List of people who disappeared mysteriously: pre-1910

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This is a list of people who disappeared mysteriously: pre-1910 or whose deaths or exact circumstances thereof are not substantiated. Many people who disappear end up declared dead in absentia and some of these people were possibly subjected to forced disappearance.

This list is a general catch-all; for specialty lists, see Lists of people who disappeared.

Before 1800

Date Person(s) Age Missing from Circumstances Refs.
c. 700 BC Romulus (the founder and first king of Rome) (Romulus is a legendary character and not all information about him is necessarily historical) At least 60 Rome While Romulus was reviewing his troops in the Campus Martius (near where the Pantheon is now), a sudden storm with lightning and thunderclaps arose. A thick, black cloud hid him from view and no one saw him again. Some nearby observers said that he had been swept away by the tempest. Livy and Plutarch say Romulus's generals may have used the opportunity to assassinate him. [1]
524 BC Lost Army of Cambyses Various Western Desert (Egypt) A legendary army of 50,000 men sent by Cambyses II into the Siwa Oasis in Egypt. According to Herodotus, they had gone halfway across the desert when supposedly a giant sandstorm buried them all as they were never seen again. [2]
late 4th century BC Laozi (Laozi is a legendary character and not all information about him is necessarily historical) unknown Didao, State of Qin Ancient Chinese philosopher and writer who reportedly wrote the Tao Te Ching and founded Taoism, who is thought to have disappeared sometime in the late 4th century BC and was never seen again. [3]
30 BC Alexander Helios 10 Egypt Helios and Philadelphus, sons of Cleopatra and Mark Antony and the younger half-brothers of Caesarion, left Egypt for Rome, after which their fates are unknown. [4]
Ptolemy Philadelphus 6
108–164 Legio IX Hispana (9th Legion – Spanish) Various Roman Empire The Roman legion stationed in Roman Britain, following the Roman conquest of Britain in AD 43, disappears from surviving records without explanation in the second century. There are multiple conjectures regarding what happened to it and why no record of its fate has been found. Many references to the legion have been made in subsequent works of fiction. [5]
683 Saf ibn Sayyad Unknown Northern outskirts of Medina, Umayyad Caliphate (modern-day Saudi Arabia) Saf ibn Sayyad, an alleged claimant of prophethood during the time of Islamic prophet Muhammad, apparently disappeared at the Battle of al-Harra and was never seen again. [6]
1021 Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah 36 Cairo, Egypt The sixth Fatimid caliph and 16th Ismaili imam rode his donkey to the Mokattam hills for one of his regular nocturnal meditation outings and failed to return. A search found only the donkey and his bloodstained garments. [7]
1183 Renier of Montferrat 21 Italy A Lombard noble of the House of Montferrat, brother of the famous Conrad (king-consort of Jerusalem) and Boniface (crusader king of Thessalonica), and son-in-law to Byzantine Emperor Manuel Komnenos, was assumed poisoned along with his wife during a coup and the subsequent power struggle in Constantinople. Chroniclers describe his wife's death, but not his. [8]
1398 Gearóid Iarla 63 Kingdom of Desmond, Ireland Gerald FitzMaurice FitzGerald, also known by the Irish language Gearóid Iarla (Earl Gerald), was the 3rd Earl of Desmond, lord of Munster, and Norman-Gaelic poet; he disappeared in 1398. [9]
1402 Jianwen Emperor (Zhu Yunwen) 25 China Missed in Jingnan rebellion, a civil war in the early years of the Ming dynasty of China between him and his uncle Zhu Di, the Prince of Yan. The campaign ended after the forces of the Prince of Yan captured the imperial capital Nanjing, with Yunwen and his family disappearing, presumably dying in the fire. [10]
Zhu Wenkui 6
1412 Owain Glyndŵr 56 Wales The last native Welsh person to hold the title Prince of Wales, Glyndŵr instigated the Welsh Revolt against the rule of Henry IV of England in 1400. Although initially successful, the uprising was eventually defeated, but Glyndŵr disappeared and no one knows what became of him after that. [11]
1453 Constantine XI Palaiologos 48 Constantinople The last Byzantine emperor during the final hours of the Siege of Constantinople. Constantine XI Palaiologos disappeared during the fighting. [12]
