Elixes Stockburger, age 12, disappeared from Albany, New York in August 1919.
Depending on which media source you read, her age could have been 12, or 15. I’m going with 12 because it is backed up by 1910 census records, where she is listed as 2, as opposed to 5.
The reported date she went missing also ranges from August 7, 1919 to August 14, 1919, with one mention of “May 1919”, which is obviously incorrect. August 9 is the most likely date, because there was a reference in one article to the date having been a Saturday, which August 9 was.
Lastly, the spelling of her name varies from Elixes to Alexis to Alexia to Elexis.
Elixes was the daughter of George A Stockburger and his wife Nellie. George was a railroad trainmaster with the New York Central Railroad, and had passed away ten months before Elixes disappeared. Elixes was the youngest of her family, with an older sister, Esther, and two older brothers, Frederick and George Jr.
Elixes left her home at 12 Chestnut Street in the late morning, to meet her sister at the intersection of Washington Avenue and Swan Streets, which was a couple blocks from her home. This was something she did frequently; she would reportedly wait at the intersection, and her sister, then 18, would emerge from a car at about 12:05pm.
A witness claimed to have seen Elixes waiting there, although by the time her sister arrived, she was gone.
Police were aware of a gypsy caravan that had passed through Albany that day, and initially believed she may have gone with them. After a week had passed, her mother discounted this theory, claiming that her daughter would have made contact with her by then.
The only clues to ever surface regarding her possible whereabouts were a few letters that were sent to Elixes’ mother, and a vague witness account of her being seen in a car.
One of the letters, written by a woman, suggested that Mrs. Stockburger should come to her at once if she wished to find her ‘little one’. A group of reporters traveled to the sender’s location, and located the author of the letter. She stated that she’d been having visions of a girl in a white dress being transported in a buggy with an older man. It was quickly considered a false lead, and the reporters went home.
Within days of Elixes’ disappearance, Terrance W. O’Connor, a foreman who was resurfacing East Creek Road, reported that he and his co-worker, Guy McAlister, had seen a wine colored automobile pass by. The vehicle had a male driver, and Terrance stated that they saw a girl standing against the window, nervously shaking her arms as if trying to get someone’s attention. The car then stopped a ways up the road, and the girl got out, followed by someone who appeared to have their arm wrapped around her neck. (That portion of the article was not very clear, as to who exactly was holding her. It looked like it said ‘the woman’ but there had been no mention of a woman in the car) He said the description of Elixes’ clothing; a green gingham dress, a black patent leather belt, and no hat, was similar to that of the girl he saw. Police were unable to locate this vehicle, and after that, the case went cold.
In March 1921, a girl named Harriet Menten, age 10, disappeared from the same street that Elixes lived on.
Harriet lived at 206 Jay Street, and her school was on Chestnut Street. She would normally walk down Jay Street, turn on Swan, and then turn on Chestnut. She was last seen turning onto Chestnut Street.
Harriet’s parents were initially unconcerned, as Harriet would often go visit her grandmother, who lived in the same neighborhood, after school. Once enough time had passed, Harriet’s parents went to the grandmother’s house, and learned that Harriet had not been there. They then learned that she had not been to school, and concern turned into panic.
Again, searches by law enforcement turned up nothing.
Soon after Harriet’s disappearance, some school children reported a man in his 50’s, who had been hanging around the school and trying to engage the children in conversation. One of the teachers reported this to police.
A man was brought in for questioning, and initially refused to tell officers his name, but later stated his name was John Hoffman. He said he lived in the basement at 3 South Hawk Street, and that he ‘looked after some furnaces’ on Chestnut Street. He admitted that he knew Harriet, but said he had not seen her on the day she went missing.
Children from the school identified him as the man who had been hanging around the school, but he was not held by police.
After checking city directories from 1921, the address Hoffman gave of 3 South Hawk Street matched up to a Lillian Adelhoven. No other residents were listed at that address, and the only John Hoffmans in the directory were listed in different parts of Albany, most were married with their own families, none had occupations relating to furnaces. Lillian Josephine Adelhoven was single at the time, and would later marry machinist Robert Smith Dailey on April 17, 1922. Robert and Lillian (Adelhoven) Dailey lived at 3 South Hawk St as late as 1960. According to the 1930 census, they had several lodgers living with them. None were named John Hoffman, or had any occupations pertaining to furnaces. Additionally, in 1920, the house at 3 South Hawk St was owned by a widow named Agnes Dixon. Her occupation is listed as Keeper – Rooming House. There were a few lodgers staying there at that time, as well. So although there’s no sign of a John Hoffman, and that was probably not his real name, it is possible that he actually did live there.
I could not find any indication that Harriet has ever been found, either.
I seem to recall some time ago, which searching through the unidentifieds on NamUs, there was one – I thought New York, but possibly New Jersey or another surrounding state – that was believed to have died in the first half of the 20th century, with no further narrowing of the time of death. I recall a mention of cement, and a facial imprint that had been made by the skull. I thought the remains had been found in the 1980’s or earlier, but I can no longer find it. I remember, at the time, wondering if it could belong to Dorothy Arnold. I wonder if it’s been identified, or if I’m just remembering a piece of it incorrectly.
Someone claiming to be a descendant of Elixes Stockburger’s brother, Frederick, shared a recollection of a family bible, in which Frederick had written (with regard to Elixes) “STOLEN AWAY”. Another family member, in the 1990’s had inscribed “and to this day, have never heard whether dead or alive, they lived in Albany at the time – I do remember the talk about it at the time. . .”
It does not appear that either Elixes or Harriet’s cases are open investigations, therefore they are not listed on NamUs or other databases. It seems that back in those days, they just closed the case if no leads turned up after a certain amount of time.
I want it to be known that these girls existed, and that they are missing, in the event that their remains are found.