Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Confusion over death of Orth

April 2, 1924

The story of the recently deceased "John Orth," has become more convoluted, reports the New York Times.  Based on conversations with his "New York friends, who believe he was the "long missing" Archduke Johann Salvator of Austria, the trail led today to a tin box in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and a "letter said to be deposited in the Vatican."  This letter will be opened on February 23, 1927.

Orth's friends say the box contains "documentary proof" that Orth was the second cousin of the late Austrian Emperor Franz Josef.  The letter is "presumed to throw new light" on the death of Crown Prince Rudolf at Mayerling, " and Johann Salvator's role in that tragedy.

But no proof has come to light to prove that "the man who died from heart disease at Columbus Hospital" on Monday was a member of the former ruling family of Austria.   There is "circumstantial" evidence that he was not an impostor and an inquiry "in many quarters failed to shake the claims of his supporters."

"John Orth's" body remains at the undertaker's on West 165th Street.  By his side is Miss Grace Wakefield, who for twenty-five years, was his war.  Several hours after his death, she killed herself in her bath.

A friend of Orth, Vicomte de Frise said his body "will lie in state" at St. Andrew's Church on  Fifth Avenue and 127th Street.  The pastor of the church,. Dr. A.E. Ribourg knew "John Orth" for years, and believed he was Archduke Johann Salvator.

The Vicomte said that "many persons of noble birth" would attend the funeral, including Mme Francis de Spilassy and Princess Marie de Bourbon, who believed that Orth was the archduke.

Another longtime friend, Mrs. Charlotte Fairchild, has disclosed more facts about Miss Wakefield.  She "disposed of the rumor" that she was "Orth's morganatic wife.  She knew the man as John Orlow and she said he "never traded on his supposed royal blood."

"Miss Wakefield was the daughter of Andrew Wakefield of Seattle,"  Mrs. Fairchild said.  She believes that he was formally Andrew Wachfeld, an Austrian.   He and Orth were intimate friends, and in his death, he "left a wife and three daughters and placed them in Orth's care."

Two the daughters 'married well."   Only Grace remained with him until his death.   Mrs. Fairchild said she died of a broken heart. "When I told her of her guardian's death on Monday, she said: 'That's the end.  There's nothing left for me."

According to Mrs. Fairchild,  Orth left all of his possessions, including three boxes of "art treasures" to Miss Wakefield, who died intestate.    Orth left debts amounting to about $4000, which will be "satisfied" by the sale of his prints, pictures, and furniture."

She added: "Incidentally, on the back of the note in which Miss Wakefield asked me that she be cremated with her pets, which she drowned, was penciled 'Archduke Johann Salvator' in Orth's handwriting.  That was the one and only time I had observed his signature on this form."

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