Elva Heup of Sherwood

Alvina “Elva” Heup was born in and grew up on a farm near Sherwood, Wisconsin, the daughter of Gerhard “Garrett” Heup and ??. Her mother was a sister of John Deno, who operated a store on Third Street in Kaukauna.

In June 1916, Elva worked as a seamstress for various shops around Milwaukee. She was primarily affiliated with Quick Service Tailoring on Grand Avenue. Elva was lodging with Mrs. E. Glaeser at 878 First Street. Glaeser said Elva was always cheerful, kept regular hours and would occasionally go out with a friend to see the moving pictures.

While in Milwaukee, Elva fell for David Bersansky, a jitney driver. Allegedly, they were secretly married on September 12, 1916 in Waukegan. They eloped because Elva was Catholic and David was Jewish, and this would have gone over poorly with their families.

In December 1916, David borrowed a car from a friend and the couple went for a drive in the outskirts of Milwaukee.

The car was later found north of Milwaukee, covered in snow, with the two young people dead inside. The location was described in the newspapers as “on the Port Washington Road,” “on Green Bay Road” or “near Lincoln Park.” The first to notice was Louis Larsen, a roadhouse owner. He could tell on one glance they were dead and called the sheriff’s department. Sheriff Melms and Deputy Frank Daggart arrived on the scene.

David’s left arm was wrapped around Elva’s shoulders. In his right hand was a revolver, with two bullets missing from the chamber. A coroner’s inquest determined that David had fired a bullet into Elva’s temple and then quickly turned the gun on himself. Death was apparently not instant, because blood soaked their clothes and left puddles on the floor of the car.

David was identified by his family, but they did not know who Elva was. They claimed they had never seen her before, and additional friends of David’s were called in until one of them recognized her. George W. Heup, Elva’s brother and an insurance agent for Northwestern Life in Kenosha, verified the identification. He disputed the secret marriage story. According to George, David had proposed to Elva but she turned him down because of the difference in religion. He believed the death was not a suicide pact, but an act of jealousy because David did not want her to be with anyone else. Authorities searched records in Waukegan and could not find any evidence for the marriage.

Mrs. Bersansky, David’s mother, told the press, “We are Jews and one of my daughters married a man of different religion, which David knew made me sad. Now I only wish he had confided in me that he wanted to marry Elva and I would have borne with it to keep my boy alive instead of this dreadful ending of his own and his sweetheart’s life. My boy! My boy! I want my boy!” She then tried to fling herself on her son’s corpse in the morgue and had to be forcibly removed.

Further investigation was not expected, as the case seemed self-explanatory. David was buried in Spring Hill Cemetery (Milwaukee), and Elva in Sherwood.

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