While we endeavored to cram every contemporary eyewitness account, drawing, and diagram into our Ebook on the H.H. Holmes Murder Castle, we also had to keep it short enough to print out. Some things just didn’t fit in – here’s the first of our outtakes, on Davis, who ran a jewelry shop n the castle. He had always insisted that there would be bodies found in the basement, but seemed a bit amused by the whole affair.
During the excavations, The Chicago Daily News reported the following exchange:
“The morbid novel writer was also abroad in the shape of a pretty young woman of about twenty summers. She dropped into the drug store with her pencil and pad and began to question jeweller Davis.
“There’s Holmes’ brother,” said the jeweller, pointing to his roommate, who was standing near. The young lady novelist opened her eyes wide with amazement. She tried to speak to the man, but almost went off into hysteria with excitement. As the man passed out, Jeweller Davis said “Good by, Holmes.”
“So long, Davis,” was the quick reply, and young lady novelist almost fainted.
This speaks volumes about the reliability (or lack therof) of many of the firsthand accounts. Some tenants who hadn’t seen a thing probably wanted to get into the story as it caught national news, and other bits of made-up gossip by annoyed residents probably got passed around as fact.
Davis was back in the spotlight in 1905, when Johann Hoch, a bigamist/murderer not unlike Holmes, was on trial in the old Courthouse on Dearborn and Hubbard. Papers had been reporting that Hoch had been a regular at the castle in Holmes’ day under the name Jacob Schmitt, and Chappel, the skelton articulator Holmes employed, swore that it was true. Davis swore that he’d never seen Hoch in his life, at the castle or otherwise.
If you haven’t already, don’t forget to pick up your copy of the Ebook!