July 7, 1917, Saturday
Clinton Daily Public

Clinton Child Faces Choice of Foster Parents and Riches or Mother and Poverty.

That little LaMar NIXON, foster son of Mr. and Mrs. I. I. NIXON, of Clinton, is in reality Joseph KAMINSKI, son of Mr. and Mrs. Philip KAMINSKI, of Detroit, who was kidnapped in 1910 at the age of three years, is the story told in today’s issue of the Chicago Herald.  Mr. and Mrs. Nixon secured LaMar from the Illinois Children’s [Home and Aid Society and] have given him a comfortable home ever since.  They are now on a motor tour in Wisconsin and probably do not know anything about recent developments in connection with the child unless they have seen Chicago papers.  They adopted LaMar following the loss of their own son a number of years ago.

The Herald seems to have verified the story from the records at Chicago and for that reason The Public reprints the story with the above explanation.  The Herald story of today follows:


Little Joe, kidnapped in 1910 at the age of 3, probably will decide his own fate.

Whether he shall remain the ward of Mr. and Mrs. I. I. Nixon, wealthy citizens, of Clinton, Ill., or return to the home of his mother and poverty is the problem which 10-year-old Joe will be asked to settle alone.

Mrs. Philip KAMINSKI, his mother, is confident her little boy, spirited away seven years ago, will not hesitate to choose her maternal love rather than the luxury which might be his as a foster-child of the Nixons.  She is so sure he will prefer his true mother and poverty to his adopted mother and riches that she asserts her willingness to let him follow his own inclination.


She will not rest, however, until she sees him after their long separation.  He is now with his foster parents on a motor tour through Indiana and Wisconsin.  Efforts to locate the Nixons, who left Clinton Saturday, have proved futile.

Wilfred S. Reynolds, superintendent of the Illinois Children’s Home and Aid Society, under whose supervision the Kaminski boy was placed in January, 1914, left last night for Detroit, where he will investigate every angle of the Kaminski’s story.

He received messages yesterday verifying the disappearance of Joseph Kaminski from his Detroit home in 1910.

According to Mrs. Kaminski, her son was kidnapped by Joseph LeMAR and a girl of the name of “Annie.”  Subsequently, LeMar committed suicide in Detroit and left the stolen child in the care of Mrs. Gertrude Dingee, 711 North Clark street, Chicago.  Mrs. Dingee appealed to the Juvenile court in 1913, and Joseph, under the guidance of the Children’s Aid Society, was entrusted to the Nixon family.


Superintendent Reynolds expressed skepticism as to the complete accuracy of Mrs. Kaminski’s story.

“I find it difficult to account for Mrs. Kaminski’s indifference at the time of the boy’s kidnapping,” he said.  “Why didn’t she notify the police or communicate with court authorities immediately?

“Another fact which leads me to question Mrs. Kaminski’s version of the facts is her admitted consent to Joseph’s earlier visit to LeMar.

“I shall make inquiries to learn where she and LeMar were acquainted before the kidnapping and what their relations were.

“Of course, as soon as Mrs. Kaminski establishes the identity of the boy he will be given to her.  As soon as proofs that Joseph is Mrs. Kaminski’s son are produced the hearing will be opened before Judge Arnold.”

July 9, 1917, Monday
Clinton Daily Public

LaMar Nixon's Right Name is Joseph LaMar Kaminski—
Facts Established by Orphans' Home Head.

Chicago, July 9—Joseph LaMar KAMINSKI, ten, foster son of I. I. Nixon, wealthy man of Clinton, Ill., is the real child of Mrs. Phillip KAMINSKI, of Detroit, who is trying to regain possession of the child, declared Wilfred F. Reynolds, superintendent of the Illinois Children’s Home and Aid Society who returned from Detroit today.

Kaminski is the father of the child, however, said Reynolds who learned that Mrs. Kaminski went to a Detroit maternity hospital where the child was born under the name of Mrs. SCHULTZ, her father’s adopted name, although her right name was then Helen ZAKZREZSKI.  She was unmarried, he said.

Mrs. Kaminski will be given a chance to prove her claim to the boy here, July 19.

Mr. and Mrs. Nixon are said to be somewhere in Wisconsin with LaMar, on a motor trip.  The Chicago Examiner in its issue of this morning states that Mr. Nixon telephoned Sunday to Judge Victor P. Arnold of the Juvenile court saying that if the judge wished he would bring the boy to Chicago at once.  The judge told Mr. Nixon to hold the boy until served with court order to bring Joseph to court.

“There will be no trouble,” said Judge Arnold, "about the return of the boy.  I am convinced the Nixons will do right.”

The examiner also states that “Mrs. Kaminski was bitter last night and declared if the Illinois Children’s Home and Aid Society that placed her boy with the Nixons did not return him by tonight she would get vengeance.  Mr. Kaminski has returned to Detroit to his work.”

July 11, 1917, Wednesday
Clinton Daily Public

Left Sometime During Night After Refusing Admittance to Boy’s Mother—
Destination Unknown.