1463 François Villon 32 Paris, France The fate of the French poet and criminal after January 1463 remains unknown. A Paris court banished him from the town on 5 January 1463; after this no certain facts about him and his life and whereabouts exist. [13]
1483 Edward V of England 12 London, England The Princes in the Tower, Edward V of England and Richard of Shrewsbury, sons of King Edward IV of England and Elizabeth Woodville, were placed in the Tower of London (which at that time served as a fortress and a royal palace as well as a prison) by their uncle Richard III of England. Neither was ever seen in public again and their fate remains unknown. The remains of four children that have been found could be the princes, but they have not been subjected to DNA analysis to positively identify them. [14][15]
Richard of Shrewsbury, 1st Duke of York 9
1487 Lord Lovell 31 Oxfordshire, England Lord Lovell, a rebel Yorkist knight, was last seen alive fleeing from the Battle of Stoke Field after defeat by the Lancastrians. In 1488 he was granted safe conduct in Scotland by King James IV but there is no evidence he was ever in the country. (A skeleton found at one of his mansions at Minster Lovell, Oxfordshire, in 1708 was believed, without evidence, to be his.) [16]
1526 George Zápolya 37–38 Hungary Brother of John Zapolya, He was relegated to the political life besides his brother. He was engaged to Elisabeth Corvinus, daughter of John Corvinus, in 1504, but the last surviving member of the Hunyadi family died in 1508. He was commander of the Hungarian Royal Army, along with Archbishop of Kalocsa Pál Tomori, at the Battle of Mohács, where he disappeared and presumably died. Court chaplain Miklós Tatai believed that Zápolya murdered King Louis II of Hungary, who escaped from the battle, in the house of the vicar in Dunaszekcső. Historians do not accept this report as credible. [17]
1578 Sebastian of Portugal 24 Ksar el-Kebir, Morocco King of Portugal who reigned from 1557 to 1578 and an example of the king asleep in mountain legend. He was likely killed during the Battle of Alcácer Quibir, but his body was never retrieved. [18]
1582 Yasuke Unknown Japan After Oda Nobunaga committed seppuku in the Incident at Honnōji, Yasuke joined Nobunaga's son Oda Nobutada. Yasuke fought alongside Nobutada's forces but was eventually captured. Aketchi Mitsuhide spared him due to not seeing him as a true samurai due to being black. After this, Yasuke's fate becomes unknown. [19]
c. 1590 Roanoke colonists Various Roanoke Colony, North Carolina, U.S. The Roanoke colonists, including Ananias age 27–30, Eleanor age 19, and Virginia Dare age 2 or 3, the first English child born in a New World English overseas possession, disappeared becoming known as the Lost Colony. On 18 August 1590, their settlement was found abandoned. The settlement was located on Roanoke Island, currently part of Dare County, North Carolina. A carving on a tree suggests they went to the local Croatoan Island, but this was never confirmed. [20]
1628 David Thompson 35 Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. The founder of the New Hampshire colony in 1623, Thompson moved his family to an island in Boston Harbor (today called Thompson Island in his honor) in 1626 becoming the first European settlers of Boston, Massachusetts. He disappeared in 1628. Some historians theorize he was the victim of foul play while others suggest he accidentally drowned in Boston Harbor. [21]
16 November 1629 Wouter Loos 24 Kalbarri, Western Australia, Australia The Batavia was a ship built in Amsterdam and chartered by the Dutch East Indies Company (VOC) as its flagship which was shipwrecked off the coast of Australia in 1629 during its maiden voyage en route to Batavia (today Jakarta), capital of the Dutch East Indies (modern-day Indonesia); after this, one of the passengers, a man named Jeronimus Cornelisz staged a mutiny and took over leadership of the group of survivors after which he established an authoritarian regime during which he committed atrocities that included rape and the murder around 125 of the original 301 survivors; after a final battle with opponents of Cornelisz led by a VOC soldier named Wiebbe Hayes and the unexpected arrival of a rescue ship Cornelisz and most of his supporters were defeated, captured, tried and executed.

