Real Name: Conradina Wilhelmina Olson
Nicknames: Conradina Heidtmann (maiden name)
Location: Brookfield, Wisconsin and Ellis, Missouri
Details: In 1910, thirty-eight-year-old Conradina Olson boarded a train in Brookfield, Wisconsin. She told her four children, who had come to the station to see her off, that she was going to a doctor's appointment in Milwaukee and would return the next day. Sadly, she never came back and was never seen again. For the rest of his life, her eldest son, Edwin, blamed himself for not accompanying her.
In 1983, over seventy years later, Edwin's daughter, Geneva, began genealogical research into her family's history. She learned that in 1891, Conradina, then 20, married thirty-year-old Carl Olson, a railroad coachman. By all accounts, their marriage was not a happy one. Although Geneva could find no evidence that Carl was physically abusive, she learned that he was emotionally and verbally abusive to Conradina. Unfortunately, due to the time period, she could not get a divorce. At first, Geneva believed that she had ran away to escape an abusive marriage.
However, Geneva's beliefs changed in September 1985, when she was working at a gift shop in South Dakota. A customer named Suzanna Stickney told her that she was a psychic. She claimed that she knew Geneva wanted to ask her about Conradina. She asked if she had any of Conradina's possessions, so she gave Suzanna a picture of her, along with her marriage certificate. She flipped them over and claimed that she had visions of a woman boarding a train, children crying, and a fight between a man and woman near a railroad track. She also claimed that Carl knew what happened to Conradina.
Later, at Suzanna's office, Geneva was given more clues about Conradina's disappearance. Suzanna told her that in a few weeks, she would receive several letters in the mail. In them, she would be able to determine the year that Conradina went missing. Suzanna also claimed that "Ellis" had something to do with her disappearance, and that she was buried in an unmarked grave.
Surprisingly, just a few weeks later, Suzanna's first prediction seemed to come true. Geneva received several letters and photographs from the late 1800s and early 1900s. These, sent by Conradina's nieces and nephews, stated that there were troubles in the marriage, and that the last time she was heard from was around 1910. Geneva sent a letter to a Midwestern newspaper, describing her search.
A man named Bill Carpenter read the newspaper and contacted Geneva. He told her about an unmarked grave near railroad tracks in Ellis, Missouri. According to local legend, a fashionably dressed woman got off of a train there. She was seen arguing with a man; witnesses reported that it appeared to be a lovers' quarrel. They were seen walking eastward along the tracks. Later, the man was seen returning to the station alone; he boarded another train and left town. Three days later, the woman's body was discovered alongside the tracks. She had been shot through the heart. Nothing was found on her to identify her. According to the legend, railroad workers buried her nearby.
As a result of the story, Geneva became convinced that Suzanna was right and that the woman in Ellis was Conradina. Despite her belief, however, it appears impossible that that was her. A historian found an 1888 newspaper article which stated that she was found on April 21, 1877; Conradina vanished around 1910. Furthermore, she was described as being less than twenty-years-old, while Conradina was thirty-eight when she vanished.
Suspects: Geneva believes Carl killed Conradina or was in some way involved in her disappearance. She learned from relatives that around the time of her disappearance, Carl also was gone for a period of time. Originally, however, she believed that Conradina disappeared voluntarily to escape an abusive marriage.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the December 19, 1990 episode.
Results: Unresolved. Although Conradina could not possibly be the identity of the woman buried in Ellis, both the true fate of her and the true identity of the woman buried in Ellis remain a mystery. An 1888 article states that the unknown woman was named Lula King, but this claim has not yet been confirmed.
Conradina's great grandchildren and other relatives later uploaded their DNA to Ancestry.com and other websites. However, they have been unable to find any further trace of her.
- South Sioux woman seeks clues to solve 1910 mystery - September 22, 1990
- Woman hopes to solve puzzle of grandma's disappearance - October 4, 1990
- Woman seeks clues to disappearance - October 5, 1990
- Siouxlander on Unsolved Mysteries - December 18, 1990
- Unknown grave in Nevada cemetery still a mystery - October 29, 2003
- Conradina Olson on WikiTree
- Websleuths Discussion of Conradina Olson
- Facebook Post about Conradina Olson