On December 12, 1910, 25-year-old Dorothy Arnold left the Upper East Side house she shared along with her dad and mom to take pleasure in what everybody round her thought can be simply one other odd day of a younger heiress about city. Naturally, she was dressed to the nines.
Dorothy wore a navy blue serge go well with with a excessive neck white lace jabot (a Victorian-style ruffled piece). Her arms have been lined in tan gloves and she or he carried a big black fox fur muff for further heat. It doubled as a protected place to stash the $25 she had of her month-to-month allowance in addition to no matter cash remained from the $36 she had withdrawn from the financial institution for a luncheon the day prior to this. Her darkish brown hair was in a “full pompadour” lined by a big black velvet hat. She accessorized her look with lapis lazuli drop earrings, a gold twist “lovers knot” ring, an imitation tortoise shell comb, and a carved barrette.
You wouldn’t be flawed to suppose this appears like a report from one of many day’s illustrated problems with Vogue. We all know what she was sporting as a result of, when she didn’t return house, a detailed drawing of her “costume” ultimately ran within the papers trying eerily like a fashion highlight on a girl about city.
Dorothy instructed her mother she was off to buy a costume to put on to her sister’s popping out celebration, although when her steps have been later tracked, they didn’t go close to the proverbial racks. Whether or not she didn’t make it that far or whether or not she adopted the time-honored custom of fibbing to your dad and mom about the place you’re really going, we’ll by no means know.
What she did do is courageous the bracing air of a Manhattan December day to stroll 52 blocks down Fifth Avenue, first stopping to purchase some sweets (charged to the household tab) earlier than ending up at a bookstore the place she bumped into an in depth good friend, who later reported nothing appeared amiss.
After that, she vanished.
It’s been over 100 years since Dorothy Arnold went lacking and it’s protected to say the path has gone as chilly as that December day. Whereas rumors have by no means died down as to the thriller of the lacking heiress, not one shred of proof has instructed a solution to the query that plagued a household and a metropolis for over a century.
“Mom will at all times suppose an accident has occurred”
Within the wake of her disappearance, Dorothy was, by all accounts, the image of a (largely) correct younger woman. She had loads of pals, socialized as a very good socialite ought to, and did greater than sustain appearances. She adopted the dictates of pricey mum and pop and did what each good lady was imagined to do, although one does should marvel if her dad and mom have been chapped that their daughter was nonetheless unwed (the typical age of marriage for ladies on the time was round 21).
However the silence of historical past echoes on the subject of the inside lives of younger girls of that interval, particularly when their papers are mysteriously burned (extra on that later). What is thought is that Dorothy was a contented coed, having graduated from Bryn Mawr, and that she had goals of dwelling the bohemian lifetime of a author. Her household was not supportive.
Her father got here from cash and made significantly extra of it as a companion at F.R. Arnold & Co., an importer whose important product was fragrance and cologne. When he died in 1924, he would leave nothing to his lacking daughter, who he had lengthy since believed was lifeless. However that was almost 15 years off and he had sufficient cash in 1910 that when reporters lastly obtained wind of the lacking lady, they went forward and dubbed her an “heiress.”
Being an heiress is sweet and all, however Dorothy wanted to be a writer. To that finish, she requested her dad and mom for permission to maneuver into an house in Greenwich Village, presumably to be the place the opposite inventive individuals have been. The reply was a categorical “no.” Mr. Arnold dismissed her goals of independence with the brief pronouncment that: “A great author can write wherever.”
In order that’s what Dorothy did. She wrote a brief story and submitted it for consideration at McClure’s. It was then that Dorothy decided that might come to hang-out her: she instructed her household. A 1960 story in American Heritage recounts that they “all started teasing her unmercifully about her literary pretensions.” As is the expertise of most first-time writers, her story was politely rejected. However Dorothy acquired that rejection whereas dwelling at house with no help for her goals. “Within the phrases of a information account, ‘Dorothy now discovered life a torment amongst her amused relations.’”
So not all was fox fur muffs and roses for the Higher East Aspect heiress. However there was one different space during which she had defied her household’s expectations: love. Dorothy had the gall to enter right into a relationship with a person that was positively not authorized.
George C. Griscom, Jr. was 42 when Dorothy went lacking. It’s onerous to think about what Dorothy noticed within the man aside from an opportunity at a little bit independence and rise up. Not solely was he a lot older than the girl he met as a pupil, however he didn’t have loads going for him in both the appears to be like or the character division. He was a dumpy middle-aged man who nonetheless lived at house and whose life consisted largely of following his dad and mom round.
Regardless of the restrictions on a younger woman of Dorothy’s stature, the 2 nonetheless managed to steal away over time, the latest liaison occurring the summer time earlier than Dorothy went lacking. Regardless of the subterfuge (that summer time jaunt was allowed beneath the ruse that Dorothy was visiting a good friend from school), it later turned identified that Dorothy’s dad and mom had gotten wind of “Junior” and weren’t completely happy.
