Casefile Clues

06 March 2014

A 1914 Unclaimed Body


I always take what is in newspaper articles with a grain of salt. Sometimes I take them with a shaker of salt.

The person mentioned in this article is one that I have researched quite a bit. This 1914 article mentions the "discovery" of his body and the discovery some time later of who he actually was.

Most of what is in the newspaper article is consistent with other records and if I had not researched Fecht there would have been quite a few clues here.

The nature of his death suggests coroner or other similar records in Laketon, Indiana. Newspapers in the area should be referenced as well for a mention of the incident.

The statement that Fecht "figured conspicuously in the local courts" is true. The real estate transaction referenced in the article is one that was appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Fecht did not have two brothers. He had only one brother, Harm. That's made clear in the will and probate records of their father, Martin, and the volumes of court testimony. John's probate records also make no mention of any other relatives besides his brother. If I had not searched the probate records of Martin (the father) the reference to the "considerable money" John inherited would have more than suggested it.

It is possible that someone heard "there were two Fecht brothers," meaning Harm and John and took it to mean that there were two brothers left after John. I'm not really certain for the reason behind the error, but this newspaper account is the only place where that reference appears. As no other item mentions another brother (other than this newspaper account), I'm discounting it and will mention it in the information I have on the family, but I'm not giving any credence to the "two brother" statement. No matter how you read  Genealogy Standards  a newspaper account as the only point of reference for a statement (when there are more credible sources indicating something to the contrary) is a pretty weak. I'm discounting it.

John's story actually is a sad one which I've written about in my newsletter. He apparently struggled with mental challenges for most of his life.

[Fecht is a first cousin of my great-grandmother Tjode (Goldenstein) Habben (1881-1954).]