You might not expect two New Jersey farmers visiting the Midwest to get chased down by reporters for “a good story,” but that’s exactly what happened to George and Jacob Dvoor in early 1935.
You also might not expect the Flemington area to be confronted with a milk shortage.
But when thousands flocked to Flemington for the Lindbergh baby kidnapping trial, everything changed. Bruno Hauptmann had been extradited from New York to stand trial for the murder and kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby, arriving in Flemington on Oct. 19, 1934. During the five months he was here, the town became the epicenter of the world.
The Oshkosh Northwestern newspaper tracked down George Dvoor in Winnebago County, Wisconsin, when he arrived in Jan. 1935 to purchase a herd of dairy cattle needed to relieve a milk shortage in the Flemington area caused by the influx of visitors attracted to the court proceedings. Dvoor noted that “the shortage of milk is particularly acute with the result that farmers in the vicinity have put in an unusual demand for more cattle.”
The article states that Mr. Dvoor offered “an interesting picture of the excitement that prevails in the normally quiet New Jersey village of 3,000 persons due to the Hauptmann trial.” Unfortunately, the newspaper didn’t include details.
Last year, Hunterdon Land Trust Farmers’ Market featured a talk one Sunday by local Lindbergh historian Jim Davidson, who did fill in some of those blanks. In a presentation, aptly titled When the Circus Came to Town, Davidson noted that “more than 50,000 people came into town the first weekend alone. When the courthouse was open to sightseers, people stole the American flag, carved initials on Judge (Thomas W.) Trenchard’s bench and tried to steal the witness chair.”
“People were standing in line in subzero temperatures at 2 a.m. to get tickets to the trial; prostitutes roamed the Union Hotel, mediums tried to get into Bruno Hauptman’s cell to do a reading,” Davidson added.
George Dvoor said he was unable to go into the courthouse to view the trial, and when speaking with the Wisconsin reporter was “careful to avoid expressing an opinion as to the sentiment of the villagers as to Hauptmann’s guilt or innocence.”
As an aside, Dvoor purchased a herd that consisted of 23 head of select Holsteins and Guernsey cattle, “all with fine milk and butterfat records,” The Oshkosh Northwestern cheerfully reported.
The following month, George and his brother Jacob Dvoor traveled to Iowa to buy horses to sell to New Jersey farmers. Again, a reporter, this time from the Des Moines Register, sought the brothers out.
“Jacob . . . preferring to cast a critical eye in quest of the faults and qualities of a horse, left the talking to Brother George,” who noted an increase in the number of trains stopping in Flemington, an influx of motor cars, and that the “town’s police force of one was augmented by 25 or 30 state police,” the article noted.
“It was hard for residents of that ordinarily quiet place to sleep at night until they became used to the roar of automobiles at all hours. And just try to find a parking place anytime,” George exclaimed.