Friday, March 18, 2016

Holmes at the University of Michigan, Supplementary Files

In this post I will present additional materials related to the early life of Dr. Henry H. Holmes up through his time as a student at the University of Michigan Medical School. The story has been more completely covered in the previous posts.

His pre-college life.
His experiences at the University of Vermont, Burlington. 
The University of Michigan and Grave-robbers.
Holmes at the University of Michigan.

As for supplemental material, there is the story from Holmes himself. While in prison awaiting his trial and while still proclaiming his innocence, he penned a brief autobiography, explaining how all twenty-two murders attributed to him were mere misunderstandings. His book was titled: Holmes' Own Story in which the Alleged Multi Murderer and Arch Conspirator Tells of The Twenty-Two Tragic Deaths and Disappearances In which He is Said to be Implicated. Philadelphia. Burk & McFetridge Co. 1895.

Holmes Own Story, September 1895

"...I had matriculated at the University of Vermont at Burlington, where I remained one college year, deciding before it had expired, to complete my course at some larger college, and the following September [1883] found me at Ann Arbor, Mich. After having paid my college fees, bought my books and other articles necessary for my second year in college, I found myself hundreds of miles away from friends and relatives and with about $60 in money with nine months of hard study before me, allowing but little time for outside work if I wished to keep up in my studies with the other members of my class. [cut]

"The limits of this book will not allow me to write the many quaint and some ghastly experiences of our medical education were I otherwise disposed to do so. Suffice it to say, that they stopped far short of desecration of country graveyards, as has been repeatedly charged . . .

"The remainder of my medical course differed very little from the first two years, filled perhaps more completely with hard work and study, and almost wholly devoid of pleasure and recreation. [from Holmes Own Story]"

In this book, Holmes also relates this anecdote:

"At the end of my junior year I entered into an agreement with a fluent representative of a Chicago firm to spend my vacation on the northwest portion of Illinois representing his firm as a book agent."

A newspaper editor from Boone, Iowa, describes an encounter with Holmes, the bookseller, placing the incident in 1888 (but also saying Holmes identified himself as Mudgett and was said to be a student from the University of Michigan). Holmes is no longer appearing as a country bumpkin, nor is he quiet and reserved.

"So when a man entered briskly one day and set down his gripsack, he received simply a courteous welcome with little encouragement to prolong his stay more than business required. He had "The People's Cyclopaedia" for sale, accompanied with the stereotyped story of its many virtues . . . He was of medium build, neither too light nor too heavy, with very dark hair, a complexion marked by its clearness, the line of hair and skin on the forehead distinctly defined, eyes a light grey, as remembered, bright without being piercing, and an air of activity and mental alertness pervading the countenance. Withal there was something barely perceptible of a sinister character, which gave the slight warning so often felt on first contact with the stranger, a guide infallible if only remembered and acted upon in after contact." [cut]

"Recalling him as we do now, we can easily see that he might have great influence upon women, with his smooth manners, bright intelligence, boldness without forwardness, and more than usual personal attractions." Holmes' Iowa Record. He Once Tried to Sell a Book to an Editor. August 7, 1895, Sioux City Journal (Sioux City, Iowa), page: 4.

This University of Michigan drawing came from my review of issues of the student run magazine, The University Palladium.

The Resurrectionists by Thomas Rowlandson.

A University of Michigan medical student discovers the corpse of his girlfriend on the dissection table.
A Ghastly Sight. June 16, 1885. Canton Repository (Ohio), page: 3
The article in which the discovery of Augustus Devin is recounted. Horror On Horror. How the Dead of Our People Rest. The Remains of Forty-eight Pickled. June 15, 1878.  Cleveland Plain Dealer, page: 2.
And, finally, a disturbing page from a terrorist group as it appeared in the 1869 University Palladium.

A Predator's Game is available in soft-cover and ebook editions through Amazon and other online retailers.

A Predator's Game, now available, Rook's Page Publishing.

Nikola Tesla, Arthur Conan Doyle and Dr. Henry H. Holmes are all characters in my thriller, A Predator's Game.

Back page blurb of A Predator's Game.

Manhattan, 1896.

When the author Arthur Conan Doyle meets Nikola Tesla he finds a tall, thin genius with a photographic memory and a keen eye, and recognizes in the eccentric inventor the embodiment of his creation, Sherlock. Together, they team up to take on an "evil Holmes." Multi-murderer Dr. Henry H. Holmes has escaped execution and is unleashing a reign of terror upon the metropolis. Set in the late nineteenth century in a world of modern marvels, danger and invention, Conan Doyle and Tesla engage the madman in a deadly game of wits.

Martin Hill Ortiz, also writing under the name, Martin Hill, is the author of A Predatory Mind. Its sequel, set in 1890s Manhattan and titled A Predator's Game, will be available from Rook's Page Publishing, March 30, 2016. It features Nikola Tesla as detective.

His recent mystery, Never Kill A Friend, is available from Ransom Note Press. His epic poem, Two Mistakes, won second place in the 2015 Margaret Reid/Tom Howard Poetry Competition. He can be contacted at


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