Tag Archives: Mary Victoria (Wheeler) Schwartz

A Final Resting Place

In December 1915, William B. Schwartz died. He was buried on 16 December 1915. I am currently in the process of ordering William’s death certificate and the burial records from Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis. Mary Victoria died a few years later in 1918. Both are buried in unmarked graves, in adjoining plots, at Crown Hill Cemetery. I have been unable thus far to find an obituary for William. Perhaps once I have a definite death date for William, I may be able to have better luck finding an obituary.

I have tracked down two personal court cases in which William B. Schwartz was involved. The first case was from 1901 in which he was the plaintiff; the second was from 1906 in which he was the defendant. I will begin transcribing and posting from these two cases this week.

I will  post more information as I discover it, but at this point, what I have of William B. Schwartz’s story has been told. I still haven’t made up my mind whether he was truly a scoundrel or a man caught up in life’s misfortunes.

You can visit William B. Schwartz’s memorial at Find A Grave.

©Deborah Sweeney, 2014.


Lawyer Became Counterfeiter

W. B. Schwartz of Indianapolis, Inventor of Visible Typewriter

His fortune dissipated in an effect to perfect a typewriter which he had invented, and driven to desperation by the need of money to support an insane wife and two grown daughters, William B. Schwartz, a prominent attorney of Indianapolis, Ind., resorted to counterfeiting when his practice failed to bring in a sufficient revenue and now he is in the United States penitentiary to serve four years for counterfeiting. He is 47 years old. He arrived Friday morning with a bunch of convicts from Indianapolis, Ind. Schwartz was arrested last May and put up a pitiful pleas to obtain his freedom, but failed.

The product of Schwartz’s mold consisted chiefly of 50-cent pieces and they were the nearest perfect of any that ever came under the notice of the secret service men in Indiana. For over a year the spurious coins had worried the United States officers, both on account of their being difficult of detection and the trouble in ascertaining their source.

It was by mere chance that suspicion was directed toward Schwartz, bue [but] even then it was a year before the officers were able to obtain convicting evidence against the lawyer. In the meantime, while he had not grown reckless in putting the coins into circulation, the fear of detection had grown less and less, so that, when the officers arrested him in his office as he was bending over his desk engrossed in some legal work, the surprise was so great he gave a shriek, like a wild animal at bay.

His arrest was the culmination of all his woes, and for a moment Schwartz seemed on the verge of losing his reason. When told quietly that indisputable evidence had been obtained against him, there was little difficulty in getting the man to admit his guilt.

Coins in His Office.

A search of his office revealed a number of counterfeit coins, which it was almost impossible to distinguish from genuine. Schwartz had a method of taking away the “newness” by the aid of an electric battery. This he had fitted up at his office and he had just “finished” a run a short time before he was arrested. It was found later that he kept his molds, which were of his own workmanship, at his home where he cast the coins to be finished up at his office.

It is believed that Schwartz did not market his product in Indianapolis, but that he had dealings with large gangs of counterfeiters in other parts of the country.

At one time Schwartz was well-to-do, owned considerable property, had a good law practice and was well known in a wide circle of acquaintances. Then he became interested in typewriters. He conceived the idea of a “visible” machine and, after long labor and much expense, took out a patent and made an effort to market the product. He then found that the machine had many imperfections and drawbacks and he set about removing them. He was of a mechanical turn of mind and spent much time in his workshop. It was while thus engaged that the foundation was laid for his counterfeiting. In making patents for his typewriter he learned the art of making molds and one day one of his workmen jokingly remarked how easy it would be to make molds for counterfeiting coins. The workman showed him just how it could be done and they talked about it for a few minutes and then returned to the work in hand.

His Troubles Grew.

The typewriter business did not prosper, and about this time Schwartz’s wife became mentally deranged. He employed the best physicians he could find and sent her to sanitariums in an endeavor to cure her, and this expense, together with the losses he had sustained on his typewriter and the failure of his practice through inattention, made it necessary for him to give up his home. Still further pressed, he was forced to sell his patent, and it was not long until he did not know from one day’s end to another where the next day’s meals were coming from. It was then he turned to counterfeiting.

Schwartz’s wife is in an asylum and his daughters are crushed by the disgrace and shock of their father’s exposure. One of them said that had they known of his dire need for money they would have helped him in some way, but that he had always provided for them without complaint and that though they knew he had lost heavily in investments, they were not acquainted with his real need. – Leavenworth (Kan.) Times


“Lawyer Became Counterfeiter; In United States Prison,” Commercial Stamp Trade Journal 16 (January 1907): 7-8; digital images, Google (http://www.google.com : accessed 23 April 2014).


