Wolves Like Sheep: The Murder of Mary Schultz

 

After a long, cold winter, spring had finally arrived in Pleasant Valley, Iowa.

Patches of brown grass, buried for months under snow and ice, were starting to turn green again with new life. Flowers began to bloom again in a vivid array of colors, splashing hues of bright blues, oranges, and reds across a dreary landscape. Farmers were busy in their fields, plowing through the rich black soil in order to make way for the annual planting.

The township of Pleasant Valley had been following this same pattern since the first settlers had come there in 1833. Drawn by the natural beauty of the area, these early pioneers had gradually transformed the grassy fields there into successful onion farms. Eventually, others began to come to the quiet section of the Mississippi River valley, furthering the agricultural traditions.

One of these individuals was a man named Reinhart Hose.

Born in 1839 in Hessen, Germany, Reinhart immigrated to the United States in the late 1860’s, eventually coming to Iowa. He bought a farm, married, and settled into the life of a farmer. In 1872, Reinhart and his wife, Elise, had a daughter, whom they named Mary.

Raised in the area, Mary would grow up to be relatively well-known and very well-liked within the farming community there. Reinhart could not have been prouder of her. As his only child, he and Elise lavished all of their love and affection upon her.

In 1889, Reinhardt took a trip to Washington, D.C. to visit a friend named Schultz.

The two men had attended school together in Germany before immigrating to the United States. While Reinhardt had settled in eastern Iowa, Schultz had ended up in Washington, where he worked as a clerk the Treasury Department. They hadn’t seen each other for quite some time, and were looking forward to catching up.

Schultz and his wife were gracious hosts, and treated Reinhardt extremely well. No doubt the old friends discussed where they had been and what they had done over the intervening years. Before long, they started talking about their children. Reinhart talked about Mary, his pride and joy, and got to meet Schultz’s own son, Henry.

Henry worked as a plumber in Washington D.C., and he hit it off extremely well with Reinhardt. As the two men became more friendly, Reinhardt began to see Henry as possibly something more than a nice young man he could talk with.

Mary was in her late teens at this time, old enough to be married and have a family of her own. Like most fathers, Reinhardt wanted a suitable young man for his Mary to settle down with. Henry was handsome enough, and he seemed to have a good head on his shoulders. Henry had a solid, honest profession, he didn’t drink, and he was actively involved in his church.

What better kind of man to marry his daughter?

His mind made up, Reinhardt told Henry about Mary and He told Henry about Mary and began pave the way for young Henry to begin writing to Mary.

When Reinhart returned home, he lost no time in telling Elise and Mary all about his old friend in Washington, D.C. and his family. And, of course, he made sure to tell Mary about that wonderful boy Henry. Soon, Henry and Mary began sending letters back and forth.

But, as much as Reinhardt wanted to see Mary settled down with a good young man to take care of her, his daughter had plans of her own. She had just finished school, and intended to further her studies at college. She had found a suitable women’s school in Chicago, and wanted to attend.

When Mary explained all of this to her parents, Reinhardt was probably a little disappointed. Henry was such a good match! But that was minor compared to the fact that their beloved daughter would be moving far away from them. Still, Reinhardt and Elise would have done anything for Mary, and this was no exception.

They told her to apply to the school and that, if she was accepted, then they would pay for her continued education.

Mary was accepted to the school and Reinhart and Elise saw her off. For the next few years, Mary dedicated herself to her studies. Through that time, she and Henry Schultz maintained a friendly correspondence.

After Mary graduated, she returned home to Pleasant Valley. She had always been considered attractive and popular, and the locals there that she had grown up around were excited to see her. They welcomed her home with open arms, and Mary happily greeted them in return. One of those who were present to welcome her back from Chicago was none other than Henry Schultz.

He had come from Washington, D.C. to finally meet her face to face. One thing led to another, and Henry proposed marriage to Mary. She accepted, much to the excitement of her parents. But no matter how much she may have tried, Mary always came off as being no more than lukewarm to the thought of marrying Henry.

