Archive for February 2nd, 2009

Lawrence Krug: Women, Insurance Policies and Arsenic

February 2, 2009


A Coroner Steps In to Make an Investigation of the Cause of Death.

CHICAGO, Jan 13. — Yesterday afternoon people in the vicinity of 553 Larrabee street were surprised to see the funeral of a girl known as Lucy Krug stopped by the police as it was about to leave the house, especially as soon after several detectives and Deputy Coroner Barrett and his assistants arrived to make an investigation as to the death. In September, 1885, Lawrence Krug, a captain, was married to Mrs. Heidelmeyer, a sister-in-law of Officer Heidelmeyer, of the Rawson street police station. Krug and hs bride started on a wedding trip to New York, he previously insuring his wife’s life for $1,000 in the Knights and Ladies of Honor. When on their wedding tour Mrs. Krug died and Krug was married again in New York. He had been at home but a few months, when this second wife, whose life had also been insured in the same association, died. Two months after her death he married Mrs. Albertine Rohr, who was nine years older than he. This was in September last. Six weeks later she was attacked with typhoid fever and died. This last Mrs. Krug was also insured in the Knights and Ladies of Honor. During her illness she was attended by Dr. Kalistein. Some comment was made at the time and some suspicions were aroused at her death by the fact that the insurance, which was made out to her daughter, Mrs. Charles Anderson, had been signed over to Krug.

Lucy Heidelmeyer, or Krug, as she was generally called, daughter of Krug’s first wife, was insured in the same association and the policy was made payable to her stepfather, Krug. He was placed under surveillance and Dr. Bluthardt will make a post mortem examination on the body.

Atchison Daily Globe (Atchison, Kansas) Jan 14, 1887


A Man Marries Three Wives in Two Years and They Die Mysteriously.

CHICAGO, Jan. 15. — Inquest was begun today on the body of Lucy Heidelmeyer, step-daughter of Lawrence Krug, whom it was believed that the latter had poisoned in order to obtain her life insurance. It had been shown that three wives of Krug, to whom he had been married within the space of two years, had all died somewhat mysteriously, and that they had all held life insurance policies which were made payable to him. The county physician said he had detected no trace of mineral or corrosive poison. Ida Schoenstein, who is a relative of the dead girl and attended her during her illness, testified that she had gone to a drug store for medicine prescribed by a doctor. It was a bright, clear liquid and after she had returned to the house with it Krug took it into the kitchen to see what was  in it, he said, and when he gave it back to her instead of being bright and clear it was cloudy. Other testimony of a character tending to throw suspicion upon Krug was given by relatives of the dead wives. Miss Schoenstein testified that on Monday when the body of Krug’s step-daughter was laid out in the front room, Krug called her aside and asked her to marry him. When she refused, he said: “You must, for I will make you.” Dr. M.G. Kellner testified that he had been called to attend deceased on Christmas. He was told that she was suffering from rheumatism and he prescribed for that malady. The next day he made a critical diagnosis and observed marked symptoms of lead poisoning. He began antidotal treatment for lead and the girl was improving when witness was notified by Krug that his services were no longer desired. Dr. John Simpson had been called to attend the third Mrs. Krug and prescribed for malarial fever, from which it appears she was suffering. Next day Krug notified him that another physician had been engaged. During the proceedings Krug had been quietly taken into custody and officers dispatched to his residence, where all articles of a suspicious nature were levied upon. Krug’s appearance on the stand at the outset of the examination created a rather favorable impression, except for the fact that he was excessively nervous.

Atchison Daily Globe (Atchison, Kansas) Jan 17, 1887


The Kruggs Poisoning Case.

