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petermattson

The disappearance of Charles Gazzam Hurd.

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Posted (edited)

I'm looking for some help in researching the mysterious disappearance of Charles Gazzam Hurd. In my very superficial searches, I have come across a few details that I find puzzling and intriguing. The rudimentary facts of the case are here: http://www.charleypr...rd_charles.html. Any tips from members here, either about how to search or about Charles Hurd, are welcome and appreciated.

Edited by petermattson
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CHARLES HURD CASE UPDATE

In my initial search, I found a Richard M. Hurd (from NYC) had married a Lucy Gazzam (from Mobile, AL) in 1898 and the couple had several children -- Mary, Eleanor, Richard M., Jr., Clement and Lucy Lea. Two things stood out to me immediately: no mention of a Charles Gazzam Hurd among their children (and the unlikelihood that there would be another Gazzam Hurd family that fit the timeline) and an intriguing although perhaps meaningless link to the famous illustrator Clement G. Hurd (GOODNIGHT MOON, THE RUNAWAY BUNNY, and others) which logic might suggest would raise the profile of the Charles Hurd case. My mind immediately went a couple of directions. Was Charles erased from genealogical listings because of his disappearance and the "shame" surrounding those circumstances or was it something more complex -- link to a secret government project or other more sinister milieu?

Well, just today I discovered this http://books.google.cm/books?id=9aooAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA349&lpg=PA349&dq=charles+gazzam+hurd&source=bl&ots=9aHK_4lmne&sig=6dpt19FFb08zoyu7xGZ3x4fzKJc&hl=fr&sa=X&ei=8mwbUseRM4PS9QSFm4DoCg&ved=0CE0Q6AEwBjgK#v=onepage&q=charles%20gazzam%20hurd&f=false which explains why Charles wasn't mentioned as the son of Richard and Lucy Hurd. It turns out Richard had a brother named George Arthur Hurd who married Emily Lea Gazzard (Lucy's sister, presumably) and they had several children -- Arthur Melanothon, Katherine, Charles Gazzam and Clarissa (who were twins!).

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Strange case....

Found this on the Doe Network: http://www.doenetwor...s/1775dmny.html

Here is a link with information from his 1920 and 1930 census: http://www.websleuth...p/t-162036.html

Thank you for the links. The weirdest part is that his family had the resources to make his disappearance a more prominent story but apparently did not for one reason or another. I came across this case when I saw that someone on a different site suggested he could be the Somerton Man; a huge (but intriguing) leap but he had the same build and would have been the right age. Also, it would explain the weird lack of attention brought to the case (if he was involved in espionage or some other secret operation).

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Thank you for the links. The weirdest part is that his family had the resources to make his disappearance a more prominent story but apparently did not for one reason or another. I came across this case when I saw that someone on a different site suggested he could be the Somerton Man; a huge (but intriguing) leap but he had the same build and would have been the right age. Also, it would explain the weird lack of attention brought to the case (if he was involved in espionage or some other secret operation).

Yes, it appears the family was well connected wth plenty of money, very curious they didn't spend more time and money looking for him. Odd...

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Yes, it appears the family was well connected wth plenty of money, very curious they didn't spend more time and money looking for him. Odd...

He was separated from his wife which is an indication of some troubles. We know that he was in a car accident (undiagnosed head trauma?) the night he disappeared but I wish I could find some kind of police report.

Any ideas?

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Posted (edited)

He was separated from his wife which is an indication of some troubles. We know that he was in a car accident (undiagnosed head trauma?) the night he disappeared but I wish I could find some kind of police report.

Any ideas?

Well, if they were having problems, he might have just run off. Wasn't uncommon, either. I've come across it when doing geneaology research. For the longest time, I thought my great grandma's father disappeared. Even in a 1920 census, his wife, says she is a widow. So after some extensive searching, I finally found out he didn't disappear he jut ran off. I eventually found his death certificate, which was dated 1959.

