At the end of the last post, Judge Nathan Q. Tanquary – who had been presumed dead for just over a month – unexpectedly communicated to his wife that he was in Peru, and heading home to Texas.

Upon his return to Fort Stockton, the judge lost no time in explaining what had befallen him in Alpine and the strange odyssey he embarked upon afterward. He wrote his whole story to the El Paso Herald, as a thank you for their support during his time of need, and they ran the story on the front page on the 16 April 1913 edition. I’m leaving the judge’s article just as he wrote it.

Carried Off to Peru, as in a Dream

“I take this opportunity to thank you personally for the stand which your paper has taken in my behalf during the terrible ordeal which myself and especially my family passed through. I assure you it is no small matter to have some one stand for you when a great crisis is on., and I think it is due to you that I write you as fully as I can, what occurred.

His Statement.

On the morning of March 1, I left my home for Fort Stockton, attended to some business there on the 3d and on the morning of the 4th appeared as a witness before the grand jury then in session there. Leaving there, I went immediately to Alpine to look over and pay for some reservoir work which I was having done for Mr. Murphy some 13 miles out of Alpine. I had some cash with me, about $250. This reservoir work is not on the Alpine road but the road made from the camp comes into the Alpine road about 10 miles out from town, and here I met Ira Hector, the contractor for this job, and in talking with him, I learned he would expect more money than I had, hence I went into the bank of Alpine and cashed two drafts amounting to $500.

The town of Alpine, in April 1913

While on this road, I made arrangements with Mr. Hector to come there that night and stay over night at the camp. After transacting the business at the bank, I went to a restaurant in the Masonic temple and had lunch about 4 o’clock in the afternoon and an hour or so later, started for Hector’s camp in my automobile.

While I was at lunch, a man I had never seen before, but who called me by name, came in and talked with me about going out to the Hector camp and after a suggestion or two on unimportant matters, went out. Although as I say, I had never seen this man before, I would know him now among a thousand.

The Mysterious Stranger.

When I had got out a few miles from Alpine, I overtook this same man walking in the same direction I was going. He stepped out to the right hand side of the road and indicated for me to stop, that he wanted to speak to me.

When I had stopped, he asked me if I had met anyone in an automobile. I told him I had not unless it would have been just as I was coming out of Alpine. He explained to me that he had just come into the road and was looking for someone in an automobile and thought they might have passed before he came into the road.

In the meantime, my engine, which was not in very good working order, stopped and I had to get out to crank it.

I remember absolutely nothing after that for several days. I do not remember any one striking me while I was on the ground or at any time, yet from the terrible pain, I know that I was struck on the back of the head. And the surgeon who examined me at Callao said that the blow was delivered just at the base of the brain.

Whether I was afterwards drugged, I do not know, but the taste in my mouth and the feeling I had was not like that I have after being at a Woman’s Club banquet.

Everything a Blank.

Everything even now seems a blank. Although I have a hazy recollection of being on a dark closed car, but it is too indistinct to give anything definite. When I recovered consciousness, I was in a small cabin on some blankets on a freight boat with no one on board except a small crew of Peruvians, who were taking a cargo, principally oil, to Callao, Peru.

None of these men could speak a word of English but as nearly as I could learn from them, they were on the Gulf of California below Guaymas, and after a day or two they wanted money from me to pay fare. I finally managed to gather from them that someone brought me on board and told them that I was in poor health and was going to Palia for my health, that I had plenty of money and would pay them well.

Had Nothing Left.

I succeeded in showing them, I think, making them fully understand, that I had absolutely nothing. Not even a watch, pen knife or a paper of any kind or description. I stood absolutely stripped of worldly except my clothes, and no friends in sight.

I think I made them understand that I was there against my will for when they understood they were very kind and gave me as good as they had. They offered to take me ashore at two or three places, but these places were small and no way out, hence I preferred to stay with them until I might find a place with English speaking people.

When I reached Callao, their destination, I found, almost immediately a J. W. Hazlett, who some years ago lived in Colorado Springs Colorado, when I tried a law suit there. He and J.P. Johnson assisted me in arranging and getting some money for a little clothing and my expenses home. I might add that when I left Alpine I had on my person some papers which might have been thought to be of great value in a case pending at Fort Stockton, but which were really of but little value.

Again thanking you for your good spirit in this matter.

I remain,

“Very truly yours,

“N.Q. Tanquary.



I wish I had been able to find a picture of the judge, and I really wish he had provided a bit more detail about those Woman’s Club banquets he attended.

I don’t know, you guys. Even with Judge Tanquary’s unimpeachable reputation, there’s something about this whole story that seems just a lit-tle bit fishy.

I happened to read the judge’s explanation while I was looking for something else, and I thought it was a joke – like The Onion, circa 1913. But it turned out to be a real story… though whether the judge was being 100% truthful may be up for debate!

It’s been a while since I posted anything. I’ve been working on another project that I’m really excited about — a book about a 1901 court case. It was originally going to be a post on this blog but I kept digging and learning more interesting things about the story, so it’s going to be a book instead.

For tonight, I have something unrelated and magnificent.

Let me introduce you to Judge Nathan Q. Tanquary, of Fort Stockton, Texas. We meet him in the spring of 1913, when he is about 58 years old. Prior to moving to Texas, the judge lived in Denver, Colorado, where he built his career. From all accounts, the judge was beloved by all.  The papers described Nathan Q. as “a man of fine character and genial manners”.

