Chester, NJ Auto Wreck and Fire, May 1911


Burned Beyond Recognition, but Identified as Ellsworth D. Middlekauff and Elsie Walpole.


Middlekauff, a Wealthy Resident of Plainfield, Introduced the Girl at One Place as His Daughter.

CHESTER, N. J., May 17.---The bodies of a man and a girl who were burned to death beneath the wreck of their overturned auto here last night were indentified to-day as Ellsworth D. Middlekauff, a wealthy resident of Plainfield, and Miss Elsie Walpole, daughter of Lynus Walpole of Scotch Plains. The body of the girl which was burned almost beyond recognition was identified by a felon on the first finger of her right hand, the unburned remnant of a velvetine dress, and a silver necklace set with diamonds.

It was learned from her father that Miss Walpole had left her home on Saturday night saying she was going to visit friends in Brooklyn, and reports from various surrounding towns telling of the appearance there of the couple in the automobile make it appear that the accident resulting in the two deaths came at the end of a wild ride, interrupted by frequent stops at road houses and cafes.

It was at 9:30 o'clock last night that Elmer E. Searles of this town, returning home in his automobile, was passed in the main street by an automobile going at high speed. Searles looked after it and saw the machine skid into a large rock beside the roadside, turn partly over, and then slide along for several feet, finally settling bottom up. Searles started toward the wrecked car when there was an explosion and the machine was enveloped in flames.

There was no sign of the occupants of the car, and realizing that they must be pinned beneath it Searles tried to pull the burning car to one side. The flames interfered with him, and he rushed off to neighbors and brought them back with rope and tackle and a pair of horses.

Burning gasoline had set fire to the auto. When the tackle was made fast to the car and the horses dragged it to one side the bodies of Mr. Middlekauff and Miss Walpole were revealed. They lay side by side. They were taken in charge by the Coroner, who had them removed to Dover.

From the number of the machine is was learned that it belonged to Middlekauff, and at the Middlekauff home, John Snyder, Mr. Middlekauff's chauffeur, said that his employer had been driving the car himself. He did not know the name of the young woman, but knew that she came from Scotch Plains, and she was identified later.

Snyder said that he had been summoned to Washington, N. J., by his employer yesterday morning and had found him unable to handle the car. Middlekauff had become angry, he said, when he told him this, and had ordered him to return home, which he had done.

In Washington it was learned that Middlekauff had arrived there alone in his car about 3 o'clock yesterday morning and had gone to sleep in the St. Cloud Hotel. After several hours of rest he drove off and returned later with Miss Walpole. The couple visited most of the cafés in town and drank much wine. Then Mr. Middlekauff sent for Snyder. Having ordered his chauffeur home again Mr. Middlekauff and the girl entered the auto and started out.

The last seen of them before the accident was at Welsh's Garage in German Valley, where they stopped for gasoline, and Middlekauff introduced Miss Walpole as his daughter. Middlekauff's body was taken in charge by a delegation of Elks, who went to Dover this afternoon. Miss Walpole's body was taken to Scotch Plains.

The New York Times, New York, NY 11 May 1911