Outwardly, she had no reason to not marry Henry. He was everything that her father said he was. He had a solid, professional job as a plumber. He was a dedicated church goer, and he did not drink alcohol. Mary may not have ever seen him face to face before that time, but they had been talking through mail correspondence for a few years now. Besides that, her father and his father were good friends, and her Dad was very impressed with the young plumber.

Still, there was just something that gave her pause, something that she couldn’t quite put her finger on. However much she hesitated, though, Mary eventually shrugged off her doubts and pushed forward with the marriage.

In May of 1892, as flowers bloomed and long grass waved lazily in broad green fields, 20-year-old Mary Hose married Henry Schultz. Perhaps, as she walked down the aisle towards her awaiting groom, those lukewarm feelings that she had about the marriage began to ease somewhat. In the excitement of the day, maybe her anxieties simply melted away and she was able to imagine a new life with Henry.

After the wedding, Mary had hoped that the two of them would settle in Pleasant Valley. Henry, however, wanted to return to Washington, D.C. and resume his plumbing business there. Mary relented, and the two made plans to move back east.

Before they left, Reinhart gave his daughter five-hundred dollars, telling her that it was a wedding present. Kissing his beloved daughter good bye, he shook his new son-in-law’s hand, wished him luck, and sent the brand-new couple on their way back.

Soon after their arrival in Washington, the first cracks began to form in the marriage. During his visit to Iowa, Henry must have been on his absolute best behavior and had tried to make a wonderful impression on Mary and her family.

During conversations with them, Henry told them that he was a regular church goer. He understood the standard German drinking customs, but he stated that he didn’t drink. Mary quickly discovered that he had lied. Henry drank heavily, anything from beer to hard liquor. The five-hundred-dollar that Reinhardt had given her quickly dwindled away. Mary, as she had done since attending college in Chicago, wrote frequently to her parents in Iowa.

Her growing dissatisfaction became more and more apparent in her letters. Reinhart and Elise started to worry, and soon wanted to have their daughter back home with them where they could keep a close eye on her. Discussing it between themselves, they wrote to Mary and Henry, proposing a new idea.

Reinhart and Elise told them that they should come back to Iowa and take over the daily operation of the Hose farm in Pleasant Valley. The two could live with them, paying a very generous low rent and running what was already a successful farm operation. They figured that it wouldn’t take Henry long to get himself and Mary on financially stable ground.

Henry and Mary agreed to the deal, and before long they were back in Pleasant Valley.

Henry and Mary immediately set to work. Just as fast Reinhart and Elise realized that Henry had lied to them. Henry showed a genuine taste for whiskey, and he drank all the time. The abuse was almost constant. Henry would frequently berate his wife, swearing at her and calling her names.

In spite of this, Mary bore her husband a son in 1893. She named him Reinhardt Heinrich Schultz, after his grandfather. For some men, this may have softened their disposition and caused them to rethink their lives. Men like that might even make a change for the better. Henry was not one of them.

Only two days after young Reinhardt was born, Henry professed his desire to choke the infant to death with his bare hands. Later that same day, Mary asked Henry to close a window in their bedroom, where she was lying sick in bed. The wind coming from outside was making her cold. Henry, being the attentive husband that he was, stalwartly refused and left Mary to fend for herself.

Another time, Henry found that his infant son had moved off the blanket he was lying on. He immediately started yelling at Mary for allowing it to happen, to which she explained that the baby was always moving off the blanket. Henry picked up his son and began to tell him how his mother didn’t love him, and would be just as happy if he were dead.

The following year, in 1894, Mary gave birth to her second son, Herman. True to form, Henry showed him the same fatherly affection as he did little Reinhardt. This only seemed to get worse as they grew older.

When they were barely more than toddlers, Henry had a special punishment for his sons when they irritated him. Grabbing them, he would drag them to the barn, where he would tie them firmly to a nail in one of the cow stalls. Then, ignoring their pitiful cries and wails, he would walk off and leave them there until he was ready to go back and get them.

Suffice it to say, the boys were terrified of their father.

