John Dierdorff's Return
John Dierdorff's Return


John Dierdorff's Return


Mt. Morris Index.

Mount Morris people, and especially the Dierdorff family, were astounded Saturday to hear news by telephone from Forreston that a man giving his name as John Dierdorff and answering his description exactly had alighted from an Illinois Central Train there and was coming to Mount Morris on the the 5 o'clock train.

Miss Olive Dierdorff, one of the daughters of the family who is employed in the Index office, was given the news over the telephone and was quite overcome.

Charles Weaver, at the central office, investigated the report throughly and succeded in establishing the fact that the missing man was actually on his way home.

It will be remembered that one day last February, Mr. Dierdorff left home to attend a sale and disappeared as completely as though the earth had opened and swallowed him up. A stream which he was compelled to cross on his way to the sale was much swollen by the spring thawing and some thought he had been drowned in attempting to cross. Others thought he might have become temporarily insane and drowned himself in the stream. On these theories, the stream was dragged but to no avail. Other people thought it a clear case of intentional desertion of family.

His wife, two younger sons and three of four daughters who were at home, moved to Mount Morris after they had given him up, and for a number of months past had given up all idea of seeing him again, believing him dead. One can easily imagine their great surprise under the circumstances when the report came from Forreston Saturday, that he had appeared there, alive and well and would reach Mount Morris in a few hours. The greatest curiousity centered in what explanation he would give for his strange behavior.

The index has not interviewed Mr. Dierdorff personally. Prof. J.E. Miller spent several hours in conversation with him Sunday and the family requested him to prepare an article for the county press explaining the circumstances, which we print herewith.

Briefly summed up, Mr. Dierdorff claims a temporary aberration of mind under which he was not responsible for his actions.


On the morning of Feb. 21st, Mr. Dierdorff left home after doing the chores, intending to attend a sale. After he had gone part of the way it seemed to him that everything was dark around him and he could not see his way. He says that for a month he had been worried about his financial condition believing that it would be impossible for him to meet his obligations. Why he should have had this feeling seems a little strange form the fact that after Mrs. Dierdorff made sale and paid off all accounts she had considerable surplus. This shows that his trouble was all together imaginary.

On inquiry I find that from his mother's family there may have been inherited a tendency to be despondent at times and look upon the dark side of things and this perhaps is where the clouds began to gather. While he was on the way to the sale the burden on his mind became too great and it seemed that a cloud of darkness settled around him and he was seized with an impulse to go away, he knew not where. He left his horse near Fremont and then walked to Polo. Our readers will remember that Mrs. Anna Woolridge had spoken to Mr. Dierdorff in Polo on that day and he spoke about taking a train. This, he says is correct, but going to the Burlington depot he found the train had left. Still filled with the impulse of going away somewhere he started on foot to Dixon.

He says that his intention was to go to Franklin Grove and visit his sister but for some reason or other he bought a ticket for Clinton, Iowa. Stopping between trains at Clinton, he then purchased a ticket for Des Moines and arrived there about noon on February 22nd. After going up to the State house he crossed the bridge and stopped at a restaurant and got something to eat. The first...

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For about a week he tramped from place to place, taking his meals and lodging as they were given to him for nothing and if pay was asked he paid the small sum having when he left Des Moines about $2.00. He tramped until he got down in Decatur county,Iowa near Leon, where he struck a job with a farmer on Thursday, March 1st. With this man he engaged to work and stayed with him until eight months were completed.

He says that during these months he was often thinking about home and coming home and as often as he thought of it, that same feeling would come upon his mind that drove him away. This impulse would come and go in a flash. His first Sunday night in the new home was especially sad to him for in his own home he had a boy that could play a mouth organ and his daughter Olive would accompany him on the organ. On this first Sunday night after the chores were done the boy got his mouth organ and his sister accompanied on the piano and that made him think of home. On the wall hung the picture of Pharoah's Horse just as in his own home. This with a few other things, made him hurry off to bed and spend the night in sorrow.Why he did not come home or write home it is hard to say unless it was that mentally he was not himself. He says it never occurred to him that his family needed his care or worried about him.

He says he spent his Sundays out in a grove of a school house near by the place where he worked, studying his Sunday school lesson and reading his bible. He was pondering what to do and how he ought to do it. On the morning of December 9th he spend some time in prayer as to what he should do. He opened his bible and read and his eyes fell upon the 19th verse of the 5th chapter of Mark where the Master says "Go home to thy friends and tell them what great things the Lord hath done for thee." This he took as a direct answer to his prayer and he arranged to come to his family again.

Mr. Dierdorff was cut off from the known world during the summer. He says the only things he saw in the papers that pertained to men he knew were the death of Congressman Hitt and Rev. Sam Jones. On Friday he took the train for Mendota and then changed to the Central and came to Forreston. There he waited for the evening train and came home, being met at Mount Morris by his daughter and son-in-law, Mr. Plum. He was overjoyed at his return and at the fact that his financial condition was not as it seemed to him and he is not able to understand how he got the impression that he was failing fianancially.

Just before the night of his return Mrs. Dierdorff had dreamed about him and thought that he came to the kitchen window looking well and strong and glad for his return. This so impressed her that she could not sleep during the remainder of the night and her happiness of meeting her husband again can better be imagined than described.

To all appearances Mr. Dierdorff is strong in body and mind again and there is no reason so far as we can see why he should be attacked with the same malady again.

He asks especially that thanks be returned to all the friends and neighbors who so kindly assisted his family during their trying time and assures them that their kindess will never be forgotten as long as he lives.

The above are the simple facts of his wanderings as he tells them himself. I believe that he has narrated them as nearly correct as it is possible for him to recall them considering the condition he was in at the time.

J.E. Miller