However, the trial decided that the crimes of two of the mutineers, Wouter Loos (who had assumed leadership of the mutineers after Cornelisz was captured) and a cabin boy named Jan Pelgrom de Bye, were not serious enough to warrant their executions and they were instead marooned in mainland Australia on November 16, 1629 with a small amount of supplies after which they were never seen or heard from again. Their marooning made them the first European permanent residents of Australia; the location where they were marooned is uncertain but the most commonly-accepted point is at the mouth of the Wittecarra Creek near Kalbarri although the area around Port Gregory has also been suggested as a possibility.


Jan Pelgrom de Bye 18
1653 Erdeni Bumba Unknown Horchin, Mongolia The first empress consort of Shunzhi Emperor, but she fell out of favor because of her personality. In October 1653, she was demoted to Consort Jing, and left the palace. She was pregnant when she left, and she gave birth to a son. Both she and her son then disappeared from the historical record.
1661 René Ménard 56 Taylor County, Wisconsin, U.S. A French Jesuit missionary, Fr. René Ménard disappeared while traveling by canoe with a Native guide from the area of present-day L'Anse, Michigan, on Lake Superior, to minister to a Huron village deep in the Wisconsin interior. After encountering a series of rapids Ménard and his guide agreed that he would walk downstream on shore while his more skilled companion brought the boat through. The latter passed the rapids successfully but Ménard was never seen again. Years later, his cassock and breviary were discovered in a Dakota village far from the scene. [26]
c. 1692 Abigail Williams 11–12 Salem Village, Massachusetts, U.S. Abigail Williams was one of the first girls to make accusations of witchcraft in colonial Massachusetts, eventually leading to the start of the Salem witch trials. After her final appearance in court in 1692, Williams appears to disappear from the historical record, and her eventual whereabouts and fate remain unknown.[clarification needed] [27]
1704 Laurens de Graaf 51 Louisiana Territory Laurens de Graaf was last known to be near Louisiana where he was to help set up a French colony near present-day Biloxi, Mississippi. Some sources claim he died there while others claim he died at different locations in Alabama. [28]
1758 Khe Pandjang Unknown Bali, Indonesia Pandjang was a leader of Chinese rebels fighting against the Dutch East India Company during the Java War. He escaped capture after the defeat of the rebellion, and was last seen in Bali in 1758. [29]
1792 James Harrod 50–54 Harrodsburg, Kentucky, U.S. An early explorer of the areas west of the Appalachian Mountains prior to their settlement by European-Americans, James Harrod never returned from a trip to western Kentucky from Harrodsburg. Theories about his fate range from murder at the hands of his companions or Native Americans in the area, to accidental death or a desire to abandon his wife and family. [30]