I even found a similar situation on my husband's grandmother's side. Her great-great grandfather, was listed by his wife as "dead" and she a widow in a 1880 Census. But Lo and behold, he wasn't dead, but with a new family under an alias in another state!

Just a few thoughts.

Edited by Kowalski
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Well, if they were having problems, he might have just run off. Wasn't uncommon, either. I've come across it when doing geneaology research. For the longest time, I thought my great grandma's father disappeared. Even in a 1920 census, his wife, says she is a widow. So after some extensive searching, I finally found out he didn't disappear he jut ran off. I eventually found his death certificate, which was dated 1959.

I even found a similar situation on my husband's grandmother's side. Her great-great grandfather, was listed by his wife as "dead" and she a widow in a 1880 Census. But Lo and behold, he wasn't dead, but with a new family under an alias in another state!

Just a few thoughts.

You're probably right but a few weird details (like the car accident, having a twin sister and a famous cousin, and coming from wealth) make me hold out hope that there's more to this than a planned disappearance. Of course, the car accident could have been a failed attempt to fake his own death which lends more credence to your idea. I'm going to keep hunting.

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Posted (edited)

Thank you for the links. The weirdest part is that his family had the resources to make his disappearance a more prominent story but apparently did not for one reason or another. I came across this case when I saw that someone on a different site suggested he could be the Somerton Man; a huge (but intriguing) leap but he had the same build and would have been the right age. Also, it would explain the weird lack of attention brought to the case (if he was involved in espionage or some other secret operation).

I just went back and compared this photo to the Somerton Man. There does seem to be a resemblance. The right eyebrow has a strong arch on the Somerton Man, so does Hurd in this picture. However, Somerton's left brow looks shorter with no arch. The way Hurd face is turned in the photos, you can't see his left brow clearly but if you age Hurd's face, I definitely think up hit on a maybe. (LOL) Another photo of Hurd would certainly be helpful.

Edited by Duncansmom
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I just went back and compared this photo to the Somerton Man. There does seem to be a resemblance. The right eyebrow has a strong arch on the Somerton Man, so does Hurd in this picture. However, Somerton's left brow looks shorter with no arch. The way Hurd face is turned in the photos, you can't see his left brow clearly but if you age Hurd's face, I definitely think up hit on a maybe. (LOL) Another photo of Hurd would certainly be helpful.

Thank you for your interest in this case. I am contacting who I believe to be the grand-daughter of Charles Gazzam Hurd in hopes of getting more info and maybe another photo.

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Thank you for your interest in this case. I am contacting who I believe to be the grand-daughter of Charles Gazzam Hurd in hopes of getting more info and maybe another photo.

I have been searching this name for the past two hours as I know you have also done !!! Da nada! Comments on the "Web sleuth" site also note that the lack of the family search is worth notable, along with no articles in the press about his disappearance.

Just thinking out loud here, is there any chance the family has a German heritage? The 1938 date might be good for going "home" to show support....Maybe? :no: Just kicking a wild notion. That might also link with Somerton. Maybe he wasn't a Russian spy but a German fugitive.

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I have been searching this name for the past two hours as I know you have also done !!! Da nada! Comments on the "Web sleuth" site also note that the lack of the family search is worth notable, along with no articles in the press about his disappearance.

Just thinking out loud here, is there any chance the family has a German heritage? The 1938 date might be good for going "home" to show support....Maybe? :no: Just kicking a wild notion. That might also link with Somerton. Maybe he wasn't a Russian spy but a German fugitive.

It would certainly explain the lack of publicity as the family would not want to bring attention to a "defector". However, he would have needed some form of travel. If he was wealthy, perhaps a plane to Germany would be possible.

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I don't think in 1937 it would have been hard for him to get out of this country. US was not at war with Germany then. They say that Joe Kennedy, Lindberg and others thought Hitler pretty cool at that time. All he would have needed was a passport. There could also have been another motive that might take him to Germany and that the family would keep quiet about and that is if it wasn't the Germans he was going to aid. He could have also wanted to assist Jews that were trying to get out of Germany at that time. However, the family first names don't sound Jewish, they sound more English.