Mrs. Helen KAMINSKI spent last night in Clinton.  Mr. and Mrs. I. I. Nixon spent last night “somewhere in Illinois.”

The Nixons left about midnight last night in their car for parts unknown.  No one could be found this morning who had any idea where they went.  Neither could it be learned for sure whether or not they had the boy LaMar, their foster son and Mrs. Kaminski’s child, with them.  No one saw him yesterday.

Door Shut in Her Face.

Mrs. Kaminski, accompanied by a Chicago Tribune woman reporter, came to Clinton late yesterday afternoon.  They came by way of Bloomington and arrived here on 4:42 car.   They went to Nixon home in an effort to interview the Nixons and to see Mrs. Kaminski’s son.  They were refused admittance.  The door was slammed shut in their faces while the companion of Mrs. Kaminski was yet trying to introduce themselves to Mrs. Nixon.

“This is LaMar’s mother, Mrs. Kaminski.  She wants to see her boy and talk things over with ___.”

“Bang!” went the door.

“I won’t see anybody,” said Mrs. Nixon.  “I won't see that woman.  I won't see reporters.  I won’t let anybody see LaMar.”

And she didn't.

Court Didn't Answer.

Mrs. Kaminski and the reporter spent the evening trying to get in touch with Judge Arnold of the Chicago Juvenile court.  But the judge wasn’t in an answering mood last night.  He didn’t send any telegrams at least not to Mrs. Kaminski.   Mrs. Nixon sent a telegram to the judge telling him that LaMar&$8217;s mother had presented herself at her door and that she had refused her admittance.

Clinton people today wondered why.  Why was it that the Nixon’s refused the mother, beyond question now the mother of LaMar, why did they refuse to even let her see her child?  There was no answer.

“The Nixons are probably acting in good faith but they are not taking the attitude to keep down suspicions,” was the comment.

Just Wanted to See Child.

“Why didn't she let this mother see her boy and talk it over with her,” said the Tribune reporter.  “Mrs. Kaminski has praised the Nixons constantly since she heard of the home they had given the boy the past three years.  She only wants to see her boy.  What mother wouldn’t?  And perhaps she would not demand him.  If the Nixons still want to keep him, want to give him the things that money can buy that she (Mrs. Kaminski) cannot give, she probably would consent to it.

Not Looking for Money.

“Mrs. Kaminski is not looking for money.  She doesn’t want any money out of the Nixons.  She just wants to see her boy.  And if the Nixons had treated her as she should have been treated, it is very likely that they could have kept him.  But now she is suspicious and growing hard-hearted.”

Ill This Morning.

Mrs. Kaminski was ill this morning and had to return to her room in the Magill house after she had dressed to go out.  Worry and disappointment had weakened her.  She slept little last night.  She came to Clinton in a final effort to appeal to the foster parents of LaMar to let her see him.  The court wouldn’t listen to her appeal and she thought the foster parents might.

Mrs. Kaminski is a sweet-faced looking Polish woman.  She was dressed in a dark blue street suit.  Her face is attractive and serious.  Her eyes show the worry she has experienced.

She and the reporter expected to return to Chicago this afternoon.  There is little else for them to do, nothing else now but await the court hearing in Chicago next Thursday.

July 19, 1917, Thursday
Clinton Daily Public

Failed to Appear in Court Today and Case Was Continued Until July 31.

Chicago, Ill., July 19—Mrs. Helen KAMINSKI, of Detroit, failed to appear in the Juvenile court here this afternoon to continue her fight for possession of Joseph LaMar KAMINSKI, ten, whom she says is her son, and the case was continued until July 31.   She is said to have left her boarding place in Chicago to go back to Detroit and to have said that she would make no further effort to secure possession of the child.   Mr. and Mrs. I. I. Nixon, of Clinton, wealthy foster parents of the child, brought him into court today.

August 9, 1917, Thursday 
Clinton Daily Public

Gifts to Little Daughter of His Attorney and to Another Child Feature Bequests.

Orton H. WISEGARVER is chief beneficiary under the will of his father, George F. WISEGARVER, disposing of an estate valued at perhaps $150,000, the petition to probate which is docketed for a hearing Sept. 3.

The son is given a farm of 320 acres in DeWitt county, stock in the First National Bank of Farmer City, and all other property not specifically mentioned in bequests to others.  The property however is to be held in trust for the son until he has attained the age of twenty-five years.  His uncle, Smith WISEGARVER, of Monticello, is named as trustee and also is named as executor of the will.

Gift to Little Girl Friend.

G. F. Wisegarver was owner of a majority of the stock of The Illinois Specialty Company, of Tuscola, and his holdings in that corporation he gave his nieces and nephews and twenty shares of stock in that concern to A. A. Jones, who had been his attorney.  To Florence M., daughter of Mr. and Mrs. A. A. Jones, was bequeathed fifteen shares in the Corn Belt Building and Loan, of Tuscola, and the recommendation is made that as the stock matures it be reinvested for his young friend until she has attained legal age.

