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Fargo Find: Missing Wife


Fargo Police Chief Gowland had little expectation of solving a case he was handed on May 30, 1904, involving a missing woman and her ten-year-old daughter. Last seen in Oklahoma, there seemed to be little prospect of finding them in North Dakota.

But the Chief looked into the case, learning from the file that the 28-year-old woman, Mrs. Seeberger, had been living in Oklahoma City with her daughter, while her husband, Mr. Seeberger, worked as an oil engineer in Osage, Kansas. Mr. Seeberger took the job around the first of the year, and had been sending his monthly pay back to his wife in Oklahoma.

Sometime in February, Mr. Seeberger learned that his wife had sold their Oklahoma City home and was no longer living there. He returned to Oklahoma, fearing the worst. Happily married for nearly eleven years, Mr. Seeberger could not imagine that his wife had acted willingly. In Oklahoma City, he learned that his wife had left for Guthrie, Oklahoma at the instigation of an acquaintance she had made in his absence. An older woman, the acquaintance had convinced Mr. Seeberger's young wife into visiting music and dance halls with her, something the young wife had never done before. The novelty of her new life led the young woman to leave for Guthrie, abandoning everything she had previously known. Since February, then, neither the wife nor daughter had been located.

Chief Gowland began investigating, despite his doubts. By mid-week, he received information that a girl matching the daughter's description had been staying with a family on the south side of Fargo. After interviewing the girl, to his astonishment, he was led to believe that this was in fact Mr. Seeberger's long-lost daughter. He contacted the Oklahoma man, who boarded the first train for Fargo. In the meantime, Chief Gowland learned that Mrs. Seeberger was working in a restaurant on Front Street. When the officer approached the woman and inquired as to her identity, the woman broke down in a scene of terrific remorse.

So, it was that on this date in 1904 that an Oklahoma family was reunited at the Fargo Police Station. The woman begged apology, the man quickly forgave his naïve young wife, and the little girl was ecstatic to once again "have her Papa with her."

Dakota Datebook written by Jayme L. Job


The Fargo Forum and Daily Republican. Saturday (Evening ed.), June 4, 1904: p. 1.