Insanity No Ground

Schwartz, W. B. - 1903-07-09INSANITY NO GROUND

For Divorce in Indiana, Says Indianapolis Judge.

Judge Carter, of the superior court Indianapolis, yesterday denied a divorce to William B. Schwartz, an attorney, whose wife has been in the Central Indiana Insane Hospital since 1890. The judge said that insanity is not a ground for divorce in Indiana and the cruelty alleged and testified to was shortly before his wife became insane, and he would not grant a divorce on that ground.

Edgar A. Brown was appointed guardian to look after Mrs. Schwartz’s interests in the suit. Previously Schwartz had filed two complaints for divorce, but he dismissed them. In the last case the issues were fought through. Schwartz’s attorney made a plea that his client should not for the rest of his life have the burden of his wife interfered with real transfers of real estate he desired to make. Mr. Schwartz’s brother approved the request for a divorce.

“Insanity No Ground,” Logansport Reporter (Logansport, Indiana), 9 July 1903, p. 3, col. 6; digital image, Newspaper Archive (http://www.newspaperarchive.com : accessed 31 March 2014).

Not Ground For Divorce

Schwartz, W. B. - 1903-07-08 #2NOT GROUND FOR DIVORCE

Judge Carter Would Not Grant It Because Defendant Is Insane

William B. Schwartz, an attorney whose wife has been in the Central Insane Hospital since 1890, was refused a divorce by Judge Carter yesterday. The judge said that insanity is not a ground for divorce in Indiana; that it is one of the “risks of the partnership,” and he would not grant a decree on that ground.

Edgar A. Brown was appointed guardian to look after Mrs. Schwartz’s interest in the suit. Schwartz’s attorney made the plea that his client should not for the rest of his life have such a burden upon him, and claimed that in the insanity of his wife interfered with transfers of real estate he desired to make. Mrs. Schwartz’s brother was in favor of a divorce.

“Not Ground For Divorce,” The Indianapolis Journal (Indianapolis, Indiana), p. 9, col. 1; digital image, Chronicling America (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/ : accessed 30 March 2014).

The Court Record – 30 June 1901

Schwartz, W. B. - 1901-06-30 #2


Henry Clay Allen, Judge.

William B. Schwartz vs. Mary V. Schwartz; divorce. Insanity of defendant suggested. Samuel Ashby appointed guardian ad litem for defendant.

“Circuit Court,” The Indianapolis Journal (Indianapolis, Indiana), 30 June 1901, p. 7, col. 4; digital image, Chronicling America (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/ : accessed 23 March 2014).

W. B. Schwartz’s Suit

Schwartz, W. B. - 1901-06-04W. B. Schwartz’s Suit.

William B. Schwartz yesterday filed suit against his wife, Mary F. Schwartz, for divorce. He avers that she possesses a violent tempter, and suddenly became insane. He asks that a guardian ad litem be appointed for her while the proceedings are pending.


W.  B. Schwartz vs. Mary V. Schwartz: divorce. Circuit Court.

“W. B. Schwartz’s Suit,” The Indianapolis Journal (Indianapolis, Indiana), 4 June 1901, p. 6, col. 5-6; digital image, Chronicling America (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/  : accessed 20 March 2014).

“New Suits Filed,” The Indianapolis Journal (Indianapolis, Indiana), 4 June 1901, p. 6, col. 6; digital image, Chronicling America (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/ : accessed 20 March 2014).

[Editor’s note: This is the second time W. B. Schwartz filed for a divorce. The first filing was in May 1900.]

The Court Record

Schwartz, W. B. - 1900-06-25THE COURT RECORD.


Hon. Martin Hugg, Special Judge.

William Schwartz vs. Mary Schwartz; divorce. Evidence partly heard. Continued.

“The Court Record,” The Indianapolis Journal (Indianapolis, Indiana), 25 June 1900, p. 3, col. 5; digital image, Chronicling America (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/ : accessed 17 March 2014).

Divorce Suit Continued

Schwartz, W. B. - 1900-06-24Divorce Suit Continued.

The divorce suit of William Schwartz against Mary Schwartz, tried before Martin Hugg, special judge. In Room 2 of the Superior Court, yesterday, was continued. He alleges that his wife is an inmate of the insane hospital, and asks that a divorce be granted.

