Henry Toggenburger collection (1885-1937, bulk 1885)

Collection processed and finding aid created by Cari Griffin, June 2019
Manuscripts Division, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan

Summary Information

Title: Henry Toggenburger collection
Creator: Toggenburger, Samuel, 1861-1936
Inclusive dates: 1885-1937
Bulk dates: 1885
Extent: 22 items
Abstract:
This collection contains two notebooks and 20 letters, documents, and receipts related to the unsolved hatchet murder of Henry Toggenburger on August 15, 1885, in Sedalia, Missouri. The papers include notebooks related to Henry Toggenburger's final months, his death, and the transportation of his body; letters preceding his death; and materials dating after his decease.
Language: The material is in English and German
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu

Access and Use

Acquisition Information

2016. M-6026.2.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copyright

Copyright status is unknown

Preferred Citation

Henry Toggenburger Collection, James V. Medler Crime Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan

Arrangement

The collection is arranged chronologically.

History

The grisly hatchet murder of Henry Toggenburger at the Atlantic Hotel in Sedalia, Missouri on August 15, 1885, made national headlines. The twenty-one year old's death proved sensational; the brutality of the act, questions concerning his relationship with a local woman, and an initial ruling of suicide created an irresistible story. Was Henry's murder a crime of passion or was he the victim of a violent robbery? The case remains unsolved.

Henry Toggenburger was born December 1, 1863, to Ulrich Toggenburger and Catharine Toggenburger née Hauenstein, in Richland Township, Ohio. Letters and notebooks in the collection document Henry's travels in the Midwest in 1885. Henry had lived in Sedalia, Missouri, for approximately one month, attending "telegraph school," prior to his August 15, 1885, murder. His brother, Samuel Toggenburger, transported the body back to Bluffton, Ohio, where Henry's remains were interred at the Gratz Cemetery.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The collection contains two notebooks and 20 letters, documents, and receipts related to the unsolved hatchet murder of Henry Toggenburger on August 15, 1885, in Sedalia, Missouri. The papers include notebooks related to Henry Toggenburger's final months, his death, and the transportation of his body; letters preceding his death; and materials post-dating his death. A few examples include:

  • Account and Note Book, [ca. 1885], relating to housing, food, building supplies, and travel expenses.
  • Account and Note Book, [ca. 1885], including costs related to Henry's funeral, amounts paid for the coffin and undertaker, and railroad fees for transporting the body from Missouri to Ohio.
  • Henry Toggenburger letter to his brother, Samuel Toggenburger April 22, 1885. Currently in Eureka, Kansas, Henry relates his travels from Polk City, Iowa, through Nebraska and Kansas.
  • Henry Toggenburger letter to his friend, Cal[vin], August 2, 1885. Henry, now in Sedalia, Missouri, describes leaving Eureka, Kansas, on July 4, traveling to Texas, where he "did not stay long," noting that he has "seen lots of Indians when I was going through the nation." Now, in Sedalia, at telegraph school, he ends his letter stating that he was "going down town to see my girl."
  • Henry Toggenburger letter to his brother, Samuel, August 14, 1885, from Sedalia, Missouri. Written the day before he was murdered, Henry's penmanship is strikingly void of its typical flourish. He tells his brother that his "catarrh" is quite painful and beseeches his brother to send money promptly.
  • Western Union Telegraph sent by Sam[uel] Toggenburger, August 18, 1885.
  • Lowell letter to Samuel Toggenburger, August 19, 1885. Claiming to be a private detective, he asserts his belief that Henry's death was not a suicide, as the jury initially concluded but was, in fact, murder. He offers his services as a means of locating the guilty party or parties involved.
  • Invoice from Dr. W. C. Overstreet, Jr., August 19, 1885, for fees related to the inquest into Henry's death.
  • H. W. Barrier to Samuel Toggenburger, August 23, 1885. A previous employer of Henry's from Eureka, Kansas, Barrier disputes the suicide ruling, stating that Henry was "a good, trustworthy young man" and hopes those guilty are brought to trial.
  • Receipt from McLaughlin Bros., undertakers, August 25, 1885.
  • Affidavit of I. Jennings attesting to the death of Ulrich, Henry, and Elizabeth Toggenburger, April 16, 1937, relating to property held by the family members. Recorded within the document are details of Henry's funeral in Bluffton, Ohio.

Subject Terms

Subjects:
  • Murder--Missouri--Sedalia.
  • Sedalia (Mo.)--History--19th century.
Contributors:
  • Barrier, H. W.
  • Myers, Wilson.
  • Neville, Wesley L.
  • Overstreet, W. C., Jr., 1857-1916.
  • Toggenburger, Elizabeth, 1830-1903.
  • Toggenburger, Henry, 1863-1885.
Genre Terms:
  • Account books.
  • Affidavits.
  • Estate administration records.
  • Letters (correspondence)
  • Notebooks.
  • Receipts (financial records)
  • Telegrams.

Contents List (Request Materials)

Request materials for use in the Clements Library
Container / Location Title
Box   4, James V. Medler Crime Collection Folders   19-22
Henry Toggenburger Collection,  1885-1936 (bulk 1885) [series]

Additional Descriptive Data

Bibliography

"A Horrible Murder." Sedalia Weekly Bazoo, August 18, 1885.

"Self-Destruction." Sedalia Weekly Bazoo, August 25, 1885.