Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Who was Charles Marzyck?

I find people interesting. I like to watch people walking down the street and try to guess their story. Where are they from; what is their job; have they ever been arrested? The primary reason I started this little blog was to talk about the other victims and players in these murders and I’d like to write a little about Charles Marzyck. The only crime I am certain Charles Marzyck ever committed was stealing wheat from James Vopat. Marzyck’s ex-wife claimed he had forged checks, written bad checks and even deserted from the army after a stint in the Philippines. He was never convicted of any of those crimes and I haven’t found anything showing service during the War in the Philippines. The primary question a researcher needs to ask is “would this suspect commit this kind of crime?” As I have said before, I’m not certain Marzyck would have. But let me give you a little background on Charles.

Denver Museum of Modern Art & formerly the "finest bordello in Denver"

Charles Marzyck was born in New York City around 1878. His parents were Charles and Mary and were emigrants from Bohemia (Czech Republic). Charles was one of five children in the family. He had two sisters, Julia who was about four years older, and Annie who was about four years younger as well as a younger brother, Joseph. The family lived in the Manhattan borough and his father worked as a cigar maker. Sometime between 1880 and 1885 his family moved to Denver, Colorado where Charles’ father set up a cigar making factory in the section of town now referred to as LoDo (lower downtown). When I say factory I mean a place where stuff gets made and not a large industrial building with hundreds of employees; the older Marzyck had only five employees and probably had young Charles helping around the place as well. The Marzyck’s lived on Holladay Street and this may well be important. Holladay Street was notorious as a “red light” district. Bordellos, gambling halls and saloons were everywhere. Only “high class” prostitutes operated in the bordellos but “dollar girls” roamed the streets in front of the gambling halls and theatres. At the time young Charles Marzyck was living on Holladay, it was said there were one thousand girls for a man to choose from. The Marzycks did not live in the actual area known as the red light district but they were only a few blocks away. Marzyck’s neighborhood housed mostly railroad workers.

Denver's police department was notoriously corrupt in those days and the city was so  relaxed with regard to prostitution that it wasn't uncommon for a young man with some money in his pocket to head down to  Holladay (later changed to Market street at the request of the Holladay family) and consort with the "fallen doves" of Denver.  There is no evidence  suggesting young Charles ever made that trip; not even his ex-wife was willing to accuse him of that.

In October of 1885, when Charles was eight, his father purchased a bale of Sumatra Tobacco from a man named Waggner for $279.35. Marzyck only paid half of the money but convinced Waggner to allow him to take the tobacco. Marzyck then sold the tobacco to Joseph Benesch who operated his own cigar factory. It isn’t clear what Benesch paid for the tobacco but Marzyck failed to mention to Benesch that the tobacco wasn’t completely paid for. Marzyck didn’t pay the other half to Waggner and somehow pushed the blame over to Benesch. Waggner made a complaint and the tobacco was seized by police. By the time it was over, Waggner and Benesch where both out the money they paid to Marzyck and the bale of tobacco while Marzyck got away without even a slap on the wrist. Whether this “fraud” was intentional or not is unknown.

Records of the young Charles Marzyck disappear after 1885. I don’t know when he married Minnie Kratky or where he went after his trial in Ellsworth; my guess would be Canada. Charles’ mother Mary died in 1903 in Colorado. His youngest brother Joseph married and had his own children and was still corresponding with his brother in 1911. After that, I have no idea. Perhaps someone reading can lend some information?

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