Monday, April 16, 2018

On This Date in Minnesota History: April 16

April 16, 1918 – The mystery of the disappearance of James Edward Marple, the Minneapolis compositor who has been missing since 1 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 14, has been solved with the discovery this morning of his body in the Mississippi River three and a half miles north of the Crow Wing station.

The floating remains were discovered by a river driver in the employ of the Mississippi and Rum River Boom Company. Coroner Gibson ordered the body removed to Brainerd where Jay henry Long, a brother-in-law of the deceased, positively identified the body at 10 this evening. Identification was only made possible by a ring, which was a wedding gift from his wife, and by the general appearance of the remains, which were badly bloated and gave evidence of having been in the water for several weeks. The ring bore a part of an original inscription that read “From Glory to Eddie. Sept. 24, 1905.” The words “To Eddie” were obliterated in the repairing of the ring, which was accidentally broken a year or two ago.

The generally accepted theory both at Brainerd and in Minneapolis is that Marple boarded a train in Minneapolis with the intention of going to Brainerd to visit his sister, Mrs. Long. He went to Staples and there caught the Northern Pacific Duluth train for Brainerd. Trains entering Brainerd from the west must cross a bridge that spans the Mississippi inside the Brainerd yard limits.

Brainerd Railroad Bridge1

Coroner Gibson believes that the train may have stopped on the bridge, being blocked by a switch engine or a freight, and that Marple thinking he was at the depot, alighted from his coach and fell into the river; a drop of about 30 feet. The theory of foul play is given no credence from the fact that the body bears no marks of violence and from the further fact that in his pockets when the remains were recovered was $13 in cash. A book of rules of Minneapolis Typographical Union No. 42 was also found in the clothing.

Since the disappearance of her husband, Mrs. Marple has been failing in health and when news of Mr. Marple’s remains was given to her this evening, it resulted in her almost total collapse. Both she and her husband have been employed in the mechanical department of the “Minneapolis Journal” for the past 11 or 12 years, she as a linotype operator and he as a compositor. They have no children.

The Minneapolis Tribune; “Marple’s Disappearance Solved by the Discovery of His Body. Corpse of Missing Printer Found in Mississippi River Near Crow Wing Station, and Is identified by His Brother-in-Law—Man Mysteriously Left Minneapolis on Jan. 14th—Believed to Have Stepped Off Train to Fall Into the Water—No Indications of Foul Play.”; April 17, 1918; p. 1.


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