Romeo Whitis
Submitted by:  Kim Downing

This first article is from the Crawfordsville Daily Journal on May 29, 1920

 

Brick Yard Man Is Missing From Home

Believed Drowned   

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Romeo Whitis Thought To Have Lost

Life While Fishing

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Large Party is Dragging Creek In

Search Of Body

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Was in Ill Health and Left Work Yesterday Afternoon-

Bicycle and Dinner Pail Found

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      Romeo Whitis, age 23, an employee of the Standard Brick Yard, has failed to return from a fishing trip taken yesterday afternoon along Sugar Creek and it appears from the general trend of evidence that he has been drowned. A large searching party has been engaged in dragging the creek all day, but his body has not yet been found.

     Whitis came to this city about four years ago from Eubanks, KY.  He secured work first at the Wire and Nail mill but has been employed for several months at the Standard Brick plant. He is married and resides at 704 College Street.  He has two children aged about one and a half and three and a half years.

     The missing man has been complaining of poor health for several days and stated repeatedly that he did not feel like working.  Yesterday at the noon hour he sat down with a number of other men to eat his dinner but showed no appetite and waited until his companions were almost through eating before he opened his dinner pail.

     He appeared to be somewhat ill and said that he did not feel like eating anything.  He finally opened his bucket, however, and picked over the lunch which it contained, eating sparingly and with no apparent relish.

     When the whistle blew at one o"clock to call the employees back to their work he roused himself long enough to say, "I don't feel like going back there this afternoon." and made no effort to return to his job.  A little while later, however, he was seen to go to his locker and change his rubber shoes for a pair of leather ones.  He then took his bicycle and left the plant.

     Walter Warren, a barber who lives at 601 Whitlock avenue, told a number of friends that he walked across the trestle with Whitis and saw him park his bicycle at the south end of the trestle on the left side of the track, near the creek bank.  This is the last person, as far as has been determined, to see the missing man after he left the brick yard.

     Whitis is in the habit of fishing a great deal in Sugar Creek and, it is said that he often goes out along the creek after supper in the evening to enjoy the form of recreation.  It is therefore almost certain that he went to the creek with this in mind.

     When he failed to return his family became alarmed and made some effort to find what had become of him. This morning as the employees of the brick plant were walking to work along the railroad they noticed his bicycle and dinner pail along the creek bank where he had left them and a search party was organized.

     Men who were well acquainted with the habits of Whitis say the he was accustomed to climb from the trestle down onto the cement abutment which stands well out in the stream.  In this manner he was able to fish in deeper water.  It would appear from this fact that he has probably attempted to do the same thing yesterday afternoon and, due to his weakened condition, has fainted and dropped into the deep water.  Being already ill he would experience great difficulty in swimming out.  Thus the indications that the missing man has lost his life are very grave.

     Chief of Police Irwin was informed early this morning of the disappearance and spent several hours in dragging the creek.  He has placed the dragging in the hands of Milford Miller, 817 John Street, the father-in-law of Whitis, and Kiah Rector, the missing man's foreman at the brick plant.  They are conducting a thorough search for the body of Whitis, using three boats and drag hooks.

     There seems to be but little evidence to back up the suggestion made by some persons that Whitis may have boarded a freight car and left the country.  He was dressed in his work clothes and had no money on his person.

 

Here is another article about Romeo from the Crawfordsville Daily Journal May 31, 1920

 

Body Of Drowned Man Found Below

Railroad Trestle

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Brick Yard Employee Loses Life While Fishing From

Abutment Under Sugar Creek Bridge.

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     The body of Romeo Whitis, Who disappeared from the Standard Brick plant Friday afternoon, was recovered from the waters of Sugar Creek this morning about 11 o"clock, under the trestle over which the Monon crosses the creek.

     Whitis had complained of feeling sick and left the yard at noon. He was last seen alive as he led his bicycle across the trestle and left it near the railroad early in the afternoon.  He was accustomed to fishing in the creek near the trestle and had a habit of climbing down to the abutments for this purpose.  It is presumed that he became weak from illness Friday afternoon as he sat there and fell into the water.  His condition would of course prevent his swimming out.

     A large party was organized to search for the body when he failed to return Friday night and after his bicycle had been found by the workmen as they went to the plant Saturday afternoon.  The creek was dragged with hooks and every part of the creek bed under the trestle was carefully hunted over, for two days but no sign of the missing man's body was found, and it was thought by some that he might have left the country on a freight train.

     About eleven o'clock this morning, however, a colored man crossing the trestle saw what appeared to be a body floating near the abutments. A closer examination substantiated his first impression and he immediately informed Ray Thomas.  The police were informed and the body immediately removed and sent to Barnhill undertaking parlors.

     Whitis was about 23 years of age at the time of his death and is survived by a wife and two small children.  His father-in-law, Milford Miller, is an employee of the Wire & Nail mill and resides at 817 John Street.

     Whitis came to Crawfordsville four years ago from Eubanks, KY., and it is understood that the body will be sent to that place for burial.  The details of the funeral arrangements have not yet been made public.

    

 

From the Crawfordsville Weekly Review June 1, 1920

 

BODY OF ROMEO WHITIS IS TAKEN

FROM SUGAR CREEK

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Young Married Man Missing since Friday

Met Death By Drowning.

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Thought He May Have Been Fishing and Fell From

Pier- Came Here from Kentucky.

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     The body of Romeo Whites, missing since last Friday afternoon, was found floating near the surface of the waters of Sugar Creek, near the Monon bridge, north of the city, Monday morning about 11 o'clock by a colored man, who was passing that way.  Superintendent Ray Thomas, of the Standard Brick plant, where the man had been employed was notified, and with a party of men, including the police, who were notified, the body was removed and taken to the Barnhill undertaking parlors, to be prepared for burial.

     Whites left the brick plant shortly after noon Friday, saying he was too ill to work.  He din not return home and Friday evening a search for him was instituted.  Early Saturday morning employees of the plant discovered his coat, hat, dinner bucket and bicycle near the creek banks, at a point where he came over the bridge.  Whether he fell into the creek, which is very deep at that point, and was unable to help himself, or whether his act was premeditated, there is no way of knowing.

     All day Saturday and Sunday parties worked in an effort to locate the body, but without result.

     Whitis was about 23 years of age at the time of his death and is survived by a wife and two small children.  His father-in-law, Milford Miller, is an employee of the Wire & Nail mill and resides at 817 John Street.

     Whitis came to Crawfordsville four years ago from Eubanks, Ky., and it is understood that the body will be sent to that place for burial.  The details of the funeral arrangements have not yet been made public.

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