1800 to 1899

Date Person(s) Age Missing from Circumstances Refs.
1802 James Derham 44–45 Pennsylvania, U.S.A The first African American to formally practice medicine in the United States disappeared after 1802. [31]
25 November 1809 Benjamin Bathurst 25 Perleberg, Germany British diplomat, disappeared from an inn in Perleberg. [32]
c. 1813 Robert Young 16–17 Plattsburgh, New York, U.S. Hawaiian chief and enlistee of the United States Navy who was captured by the British during the Battle of Lake Champlain. Young was exiled to Bermuda, where all trace of him disappears. [33]
c. 1826 William Morgan 52 Batavia, New York, U.S.A Morgan disappeared just before his book critical of Freemasonry was published. A year after he had disappeared, a badly decomposed body was found that was thought to be his, but was proven not to be. [34]
12 December 1829 John Lansing Jr. 75 New York City, New York, U.S.A American politician and chief justice of the New York State Supreme Court Lansing left his Manhattan hotel to mail a letter at a New York City dock and was never seen again. [35]
1829 William Hare Unknown Dumfries, Scotland William Hare was an Irish serial-killer and body-snatcher operating in Edinburgh, Scotland, who was given immunity from prosecution for testifying against his accomplice William Burke. After Burke was tried and hanged, Hare arrived in Dumfries, where news of his presence quickly spread, until he was taken out and instructed to make his way to the English border. There are no reliable sightings of William Hare after he was escorted out of Dumfries. [36]
February 1837 Joseph Gellibrand 48–49 Geelong, Victoria, Australia The first Attorney-General of Van Diemen's Land disappeared while attempting to ride inland from Geelong, Victoria, to Melbourne in 1837. [37]
December 1839 Henry Bryan 18 Burra, Australia Bryan, who accompanied explorer Charles Sturt, Governor George Gawler, and others on an expedition from the Murray River to the Burra area of South Australia, disappeared and is believed to have died in 1839 during a dust storm on the return trip. Searchers later found his saddle and some tracks which stopped abruptly. His body was never found. However, his horse returned to Adelaide after several months. [38][39]
1842 Charles Christian Dutton Unknown Port Lincoln, Australia Charles Christian Dutton and four other men disappeared without trace while driving cattle from Port Lincoln, South Australia to Adelaide. [40]
August 1843 Sequoyah 73 San Fernando, Mexico The creator of Cherokee syllabary, Sequoyah disappeared during a trip to Mexico to locate isolated tribes of Cherokees who had moved there during the time of Indian Removal in the United States. He was said to have died there in August 1843. Meanwhile, his body has never been found or positively identified, although at least three different burial sites have been reported. [41]
June 1844 William Overton Unknown Portland, Oregon, U.S.A The co-founder of the city of Portland, Oregon, Overton departed in June 1844. He may have traded his share in the infant city for supplies for his journey. Overton was never heard from again. An acquaintance claimed in 1875 that he was hanged in Texas, although records indicate Overton may have ended up in Hawaii. [42]
14 April 1848 Khachatur Abovian 38 Yerevan, Armenia The Armenian writer and national public figure of the early 19th century, credited as creator of modern Armenian literature, left his house early one morning and was never heard from again. [43]
3 April 1848 Ludwig Leichhardt 34 Great Sandy Desert, Western Australia A Prussian explorer and naturalist, Leichhardt disappeared during his third major expedition to explore parts of northern and central Australia. He was last seen on 3 April at McPherson's Station on the Darling Downs, en route from the Condamine River to the Swan River in Western Australia. Although investigated by many, his fate after leaving the settled areas remains a mystery. [44][45]
31 July 1849 Sándor Petőfi 26 Transylvania, Romania Petőfi, Hungarian poet and liberal revolutionary, was one of the key figures of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. Petőfi was last seen in Transylvania during the Battle of Segesvár. He is thought to have been killed in battle, but since his body was never found, his true fate remains unknown. [46]
29 June 1856 Matías Pérez Unknown Cuba Pérez, a Cuban balloonist of Portuguese descent, disappeared with his balloon Ville de Paris during a flight in Cuba on 29 June 1856. [47]
1857 Solomon Northup 48–49 Canada Northup, an American author, was most notable for his book Twelve Years a Slave in which he details his kidnapping and subsequent sale into slavery. Northup did not return to his family from his book-promoting tour. No contemporary evidence documents Northup after 1857. [48]
