May 15, 2020 — News was received in Fargo on this day in 1917 that caused quite the commotion, and even more chuckles. The obituary of Mrs. John W. Springer from New York appeared to many quite the fitting end to a sensational story.
Six years earlier, Mrs. Springer was seen as the cause of a double-murder involving a very prominent Fargo man, Mr. Harold F. Henwood. Henwood had come to Fargo in 1901, and was viewed by the city at that time as one of the Fargo’s leading bachelors. A necessary guest at social affairs, Henwood ruled social circles and launched a successful business career in Fargo.
Then, after several years of residence in Fargo, Henwood packed up and moved west. He settled in Colorado and soon became enamored with Mrs. John W. Springer, who it is suggested heeded his advances. Mrs. Springer was also a society leader, and married to John Springer of Denver, a noted banker and capitalist of that city. She was often referred to as the “most beautiful woman in Colorado.”
One fateful evening in 1911, Henwood relaxed in a Denver hotel lobby with George E. Copeland and Sylvester von Puhl. When the conversation turned to Mrs. Springer, Copeland and von Puhl gave some rather snide remarks regarding the woman’s character that rubbed Henwood the wrong way. Henwood felt obligated to defend the woman’s honor, and demanded that the men revoke the remarks, which they refused to do.
Subsequently, Henwood pulled out a pistol and shot the two men right there. Both of the men died as a result, and Henwood was given a life-term for the murders and sent away to prison. Mr. Springer later divorced his wife, and paid her $5,000 to leave the state. Mrs. Springer quickly retreated to New York City, where she resided for a number of years.
When news of her death reached Fargo, it was discovered that the woman who had been called the “most beautiful woman in Colorado” only six years before, died a pauper in a poor house on Blackwell’s Island.
“Dakota Datebook” is a radio series from Prairie Public in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota and with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council. See all the Dakota Datebooks at prairiepublic.org, subscribe to the “Dakota Datebook” podcast, or buy the Dakota Datebook book at shopprairiepublic.org.