Gideon Marsh, President of the failed Keystone Bank in Philadelphia. Detective Frank P. Geyer went on an International search to bring the fugitive to justice.

Secret Search for Gideon Marsh – June 1892

Sample text from the “Secret Search” chapter in Detective in the White City:

Authorities deemed the mission classified to prevent media from tipping off the fugitive. No one knew the details, not even his wife and daughter. Fourteen days after Frank and Mary’s seventh wedding anniversary, Detective Geyer sailed on the Martha steamship from Brooklyn April 23, 1892. His distraught wife told the Philadelphia Inquirer she did not know her husband left the city until the Philadelphia Detective Bureau told her. He left without so much as a goodbye to her or their four-year-old daughter, Edna.

“My husband left the house one morning with the expectation of returning in time for supper. Tea-time came, but Frank did not appear. I waited some little time for him, as he is very often delayed. Late in the evening someone rang the bell, and thinking that it was he I hurried to the door. Instead of Frank, it was his fellow worker, Mr. Crawford. He told me he had come over to let me know that Frank had been sent upon some mission from the office. Frank’s work, he said, would take some time to complete and he would not report back until it was finished. In the meantime the department would keep me posted about him as far as it could and would send him any letters that I might write.”

Philadelphia Detective Frank P. Geyer investigated the case of H. H. Holmes, one of America's first serial killers
Detective Frank Geyer

The German steamship was not licensed to carry passengers to South America, so Geyer joined as a member of the crew.

“I shipped as able seaman under the name of Frank P. Roberts,” said Detective Geyer. “The first stop that we made was at St. Thomas, in the West Indies. There I made a thorough search for Marsh. Let me say right here that in every place I visited I made a thorough search. I inquired at all the American consulates and hotels and places where an American would be apt to frequent.”

…Mrs. Geyer thought her husband would return in a week or two, but several months went by. Both their birthdays in July passed without any sign of Geyer. She received a few letters from Geyer and news once in a while from his longtime partner, Detective Crawford.

“If he should die tomorrow I would know nothing about it until the department chose to tell me, and even then I would not know where to look for him unless they told me that also,” said Mrs. Geyer.

She thought it odd that when the department gave her a letter from her husband from time-to-time, it was in a plain, blank envelope without a postmark. Also, handwritten letters never contained a date.

“I do not receive them in the original envelope; they are given me by Detective Crawford in a blank envelope. In fact I have no means at all of knowing where he is,” said Mrs. Geyer.


  1.   The Illustrated American, Volume VII, No. 71, For the Week Ending June 27, 1891, “The Keystone Bank Wreck,” New York: Illustrated American Publishing Co., Bible House, 1891, 247-250.
  2.   “Long Chase for a Culprit; How Marsh, the Bank Wrecker, Was Hunted: Detective Geyer’s Story,” Washington Times, November 13, 1898, 5.
  3.   Journal of the Common Council of the City of Philadelphia, From April 6, 1891 to September 24, 1891, Vol. I. Philadelphia, PA: George F. Lasher, Printer, 1891, 143.
  4.   Annual Report of the Supervising Surgeon General of the Marine Hospital Service of the United States for the Fiscal Year 1898. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1899, 581.
  5.   “Geyer’s Absence Sill a Mystery; The Well-Known Detective Has Been Gone for Months; Even His Wife Kept in Ignorance of His Whereabouts,” Philadelphia Inquirer, 2.
  6.   Abstract of Sanitary Reports, Vol. VII, No. 3. Washington, D. C., January 15, 1892, 32.
  7.   “All the Dramas of Real Life Eclipsed By the Return of Gideon Marsh,” New York Herald, November 13, 1898, 1-2.