November 1857 Nana Saheb Peshwa II 33 Kanpur or Nepal, India An Indian aristocrat and a leader of the Indian Rebellion of 1857, Nana Sahib disappeared after the East India Company's forces retook his city of Kanpur. Rumors that he had died of an illness or fled to exile in Nepal or another part of India were never proven. [49]
c. 1860 Giacinto Achilli 57 United States Italian Roman Catholic Dominican friar who was ousted from priesthood due to alleged child sexual abuse, but later became a prominent proponent of the Anglican Communion and for suing John Henry Newman for libel. In late 1850s, he travelled to America, but soon fled after he was accused of adultery by a woman. He left behind a note that indicated he wanted to commit suicide, but Achilli has never been seen since. [50]
June 1860 Charles M. Waterman 51 Mississippi River, U.S. Mayor of New Orleans from 1856 to 1858 who was later impeached and removed from office. Two years later, he disappeared mysteriously, with some believing that he committed suicide by jumping into the Mississippi River. [51]
February 1865 Captain James William Boyd 43 Jackson, Tennessee, U.S.A Boyd, a Confederate army officer, vanished after his release as a prisoner of war in February 1865 after he failed to show up for a rendezvous with his son to go to Mexico at the end of the American Civil War. Boyd's disappearance is the subject of a conspiracy theory that he was killed after being mistaken for John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Abraham Lincoln. [52]
1866 Thomas John Hussey 74 Algiers, Algeria British clergyman and astronomer who observed Halley's Comet. Last heard from in 1866 and presumed dead in 1893. [53]
6 July 1869 Agoston Haraszthy 56 Corinto, Nicaragua Haraszthy, who was a founder of the California wine industry, disappeared in a river while organizing a liquor business in Nicaragua. [54]
August or September 1872 John V. Creely 32 Washington, D.C., U.S.A Creely, a Civil War veteran who represented a Philadelphia district in the U.S. House of Representatives, left the city in August or September 1872 for Washington to prepare for the next session of Congress in December. At the time he was also being sued for legal malpractice and was accused of additional financial wrongdoing. Once he reached Washington, his family said, he informed them he was taking a ship to New Orleans, after which they nor anyone else heard anything more from him. His luggage and possessions were found later in the room he rented in Washington, suggesting it was unlikely that he had actually gone to New Orleans. He was declared legally dead in 1900. [55]
30 January 1874 Ramalinga Swamigal 50 Vadalur, India Tamil poet whose teachings of seeking pure knowledge, charity, love and the abolition of the caste system later canonized him as a Saint. After delivering his final lecture in October 1873, he locked himself in a room with instruction not to open it, but only four months later, the government opened it, only to find nobody present. [56]
1 July 1874 Charley Ross 4 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A Ross, a resident of Philadelphia, was enticed along with his brother Walter into a horse-drawn carriage while playing in their front yard on 1 July. Walter got out at a fireworks shop, and the carriage drove on without him. The family received ransom notes and worked with police, but all to no avail. [57]
23 April 1874 Alfred Gibson 23 Western Australia, Australia Explorer who accompanied Ernest Giles on his expedition to explore to cross the deserts from east to west. He went on his own to fetch some water, but never returned and was presumed dead by his companions. [58]
c. 1878 Archibald S. Dobbins 51 Patagonia, Argentina Dobbins, a senior Confederate cavalry officer who had served with distinction in the Trans-Mississippi Theater of the American Civil War before immigrating to Brazil in 1867, then to Argentina in 1878, to pursue business interests. He was last mentioned in 1878. Theories about his fate range from murder at the hands of Indians near the Para region of Brazil, a natural death in the Patagonia region of Argentina, to a desire to abandon his wife and family. [59]
September 28, 1879 John Wise 71 Lake Michigan, U.S.A Wise was a pioneer in the field of ballooning, responsible for several innovations in the design and for making over 400 flights during his lifetime. In 1879, while aboard his balloon The Pathfinder along with passenger George Burr, he disappeared over Lake Michigan, never to be seen again. Burr's body was later located washed ashore, and it is assumed that Wise suffered the same fate. [60]
