Archive for Tuesday, May 14, 2013

100 years ago: Little boy disappears from Lawrence neighborhood

May 14, 2013


From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for May 14, 1913:

  • "Billie Bob Atkinson, five year old son of Mr. and Mrs. S. W. Atkinson, is lost. It is feared that the Kaw River has claimed this little life and that the deep muddy waters hold the secret of the child's whereabouts. Billie Bob disappeared last night. He was missed at home about eight o'clock at night and the search which has not yet been given up was begun then. But as the time draws on and nothing is heard from the little fellow the fear that he has met with a mishap has increased until hope is almost abandoned. The Kansas river might slay or confirm the fears of the almost frantic parents, but the Kaw flows steadily onward, keeping its secret to itself.... Billie Bob had been gone from home before but he was always found with very little difficulty.... But the minutes grew into hours and night settled down. Midnight came and the searching party had grown to nearly fifty.... Mayor Bond was notified of the child's disappearance. He ordered the fire bell rung and the fire whistle blown. For nearly half an hour the bell tolled spreading the alarm. The telephone centrals were informed of the disappearance of the child.... Hundreds of men with lanterns responded to the call, and within half an hour after the general alarm had been sounded nearly a thousand men were hunting through the ravines in west Lawrence. They looked through the alleys, in the barns, a party of men went through the west Lawrence storm sewer, Central Park was searched, one party went to the Pinckney school and a thorough search of the grounds was made. Every place where the child might have gone was looked over, but the searchers found no trace of the missing boy.... The first clue and the only one was the finding of the little fellow's tricycle abandoned on the parking at the foot of Tennessee street. Billie Bob was seen to go down the steps at the foot of Tennessee street toward the river last night by one of the residents of that neighborhood. Perhaps it was 8 o'clock. That is the last that is known to have been seen of him.... Little Billie Bob Atkinson was an extremely popular child in his neighborhood, and in fact everywhere in the city. Perhaps no child in Lawrence was as well known as Billie Bob. He was a very likeable little fellow and he made friends wherever he went.... He was light hearted and always happy and contented. He was the youngest of the family and quite naturally was petted and humored by his older brothers and sisters."
  • "One of the features of the Annual K.U. Commencement is the reunion of the classes of the past. This year the first class to ever graduate from K.U. will hold its fortieth anniversary. It is the class of 1873 and is composed of the following persons: Mrs. Flora Richardson Coleman of this city, Ralph Collins of Wilkinsburg, Pa., L. D. Tosh of Kansas City, Kansas, and Murray Harris of Baird, Texas."
  • "There is a mild sort of a baseball strike on in Lawrence just now. Last night four members of the Lawrence ball team informed Manager Edmondson that they would not play on the team at the salary they received last Sunday. It is understood that they will not participate in the game next Sunday. Manager Edmondson stated last night that he could obtain plenty of ball players and that he would have these men's places filled by next Sunday. The affair is not of a serious nature and need not impair the quality of baseball Lawrence fans are given this season."


Sarah St. John 5 years, 1 month ago

Yes, there will be several follow-ups on the little boy's disappearance. Although (SPOILER) it did NOT result in a happy ending, I thought readers might be interested in the process that followed today's events. I was touched to see how "nearly a thousand" turned out to comb the town for this child.

This story will continue at intervals for the next ten days or so. Thank you for reading.

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