CHICAGO, January 24. — It is now certain that Lucy Herdelmeyer was poisoned. Prof. Haines, of the Russ Medical College  has completed a chemical analysis of her stomach. He found traces of arsenic in every vital part. It was administered in such liberal quantities that the only wonder is that the girl lived as long as she did. Capt. Schaack also ascertained that Lawrence Krugg, the girl’s stepfather, who is being held to await the result of the investigation, lived for a long while with a celebrated chemist in Germany, and there gained extensive knowledge of the deadly qualities of various poisons. Yesterday Prof. Haines began an analysis of the remains of Krugg’s third wife, which were exhumed for that purpose last Thursday. Officers think they have a strong chain of circumstantial evidence against Krugg. The inquest on the step-daughter will be resumed this week and inquiry redoubled as to the four other deaths charged against Krugg. He has authorized the sale of two houses belonging to him in order to raise money to defend himself in the criminal court.

San Antonio Daily Express (San Antonio, Texas) Jan 25, 1887


Cord Tightening Around Krug’s Neck.

CHICAGO, Feb. 4. — The inquest on the body of Lucy Herdelmeyer, the young girl whose step-father, Lawrence Krug, is alleged to have poisoned, as well as two of his former wives, in order to obtain money from their life insurances, has been concluded. The jury returned a verdict to the effect that Lucy Herdelmeyer came to her death from arsenical poisoning, and that the poison was administered by Lawrence Krug with intent to commit murder. Krug will be held to await action of the grand jury.

Newark Daily Advocate (Newark, Ohio) Feb 4, 1887



CHICAGO, March 1. — The poisoning of another woman, making five in all, is to-night alleged against Lawrence Krug, who lies in the county jail suspected of murdering three wives and a stepdaughter. The supposed fifth victim is Gunda Schoeppner, a pretty 19-year-old daughter of Krug’s first wife’s sister. After much consultation Gunda’s friends and relatives to-day decided to ask an investigation by the County Physician. According to their statements Gunda was a close companion of her unfortunate cousin, Lucy Heidelmeyer, the stepdaughter whose death caused the arrest of Krug. At the funeral Gunda was present as befitted a near relative. Each time, she, like Lucy Heidelmeyer, was shocked by proposals of marriage from Krug even before the services for the dead were completed. The proposals were made in the presence of numerous witnesses. After the first advances Gunda made no effort to conceal her aversion to Krug, but continued to maintain her companionship with Lucy. About the time of Lucy’s death, a number of weeks ago, Gunda fell ill with a similar complaint, and, although given the best medical aid, her mysterious ailment is yet unconquered. While she has rallied somewhat during the past few days, the girl is in a critical condition. Her friends express the belief that Krug poisoned her out of pure malignity, in revenge for the undisquised contempt with which she treated him. Krug’s other four victims had assigned their life insurance to him, but in Gunda’s case no mercenary motive is apparent. Dr. Geifeldt, who has been in attendance upon Gunda, delines to talk upon the matter.

The New York Times, Mar 2, 1887

Joliet Prison

Joliet Prison

Wife Poisoner Krug Dead.

JOLIET, Ill., Sept. 16. — Lorenzo Krug, the poisoner of Lucy Heidlemeyer at Chicago, is dead. Krug was suspected of having poisoned three different wives previous to the time when Lucy Heidlemeyer became a victim. He is said to have poisoned his wives in order to obtain the insurance money on their lives. He was so tried not tried on these charges, but on the death of the Heidlemeyer woman he was convicted and sent to Joliet prison for eighteen years. During his short imprisonment Krug has rapidly declined in health, consumption ending his career this morning in the prison hospital.

Chicago Daily Tribune, Sep. 17, 1889

*Thanks to Kate from the P.A. Penn Genealogy Group for the Krug death notice.

No Fillings for the Whangdoodle in Bloomers

February 2, 2009
Woman in Bloomers

Woman in Bloomers

New Phase of the Bloomer Question.

A new phase of the bloomer question is disclosed by the dispatches from San Francisco.

According to these Mrs. Annie Kirk, of that city, has brought suit against Dr. W.A. Atwood, a dentist, for $250 damages because he refused even to examine her teeth after having agreed to put them in good condition. Dr. Atwood offers a decidedly novel defense. He says that when Mrs. Kirk visited his office to have her teeth overhauled she wore bicycle bloomers instead of skirts, and that he therefore declined to have any dealing with her in his professional capacity.