1880s William Cantelo 41–50 Southampton, England Cantelo, inventor of an early machine gun, never returned to his Southampton home after one of his frequent and lengthy sales trips. His sons speculated years later that he had re-emerged as Hiram Maxim, another machine-gun pioneer, whom he strongly resembled. [61]
1882 Jesse Evans 29 Huntsville, Texas, U.S.A An American outlaw, gunman of the Old West, leader of the Jesse Evans Gang, and veteran of the Lincoln County War disappeared from the record shortly after his release from prison. Despite an unsubstantiated claimant in 1948 (who also claimed that other Lincoln County veterans, including the renowned Billy the Kid, were still alive), Evans' fate remains unknown. [62]
30 October 1888 Henry Boynton Clitz 64 Niagara Falls, New York, U.S.A Clitz, a career U.S. Army officer who had served with distinction in the Mexican and Civil wars before being named commandant of the United States Corps of Cadets at West Point, was last seen on 30 October. Family members said his mental state had been deteriorating over the previous months; he was presumed to have drowned although no body was ever found. [63]
16 September 1890 Louis Le Prince 48 Dijon, France Le Prince, a motion picture pioneer credited as the inventor of the medium, disappeared after boarding a Paris-bound train at Dijon, France. [64][65]
13 March 1892 Hermann Fol 46 Bénodet, France Fol, a Swiss zoologist regarded as the father of modern cell biology, disappeared with several crew members of his yacht shortly after leaving Bénodet, France. [66]
24 May 1893 Allan McDonald Unknown Melbourne, Australia McDonald was a former New Zealand politician who was last seen at a hotel in Melbourne. [67]
May 1894 Frank Lenz 25 Erzurum, Turkey Lenz was an American bicyclist and adventurer who disappeared somewhere near Erzurum, Turkey (then part of the Ottoman Empire) in May 1894, during an attempt to circle the globe by bicycle. [68]
1 September 1894 Boston Corbett 62 Hinckley, Minnesota, U.S. Union Army soldier who shot and killed John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Abraham Lincoln. No certain information is available about his fate, with one theory claiming that died during the Great Hinckley Fire, which remains unsubstantiated. [69]
25 March 1895 Jeremiah Haralson 48 Albany, New York, U.S. Reconstruction-era congressman from Alabama. Haralson was convicted on charges of pension fraud in Arkansas in December 1894. He was incarcerated at the Albany County Penitentiary the following March, and vanishes from the historical record afterward. [70]
19 December 1895 E. J. Dawne 41 Victoria, British Columbia, Canada American preacher and judge for United States territorial court of Alaska who fled the country amidst an investigation for forgery and embezzlement. His last confirmed whereabouts where at a boarding house in Victoria, Canada, but he managed to flee and his definitive fate is unknown. [71]
1 February 1896 Albert Jennings Fountain 57 Las Cruces, New Mexico, U.S.A Former Texas state senator and lieutenant governor Albert Jennings Fountain disappeared near Las Cruces, New Mexico, United States, along with his son Henry on 1 February 1896. Evidence found along their route strongly suggests they were murdered, but no bodies were ever found. [72]
Henry Fountain 8
6 August 1896 Frank H. Howard unknown Los Angeles, California, USA Attorney and member of the Los Angeles Unified School District known for representing a librarian suing a Methodist minister for slander. He was last seen waiting for a streetcar while going to a trip to San Bernardino, but was never seen again. [73]


Date Person(s) Age Missing from Circumstances Refs.
26 December 1900 Thomas Marshall 24 Flannan Isles Lighthouse, Scotland Lighthouse keepers at the Flannan Isles Lighthouse who mysteriously vanished from their posts. [74]
James Ducat 48
Donald McArthur Unknown
1902 Yda Hillis Addis 45 California, U.S. A translator of ancient Mexican narratives, Addis escaped from an insane asylum in California where her husband had her confined during their divorce and was not seen again. [75][76]
26 October 1902 Eduard von Toll 44 Bennett Island, Siberia A group of Russian explorers led by Baron Eduard von Toll left their camp on Bennett Island and disappeared without a trace.
1908 Joseph "Bunko" Kelly Unknown Salem, Oregon, U.S. The English hotelier, crimper and convicted murderer vanished after leaving the Oregon State Penitentiary following his completion of a 13-year prison sentence. [77]

See also


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Original content from Wikipedia, shared with licence Creative Commons By-Sa - List of people who disappeared mysteriously: pre-1910