History logo

A unique project by a famous American author

He made himself disappear, but what happened to him?

By Umair Amjad KayaniPublished 6 months ago 4 min read
A unique project by a famous American author
Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Ambrose Barris was one of America's most successful short-story writers in the early twentieth century. In December 1913, he disappeared, so he could not be seen or heard of. He had said some of these things before he disappeared, so it is possible that he had such a plan for the last days of his life. He feared that once he died, he and his writings would be forgotten, but he did not want that to happen.

In 1861, at 19, Barris made the army his goal in life. At that time, civil war broke out in the northern and southern states, and soon after that, Barris joined the northern army. He loved military life and fought many battles. He was wounded twice, once very severely in the head. So, after the head injury, Barris was never the same. He became bitter, suspicious of people, and more concerned with death. When peace came in 1865, Barris traveled west to San Francisco. He married a socially prominent young woman and fathered two sons and a daughter. His wife's name was Mary Ellen Day, but in 1871, as his marriage was not a happy one, he left San Francisco and went to England. He settled in London and became a writer. Two years later, a collection of his stories was published. Jog became popularly known as "Bitter Bears" because of his sharp language and corny stories. People liked Barris's stories, but he was not liked as a person.

When Paris returned to San Francisco in 1876, he had already become a well-known figure due to his success in England. He became the editor of a magazine and soon became recognized as a scholarly and literary figure in the city. Unfortunately, it was around this time that he developed severe asthma. William Randolph Hearst, one of San Francisco's leading newspapermen at the time, asked him to write a column for his paper. The English name of the newspaper was The Examiner. Barris accepted this position and wrote about everything and everyone, describing his observations in his usual satirical and sarcastic manner. Few people became his friends, but his enemies became more because of his harsh words. After working for Hearst for ten years, Ambrose Burris moved to Washington, D.C. He liked the capital city very much, as he himself said that the climate there was good for his asthma. He remained there until 1909 when he retired from newspaper work to edit and prepare for publication all the stories and articles he had written over the years. His secretary, Carrie Christianson, worked closely with him on the project. By the time he finished this work in 1912, Barris was 70 years old.

In the years after the Civil War, Barris had read anything he could get his hands on about the military, so without combat experience and extensive study, he became a military expert. He believed that he would become an advisor to military leaders in some parts of the world. In fact, this decision was taken by him to live a modest life. Then a rebellion broke out in Mexico. Pancho Villa and Venustiano Carranza were the leaders of the rebels. On a rainy day in 1913, Barris told his secretary of his plan to go to Mexico to visit the battlefields of the Civil War, and he carried out the first part of his plan exactly as he had envisioned. Since he moved to Washington, D.C. Leaving C, Barris wrote to his secretary almost daily, although he also wrote to his daughter Helen from time to time. He told a friend in San Francisco, "He wants to end his career in a spectacular way by dying in a relatively private bed." "I decided to go to Mexico to find a soldier's grave." On December 16, 1913, this was his last letter from Laredo to the Secretary: "I am going to Mexico for a final purpose which I cannot yet reveal." As far as every man knows, he entered Mexico. Some believe that Barris did not actually cross any borders but that he may have gone to an isolated place in the United States so that he could live out his final days in peace, quiet, and solitude. He probably went to the hills, which was good for his asthma. Others believe that he may have gone to Europe during World War I as an adviser to British military leader Lord Kitchener. Several months passed, and when no one heard from Barris, his daughter asked the US State Department to investigate her father.

A search for Barris resulted in an unconfirmed report that Barris had, in fact, arrived at Pancho Villa's headquarters. Except for two or three similar rumors, Barris was never heard from again. However, her wish to be remembered was fulfilled, as the same rumors circulated almost 20 years after her disappearance. Even today, the topic of what happened to Ambrose Barris captivates people.

Columbia Pictures also made a movie about Ambrose Barris called "Old Gringo," starring Gregory Peck as Ambrose Barris.

World HistoryPlacesPerspectivesNarrativesGeneralFiguresEventsBiographiesAnalysis

About the Creator

Umair Amjad Kayani

I am a Professor of English Literature and Language as well as I am a Content Writer and writing is not only my Profession but also my Passion.

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2024 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.