In 1876, a thirty-one year old man named Rudolph Fentz went for an evening stroll in NYC. His family thought nothing of it as it was a daily routine for Mr. Fentz, but as time passed they became worried as he had been gone far to long. Rudolph Fentz never did return home, what happened to him remained a mystery until 1950, when the long journey of time traveler Rudolph Fentz came to a quick and violent end.
Just as today, Time Square was a very busy place in 1950. It was among the throngs of people and heavy traffic that a man, dressed in Victorian era clothing appeared. The man, who was said to have a look of disbelief or bewilderment on his face was later identified as Rudolph Fentz.
Tragically, Rudolph Fentz’ visit to Time Square was very short as he was struck by a car and died instantly. As police searched the dead man’s pockets the mystery of the strangely dressed man would only grow. Business cards identified the man as Rudolph Fentz. Police also found a brass 5 cent beer token from a bar that no one had ever heard of, about 70 dollars in cash dating from the 1800’s, a letter addressed to Fentz and dated from June of 1876, and a bill from a livery stable on Lexington Ave. that did not exist.
The investigation of the case went to New York State missing persons investigator Capt. Hubert Rihm. Part of Rihm’s job was to locate and notify Fentz’ next of kin, a task which proved to be far more difficult and bizarre than any case Rihm worked on before. A review of records turned up nothing on Rudolph Fentz nor did he appear in any current phone directories. The search of fingerprint files found no match and there was no record of the man being reported missing.
Rihm’s investigation expanded to include several European countries, but again turned up nothing. Then Rihm got a break in the case, he found a listing for a Mr. Rudolph Fentz Jr. in a 1939, NYC phone book. He went to the address, an apartment building, and began to question residents. Rihm learned that Rudolph Fentz Jr. did live in the building but had retired and moved to an unknown location around 1940.
Rihm eventually learned from bank records that Fentz Jr. had moved with his wife to Florida. It turned out that Fentz Jr. had died several years earlier as Rihm learned from his widow. When questioned about Fentz Sr. she said that according to her husband, his father went on his nightly walk in 1876 and was never heard from again. If the story is true what a cruel fate for time traveler Rudolph Fentz, he disappears for 74 years and on his return, is killed within seconds, some 105 years after his birth.
Is the incredible story of a time traveler named Rudolph Fentz true or simply a legend? Over the years the story has been told as fact. That is until 2000, when folklore investigator Chris Aubeck looked into the case and concluded that because he could not document the story, it was in fact a legend. In 2002, Rev. George Murphy claimed that the story originated in a Robert Heinlein anthology called “Tomorrow, The Stars,” or possibly an article in “Collier’s” magazine called, “I’m Scared” dated September 15, 1951.
Despite the claims of Rev. Murphy, there is no story of Rudolph Fentz in the Heinlein anthology and the “I’m Scared” magazine article, written by Jack Finney, does not appear to exist any longer. Finney died in 1995, and was never asked about the Rudolph Fentz story. This story of time travel may be true if a report from 2007, is valid. A researcher at the Berlin News Archive claimed to have found a newspaper report on the Fentz story dated April of 1951. The story in the paper was told as fact and published five months before the “I’m Scared” article.