Ten shares of stock in The Illinois Specialty Company were given to “the baby daughter of W. J. Stephensin [sic], of Rushton, La.”  W. J. Stevenson was the patentee of an ironing board now manufactured by The Illinois Specialty Company.  Mr. Wisegarver bought that patent and for several years the board has been made and sold by a partnership concern under royalty to Mr. Wisegarver.  A short time prior to his departure for California, Mr. Wisegarver bought out one of the partners and then an incorporation followed.

Settlement with Divorced Wife.

G. F. Wisegarver and his wife were divorced more than a year prior to his death and at that time a property settlement between them was made.  She did not appear in court when the divorce case, in which she was charged with desertion, was heard and by default a decree was entered against her.

August 15, 1917, Wednesday 
Clinton Daily Public


There are indications that the excitement of war is having an unsettling effect on weak brains.  Under the storm and stress of the great ordeal many minds that seemed to function properly in times of peace have developed latent disorders.  One advantage of war is that it brings to light these infirmities, but there is always a danger of the contagion spreading to healthy minded individuals.  That danger is somewhat greater because we have no effective quarantine for a diseased brain except in the final stages of insanity.

We are witnessing two varieties of mental disintegration.  One takes the form of hysterical peace agitation.  It represents a complete breakdown of intelligent comprehension of the fundamental conditions of existence.  These minds work in concentric circles about the isolated fact that war is a crime, and their unsettled brains are busy devising means to hinder our military preparations.  It would, of course, be just as logical to try to obstruct the fire department because fire is dangerous and destructive.

The second variety of war hysteria is exhibited in the tendency toward breaking down the safeguards of civil life.  This tendency is fostered not only by timorous souls but by unscrupulous individuals.  With a great war raging in the world the unscrupulous see no reason for curbing their evil intent, and the timorous seem to have the idea it doesn’t matter whatever happens.  One group says, “Things are so bad I’ll grab what I can,” while the other group says, “Things are so bad they couldn't be any worse.”

War is a great touchstone of national strength.  It is a test of the morale of the civilian population as well as that of the armed forces.  One is necessary to the other.  We cannot preserve our national morale unless we keep our heads.  We are teaching our soldiers order and discipline; it is imperative that we maintain order and discipline in our civil life.

We have a clear road before us.  We cannot afford to be misled by the tremulous tones of intellectual instability.  It is of the most vital importance to protect the nation from the natural enemies of society.  Any weakening of the safeguards of civil life is fraught with danger.  Moral disintegration will inevitably be followed by national disintegration.     —Chicago Tribune.

September 13, 1917, Thursday 
Clinton Daily Public

Causing Death of Harley Swisher—
Three Other Clinton Men are Bruised and Injured.

Harley SWISHER, for fourteen years an employee of the local post office, died at the John Warner hospital, Wednesday morning at 8:15.  Death was due to a fracture of the skull received in an automobile accident which occurred Tuesday evening at shortly before 5 o'clock.  Arthur HALL, Alex HALL, Arthur ALSUP and Orville DAY, who were also members of the fatal automobile party were slightly injured but are resting easy at this time.  Day being able to cover his rural mail route this morning.

Cow Cause of Accident.

The automobile party was nearing the farm home of J. B. Humphrey, near Hallsville, at the time of the accident.  Orville Day was driving and the machine was speeding along at a fair rate when a cow suddenly lunged in front of the Ford in such a manner that there was no chance for the driver to turn out, nor did any of the occupants have an opportunity to jump.

Machine Turns Over.

Striking the cow squarely, the machine was thrown to the side of the road, turning completely over and throwing the members of the party out on the ground.

Call for Aid.

All the members of the party were more or less injured and a member of a Decatur automobile party, who were the first ones on the scene, called the Oakman ambulance and for Dr. SHELL, who started at once for the Humphrey farm.  In the meantime, Mr. Humphrey with the aid of a neighbor had gotten the injured parties in his car and started for Clinton.  Meeting the ambulance shortly afterward, Mr. Swisher was transferred to it and was brought with Orville Day to the hospital, the other members of the party being taken to their homes.

Chances Slight.

From the first, the attending physicians decided that Mr. Swisher had but little chance for recovery and at no time did he regain consciousness, although he seemed to rally a bit towards midnight.  It was evident that in being thrown from the machine Mr. Swisher had landed on the right of his face and head and had suffered a fractured skull.

Day Goes to Work.

The other members of the party were found to be badly bruised and cut, but none of them were seriously injured.  Orville Day, owner of the Ford, being able to resume his work as rural carrier with the aid of a driver, Wednesday morning.  Alex and Arthur Hall are recovering from their hurts and bruises at the home of Austin HALL, where they were visiting.  The Hall brothers had sold their interests in Dakota a short time ago and were visiting friends and relatives in Clinton, preparatory to starting South in search of a new location.  They had intended leaving Clinton today.  Arthur Alsup, the other member of the party is reported as being well on the way to recovery.

See obituary