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Boland, a laborer by trade, left St. Louis in October of 1889 to work on the levee in Bright Star, Arkansas. Mrs. Boland reported that she ceased to receive any letters from him after he had been gone about 10 days. She had received a letter from someone claiming to be a "Sheriff Brown". The letter told of an incident where Mr. Boland had gotten himself into a skirmish with others while on the Arkansas River, and he died from his wounds. Mr. Boland did have a life insurance policy, with a value of $150.00. His wife placed a claim for death benefits, as she had a house full of children to feed and care for.
Here is where the story gets good. The Prudential Insurance Company proceeded to investigate the death of Mr. Boland when they had received the claim from the Mrs. Another letter was found, once again written by someone claiming to be "Sheriff Brown". It stated that Mr. Boland was on a skiff on the river, when he was knocked into the river, floating downstream until he was picked up by a steamboat crew, who then transported him to New Orleans. According to the letter, he was last seen laying in a hospital there.
Following the trail, the insurance investigators contacted the New Orleans officials, who reviewed their maritime records, and found that no such person was transported on a steamboat, and no injured passenger was taken to a hospital there.
Mrs. Boland, needing some closure and some money for support, asked the St. Louis Police Department for some help in locating her husband and finding out what happened to him.
Upon arriving in Bright Star, Arkansas, the police detectives found Mr. Boland, alive and well. He had never left Bright Star, and had never been involved in a skirmish, nor was he ever tossed off a skiff on the river.
Mr. Boland was found snuggling with his new, much younger bride. Well, HO HO HO. Mrs. Boland was notified of what the police had uncovered....her husband was a rat fink. She proceeded to sue for divorce, and the courts prepared charges against Mr. Boland for bigamy.
I guess we can assume he got coal in his stocking that year!