Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Outlaw John Dillinger Family History in Berlin, Ohio

In an Amish descendants book titled, "Miller Family History.... Descendants of Benjamin A. Miller and Martha Troyer," printed by Berlin Printing, Berlin, Ohio, I found family history on the notorious and infamous outlaw, John Dillinger. The story is also revealed in the book "History of Berlin, Ohio Community 1816 to 1966."

The Miller book recounts, "Henry Mosenbauch came to Berlin, Ohio in November 1874 with a wife and child, about five years old, by a former marriage.  He was a German and his wife was murdered and Mosenbauch was blamed and put in jail. After the murder of Mrs. Mosenbauch, her oldest child was placed into the home of Amish people named Simon D. A. Troyers (Davy Sim, our grampas) to be raised till the age of 18; then to be given a Bible and suit of clothes." When the boy was 18 years old he went to Indiana.  Later it was his son who was the notorious killer and bank robber, making news all across the country.

Berlin, Ohio 


In my research I found sources spelled Henry's last name Mosenbach, Mosenbauch, Mosenbaugh, and Mosenback.  Records indicate that the woman Henry married was named Mary and she had previously been married to a Dillinger.

In the Miller book, the writer wrote that he had often wondered where the name Mosenbach came from.  He recalled a John J. Hershberger would quote a poem such as "Mosenbach hut lauter guth sach, Stiffel un d Spura, hut de hossa ferlohra."  Translation:  "Mosenbach has a lot of nice things, boots and spurs, but he lost his pants."

Various newspapers reported the story. According to an article in the Holmes County Farmer dated February 17, 1876, Henry Mosenback, his wife, and a child about five years of age came from Baltimore and located in Walnut Creek Township.  Shortly thereafter they settled about two miles east of Berlin. (Mentioned elsewhere, that was Baltimore, Maryland).

The story is given in great detail in the Stark County Democrat newspaper dated March 2, 1876. According to this newspaper article, he claims to have met his wife while she was a tramp on the road with her two children. The article says that he made a proposal to marry her if she disposed of her two children, and she left them with parties in Pennsylvania. He kept his agreement and in 1874 brought her to Ohio, and settled in Berlin Township, Holmes County, where he worked a small farm of 25 acres on shares.

The Holmes County Farmer, February 17, 1876 states that Henry Mosenback and his wife and a child about five years of age came from Baltimore and located in Walnut Creek Township.  Shortly later they settled about two miles east of Berlin.

The article states that "Mosenback is a German, unable to speak English.  He worked as a common day laborer making a comfortable living for his family.  Until recently they seemed to get along happily together.  He began to suspect her fidelity to him, having frequent quarrels since.  A child was born to them on the 13th of October last (1875)."

On Sunday last, February 13, 1876, Peter Ettling, a neighbor, called at the Mosenbach house.  He sensed there was trouble between them but there was no violent demonstration in his presence.  Ettling went from there to the residence of Emanuel Beechy and told him he feared that there was trouble at Mosenbach's.  About 11 o'clock that day, Beechy went to Mosenbach's house to see if all was right.

He found their little four-month-old child on the floor crying.  He called, but receiving no reply, went in and found Mrs. Mosenbach dead.  He immediately went to Berlin and gave the alarm.  A number of persons went to the one-room cabin.  They at once suspected she had been killed by her husband who was absent.

Questioning the little boy, they learned he had gone to the woods.  They divided themselves into parties to search for him, soon finding him north of the road standing behind a large beech tree.  He confessed to beating her with a round (rung) of a ladder.  He did not intend to kill her, but 'supposed his violence caused her death.' He was brought to Millersburg Sunday night and lodged in jail, and given a preliminary examination before Justice A. J. Bell today (17th) at 9 am.........

Henry, after his arrest was held in the Mt. Vernon jail because the Millersburg jail was not considered secure enough at the time.