Has such a defense any force?

At first blush — if there are any blushes left in this bloomer age — one would say no. Most assuredly no business or professional man has any right to prescribe any code of dress for his customers — least of all his feminine customers. What concern is it to a man how a woman dresses — unless he pays the bills? What do men know about woman’s dress, anyhow? Whence the arrogance that prompts one dentist to regulate woman’s dress when all male creation could not regulate it if they abandoned everything else and combined in one great fusion for dominating the fashions?

At first blush, therefore, Dr. Atwood’s action in refusing to fill the teeth of Mrs. Kirk because she was not dressed to his liking was preposterous and utterly without justification. But some consideration must be given to the particular style of Mrs. Kirk’s costume. It was bloomers, a garb which defies both classification and justification. No dentist is obliged to fill the teeth of a whang-doodle*, or a jibjib**, or a dodo, and it is questionable if any jury would mulet him in damages for refusing to operate upon bloomers.

Dentistry requires skill and patience and steadiness of nerve, and it is safe to say that with most men a nightmare is hardly less contributive to these than a pair of bloomers.

Mrs. Kirk will doubtless have trouble in winning the suit she has instituted against Dr. Atwood. — Louisville Courier Journal.

Daily Telegram (Eau Claire, Wisconsin) Sep 13, 1897

Compiled and Edited by Albert Barrere and Charles G. Leland, M.A., Hon. F.RS.L.
The Ballantyne Press 1890

Whang-doodle (American). This eccentric word first appeared in on of the many “Hard-Shell Baptist” sermons which were so common in 1856. “Where the whang-doodle mourneth for her first-born.” It refers to some mystical or mythical creature. It was subsequently applied to political subjects, such as the Free Trade, Lecompton Democracy, &c.

**A “jibjib” is someone who is chatty, loquacious or nonsensical. (I had found an online reference for it, but lost the link and can’t find it again.)

Read about Amelia Bloomer and the Bloomer sensation in my previous post, “Amelia Bloomer, Dress Reform and Bloomers.”


Here is Annie Kirk’s obituary:

Annie S. Kirk

Final rites will be held in Memory Chapel at 2 p.m. tomorrow for Mrs. Annie Summers Kirk, who died Tuesday in a rest home in Fair Oaks, where she had lived for the past two years. Born in Germantown (Philadelphia), Pa., Jan. 21, 1869, she would have been 86 years old in two days from the date of her death.

Mrs. Kirk had lived in Placerville for about 45 years, and for a number of years had made her home on the Kirk ranch on Sacramento Hill. Although in years past she had taken part in social activities in the community, for the past several years she had been inactive due to failing health. She was a member of the Order of Eastern Star for 55 years, having transferred from San Francisco to the Fallen Leaf Chapter in her early days of membership. She had received her 50-year pin some time ago.

Although unable to take active part in club work, she was always willing to help financially in the organizations with which she was affiliated. She was a member of the Placerville Shakespeare club for at least 10 years, belonged to the Daughters of the Nile, Sacramento Temple, and was a member of the Episcopal church in Placerville.

Mrs. Kirk was the widow of William S. Kirk who passed away 16 years ago. He has been remembered for having been an early publisher of the Placerville Republican, a daily newspaper, the El Dorado Republican, a weekly, and even earlier, the Nugget. He became the first Ford Motors dealer in El Dorado county and maintained that dealership for many years. When he also attained the Dodge dealership and it conflicted with the Ford policy, he sold that one and retained the Dodge Brothers’ dealership, thus becoming the first Dodge dealer in the county and the founder of the Placerville Auto Co.

In 1938, the year before his death, Mr. and Mrs. Kirk celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary by taking the Shrine Cruise to Honolulu.

