Otto Tappert Is Dead
Startling End Came To A Popular Traveling Man Died in the Elks Club Rooms
Passed away among the associations that he loved and his body is cared for by friends—Wife is Prostrated by Terrible Shock
Otto F. Tappert, one of the oldest traveling men out of Norfolk, was found dead in the paraphernalia room of the Elks club shortly after 1 o’clock today. His body was discovered by James Ellis, porter, about 1:15, and he immediately summond Dr. Bear and members of the lodge, who found that the end had come. Death had not occurred long before, because his body was still warm. Mr. Tappert was tyler of the lodge, a position which he has held since its organization six years ago and he, besides the porter, was the only one who carried a key to the paraphernalia room. The porter seldom has occasion to visit this room, but today for some reason he went there directly after he returned from his dinner. After he unlocked the door, it met with a yielding resistance and on peering around he saw that Mr. Tappert’s feet were in the way. Finally he succeeded in getting inside the room, and was horrified to find the body stretched out on the floor, the head raised slightly by a blanket that he had used as a pillow. The porter summoned help at once, but when the doctor arrived it was apparent that nothing could be done.
The indications are that Mr. Tappert took his own life, though what the motive might be is impossible to understand. His family relations were most agreeable, and he leaves his wife and two fine boys and two lovely girls. He had a good position with the Standard Oil company, and was one of its oldest men on the road. He was popular with his trade and has hosts of friends not only in Norfolk but in every town in north Nebraska and southern South Dakota. He was a member of a number of fraternal orders and among all he was particularly well liked for he genial good nature and free heartedness. Yet his friends are forced to the belief that it is a case of suicide.
It was a strange mixture of human nature, and one that only makes the case more pathetic, that led Mr. Tappert to choose for the tragedy the one little room in all the world where he had spent most of his joking hours. As tyler of the lodge ever since the institution was organized in this city six years ago, Mr. Tappert had never missed a single meeting excepting once, when he was snowbound out west and even then he telephoned into the lodge so that his name might be recorded as “present.” And so it was that on every other Saturday night he was on hand promptly at 8 o’clock to administer all that there was of fun making for the young Elk initiates.
And it was here, surrounded by apparatus that he had so long enjoyed, that he chose to lie down quietly and having locked the door from within, became forever after “an absent member” of the lodge that he loved.
Coroner Tanner was at once notified of the tragedy and he will drive from Battle Creek during the afternoon and an inquest will undoubtedly be held this evening. The remains are still at the club rooms, resting upon a cot where they were tenderly placed by fraternal brothers, to await the investigation by the coroner.
An Elk carried the sad news to Mrs. Tappert, at the home on the west side, and she is completely prostrated by the shock of the awful thing that has happened. Kind friends are with her and are doing what little lies within human power to do under the terrible circumstances, but that is not much.
It seems that he was confined to the house all day yesterday by illness, but this morning he got up early to make his trip. He left home at 4:30 stating his intentions of going to Sioux City on the early freight. How he came to be in the club rooms at 1 o’clock is not clear, but it is surmised that he left on the Sioux City train and returned to the city at 11 o’clock. The porter was in the rooms all the morning until 12:30, and he is positive that Mr. Tappert did not come there until after he had gone. So he must have entered the rooms shortly after that time. No other solution can be assigned for his rash resolution from his illness of yesterday, and that in his weakened state did not realize what he was doing.
He was 53 years of age and had lived in Norfolk probably 20 years, and for a long time before he came traveled fro the Standard Oil company, his service with that company having been continuous for the past thirty years.
Arrangements for the funeral have not been announced.
Source: The Norfolk Daily News, Thur. March 22, 1906, page 4
Inquest For Otto Tappert
Coroner came from Meadow Grove last night
Funeral Sunday afternoon
Mr. Tappert had been in Standard Oil Service longer than almost any other commercial traveler—He prepared for a long journey.
The coroner’s jury summoned to hold an inquest over the remains of Otto F.Tappert, met in the Elk club rooms last night and brought in a verdict that Mr. Tappert had come to his death by taking carbolic acid with suicidal intent. Dr. Kindred, the coroner, arrived from his home at Meadow Grove on the evening freight train and Sheriff Clements summond the jury immediately. The jurors were F. F. Ware, H. W. Winter, E. E. Coleman, Albert Degner, H. A. Pasewalk and E. N. Vail.
