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A Look Back: The Mystery of JP Myers

JP-Springville_Journal_Thu__Jul_11__1895_

By Jolene Hawkins

Looking back into our archives, I found a mystery that even to this day is not solved. Where is JP Myers?  Get on your thinking caps as you read this story and see if you can solve the mystery.

In 1843, John Pecks Myers was born.  When he was 18, he enlisted in the 104th Regiment NY State Volunteers.  He was engaged in nearly all the battles of the Army of the Potomac, until Antietam, where he was wounded by a musket ball, shattering the bone near the ankle. He was in the hospital for five months, and offered a discharge, but refused it, going back to his unit. He continued his place in his unit and during the battle of Gettysburg, he was captured and taken to Andersonville Prison.

While in prison, he wrote a journal so that we are able to see daily life while he was a prisoner.  He talked of the shelters and lack of them, the men who came in and left, and those who died while there.  He was a prisoner for 22 months and when he was to be released, he and others were marched off to Vicksburg, where they then would get passage on boat for the rest of the journey home.

They were scheduled to board the Sultana, but another boat came and they were placed on it.  The next day when the Sultana had a load of prisoners on it, taking that group home, it exploded, and 1,400 out of 2,200 on board were killed. How sad this was for the prisoners of war, who had been imprisoned for 12 to 22 months to end up being killed on the last leg of the trip home.  JP talked about this for the rest of his life… how he had escaped death that day.

JP Myers returned to his home in Sardinia, got married to Florence May Beebe, and there, he and his family would live over his store, the Beebe and Myers General Store.

During his life, he also partner shipped with Ira Woodward and A F Drake and was in the wholesale butter and egg business in Springville, as well as a promoter and developer of the cemetery.  He was president of the Village and President of the Board of Education.

JP bought real estate and sold it.  Sometimes he would make money and other times he lost money.

So far, sounds like he had a great life.. right?

Enter David Ingalls, who was a capitalist and a real estate owner. They were friends and when David Ingalls died, JP Myers was the executor of his estate.  Now pay attention.  JP was the one who was going to make sure that the thousands of dollars that were left to people and places was processed.

JP left his office at the County Savings Bank Building, telling his office partners that he was going to his home in Springville. JP boarded the train to head home; it is said that he was carrying both money and other papers.  After leaving the city, it came to light that he sent his wife a letter at a point between Albany and New York. It was posted at the station on the Hudson River Railroad.  It was a rambling note in nature and contained references to the Ingalls estate and to Robert L Ingalls who, along with him, was the executor of the will.  He told his wife he would be back in time for a party they were having at the house. Family and guests arrived, tables were decorated and the food was laid out.

He never showed up that night, or any other night since.  After 10 days, he was officially reported as missing. Detectives were sent on his trail as far as Albany and for a ways down the Hudson River. They searched for him on the train, and all along the way up there.

When the report of his disappearance showed up in the newspapers, everybody had their own opinion. The attorneys assured the public that the Ingalls estate would not suffer a dollar’s loss on the account of JP missing. Books could be written about such tragedies.  Was he foully murdered?  If so, could it have been one of the gang of Raiders from Andersonville who had sworn revenge on the former Regulators?  Did he get into a card game and lose his life as well as his money? Did he fall off the train?  Or was he thrown off?!  Was he a victim of robbers?  Did he take the money and move somewhere else to start a new life? One could go endlessly, and we do not know the answers… and this is one of our mysteries. So what is your opinion? Let us know at lucybensleycenter@gmail.com or stop by!

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