Henry would also use young Reinhardt and Herman to further insult and embarrass Mary.  One morning, before they had even gotten out of bed, Henry began screaming at his wife, cursing at her and calling her every insulting name that he could probably think of. As a kind of grand finale to his tirade, Henry told Mary that he was going to teach their little Reinhardt to kill his grandparents if they ever dared to raise a hand or use a word to correct him.

Henry’s abuse was not limited to Mary and the children, either.

As Henry and Mary were preparing to go shopping in a nearby town, Henry approached Mary and asked if he had any underwear. Mary, who was speaking to her mother at the time, stopped talking and began to think. She honestly wasn’t sure if he did or not, and was trying to remember.

Before she could speak, Henry called her an idiot. Elise tried to intervene, gently telling Henry that he should be more patient and give Mary a little time to think about her answer. Henry immediately turned on his mother-in-law, screaming at her.

Henry never seemed to get tired of terrorizing his family in any way that he could. One of his favorite tactics was to start screaming that he was going to go kill himself during one of his and Mary’s several arguments.

Taking a pistol, he would walk out into the middle of the yard and fire a shot into the air. As soon as he did, he would fall onto the ground and lay still, pretending that he had actually shot himself.

Henry ran the farm for six years. During that entire time, he continually abused his wife, children, and in-laws. Neither they nor his neighbors were absolutely sure what he did with the money he made on the farm.

The most popular theory was that he drank it all away. Henry drank frequently, and not anything cheap, either. He preferred to buy the most expensive kind of alcohol that he could find, explaining to a neighbor once that he hadn’t moved all the way from Washington, D.C. to settle for second best.

While Henry and Mary may have managed the farm, Reinhart Hose always made sure that he held the title to the property. Henry tried to get it from him several times over the years, but the old farmer always adamantly refused.

While abused, Mary was never broken. She was a strong, intelligent woman who must have felt trapped by her circumstances. Once, during the six years that they lived on the Hose farm, Mary found the courage to leave Henry.

During one particularly venomous rant, Henry told her that he was going to kill her father. At the time, it was more than she could handle. She left the farm and went to the home of John Dodds, a trusted neighbor who lived just down the road.

Just as Mary walked in the front door, Henry burst in almost right behind her. He pled with her to return, explaining to Mary and the Dodd’s that he was only joking, and that he hadn’t meant what he said. Mary chose to believe him and returned to the farm with him.

In the spring of 1897, Mary left Henry again, staying with neighbors for several days. Henry came back to her, acting like the man he had pretended to be when they had first met in person. After a few days, he was able to gain enough of her trust to return to the farm again. Once she was back home, things quickly returned to the way they had been.

At some point, Reinhardt and Elise moved off the farm that they had built. Their reasoning – their hope – was that Henry and Mary might be able to find peace in their marriage if they weren’t living there. It probably can also be assumed that they wanted to escape their son-in-law’s vicious nature,as well.

In 1898, Henry returned to the farm late one night. Drunk, he stumbled through the door, a jug of whiskey in his hand. In the kitchen, he saw some butter rolls that Mary had baked earlier that day. They were supposed to be delivered to a nearby town, LeClaire, the next day.

Henry stood there, swaying slightly, staring at the rolls. He struggled to think through his alcohol-clouded mind, trying to figure out what was bothering him. Finally, it came to him.

There was something wrong with the rolls.

The longer he stared, the more he was convinced that they weren’t right. He felt his anger rise. Those rolls were meant for someone else! They couldn’t be wrong! Mary was being lazy. She just hadn’t felt like baking them, so just flopped them together, said good enough, and went to bed.

No. She wasn’t going to do that to him. This was unacceptable. He’d make her do it right.

Stomping up the stairs, Henry marched into their bedroom and roughly shook Mary awake. She had barely opened her eyes when she felt Henry grab her and begin dragging her downstairs and into the kitchen.

He screamed at her, demanding to know why she hadn’t made the rolls right. Mary looked at the rolls she had made. There was nothing wrong with them. They were perfectly fine. But not according to Henry.