Mr. Tappert’s funeral will be held from Trinity Episcopal church Sunday afternoon at 3 o’clock, Rev. J. C. S. Weills, conducting the service
A Pioneer Commercial Traveler
Mr. Tappert was a veteran among the commercial travelers of northern Nebraska, having made his home in Norfolk for the last sixteen years. For thirty-five years he had labored in the interest of the Standard Oil company, having gone into their service when he was eighteen years of age and being fifty-three at the time of his death. For years he staged it through the frontier selling oil, and his reminiscences of the early days in this territory as a drummer were interesting to a degree. He began traveling out of Des Moines, and was at that time a personal friend of Mr. Drake of New York, one of the head men of the company.
It is evident that he had been contemplating his action for some months, letters having been left which bore various dates, ranging from a day to nearly two months. One of the letters was written to Burt Mapes under date of February 21, Mr. Mapes being exalted ruler of the Elks lodge in Norfolk. This note was folded over and showed signs of having been carried about in Mr. Tappert’s pocket for days, the ink being rubbed about on the paper.
Cleaned up His Desk
A number of other letters were left by Mr. Tappert for is friends in Norfolk. These, for the most part, were written by him in his own home Wednesday afternoon and having finished his task he quietly cleaned up his desk as though he were going away for a long journey and wanted to leave it in the neatest of order.
After leaving home yesterday morning at 3 o’clock, presumably for the purpose of taking an early freight train to Sioux City, Mr. Tappert is thought to have gone to the hall above the Elks club rooms and to have remained there until noon, when the porter left for lunch. And during the noon lunch hour it is believed that Mr. Tappert, all alone in the club room, first sat down at the desk and wrote, in the firmest, steadiest sort of a hand, a most beautiful little note of farewell to Mrs. Tappert, and then calmly went into the tiny paraphernalia room of the club, to which he was the only member holding a key, and there, after making a comfortable bed, with a blanket for a pillow upon which to rest his head, lay down among the initiatory apparatus that he has so jealously guarded as his own charge for the past six years and fell into his last, long slumber.
Friends of Mr. and Mrs. Tappert will be glad to learn that he was pretty well insured, carrying $6,000 of fraternal protection which will come to the family. He was a member of the Royal Highlanders, the Woodmen of the World and the Ancient Order of United Workmen. Members of the orders to which he belonged will individually attend the services at the church, but not in bodies as lodge organizations.
Friends and Relatives Come
Mrs. Bernard, sister of Mr. Tappert, and her daughter, Mrs. O’Toole, arrived from Omaha at noon, as did also Julius Tappert, a brother from Davenport, Iowa. A sister from Denver may arrive tomorrow. Other relatives who have not as yet been heard from, are expected later.
Born in Germany
Mr. Tappert was born in Germany and came to this country when he was fourteen years of age. He was married in Burlington, Iowa, June 21, 1888, to Miss Emma J. Mesmer. They remained there two years and then came to Norfolk.
Mr. Tappert was one of the very oldest commercial travelers for the Standard Oil company in America, and was probably the oldest one in the Norfolk territory. Universally very popular, he had as few enemies probably as any man living. Almost too good hearted for his own welfare, it is believed that his generosity and his warm, whole-souled nature was really the true cause of his untimely end yesterday. For several days he had been at home, and he showed signs of despondency during that time. He sent his own little boy, Hermie, to get the acid with which he intended to end all.
He stood well with his house and a long telegram came this morning from the manager at Sioux City, expressing a wish to do anything with the power of Standard Oil to make the trail as easy to bear by the family as possible. The manager asked when the funeral will be held, so that it is supposed he will attend the services Sunday afternoon.
And so it was, with these especially touching details arranged for in advance by the veteran drummer, that he started out yesterday morning upon a trip into an entirely new territory—a long, long trip from which he knew there would be no return at the end of the week to his family fireside.
The remains will be taken to the residence tomorrow morning and friends who desire to do so may call at the house, as the casket will not be opened at the church. Source: The Norfolk Daily News, Fri. March 23, 1906, page 4
A disagreeable sleet storm began raging in this territory early Sunday morning, turned to a warm rain during Sunday and is still in the game today. The streets of Norfolk have been made very muddy by the rain and business has been slack about town today because of the rain. Sidewalks at an early hour yesterday morning were covered with a heavy coating of ice and may people had pretty close calls to falling headlong. There is said to be much snow up in the Rosebud country, roads being covered with enough of the white drifts to make it difficult for one team to haul a buggy.
Source: The Norfolk Daily News, Mon. March 26, 1906, page 3
Mrs. Bernard of Omaha, sister of Mrs. Tappert, who was here to attend the funeral, left for her home today. Mrs. Wachter of Denver, another sister, will remain several days. Julius Tappert, brother of Otto Tappert, will leave for his home in Davenport, Iowa, tomorrow. Source: The Norfolk Daily News, Mon. March 26, 1906, page 4