“Divorce Suit Continued,” The Indianapolis Journal (Indianapolis, Indiana), 24 June 1900, p. 6, col. 3-4; digital image, Chronicling America (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/ : accessed 16 March 2014).

Suit For Divorce

Schwartz, W. B. - 1900-05-26Suit for Divorce.

William Schwartz brought suit for divorce from his wife, Mary Schwartz, yesterday. He alleges that they  separated in 1890 and charges her with having an ungovernable temper and striking him. He also says she has been an inmate of the Central Insane Hospital for the last ten years.


Joseph Souer vs. Richard M. Crosby et al.: damages. Demand, $1,000. Superior Court. Room 2.
William Schwartz vs. Mary Schwartz; divorce. Superior Court. Room 2.
Max Gundelfinger vs. Sarah Gundelfinger et al.; partition. Circuit Court.

“Suit for Divorce,” The Indianapolis Journal (Indianapolis, Indiana), 26 May 1900, p. 3, col. 3; digital image, Chronicling America (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/ : accessed 15 March 2014).

“New Suits Filed,” The Indianapolis Journal (Indianapolis, Indiana), 26 May 1900, p. 3, col. 4; digital image, Chronicling America (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/ : accessed 15 March 2014).


There is plenty information available on-line about the early Indiana medical health system and the Central Hospital for the Insane. Below are several links to sites regarding the Indiana Central Hospital for the Insane. (I have avoided those sites and videos that dwell on the ghost hunting and paranormal activity around the old hospital site, if you are interested in those, just google the Central Hospital for the Insane). Several members of the extended Yegerlehner family ended up “in the system” in the 1890s and early 1900s. At this time, three women are known: Mary Victoria (Wheeler) Schwartz, Rosina (Yegerlehner) Wolfe and Nancy (McCoy) Walker Kline. Accessing mental health records in Indiana is not easy due to privacy restrictions so it may never be clear why these women were institutionalized, basically for the remainder of their lives. In Rosina’s case, she spend nearly 40 years in the state hospital system. Were these women merely victims of the time in which they lived, when medical science did not understand conditions and symptoms that are more easily understood today? Were they genuinely ill? Or were they sent away to be hushed up? Whatever the reason, the conditions that existed at Central and the other state hospitals was deplorable.





© Deborah Sweeney, 2014.
Post originally found:  https://genealogylady.net/2014/03/16/suit-for-divorce/

William B. Schwartz flashback

[Editor’s note: I am placing this biographical entry here for two reasons: I just rediscovered it and I want to remind my dear readers about how fickle history can be. Over the last month, we have read about William’s early career, his marriage and the insanity of his wife. Although I have not found any 1892 newspaper clippings to apprise us of her condition, Mary Victoria continued to struggle with mental health issues. Whether they were real conditions as we know them today or misunderstood ones because of the limitations of late 19th century society on woman’s health, we may never know. Accessing the court records is an adventure for another day. So be mindful that William was under a lot of strain. A once bright future, full of promise, was heading towards disaster.]

Schwartz, W. B. - Biography, 1884WILLIAM B. SCHWARTZ was born in Holmes County, Ohio, July 1, 1858, and is the thirteenth of a family of fourteen children of Nicholas and Barbara (Kuntz) Schwartz, the former a native of Switzerland, the latter of Italy. In 1852, they emigrated to this country, settling in Holmes County, Ohio, on a farm, where they still live. William grew to manhood on a farm, enjoying the advantages of common schools until, at the age of eighteen years, he entered the Normal Department of the Humboldt School at Pittsburgh, Penn., remaining there eight months. He then returned home and assisted his father on the farm until the following winter, during which he taught a term of school in Holmes County. At the close of this term, he entered the Millersburg Normal Academy; remained there two years, graduating from the institution, in the scientific course class, in 1881. He again returned home  and taught another term of school in his native county, at the close of which making a tour of pleasure and recreation through Missouri and Kansas. On his return through Missouri, he taught one term on the frontier of that State, returning to Ohio at its close, where he completed his studies in common law. He at the end of this time moved to Brazil, and was admitted to the bar February 2, 1883, since which time he has been in the active practice of his profession. Mr. Schwartz is one of the promising professional young men of Clay County, and is in possession of literary attainments and an energy which bid fair to place him in the front rank of the legal profession.

Charles Blanchard, editor, Counties of Clay and Owen, Indiana: Historical and Biographical (Chicago: F. A. Battey & Co., 1884), 384.