Mrs. Burke Roche (LOC)

A few nice news images I found:

Mrs. Burke Roche (LOC)
Image by The Library of Congress
Bain News Service,, publisher.

Mrs. Burke Roche

[between ca. 1910 and ca. 1915]

1 negative : glass ; 5 x 7 in. or smaller.

Title from unverified data provided by the Bain News Service on the negatives or caption cards.
Forms part of: George Grantham Bain Collection (Library of Congress).

Format: Glass negatives.

Rights Info: No known restrictions on publication.

Repository: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA,

General information about the Bain Collection is available at

Higher resolution image is available (Persistent URL):

Call Number: LC-B2- 2192-10

Martin E Fobes
Image by angus mcdiarmid
The file card that accompanied the mug shot listed the charge as "intox driver", but Martin Fobes was suspected of something much worse.

A headline on the front page of the January 14th 1948 edition of the New Castle News read: "Cause of Girl’s Death Is Mystery". It was a mystery to the police, which isn’t unusual, but it also seemed to be a mystery to the man who was arrested in connection with the death. Or so he claimed.

According to Martin Fobes, he woke up with a hangover at about 5 o’clock in the morning on January 6, lying on the living room floor of his home. He didn’t know how he’d ended up there or what had happened since he left the Rex Café some time after midnight with Anna Grace Robertson and her sister. He had no idea that Anna Grace was now in a coma in the hospital, having been found battered and bleeding in the middle of North Mercer street a few hours earlier.

At least, that was the story he told the police when he was arrested and taken to the station, where this mugshot was taken. He was charged with driving a motor vehicle while intoxicated and leaving the scene of an accident without rendering assistance, but it was obvious that more serious charges were likely to be pressed, depending on what the girl said when she came out of her coma.

But she never regained consciousness. She died three days after being admitted to the hospital. A post-mortem showed that she died of haemorrhages of the brain. She also had a complete fracture of the left jaw, partial paralysis of the left arm and left leg, and friction burns on her face and right knee.

At the inquest, Fobes stuck to his story that he couldn’t remember what had happened that night, but other people filled in some of the blanks.

Anna Grace’s sister, Eris, testified that Fobes had taken her and Anna Grace home from the Rex Café, where they had met him. Anna Grace knew Fobes, it seemed, but Eris had never seen him before. When they got to the house, instead of coming in with Eris, Anna Grace went off with Fobes. They said that they were going to a café known as Jim’s Place on the east side, and were then going to the Square Deal to meet Anna Grace’s mother, who worked there. It was 12.25 am.

The bartender of the Rex Café, William Weidenhof, had gone over to the Square Deal after closing up his place, and testified that he saw Fobes and Anna Grace there. Fobes was drunk, and kept asking Anna Grace to leave with him. Eventually, just before 2, he saw Fobes take Anna Grace’s arm and lead her to his truck.

About 20 minutes later, a man called Louis Smith found Anna Grace’s unconscious body lying in the empty street. She had a bloody nose and a bruise on her forehead. He called the police, and an officer took her to the hospital.

The inquest heard from people, including Anna Grace’s sister, who had met Fobes in town the next night, back in the Rex Café again. He seemed "pretty well loaded" and had scratches on his face. A friend of Fobes, Joseph McKee, went over to ask him if he knew what had happened to Anna Grace, but Fobes ducked the question, saying only that he’d been in a wreck at the harbour at about 4.30 am, but that everything was on the "up and up". Later that evening, he passed out in the bar.

After hearing all the evidence — what you’ve just read is pretty much all there was — the inquest concluded that it was unable to determine how Anna Grace sustained the injuries that caused her death, and recommended further investigation. There doesn’t appear to have been any, though. Anna Grace had been buried the day before the inquest, so there couldn’t be any further pathological examination, the witnesses had said all that they could, and Martin Fobes wasn’t saying anything else.

The case appears to have been dropped. The local paper doesn’t mention it, or Anna Grace, after that day. Fobes wasn’t charged with a serious crime.

No one seems to have been certain what happened in those missing 20 minutes. Obviously, Anna Grace’s injuries suggest that she jumped from Fobes’s speeding truck, but why did she jump? The most likely scenario would seem to be that Fobes made a move on her as they drove through town, they struggled (which would be when his face was scratched) and she jumped from the truck to escape. That must have occurred to the inquest but, if it did, the members — all men — didn’t choose to pursue it. Perhaps it struck them as just a tragic accident, and not the kind of thing over which they should ruin the life of a hard-working family man.

At this late date, it’s impossible to say for sure how culpable Fobes was, but, after checking a map of New Castle (the relevant part is in the comments below), I think I’d judge him a little more harshly than the inquest seems to have done.

The Square Deal, where Fobes and Anna Grace were last seen together, was on West Washington street, at the bottom of the map. Anna Grace was found unconscious 10 blocks up North Mercer street, way up at the top-right corner of the map. To get to that spot from the Square Deal, Fobes would have had to have driven right over West Falls street, the middle one of the three streets that cross the river at that point. That’s where Anna Grace lived.

He wasn’t driving her home, and she knew it.

Fobes was 39 when he was arrested, and he died 20 years later. His obituary in the January 21, 1969 edition of the New Castle News says that he was born in New Castle in 1909 to Morgan and Catherine Blews Fobes; that he was employed as a field car repairman by the Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company; that he was a member of lodge 51 of the Loyal Order of the Moose; and that he was a veteran of World War II. Naturally, it doesn’t mention Anna Grace Robertson.

Persons requiring tombstones should apply to Fred
Image by UH Manoa Library
Persons requiring tombstones should apply to Fred. Harrison who has a choice lot of new designs on view.

Local and General News
The Independent., January 03, 1899, Image 3…

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