On Saturday, May 27, 1933, six-year-old Harold Tidd left his playmates on the Mississippi River near the Larson boat factory to head for his home on Fourth Street Northeast and was never seen again.
When Harold was discovered missing, a 45-hour search was conducted, including around 100 men. “All night Saturday and most of Sunday searching parties combed the territory along the river on both sides between Larson Boat Works and Camp Ripley as well as the bluffs, some distance away from the river.” (LFDT, May 29, 1933) Fire chief William Batters was in charge of operations to drag the river because it was feared that Harold had drowned. The Wednesday following the boy’s disappearance “Police Chief Herman Trebiatowski and a group of volunteers renewed the search … plying the river with rowboats.” (LFDT, May 31, 1933) The following day, Sheriff Paul Felix and another group of people searched buildings on Fourth Street Northeast and near the river in hopes of finding Harold. (LFDT, June 1, 1933) Despite everyone’s efforts, young Harold was never found.
Keith Blair, whose mother was a first cousin to Harold’s mother, Julia Tidd, was ten years old at the time and took part in the search. According to a letter to the Morrison County Historical Society (MCHS) dated September 11, 2002, Keith indicated that “Harold’s footsteps were traced in the sand along the railroad tracks from 1st street [sic] to 3rd Street. Apparently, someone in a car kidnapped him at 3rd street [sic] because his footsteps did not continue to 4th street [sic] where he lived, about a block from the track.”
Unsolved cases, particularly those involving young people, pull at the heart strings of those who hear of them. When Aimee Tholen, MCHS’s office assistant, learned of the case, she wanted to know more and started digging. After looking through the minimal information we had collected at the Weyerhaeuser Museum, she placed some calls to local law enforcement to see if they had any further information. A search of their records was unsuccessful, which is understandable considering Harold’s disappearance occurred over 80 years ago.
Because of Aimee’s interest in the case, when I was giving a talk on Nathan Richardson, the Father of Morrison County, in Calvary Cemetery in Little Falls, I noticed a large grave marker with the Tidd family name on it and walked over to read the ground-level stones more closely. One large stone had three names on it:
Frances C., born May 1, 1913 – died September 27, 1918
Charles Jr., born July 11, 1923 – died July 16, 1928
Harold P., born October 5, 1926 – disappeared May 27, 1933
The family had not forgotten Harold; they found a way to permanently honor the child they had lost.
But, look closely at the dates of Frances C. and Charles Jr. They were both five years old when they died. Charles J. and Julia Tidd, the parents of ten children altogether, lost these three sons when they were all around the same age.
Think of the grief that visited this family over the years. Having lost Frances and Charles Jr. at such a young age, the disappearance of Harold must have been practically unbearable. In fact, Charles Sr. died October 10, 1935, only a couple of years after Harold’s disappearance.
We don’t know if Harold Tidd’s case will ever be solved, but he certainly won’t be forgotten. His story lives on through the historic record, including the granite marker in Calvary Cemetery.
~ By Mary Warner
This article originally appeared in the Morrison County Historical Society newsletter, Vol. 30, No. 3, 2017.