Angrily, Henry told her to remake the rolls. All of them. With little choice, Mary spent the night doing as her drunken husband commanded.

That was enough for Mary. Everyone has a breaking point, and she had reached hers.

She shouldn’t have ever married Henry. He was tyrant and a bully. He showed no love for either her or the children. Still, she had tried her best to be a good wife to him. But nothing had changed, and this was just too much.

Later the next day, Mary watched as Henry hitched the horse to his buggy. He was taking the rolls to LeClaire with little Reinhardt. She felt a pang of regret as she watched her oldest son ride down the road with her father. Mary loved him dearly, but if they were going to have any real kind of future, she had to escape. She would just have to hope and pray for his safety, and then come back for him as soon as she could.

Mary waited for a while, making sure that Henry wasn’t coming back. Finally, she felt confident he was. Hastily packing some belongings, she took Herman and went directly to the home of Guy LaGrange.

LaGrange was a school teacher in nearby Valley City, and also the son-in-law of her good friend John Dodds. Dodds and his wife had recently moved to Davenport in the neighborhood of Brady Street and Kirkwood Boulevard. Mary pleaded with LaGrange to take her and Herman to their house. Well aware of Mary’s domestic situation, LaGrange readily agreed and took her to Davenport.

Once there, Mary once again asked her old friends to shelter her from Henry. She explained that she had left Henry and took their youngest son with her. Mary was determined that this time, it would be permanent. Like LaGrange and many of their other Pleasant Valley neighbors, the Dodds knew what Henry had been doing and were more than happy to help.

Within a day or two, Mary hired an attorney and filed for divorce.

Just as he had before, Henry found out where Mary was staying and came to talk to her. He begged her to come back with him, but to no avail. Mary was done. She was fed up, and wanted nothing more to do with him.

Realizing that nothing he could do would persuade her, Henry quickly retained his own lawyer.

In their first meeting, Schultz explained to his attorney that he didn’t want a divorce, but just wanted to have Mary come back home with him. The second time they met, Schultz stated that he had been to see Mary a few times on his own, and asked if should keep trying to visit her.

The answer was a resounding no. The lawyer explained to Schultz to give things time, and that it was entirely possible that things may be reconciled between them while waiting for their court date. Henry promised that he wouldn’t try and see Mary again, and left.

Unbeknownst to anyone else, however, Henry Schultz was making plans of his own.

A short time after his second lawyer’s visit, Henry went to a local gun shop. Schultz traded a shotgun that he owned for a new .38 Smith and Wesson revolver.

During the transaction, Henry casually explained to the store owner, a man named Berg, that the pistol was for killing livestock. He explained that his neighbors in Pleasant Valley would often ask him to shoot their cattle for them, and that he had developed a particular methodology in the performance of the task.

Henry said that he would hold a cob of corn in one hand, and in the other he would secret his pistol. He would be friendly to the animal, luring it in with the food. As the cow ate, Henry would wait, biding his time. Once he felt that the animal was completely relaxed, he would shoot it. For added effect, Henry acted out his story for the benefit of the entire store as he talked to Berg.

Regardless of what he said at the gun shop that day, Shultz’s plans for his new revolver did not involve livestock.

 

John Dodds and his wife lived on Brady Street, one of Davenport’s main north-south roads. Their property was just outside the main part of the city, which allowed them to have a bigger yard and a good-sized barn.

Mary had been staying there for about a week. She already felt safer than she had for a long time.

On Saturday, August 6, 1898, Henry Schultz brought his buggy to a stopped next to an alleyway on nearby 17th Street, about a block away from the Dodds residence. The alley ran directly behind their property, and it allowed Henry to approach the house and barn without being seen.

As he climbed down out of the seat, he told his son, Reinhardt, who had come with him, to wait for him there. Hitching his horse to a nearby post, Henry began to walk down the alley to have a talk with his wife.

As he approached the house, he could see Mary in the yard, washing clothes. The Dodds’ were there, too, with little Herman playing nearby.