Mrs. Kirk is survived by a daughter, Gertrude Cornelison of Clearlake Highlands and Placerville; a granddaughter, Gloria Kirk Smith and two great-grandchildren, Kirk and Belinda Smith of Placerville; her brother William J. Graft, who has lived with her for 16 years; and a number of nieces and nephews in New York and Philadelphia.

Funeral services will be conducted under the direction of Victor Leonardi of the Episcopal church, with the Order of Eastern Star officiating at the cemetery. Burial will be in Union cemetery.

Mountain Democrat, The (Placerville, California) Jan 20, 1955


In researching Annie Kirk, (who seemed to me to be  rather progressive or inclined somewhat toward feminism, given the fact that she wore bloomers,) I also ran across some articles about her daughter, Gertrude Kirk. She seems to have taken a bit after her mother. She worked for her father in the newspaper business and also at his car dealership, where she taught customers to drive! AND, she was the first woman to register and vote in El Dorado County.  When World War I broke out, she enlisted with the YMCA as a canteen worker and went to Europe to help the war effort, as you can read below:

OCTOBER 26, 1918

Miss Gertrude Kirk, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. W.S. Kirk of this city, who enlisted three months ago for overseas service, has received her appointment from the Women’s Division for work in the canteen and automobile service in France, and is awaiting her passport from Washington, expecting to leave in three weeks.

Mountain Democrat, The (Placerville, California) Oct 24, 1968

CANTEEN WORKER: The work primarily involved supporting the soldiers by serving hot coffee and chocolate to the men in the trenches, visiting and writing letters for the wounded, and organizing recreational activities.
From the Biography of Emma Young Dickson

Mobile Hut Staffers Preparing Coffee

Mobile Hut Staffers Preparing Coffee

Honor Returned War Workers

Mrs. W.W. Irish entertained several Placerville friends Friday afternoon of last week in honor of Miss Gertrude Kirk and Mrs. Geo. Pavey, lately returned from Europe.

Automobiles called for the ladies early in the afternoon and conveyed them to the beautiful country home of he hostess in Missouri Flat, where the time was spent in needlework, games, ‘Jumbled Cities,’ conversation and reviewing war pictures and relics sent to Mrs. Irish by her sons, Archie and Wilburn, while in the service. Both boys have lately returned from overseas with fine war records.

At 4 o’clock tea was served, after which Miss Kirk and Mrs. Pavey, who were dressed in their uniforms, gave interesting accounts of their canteen work in France and Germany.

Those present: Mesdames B.E. and N.H. Burger, L.M. Leisenring, F.W. Rohlfing, W.S. Kirk, L.J. Dormody, J.H. Snyder, W.W. Irish, Geo. Pavey and Miss Gertrude Kirk.

Mountain Democrat, The (Placerville, California) Aug 24, 1919


Gertrude Cornelison
Funeral services for Gertrude Kirk Cornelison, 85 of Placerville were held Tuesday, July 9 at Chapel of the Pines. Father John A. Wright of the Epsicopal Church of Auburn conducted the services. Interment was at Placerville Union Cemetery.

Mrs. Cornelison, a widow, died July 7 at a local convalescent hospital. She was born in Pennsylvania and lived 75 years in California the past 65 years in El Dorado county.

She was a housewife and an active club member in later years. Mrs. Cornelison was a 60 year member of the Order of Eastern Star and a member of the American Legion auxiliary and the Shakespeare club.

Mrs. Cornelison was the first woman to register and vote in El Dorado county. Her parents, the William Kirks, owned the Daily Republican in Placerville where she worked with her father. She also taught new car owners to drive when her father owned the Ford agency. She went overseas during World War I as a member of the YMCA serving in American Expeditionary Forces.

She is survived by a daughter, Gloria K. Smith of Placerville; two grandchildren, Kirk Smith of Washington D.C. and Belinda Foster of Placerville, and one great-grandchild.

Mountain Democrat, The (Placerville, California) Jul 11, 1974

*Look for at leat one future post about canteen workers from WWI.