Bullock

1853: marriage 1858: Maggie born 1860: Olivia & John were living in Clinton, DeWitt Co, Illinois, with daughter Maggie (2). 1861-63: John serves in Civil War, after which they settle in Clinton, Douglas Co, Kansas (I suspect the 3 children who died were born in here) 1870: Olivia & John were living in Clinton, KS, with Maggie (12). 1873: Minnie born 1875: Olivia & John & Maggie & Minnie were living in Clinton, KS. 1880-85: Olivia & John were living in Clinton, KS, with daughter Minnie. 1895: Olivia & John were still in Clinton, KS. 20 January 1900 - John died and was buried in Clinton Cemetery 1900: after her husband's death, Olivia was living in Clinton, KS, with her widowed daughter Maggie and Maggie's three daughters (Myrtle, Mabel and Myra) 1905-1910: she was still living with Maggie, as was her widowed brother-in-law James K. Bullock (79)

[6 Sep 1911 - she goes missing on her way to visit relatives, at the age of 78? Maybe she didn't like her brother-in-law. Or maybe she just got off on the wrong stop.]

1915: she was living with just Maggie.

On 2 January 1920 she was living in Lawrence with granddaughter Mabel and her husband Harry Green (at 23 East 11th St).

Olivia died 11 August 1920, and is buried in Clinton Cemetery (Section 4 Lot 11), Clinton, Douglas County, Kansas

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