20 August 2008

The Problem With Pauline - Part 3

So, things are starting to get interesting with this case. In the last post, I told you that I had found a little two sentence mention in "The Annals of St. Paul" that said Pauline Sharon Sanford had burned to death In Boise, Idaho. According to the Boise, Idaho newspaper a woman did indeed burn to death in her home on 13 September 1917. A woman by the name of Helen Hunt.

HHHmmmm What are the chances of two women burning to death in their home on exactly the same day and in exactly the same place? I'd say slim to none, when pigs fly, when hell freezes over, ....well you know what I mean.

I ordered a death certificate for this Helen Hunt from Ada County, Idaho. I knew that I had a couple of weeks at the very least before I received it so I decided to do a little sleuthing on Helen Hunt. I started by reading the newspaper article more closely. This is what it told me:

1. That Helen was the proprietor of the Ada rooms in Boise for many years.
2. That Helen was quite the social butterfly up to about 2 years before her death.
3. That it was thought she had a considerable amount of property.
4. That she had 1 relative - a niece who lived in Boise.
5. That she had relatives "in the east" who had been notified of Helen's death and no funeral arrangements would be made until they heard from them.
6. That Helen had a neighbor named Childs and one named Ward.
7. That Helen had become a recluse" ... with no company but her 150 thoroughbred chickens and her old horse which she drove to town about once a month."

First I ordered film from the Family History Library for the Boise city directories for 1917 and previous years back to 1902. Again, this would be another wait.

Next I went to http://www.genealogybank.com/ and searched for Helen Hunt in Boise, Idaho. A society girl like Helen must have made the paper a couple of times.

Helen did make the paper more than a few times. The first article I found in the Idaho Statesman dated November 5, 1905 had this headline:

"Mrs. Lizzie Ziegler Declared Not Guilty - Acquitted by Judge Stewart of the charge of keeping and maintaining a Bawdy House on Grove Street"

It seems that Mrs. Ziegler, the proprietress of the Ada Rooming House was arrested and charged with running a brothel. The defense called in over 20 witnesses to testify as to Mrs. Ziegler's character. Mrs. Helen Hunt was one of them.

In 1906 there are quite a few articles in the Idaho Statesman that star Mrs. Helen Hunt. Helen was living in a cottage on Grove Street (right down the street from the Ada Rooming House) and it seems that a fire broke out. Helen made it out safely, but the place burned to the ground. It also appears that Helen was in the middle of a deal to purchase the cottage when she found out that the man who sold it to her did not have legal title to it. Funny How the place went up in smoke when that tidbit of information was made public.

Helen must have became the proprietress of the Ada Rooming House in 1906 because another article in the paper in October of that year tells us how poor Helen was a victim of fraudulent money. It seems a boarder at the Ada House had paid his rent with counterfeit money.

In November of 1906 Helen is back in court according to the newspaper. This time the case is about 2 men who are accused of having sexual relations with 2 underage girls. These incidents are purported to have taken place at the Ada Rooming House where the 2 underage girls were living.

Helen Hunt also appeared in another part of the newspaper on several occasions. I found her in the column that listed significant real estate transactions that had occurred in Ada County. Wait until you hear this!

From 1905 to 1917 Helen Hunt purchased over $750,000 worth of property in Boise. These properties were prime pieces of real estate. All in the downtown area. Here are just a few transactions:

1. H.C. Wyman sold to Helen Hunt Lot 5 Block 22 originial townsite - $2200
Helen Hunt gave in part payment the south half of Block 16 Brumback
addition valued at $1000 and paid the balance of $1200 in cash.

2. W. E. Pierce to Mrs. Helen Hunt the west 10 feet of Lot 11 and the east
40 feet of Lot 10 in block 22 of the old townsite adjoining the present quarters
of the Deaf, Dumb & Blind School at Eighth & Grove Streets - $7500.

3. Warranty Deed - J. M. Neil & Co. to Helen Hunt, lots 7 and 8, Block 108, original townsite, for $3000.

Remember this is between 1905 and 1917. Where did Helen get the money to make these kinds of transactions. Isn't it highly unusual for an unmarried woman in that day and age to be involved in top dollar real estate dealings?

Well, Helen Hunt appears to be a society girl alright. Are you thinking what I am thinking?

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