Carefully, Henry slowed so that they wouldn’t see him, then walked carefully around to the front of the house. He kept circling until he came up to the other side of the backyard. Silently, he crossed over and placed himself between Mary and the back door of the house. Smiling, he said hello.

Mary gasped. He had taken her by surprise.

Henry stooped and kissed Herman, and then approached Mary to kiss her. Stiffly, she allowed him a quick peck.

After a rudimentary greeting to the Dodds’, Henry began to speak to Mary in German. Once again, he asked her to come back home. Once again, Mary refused. Their marriage was over, and he had no place with her anymore.

With a sigh, he changed his approach. Henry told her that he had brought little Reinhardt with him. Gently, he asked if she would come into the barn with him and speak privately. She could visit with her oldest son while they talked.

Mary hesitated. She was done talking to Henry. Nothing he said would bring her back now. Still, she missed Reinhardt terribly, and wanted to talk to him more than anything. Mary still felt guilty about leaving him alone with his father, and wanted to make sure that the boy didn’t hate her for that.

Reluctantly, Mary agreed.

While the Dodds’ had watched Henry and Mary, they didn’t speak German and had understood very little of the conversation.

Mary told them what Henry had said, and she asked John to come with them inside the barn. She didn’t trust Henry in the slightest, and wanted someone there with her. Jesse agreed.

Inside, John began to tend his horses in order to give Mary and Henry privacy. Herman had come with them, and Henry asked the boy if he would go to the buggy and fetch his brother. Herman said he would, and quickly ran off down the alley.

Henry and Mary continued their conversation from the backyard, with Mary still refusing to come back to Pleasant Valley. After a few minutes, they realized that Herman hadn’t come back yet. The boy was only three-years-old, and might very well have either gotten lost or distracted.

Turning to Dodds, Henry, speaking English now, asked him to go check on Herman. John wasn’t about to leave Mary alone, but he was concerned about Herman, too.

Ignoring Henry, Jesse asked Mary if she would like him to go and check on her sons. Mary said that she would. Reluctantly, John left the two alone and went out to find Herman and Reinhardt.

Schultz watched Dodds leave. He kept talking to his wife, trying to convince her to come back home. As he did, Henry’s hand slipped casually into his pocket.

Outside, Dodds was approaching the end of the alley. He could see Herman and Reinhardt running toward him. Dodds smiled, relieved to see them.

As the first gunshot shattered the silence of the afternoon, his smile vanished. It had come from behind him, from his house! Turning quickly, Dodds sprinted as fast as he could back toward the barn.

 

Schultz knew that Mary wasn’t coming back home. He had known that a week ago, after the first few times he had met with her.

How could she do that to him? How dare she! Mary was his wife, and she belonged to him. There was no way that he could stand for this. No, it was time for her to pay.

Henry’s words sounded hollow in his own ears as his hand closed around the grip of the .38 revolver in his pocket. He kept talking, giving Dodds time to get further away. He had parked so far away on purpose, and it had worked perfectly.

Finally satisfied that Dodds was far enough away, Henry drew the revolver out of his pocket in mid-sentence, firing it point blank at Mary.

Her eyes widened in surprise as she first saw the gun, then a flash of light from the muzzle. A burning, tearing sensation tore through her as she felt she felt the bullet rip a path through her chest. Instinctively, she turned and began to run.

The bullet hole in her chest began to bleed freely as, heart pounding, Mary ran out of the barn and into the back yard. Everything was forgotten as her brain screamed at her to go faster, to escape.

Henry was right behind her, eyes gleaming with hate. Running after his wife, he raised the revolver and fired again. It went wide, missing her.

Mary was headed straight for the back door and the safety of the house within. That door was her entire world now, and every fiber of her being was set on reaching it. The gunshot was a deep, dull throb now. Her chest heaved, trying desperately to fill her aching lungs with oxygen.

Mary ignored it, pressing forward. She was just a few feet away from the door now, the knob almost within her grasp.

But Henry was faster.

Just as she was about to reach the door, Henry reached out his free hand and grabbed her.

