It’s astounding how easy the internet has made background research. If I find it useful to write an entry on missing people, newspapers.com has given me the tools to write something with period conviction, i.e., the flavor of the time. The search phrase “missing child” led me to a series of articles about a child who disappeared from her Terre Haute, Indiana, newspaper route one Sunday in 1929, and the ensuing two-month search. Adapting their language and the details gender, geography, etc.), and adding an introductory article of my own concoction, has generated these four news items from three local newspapers:
From the Daily Plantagenet:
MISSING CHILD // Dierdorf Boy Has Disappeared. // Massive Search Underway. // AGINCOURT, Ia., Jan 28.— Harry Dierdorf, 10-year-old son of Abner and Thelma Dierdorf, of rural Nimby, is reported missing. Fennimore county sheriff’s deputies have instituted a search in the area between Agincourt and Nimby. At the present time, there is no reason to assume foul play. // When last seen on his way to a paper route in Agincourt, Harry was wearing blue corduroy pants and white shirt. He is three feet tall, thin, and has brown hair and eyes. If seen, call the Fennimore sheriff at Agincourt 1234.
From the Fort Dodge, IA Plaintiff:
FAIL TO LOCATE MISSING CHILD // Small Party Still Seeking Iowa Boy Who Disappeared. // AGINCOURT, Ia., Feb. 1.— Persistent searchers again tramped the dreary region call the Barrens seeking Harry Dierdorf, 10-year-old boy, who has been missing since last Sunday. // Young Dierdorf left his rural Nimby home early that morning for the eight mile walk into Agincourt, the county town, where he had a paper route to help the family’s financial situation. What should have taken no more than five or six hours, and brought him home for Sunday dinner, dragged on. By six o’clock, the Dierdorfs joined hands in prayer. At eight, Mr Dierdorf walked to a neighbor’s house to telephone the sheriff. // By Tuesday, nearly five hundred volunteers had assembled, scouring Harry’s usual route and one mile on either side. By Thursday, a pilot from the Tri-County Crop Dusting Service was searching from the air. // Rewards totaling $2,500 have been offered.
From the Daily Plantagenet:
NO TRACE IS FOUND OF NIMBY CHILD // Harry Dierdorf Vanishes Completely—His Newspaper Bag Is Blood Stained. // AGINCOURT, Ia., Sat., Feb. 2.— Harry Dierdorf, 10-year-old rural Nimby newsboy, has vanished as completely as some of the characters in “Alice in Wonderland”, a book he was fond of reading. // Fennimore county sheriff Joe Pyne admitted today they were without a clue, except for the boy’s blood-stained newspaper bag, which was found by a deep water hole Thursday afternoon. // The citizens of Agincourt have subscribed a reward of $2,000. // Nearly 500 searchers have combed the countryside, first in the swath of open land between Agincourt and the boy’s home near Nimby, and then outward. The NITC interurban tracks, ditches, and the Barrens received special attention, without finding a trace of the missing child. // Dr. Henk Cuijpers, county coroner, has announced his analysis of the stains on the newspaper bag, concluding they were human blood. The stain was approximately four inches wide and unlikely to have been accidental. Strands of hair matted with the blood clot indicated, police said, that the bag might have been used to cover a wound in the child’s head and to stifle his screams.
From the Storm Lake, IA Patriot:
BODY OF MISSING CHILD IS FOUND // Believed That of Harry Dierdorf of Nimby, Iowa. // EVIDENCE OF A MURDER // The body of a boy about 10 years old, believed by police to be that of Harry Dierdorf, of Nimby, Ia., was found in The Barrens, fewer than three miles from his rural Nimby home, this afternoon. The boy disappeared last January 27th. // The body was found using the keen sense of smell of Poppy, the golden retriever of Dr Henk Cuijpers, M.D., of Agincourt. // Once the crime scene had been generally established, heavy equipment lent by the NITC traction company excavated the marshy site. The body was recovered only two or three feet below the surface. The boy’s feet were bound with bailing wire. // Young Dierdorf was located two miles from where his blood-stained newspaper bag was found. But the bog had filled with water from melting snow and recent rain, obscuring tracks and other traces. Harry still wore the corduroy trousers he had on the Sunday of his disappearance.