When requested about his restrictions on his daughter’s love life within the press convention saying her disappearance, Mr. Arnold turned enraged: “It’s not true that I objected to her having males name on the home. I might have been glad to see her affiliate extra with younger males than she did, particularly some younger males of brains and place: one whose career or enterprise would preserve him occupied. I don’t approve of younger males who don’t have anything to do.”
However Griscom wasn’t the one one whose actions veered into shady. Within the preliminary days after Dorothy didn’t make it house, her household appeared extra centered on defending their repute than discovering their daughter.
The minute Dorothy didn’t present for dinner, the Arnolds knew that one thing was flawed. They phoned a number of of her pals, ending their calls with a request to not share that their daughter was lacking. When one of many pals referred to as again just a few hours later to inquire if Dorothy had been discovered, she was instructed Dorothy was now house, however that she couldn’t come to the cellphone as a result of “she had a headache and went proper to mattress.”
The household didn’t go to the police—they claimed they didn’t need the publicity. As a substitute, they referred to as on a lawyer good friend of Dorothy’s older brother who was requested to play one thing of a detective position. One of many issues he discovered when he initially searched her room was a pile of now-unrecognizable papers smoldering within the fireplace. The household claimed she should have burned her newest unsuccessful manuscript.
When the younger lawyer turned up no clues, the Arnolds employed the Pinkertons. It was the famend detective company that lastly satisfied them to publicize the disappearance. Six weeks after Dorothy walked out of the home, they lastly reported her lacking to the NYPD.
“Dorothy have to be the well-to-do younger woman who confirmed up at a Boston hospital with amnesia. It was her physique pulled out of the East River. No, she was promoting shoe polish in Chicago…”
It was then that Dorothy’s disappearance swept the nation. The police insisted that Mr. Arnold make a press release to the press publicly saying the seek for his daughter. He supplied a $1000 reward, and the information began rolling in.
Dorothy have to be the well-to-do younger woman who confirmed up at a Boston hospital with amnesia. It was her physique pulled out of the East River. No, she was promoting shoe polish in Chicago or she was in Richmond sending secret telegram messages to a good friend in Atlantic Metropolis. Scratch that, she was living in L.A. beneath a unique title, or she was the rich woman found in a Philadelphia sanitarium.
Studying the protection, it’s a marvel what number of prosperous younger women of unknown id have been languishing in U.S. hospitals in 1911. However plainly every one was suspected to be Dorothy Arnold.
Her household adopted each lead. At one level it was reported that her mom had gone lacking, just for Mrs. Arnold to show up in Europe on the hunt for her daughter. As the times ticked by and no shred of proof was discovered, the hypothesis set in.
First, there have been those that believed that Dorothy, fed up with the restrictions at house, determined to take her life into her personal arms. She pulled collectively the little cash she had readily available, instructed her dad and mom she was off to run errands, after which left with nothing greater than the garments on her again to start out a brand new life for herself. This principle was bolstered by a river front merchant who claimed that “a mysterious younger lady of obvious refinement” had tried to provide him her jewellery in alternate for garments to disguise herself as a person.
The extra bleak tackle the dissatisfied heiress principle was that she dedicated suicide in a state of dejection about her failure as a author. A letter she had not too long ago written to Griscom had the puzzling line, “Mom will at all times suppose an accident has occurred.”
“It’s onerous to imagine that anybody of those situations may have left no mark within the 100 years since Dorothy disappeared.”
Talking of Griscom, some thought she had run away to be with him. He was in Europe on the time of her disappearance—naturally along with his dad and mom—and professed no data of her whereabouts. He then very publicly got here again to the States to assist with the search. A darker aspect to the hypothesis about his involvement suggests Dorothy had died in the midst of getting a back-alley abortion, and that he had placed on a entrance and stayed silent in regards to the tragedy.
And at last, there was her stalwart father. Whereas his spouse and son ran around the globe chasing leads, Mr. Arnold turned satisfied early on that Dorothy had been kidnapped and murdered, most likely in Central Park. Whereas his competition that her physique was dumped within the reservoir was unfounded—it was frozen on the time and no physique has ever turned up—he believed from the early days of the investigation that Dorothy had in some way been taken in plain sight, in the course of a crowded metropolis, and killed.
The very fact is, any one in every of these theories could possibly be true. Every is equally believable, in addition to equally puzzling. It’s onerous to imagine that anybody of those situations may have left no mark within the 100 years since Dorothy disappeared.
The one reality that’s identified for positive is that at some point, a 25-year-old heiress with goals of being a author went out for a stroll. Like a whiff of fragrance, she vanished in skinny air.