There just has to be a reason why this news was so suppressed in the newspapers. The fact that he was said to have the accident with only slight injuries and that he drove away in a car that was thought to be pretty impressive for that time period. What happened to the car? It sounded like it was a car that would have pretty much stood out in a crowd.

Where did you get you information on the family being wealthy? I couldn't find anything on them any more than I could Charles. What was their business background?

Interestingly what I did find is that an original copy of his photo is now for sale on Ebay. Here's a link. It's much more clear than the ones in the clippings and it enlarges.

http://www.ebay.com/...7-/390637607699

After comparing the enlarged picture Charles, I don't think it's the Somerton man. There is a picture from the right side of Somerton and the ear formation looks different. Somerton has what looks like a fold in the ear formation by his face about even with the edge of his eye. I don't see anything like that on Charles.

Edited by Duncansmom
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Maybe his family wanted him to disappear, and he did.

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I don't think in 1937 it would have been hard for him to get out of this country. US was not at war with Germany then. They say that Joe Kennedy, Lindberg and others thought Hitler pretty cool at that time. All he would have needed was a passport. There could also have been another motive that might take him to Germany and that the family would keep quiet about and that is if it wasn't the Germans he was going to aid. He could have also wanted to assist Jews that were trying to get out of Germany at that time. However, the family first names don't sound Jewish, they sound more English.

There just has to be a reason why this news was so suppressed in the newspapers. The fact that he was said to have the accident with only slight injuries and that he drove away in a car that was thought to be pretty impressive for that time period. What happened to the car? It sounded like it was a car that would have pretty much stood out in a crowd.

Where did you get you information on the family being wealthy? I couldn't find anything on them any more than I could Charles. What was their business background?

Interestingly what I did find is that an original copy of his photo is now for sale on Ebay. Here's a link. It's much more clear than the ones in the clippings and it enlarges.

http://www.ebay.com/...7-/390637607699

After comparing the enlarged picture Charles, I don't think it's the Somerton man. There is a picture from the right side of Somerton and the ear formation looks different. Somerton has what looks like a fold in the ear formation by his face about even with the edge of his eye. I don't see anything like that on Charles.

I agree that Charles is almost certainly not Somerton Man. However, I'm not sure we can see Charles' ear well enough even in that photo (thanks for finding it!) to rule him out. Here is Somerton's ear up close (on the left). http://www.flickr.com/photos/peterdmattson/9617739960/

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Where did you get you information on the family being wealthy? I couldn't find anything on them any more than I could Charles. What was their business background?

His father is listed as a banker, financier in the Who's Who in Finance and Banking (link: http://books.google.com/books?id=xkVPAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA349&lpg=PA349&dq=charles+gazzam+hurd&source=bl&ots=8XuWTGjYbr&sig=qgCaSirg_eE5d-MQiBlOpiylVgo&hl=en&sa=X&ei=RXQeUreEIvG2sQTlmoGAAg&ved=0CEsQ6AEwBzgK#v=onepage&q=charles%20gazzam%20hurd&f=false) and several of the missing persons websites stated that Charles was a manager for a mortgage company in NYC. He was living at the prestigious Kenmore Hall Hotel when he disappeared. I think all of these pieces add up to being wealthy and from a prominent family.

Also, I found a NYT article from February 1937 (not worth paying for) that referred to him as from "an old New York family" which I feel implies they were old money in the city.

NYT article dated February 27, 1937; 9 days after Charles disappeared: http://www.flickr.com/photos/peterdmattson/9615673163/

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Peter, Nice job on the ear photos :clap: !! I recognize the ear on the viewer's left as being Somerton's right ear. Is the ear on the right S's left ear or is it Hurd's right ear?