I should warn you, it’s probably wise to take the newspaper accounts of the judge with a grain of salt, since they appear to be so star-struck by him. Beginning in 1896, the press ran regular, fawning coverage of the judge and whatever he happened to be doing, even if that was nothing. Here are a few examples:

The Columbus Daily Advocate, June 1900
        Lead Daily Call, January 1907


The Columbus Daily Advocate, May 1911








When he moved to Texas, Fort Stockton quickly recognized Judge Tanquary as a state treasure. The El Paso Herald wrote that after just two years, the judge already enjoyed “great popularity and influence” in the Lone Star state.

Everything seemed to be going swimmingly for Judge Tanquary… until March 15, 1913. Beware the Ides of March! The judge had gone on a business trip but did not return when expected. His wife Lillian, growing anxious, managed to arrange for a search party to go out and find her husband. Unfortunately, the posse didn’t find Nathan Q…. and what they did find made things look bad for the judge.

The morning headlines in the El Paso Herald told the terrible tale:

El Paso Herald, March 1913


It seemed there was no hope for the judge… or was there? When the posse came back without the judge’s body, people began to wonder if the esteemed judge might be alive after all. Wild conspiracy theories began to emerge, like The Herald’s speculation that Nathan Q. has lost his mind and is wandering on the mesas.

But then, incredibly, two cablegrams from the judge himself arrived. The messages were fairly cryptic: he simply said he was in Peru and starting for home.

El Paso Herald, March 1913


El Paso Herald, Apr 9,1913












So, what happened to Judge Tanquary? How did he leave from Texas to drive to Colorado, then disappear for a month – only to resurface in Peru?

The celebrity judge did not let his people down: as a matter of fact, he published the whole story.  Stay tuned for the follow up post!

Dorothy Harriet Camille Arnold was one of the earliest high-profile missing persons in the twentieth century. The facts of her case are sparse but suggestive of a darker story. Dorothy was the daughter of a Manhattan millionaire. She was 25 years old when she disappeared.

Dorothy enjoyed writing, and aspired to become a novelist. Manuscripts she submitted to publishers were rejected, a fact Dorothy was anxious to hide. She rented a post office box where she kept the manuscripts, away from the prying eyes of her family and their servants.

Privacy was obviously an issue, and Dorothy wanted to live on her own. She was a clever woman with a college degree, she was fluent in several languages, and she was independently wealthy. Yet she lived with her parents in a mansion on East 79th Street because her father forbade her to move out.

Dorothy disappeared on a December afternoon in 1910. She left home on foot to go shopping for an evening dress around 1:30p.m., wearing a long blue coat over a blue dress and carrying about $25. Her mother offered to go with her, but Dorothy said she wanted to be alone.

When her movements were traced, investigators found she had first stopped to buy some chocolate and then went on to a bookstore called Brentano’s on Fifth Avenue, where she encountered a friend. The girls chatted for a few minutes before parting, and Dorothy purchased a book before she left. This was the last time she was ever seen.

Dorothy was not missed at once. Her family assumed she was staying with a friend when she failed to come home that night. It wasn’t until late the following day that they began to ask each other, Where is Dorothy? After phoning Dorothy’s friends, the Arnolds realized something must have happened to her.

Like most of the upper class of the time, Mr. Arnold had a deep aversion to publicity. Calling the police would garner too much attention, he insisted. The family hired private investigators instead, but they turned up few clues. The people she had encountered prior to disappearing said Dorothy seemed to be in good spirits. At the bookshop, she told her friend she was going for a walk in Central Park. Yet a search of the park turned up nothing.

At least one discovery was made, and it was a most unwelcome one for Dorothy’s family: unbeknownst to anyone, she had a boyfriend. His name was George C. Griscom, Jr., and he was a wealthy engineer who lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was also 44 years old.

Dorothy’s family was stunned to learn that she had spent a week with  him earlier that year, when she claimed to be visiting some friends from college. But Griscom was in Italy when Dorothy disappeared, and he was dismissed as a suspect. He said he had no idea what happened to Dorothy but hinted she was depressed about her faltering writing career.

A full month passed, and the Arnolds finally told the police of Dorothy’s disappearance. Just as Mr. Arnold had feared, the case became highly publicized. The story, and pictures of Dorothy appeared in newspapers as far away as Europe. However, no viable leads were generated.

There were a few theories as to Dorothy Arnold’s fate:

Dorothy’s father began to believe she had been attacked and murdered and her body dropped into a reservoir in Central Park. “The one theory to which I have always leaned is that she was kidnapped and made away with in a short time,” he told a journalist. This theory isn’t outlandish, but it isn’t a slamdunk, either. Dorothy was young and strong and may not have been easy to subdue. Also, no witnesses of an attack came forward. And no viable suspects were put forward by people hoping to gain a reward.

Another theory was that Dorothy had killed herself. Griscom believed this might be the case, and we know that she was very sensitive about the rejected manuscripts. Dorothy did want to go out alone that day, and perhaps she was upset about her writing. No one said she seemed upset though, and it seems strange for her to buy a book before killing herself. And, no one ever found her body.

Some people theorized she had died during a botched abortion, but there was no evidence to back up such an assertion. Hospital records showed no one matching Dorothy’s description had come in or been brought in in the days and weeks following her disappearance.

It’s unlikely, but not impossible, that she would have staged her disappearance to start a new life somewhere else. It’s worth noting that Dorothy was a secretive person and there were aspects of her life which she kept hidden from her family. That afternoon, she said she was going out to buy a dress, something she never attempted to do. The $25 in her pocket would not last forever, but perhaps she had been secretly saving money and had more with her. Dorothy’s mother, who lived until 1928, never believed her daughter was dead. Was this mother’s intuition… or wishful thinking? Still, at some point, had Dorothy lived, would she not have eventually contacted her family or Griscom?

The mystery of Dorothy Arnold’s disappearance is still unsolved.