Wife and Baby Left By Husband

CW: Talk of suicide, but it gets happier.

When I try new newspaper databases, I test how sensitive their search engine is by typing in the name of one of my uniquely-named relatives. This is the first article I saw when I plugged in one of my go-to names in an Evansville, Indiana database.

Find By Farmer May Tell Story of Another Suicide. Police at Work On the Case. Shoes, Trousers and Undershirt Are Found Four Miles Above the City. Absence of Hat Puzzles Officers - The Creek May Be Dragged. A suit of clothes found Tuesday on the banks of a creek four miles above the city are thought by the police to tell the story of another suicide. Who the owner of the clothing is is a mystery they have not yet been able to solve and the only clue they have is a card bearing the name of Fred Delgman. Mr. Delgman was seen by the police and denied all knowledge of the clothes that were found on the creek bank. A farmer discovered the pile of clothing Monday evening as he was going along the creek bank. He took the articles to the house and notified the police of his find Tuesday morning. Chief Heuke and Detective Hutchens went to the creek Tuesday afternoon and brought the clothing back to the city. The famer turned over to them a pair of trousers with suspenders attached, and undershirt and a pair of good black shoes. No hat or overshirt was found.
The officers were at first of the opinion that the clothes belonged to Coonroad Benner, who has been missing since Saturday, but an investigation by The Courier developed the fact that Benner wore a pair of tan shoes when he was last seen Saturday. The police are now of the opinion that the garments were worn by some one in the city who went to the creek with the intention either of committing suicide or taking a swim. That they have not been notified of his disappearance is doubtless due to the fact that it was a person who had no regular home or was in the habit of remaining away without notifying his family. The absence of the hat is one of the puzzling circumstances of the mystery and if it was not for the good quality of the shoes and clothing the police would be inclined to belief that they were discarded by some hobo. The place on the creek bank where the clothing was found is among thick timber and offers an ideal spot for any one who was seeking a place to end his life. The police will continue the investigation and will probably have the creek dragged.
“Clothing Found on Creek Bank,” Evansville Courier and Press, Evansville, IN, 3 Jul 1901, p. 2, col. 4, par. 1

This sad story featured in the Evansville Courier in July 1901 is how I learned that my 2nd great-grandmother Lena Benner‘s, brother Conrad, disappeared from his family.

Wife and Baby Left By Husband. Conrad Benner Strangely Missing Since Last Saturday. Wife Believes Him Dead. Had Been Out of Employment Some Time and Was Despondent. Police Accept Suicide Theory; Mrs. Benner Goes to Her Parents. Without a word of farewell or explanation to his family, Conrad Benner left his home at 205 West Maryland street Saturday afternoon and has not been seen since. His disappearance is shrouded in the deepest mystery and every effort of the police to find a clue to his whereabouts has so far been without result. The young wife he left in their little cottage with a year old baby waited until Tuesday afternoon for some news of her missing husband. Then she came to the conclusion that he was dead and packing a few articles of clothing for herself and baby, left for the home of her parents in Posey county.
Benner was never addicted to drink and had no bad habits. For some time he had been out of employment and was consequently considerably in debt. While he was of a jovial disposition as a rule he had been despondent for the last few days and had frequently talked of the debts that were piling up against him. His wife tried to get him to look on the bright side of life and endeavored to convince him that there was a better time coming for them all. Saturday he was engaged to tend bar at a saloon in Pennsylvania street and left home in apparently good spirits, after kidding his wife and baby goodbye. Sunday he did not return and Mrs. Benner became so uneasy that she asked the police to try and locate her husband. Benner moved to Evansville about three years ago and engaged in the saloon business in Fulton avenue. He did not make a success of the business and has had no regular employment for several months. Benner has a sister living in Fifth avenue. She is of the opinion that her brother ended his life on account of despondency at not being able to secure regular employment
“Wife and Baby Left By Husband,” Evansville Courier and Press, Evansville, IN, 3 Jul 1901, p. 1, col. 3, par. 2

Two days later, Conrad is still missing.

Benner Still Missing. The police have not yet received information regarding the whereabouts of Conrad Benner. Benner left his home in West Maryland street Saturday night and has not been seen since.
“Benner Still Missing,” Evansville Courier and Press, Evansville, IN, 5 Jul 1901, p. 3, col. 7, par. 3

So, what happened? Were his wife’s and sister’s beliefs true? Was he offered another job while he was working at the saloon on Pennsylvania street that he had to leave for without telling his wife? Did poor Conrad start drinking to dull his frustrations?

I couldn’t find any more articles on his disappearance, but you may be as relieved as I was to see this 1910 census record.

1910 US Census, Indiana, Vanderburgh County, Evansville Ward 04, District 114, p. 17, accessed in Ancestry.com

What a relief! This census record is definitely one of my favorite finds.

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