The ears certainly look different and now you have me going in to look at my own to see if they are the same - Never thought about it before - LOL :yes: Great job though in being able to see the detail and I have something to say after looking at the detail in the left photo, the one I recognize as S's right ear. That ear is scared, almost like a post-plastic surgery formation or if the ear had been severed and reattached. Look at the area where the ear I joined to the front of the face. That area is extremely think which is what happens when they pull facial muscles under the cheekbone up, the result is the additional muscle tissue there is a thicker look . The scar is then hidden by sewing the skin inside of the ear behind the cartilage. The if you go on up from the cartilage you see there is a definite horizontal break just at the area across from the corner of his eye. IMO that's a surgical break. If it was just a tear or a slit without being repaired, the cartilage itself would have come through and appeared as an almost white, boney ridge there both sides of the slit. They did know how to do plastic work back then but it had to have been rare and scars inside of the ears themselves might not have been noticed in an autopsy. (I know I think everyone decided the ears of S and C don't seem to match but with those picture so clear, it could be due to a surgically repaired trauma to that right ear on S.)

Now, back to the missing Hurd. Today's challenge was finding anything I could on this family. The "socialite" family mentioned in the missing report. Well, for being such high ranking "socialites" they certainly kept a low profile. His father and mother were still alive when he disappeared. No event photos, no business dealings, NO OBITUARY notices that I can find. Also, since Charles' divorce was not finalized, his wife, Marie L. would have been his heir. At their social level, and with his own job status, certainly he would have had to be at least declared dead at some time so that the insurance could be collected since he is shown in 1930 with one child. Where is the notice on that ???? I really want to know who these "high ranking socialite" ghost parents were :hmm: ?

You said that one of the cousins had promised you some more pictures. I hope they come through! I know one thing, when you are searching things like this it would be very helpful if families did not choose to name t50% of their children the same first name !!!! I mean how many Charles or George Hurds did they need from New York to Alaska ???? :sk

Edited by Duncansmom
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Peter, Nice job on the ear photos :clap: !! I recognize the ear on the viewer's left as being Somerton's right ear. Is the ear on the right S's left ear or is it Hurd's right ear?

Thank you for contributing so much to my search. Nice to know someone else is working on this! Regarding the ears, the one on the left is Somerton and the one on the right is a more "typical" ear. The comparison was meant to show that Somerton had very unique ears (something like 2% of people have that ear anatomy). In a case with so few leads, even ears are worth looking into!

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I managed to find a little bit. At least enough to establish his parents seem to be "all that and a bag of chips" in society in several states and in New York.

Father: George A. "Yaleman," financier and lawyer in New York - died in 1929, leaving "only" $10,000 (seems to have been a good attorney, leaving money well hidden.

Mother: Emily GazzaM - not an N, died in 1931, family came from the southern states, her family had political connections, father was a Senator (or some such, I forgot to write it down) but several legal and political connections there. However, her well states she left "only" $510,000 to be divided among her children. (Evidently she didn't hide things as well as George but in 1931, the depression, that's a good bit of money :su

Wife: Marie Louise Schrieber: I found two debutante "coming out" announcements in New York for her, she was a "Vassar" girl.

Now this might have some interest:

Kid: Charles G. (also a G.) was born at the Marie Lippincott Sanitarium

I can't find anything on this particular Sanitarium except that this verbiage was used for institutions for tuberculosis, mental problems; e.g., alcoholism

So when Charles went missing in his parents were both dead. Wife might not have been well either. I could only find one other article the day in the Times which was the day after his missing report. Nothing further on the wife; e.g. obituary, etc. But it seems maybe there wasn't anyone really to look for Charles except a wife who might not have been well.

(Thanks Kowalski! found these things in the New York Times :tu: )

Edited by Duncansmom
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Wife: Marie Louise Schrieber: I found two debutante "coming out" announcements in New York for her, she was a "Vassar" girl.

Now this might have some interest:

Kid: Charles G. (also a G.) was born at the Marie Lippincott Sanitarium

I can't find anything on this particular Sanitarium except that this verbiage was used for institutions for tuberculosis, mental problems; e.g., alcoholism

So when Charles went missing in his parents were both dead. Wife might not have been well either. I could only find one other article the day in the Times which was the day after his missing report. Nothing further on the wife; e.g. obituary, etc. But it seems maybe there wasn't anyone really to look for Charles except a wife who might not have been well.