Mary fought like a wild animal caught in a trap, fighting desperately against her husband. As they struggled against one another, Henry shoved the revolver at her and pulled the trigger.  The bullet punched into her body, so close that it burnt the skin around the wound.

But still Mary struggled on, clinging to life as Henry held her fast.

Raising the gun to her right temple, Henry fired again. With a roar, the bullet passed through Mary’s head, and out of her left ear. She stopped struggling; the life that she had fought so hard to preserve slipping out of her body. Slowly, Henry released his grip and let Mary fall to the ground.

She was dead. The deed was done. But Henry wasn’t finished yet.

He turned away and began walking across the yard, steeling himself for what was coming next. Henry knew that he wasn’t going to get away with this. He knew that he’d either hang or spend the rest of his life inside of a cell. He didn’t intend to do either one.

Stopping, he took a few deep breaths to try and steady himself. With the last exhale, Henry raised the revolver to the side of his head, looked out across the yard, and pulled the trigger.

The bullet exploded through the opposite side of his head. As Henry Shultz felt himself fall to the ground, the world faded into a deep, endless darkness.

John Dodds ran into the yard shortly after. He saw Henry lying dead in the grass, with Mary just a short distance away. He went over to her, expecting her to be dead as well. Almost miraculously, she wasn’t. Somehow, she still managed to cling to life.

As gently as he could, Dodds picked up Mary carried her into the house.

Several people living nearby had heard the gunshots and were wondering what was going on.

A local doctor, W.L. Allen, had been nearby when he heard all the commotion. Concerned, he urged his buggy toward where he thought the shots were coming from.

As he neared the Dodds’ home, Allen saw Mrs. Dodds in the front yard. He went to her checked to make sure that she was okay. Satisfied that she was, Allen walked around the house to the backyard, where he quickly discovered what had happened. Allen checked Henry’s body, and knew he was already dead.

Going inside, he was brought to Mary. Unfortunately, it was already too late. Mary, a fighter to the bitter end, had finally succumbed to her injuries.

A short time later, others began to arrive at the Dodd’ house, including an ambulance and a few policemen. There was little more to do than to collect the dead and comfort the living.

Soon after the events of August 6, 1898, Henry’s parents received a letter from their son, sent shortly before his suicide. Another was sent to Reinhardt and Elise Hose. They were long and drawn out, an effort on his part to make sure that his side of the story was told correctly in a way that people would understand.

To that end, another letter was sent to a local Davenport newspaper, the Davenport Democrat and Leader.

A fourth and final letter Henry wrote to his friend, Emil Wiese. In it, Schultz expresses his feelings over the situation that he now found himself in, and how he felt like he was being crushed by this tremendous pressure. Henry asked Emil if he would be kind enough to see to it that he was buried by Mary’s side. He ended the letter by asking his friend to kiss his sons, and to help cheer them up.

While Henry may have wanted to be reunited in death with Mary, the families weren’t about to allow that to happen. Henry Schultz’s body was sent back east to Washington, D.C., to be received by his family there.

Mary was taken back to her home in Pleasant Valley. News of her murder had spread like wildfire there and while there were few that cared for Henry Schultz, Mary was almost universally loved. Her funeral was crowded with people from all over the area that came to pay their last respects, and it became the largest attendance of any funeral in that area up to that time.

Reinhardt and Herman, now orphaned, were taken in by their grandparents and raised in Pleasant Valley. They were loved and given all the affection they could ever hope for.

Herman grew to be a fine young man who, unfortunately, died fighting on the battlefields of France during World War I in his early twenties.

Reinhardt eventually got married and became the president of a local company. He died in a car accident when he was 79-years-old.

While their early lives were marked by terror and tragedy, both boys grew up to be well-respected men who gave back to the people around them. Although they couldn’t help who their father was, they left his legacy buried in their distant past, far away from the loving mother and grandparents who helped them to rise far above what their father had been.

1 thought on “Wolves Like Sheep: The Murder of Mary Schultz”

  1. Poor Mary. Fortunately, we have more awareness of domestic violence today and shelters available for those who have the courage and the opportunities to flee.

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