10 Historical Figures Who Disappeared and Have Never Been Found

by Shweta Anand2 years ago
Picture 10 Historical Figures Who Disappeared and Have Never Been Found

History is filled with people who have made a name for themselves with their various deeds. While many of them went on to live full lives, there are some famous historical figures who mysteriously vanished without a trace. These include inventors, ancient warriors, and even social activists who disappeared in mysterious ways and were never found. So, brace yourselves, because here’s a list of ten historical figures who disappeared and have never been found. 

1 William Morgan 

William Morgan was an anti-Mason activist whose disappearance led to the downfall of the Freemasons Society in New York. In 1826, he went suspiciously missing from the local jail after he had been arrested on the pretext of outstanding debts. That was the last time he was ever heard from.

William Morgan
William Morgan (Image to the left), William Morgan being escorted to the prison at Fort Niagara. Image Credits: Alchreton.com  , The New York Public Library/Projects.leadr.msu.edu

During the 19th century, the Freemason Society had a lot of influence over various governing bodies in New York and all over the US. However, they still had some critics, and of these, William Morgan was perhaps one of the most remembered. 

At the time, Morgan was a stonemason and brewer who claimed that he had infiltrated the Freemason Society. He said that he had witnessed many disturbing secret rituals they conducted, all of which would be exposed through his new book. However, as word spread about this book, Morgan and his publisher became targets of numerous threats.

Finally, in 1826, Morgan was arrested on trumped-up charges involving an outstanding debt of $2.69. He was soon released from jail, but only to get abducted by a group of men in a horse carriage, never to be seen again. His disappearance later caused a huge uproar against the Freemasons, leading to a decline in their political influence in the country. (1, 2)


2 Raoul Wallenberg 

During the 1940s, Raoul Wallenberg was a Swedish businessman who helped thousands of Hungarian Jews escape into Swedish territories. He had been appointed by the Swedish government to Budapest under diplomatic cover. Towards the end of the war, however, he disappeared into the hands of the advancing Soviet troops and was never seen again. 

Raoul Wallenberg
Image Credit: Taubman College collections, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan Bentley/heritage.umich.edu

In 1944, Raoul Wallenberg was sent as a Swedish diplomat to Nazi-occupied Hungary to help save as many Hungarian Jews as possible. Using his diplomatic cover, he set up shop in the Jewish Quarter in Budapest, Hungary, and began handing out Swedish citizenship papers.

By 1945, Wallenberg had issued thousands of such papers to Hungarian Jews. He also acquired buildings that were designated Swedish territories to house as many people as possible, away from the Nazis. 

Soon, Hungary fell to the advancing Soviets. However, the growing distrust between the US and USSR, as well as its animosity towards Sweden, led to them arresting Wallenberg. He was then sent to a prison in Moscow and declared dead on 17 July 1947.

But Swedish records suggest that Wallenberg was still alive at that time, despite the Soviet’s official stance. In 2016, Sweden officially declared Wallenberg dead, but it is still unclear what exactly happened to him. (1, 2)


3 Thomas “Boston” Corbett

Thomas “Boston” Corbett gained popularity during the American Civil War era as “Lincoln’s Avenger” after he allegedly shot and killed John Wilkes Booth. His mental state is said to have deteriorated afterward, and he was thrown into an asylum. From there, he managed to escape and ride to Mexico before vanishing forever.

Thomas “Boston” Corbett
Thomas “Boston” Corbett (Image to the left), The Murderers doom. Miserable death of J. Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Lincoln. Shot through the head by Sergeant Boston Corbett in a barn on Garrett’s Farm near the Rappahannock, April 25, 1865. Image Credit: National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution/si.edu, The Alfred Whital Stern Collection of Lincolniana/loc.gov 

After President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865, Thomas “Boston” Corbett gained notoriety as “Lincoln’s Avenger.” This was because he was credited with shooting down John Wilkes Booth, President Lincoln’s assassin. 

Booth, after shooting the President, had managed to escape from the theater and hide in the swamps. But officials soon learned of his whereabouts and had him surrounded in a tobacco shed just west of Port Royal, Virginia. When Booth refused to surrender, the barn was set on fire, but a shot rang out soon after.

It was immediately unclear if Booth had been shot against official orders or if he had committed suicide. Most records suggest the latter, but Corbett, who was a member of the US Army that surrounded the barn, claimed to have shot Booth and quickly gained notoriety. 

Not long after, Corbett left the army, but civilian life did not suit him. His deteriorating mental health eventually landed him in a mental asylum in 1887. A year later, however, he escaped and headed towards Mexico, only to vanish without a trace. (1, 2)


4 William Cantelo

In the 19th century, William Cantelo was a renowned gun inventor rumored to be working on a prototype of the machine gun. One day, he left his home, presumably to sell the prototype, and was never seen again. His family, however, believed that Cantelo had run off and come back as Sir Hiram Maxim, the inventor of the “Maxim Gun.” 

William Cantelo
William Cantelo (Image to the left), Sir Hiram Maxim. Image Credit: Barry Cantelo/bbc.com, Window & Grove/ Appleton’s Magazine via Wikimedia.org

During the early 1880s, William Cantelo was a British engineer and gun-maker who was working on a prototype of the machine gun. One day, Cantelo announced to his sons that he had completed his new invention and had it packed away into cases. He then left the house, presumably to sell the machine gun, but never came back. 

A few years later, Sir Hiram Maxim came up with the first official machine gun that he called the “Maxim Gun.” However, when Cantelo’s sons saw a picture of Sir Hiram in a newspaper, they were taken aback by his uncanny resemblance to their missing father. Cantelo’s family had also previously tracked him to the US, and since Sir Hiram had migrated to Britain from the US, their suspicion continued to grow.

However, with Sir Hiram’s death in 1916, the case became unlikely to be solved, and it still remains unclear what happened to William Cantelo. (1, 2)


5 Joseph Force Crater

On 6 August 1930, a New York Supreme Court judge named Joseph Force Crater vanished without a trace. On the morning of his disappearance, Judge Crater had reportedly packed away several files and arranged to withdraw $5,000 from his account. This case later triggered a massive manhunt that dubbed the judge “the ‘missingest’ man in New York.”

Joseph Force Crater
Joseph Force Crater (Image to the left), Police circular, trying to solve the mystery of the missing Judge Joseph Force Crater. Image Credit: Shutterstock.com, nydailynews.com

Joseph Force Crater was a New York Supreme Court judge appointed by Franklin D. Roosevelt, the state’s governor at the time. But on 6 August 1930, the judge mysteriously disappeared. 

Before his disappearance, he had cashed two checks totaling about $5,000 and took an additional $20,000 in campaign money, which together amount to $250,000 today. He was last seen on the night of 6 August when he was at dinner with a lawyer friend and a showgirl. But after dinner, he hailed a cab and disappeared forever. 

Following his disappearance, a large-scale manhunt began which resulted in a grand jury calling 95 witnesses. None of them could reveal any conclusive evidence. but the judge soon came to be called “the ‘missingest’ man in New York.”

In 2005, this case once again hit the headlines when a woman named Stella Ferrucci-Good in New York passed away and left a note saying that her late husband had murdered the judge.

(1, 2)

Also Read:
10 Famous People Who Mysteriously Disappeared

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