Excellent stuff! I sent a Facebook message to the woman who I believe is C. G. Hurd's granddaughter, hoping to get some more info. Here is a photo of Charles Hurd Jr. (the one born in the sanitarium?):http://flickr.com/gp/peterdmattson/2c31bE

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Interesting photo! I did have another thought regarding Charles' motive to disappear. Look at the year of the father's death 1929 !! Could we have ourselves a "jumper" here. I didn't think that through when I made the comment regarding a lawyer hiding his money. Maybe it wasn't there anymore. However, from the amount, $510,000 in the mother's estate in 1931, I don't think they went hungry.... but divided among their 4 children that would leave "only" say $125,000 each and, even then, after taxes ??? With the life style they must have been used to and the life style Charlie's wife was also used to, do you suppose this might have been a money issue. When you think that further, Charlie was in real estate in New York. Possibly not a real good field during the depression years. Perhaps Charlie knew his wife's family would take care of them and did not want to face the humiliation of being out of money. It rings in my ears that he "cashed a small check when leaving the restaurant." Could it be because a small check was all that he could cash?

I have to look more into this sanitarium issue. I'm surprised it was right there in the NY Times birth announcement ! That would have normally been something that was hidden. The definition of the word lends itself more to tuberculosis patients. However, I remember being told as a kid a Sanitorium was for illness a Sanitarium was for "nervous" disease; e.g., alcoholism. We actually had a large one here in the city where I live that was owned by a man who was then Surgeon General of the US. It was dedicated wholly to "nervous" disease, a "drying out" place.

Peter, I do hope you get a response from the son, should be interesting.

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I managed to find a little bit. At least enough to establish his parents seem to be "all that and a bag of chips" in society in several states and in New York.

Father: George A. "Yaleman," financier and lawyer in New York - died in 1929, leaving "only" $10,000 (seems to have been a good attorney, leaving money well hidden.

Mother: Emily GazzaM - not an N, died in 1931, family came from the southern states, her family had political connections, father was a Senator (or some such, I forgot to write it down) but several legal and political connections there. However, her well states she left "only" $510,000 to be divided among her children. (Evidently she didn't hide things as well as George but in 1931, the depression, that's a good bit of money :su

Wife: Marie Louise Schrieber: I found two debutante "coming out" announcements in New York for her, she was a "Vassar" girl.

Now this might have some interest:

Kid: Charles G. (also a G.) was born at the Marie Lippincott Sanitarium

I can't find anything on this particular Sanitarium except that this verbiage was used for institutions for tuberculosis, mental problems; e.g., alcoholism

So when Charles went missing in his parents were both dead. Wife might not have been well either. I could only find one other article the day in the Times which was the day after his missing report. Nothing further on the wife; e.g. obituary, etc. But it seems maybe there wasn't anyone really to look for Charles except a wife who might not have been well.

(Thanks Kowalski! found these things in the New York Times :tu: )

Your welcome! Found this, might be of interest:

Link: http://select.nytime...78DD85F438385F9

Note: We posted at this both at the same time! Whoops! :)

Edited by Kowalski
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I found this:

Link: http://search.ancest...03-n_xcl=f&cp=0

Hope this helps a little! :)

Edited by Kowalski
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Found an eerie coincidence. Apparently Charles Hurd's wife's ex-lover committed suicide in 1926.

Links here:

http://www.flickr.co...son/9630853698/

http://www.flickr.co...son/9630858562/

Any significance? Who knows.

Charles did have a twin sister, Clarissa, and his cousin was Clement G. Hurd (who later in life became the famous illustrator of GOODNIGHT MOON, THE RUNAWAY BUNNY and others) so I think it's weird that no one was making much of a stir about it. There were people in his life with the means and a motive to keep his case alive but they didn't. (We keep returning to that theme but it's a big part of the puzzle here.)

Edited by petermattson
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