The article additionally states, "We, the undersigned jurors . . do find that the deceased came to her death by violence perpetuated by her husband, Henry Mosenbach."  Another Holmes County Farmer article dated 5/4/1876 states  "Henry Mosenbach indicted for murder of his wife, came into court and pleaded guilty to murder in the second degree, which plea was accepted.  He was sentenced to the penitentiary for life."

 Berlin Ohio Location of Dillinger/Mosenbach Home

Rest Stop Mentioned In Dillinger History

The Daily Record, 9/9/1966 recounted the history and gives more detail with title: "Along Ohio 39; Ax-Handle Murder Put Berlin in Limelight."  It states that this occurred two miles east of Berlin, only a few rods south of the present state roadside park on Ohio 39.  It also states that as late as 1900, the remains of Mosenbach's log cabin and stable stood there; fragments of broken colored dishes; as late as 1950 a few fruit trees marked the site......"

In that same article, "During James E. Campbell's term as Governor of Ohio he commuted Mosenbach's sentence to 24 years, less time off for good behavior.  He was released from the penitentiary on January 7, 1892 after serving less than 16 years.

I photocopied another article from our Holmes County library.  I failed to note the source, but I believe this is detail from the History of Berlin Ohio Community, 1816 to 1966.  Some of the men who searched for Henry after they discovered his wife dead were Emanuel Beechy, David Yoder, Samuel Yoder, Christian Yoder, William Hott, Jacob Swoveland, Jacob Wilhelm, John Zehnder, I.D. Snyder, and Henry Hall. They found the murder weapons, consisting of an axe-handle (helve) and a piece of hay rick, instead of a ladder run, on the floor by the bed.

Earlier Mary's son from her first marriage (Dillinger) was not at the cabin; however, when the searchers returned from Berlin the boy was "apparently at the house then because Wilhelm reported that he asked him where his 'pap' was and he motioned toward the field to the north.  I.D. Snyder, Henry Hall, Jacob Swoveland and others went out to find him.  Swoveland said, 'We found him sixty or eighty rods north of the house in the woods.' He was first seen behind a large tree.  When they returned with him, Wilhelm asked him what was wrong.  He said, 'You needn't blame anybody else; It was me that did it."

Quoting from this same article, "Mary Mosenbach is reported to have been married previously to a Dillinger who died.  The oldest child mentioned above was apparently by that marriage. They were then living in Indiana..... At the time of the murder, neighbors and the county authorities arranged for the boys to be placed with local Amish families.  They were kept in their separate foster homes until they were eighteen.  Then each was to be given a suit and a Bible."

The oldest son, who was raised by Simon D.A. Troyer (Davy Sim), was the father of the notorious outlaw, John Dillinger; grew up near the Mike Doffitt School House.  When he was eighteen, he received his suit and Bible and went to Indiana where he had relatives.  He married there.

Summing this up, it is my guess that the father, John Dillinger, probably witnessed his stepfather kill his mother.  His stepfather first requested that his mother dispose of her two children before he would marry her; and at that point she sent her children to someone in Pennsylvania.  He lost both biological father and mother;  lived on the street with his mother as reported, then he was homeless and raised in a foster home and sent off with a suit of clothing and a Bible.  Is it surprising that one of his children, John Dillinger, became who he was? According to wikipedia, the father of outlaw, John Dillinger, was John Wilson Dillinger, "a grocer by trade, and reportedly, a harsh man."

This story is also referenced on page 259 in the book, American Homicide by Randolph Roth.

In conclusion, I have simply shared information that has been published. The name of the father of outlaw, John Herbert Dillinger was John Wilson Dillinger, dob July 2, 1864, as indicated on wikipedia. This would make him 11 years old at the time of the murder.  This leaves some questions about the child's age.

Visit us some time at Millersburg, Ohio, Barn Inn Bed and Breakfast.

The Barn Inn Bed and Breakfast

Submitted by Loretta Coblentz
September 2, 2015

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