It is one of the lesser-known tales of Delaware history. In fact, there’s every possibility that outside of Henry Freeman’s family, no one has mentioned it in over 130 years.
Mr. Freeman was a farmer and father of four from Shelby County in central Illinois. Through prudent investment, in 1890 he had accumulated a great deal of stock and other valuable commodities. He made the decision to travel to New York City to cash in his assets.
In July of that year, he made the trip there and back via train.
Henry was the nervous type, and was obviously aware of the fact that the large satchel he carried on his return trip carried some $13,000 in cash. The train stopped in Delaware for dinner, and he exited the train and made his way to a nearby restaurant. The satchel was left “…on a high bench.”
His mind wandered and he momentarily forgot about the money.
As the train readied its departure, he returned to collect the satchel, which was right where he left it. Opening it, he found it to be full of bricks and papers.
The money was Freeman’s entire fortune. The amount represented approximately $425,000 in terms of current value.
The story was carried by several newspapers, one of which concluded, “There is no clue to the thieves, but it is believe they must have followed him.”
Freeman lived out his life in Illinois and passed away in Oklahoma in 1908 at the home of one of his daughters. His obituary referred to him as “…a devout Christian, a kind friend and loving father.”
He apparently found riches after all.
Source: Decatur Weekly Republican; Ancestry.com