Conrad Burch, Obituary/Death NoticePorter County obituaries and death notices . . . .

Conrad Burch

The Story of the Rich Pine Township Hermit Made Out of Whole Cloth.

In the early part of August last the following special was sent out to the leading newspapers of the country by the industrious and highly imaginative Valparaiso correspondent:

"For 30 years Conrad Burch, a German by birth, has lived the life of a hermit in a little hut among the sand hills of Pine township, in this county. He was one of the first settlers of this section, taking up a claim as early as 1830. He reared a family of children, but as time elapsed they became widely separated, and all thought of ever again meeting any of his off-spring in this life passed from the memory of the old man. Sorrow and disappointment at thus being separated from his family told upon him, and he grieved constantly in his hours of solitude. He seemed to abhor contact with his fellow men, and building himself a rude hut on the shores of the lake, hear here, retired to that deserted spot, where he has lived in squalor and misery. His hair rapidly whitened under the burden of his grief, and he found no comfort, no attraction in life. His children came not, and nothing could comfort him or lighten the gloom which surrounded the little hut in which he had chosen to sepnd the remnant of his life, away from the world and far from the scenes that might, for a time, induce him to forget, and bring a ray of light into his dark, cheerless life. His long, unkept hair was allowed to grow, his bent form was but a faint suggestion of his earlier manhood, and he had every appearance of a patriarch.

Sunday the old German died, and a search of the lonely habitation, the interior of which few persons had ever seen previous to his death, was brought to light the immense wealth of the hermit. Jars of coins were found carefully concealed in the most inconcievable places. He died alone, unattended by either a friend or neighbor, and in the absence of the heirs no disposition can be made of his fortune. A thorough search will be made for the children."

The above was published by the press of the country, and resulted in the following letter being sent to Coroner Coates from the Counsel of Switzerland:


Cincinnati, O., Sept. 8, 1892,
Hon. Dr. H. C. Coates, Coroner of Porter County,
Valparaiso, Ind.

HONORED SIR: -- I learn from newspaper clippings sent to me that a short time ago a man named Conrad Burch, died in an old, poor hut in the mountains of Pine township, in your county where he had been living as a sort of hermit for long years. It is also stated in the reports that Burch, who was known as a miser, has left considerable of an estate, and no heirs that are known, and that the authorities at Valparaiso were trying to find some of the relatives of the deceased.

One Mr. Gottlieb Burch, residing at Philadelphia, Pa., who is of the opinion that Conrad Burch was a relative of him, requests me to obtain some information of the deceased. He thinks Conrad Burch was born 90 or 92 years ago in the Canton of Unterwalden, Switzerland. Presuming the a Coroner's inquest was held in the xase of Conrad Burch, I take the great liberty of praying you to let me know what you may have learned, or may be able to find out yet about the deceased man. Was he born in Switzerland? Did he speak the Swiss dialect? Was the man a Catholic? Did he leave any papers which might lead to his identification? Has he left any property? What does it amount to and who has charge of it? Have any real or presumptive heirs made themselves known and presented their claims? etc.

Consul of Switzerland at Cincinnati, O.

Upon its receipt Dr. Coates, who had never heard of such a case, began to investigate. Monday he went to Pine township, which adjoins this township, and after dilligent inquiry failed to find anyone who had ever heard of such a man, and further ascertained that no one had died in the township during the time mentioned. The Coroner then came to Chesterton, and saw Undertaker Lundberg, who buries the county poor of this section. He had buried no one of that description. The result was that the Coroner was compelled to pronounce the information contained in the 'special' a hoax entire, and so reported.

Newspaper: The Tribune
Date of Publication: September 16, 1892
Volume Number: 9
Issue Number: 23
Page: 1
Column(s): 2

Key to Newspaper Publication Locations:
    Newspapers Published in Chesterton, Porter County, Indiana
                Chesterton Tribune
                The Tribune
                Westchester Tribune

    Newspapers Published in Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana
                Porter County Vidette
                Practical Observer
                Valparaiso Practical Observer
                Vidette and Republic
                Western Ranger

The obituaries and death notices appearing on this website have been transcribed exactly as they were originally published in the newspaper. Please note that we do not provide photocopies or digital scans of obituaries and death notices appearing on this website.

Obituary/death notice transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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