What Do Amelia Earhart and President James Garfield Have in Common?


On this date in 1937, Amelia Earhart was reported missing near Howland Island over the Pacific. We have never definitively discovered what happened to her, though there are theories.

One theory is that she simply crashed in the ocean. In March-April 2002, Nauticos, a Hanover, Maryland, company that performs deep-ocean searches and other ocean research services, attempted to find Earhart’s plane using a deep-sea sonar system to search 630 square miles of ocean surrounding Howland Island. They planned to return this year to continue searching. Maybe they’re working on it right now. You know, I never thought they’d find the Titantic, and I remember seeing it on the news when it happened. I think they have a shot at finding that plane if it’s on the ocean floor.

A second theory is that she landed somewhere else and lived the rest of her days as a castaway. An organization called The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) believes that once Earhart knew she was low on fuel, she headed in the direction of the Phoenix Islands, 350 miles away. The group believes she may have landed on Nikumaroro, formerly known as Gardner Island. TIGHAR found reports of a plane crash there before 1939 and of two castaways, a man and a woman, who fit the descriptions of Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan. The group has also found one piece of equipment known as a dado, used to separated crew from passengers in an airplane, that might be part of Earhart’s Lockheed Electra, but this cannot be proven, as no Electras have survived with their dados intact. If there were reports of her being a castaway, however, why was she never rescued? Seems like if there were actual reports, they would argue against that theory.

A third theory is that Earhart was taken hostage by the Japanese after heading not for Howland, but for the Japanese-controlled Marshall Islands. Proponents of this theory disagree as to Earhart’s ultimate fate. Some believe she was killed in Saipan. Others believe she returned to the U.S. under an assumed name. In fact, some believe she became a woman named Ilene Craigmile, married Guy Bolam, and died in New Jersey in 1982.

Rollin C. Reineck, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel, has written a book, Amelia Earhart Survived (curiously unavailable at Amazon). Reineck insists that if Earhart was unable to find Howland, “Plan B was to cut off communications and head for the Marshall Islands and ditch her airplane there.” In the event that Earhart had to resort to Plan B, the U.S. military was supposed to rescue Earhart while at the same time perform reconnaissance on Japanese pre-war intelligence efforts. The plan went badly, Earhart was captured, and later forced to assume a different name. Why? According to Reineck, because if the American public had known Earhart was on this special mission, they would have been so incensed with FDR for putting her in harm’s way that he’d have faced impeachment.

Also on this date in 1881, President James Garfield was shot at the Baltimore & Potomac train station by Charles Guiteau, a “mentally disturbed” man who had been stalking the president for some time. Guiteau wrote a speech (described as “deranged”) while Garfield was running for office and gave it to Garfield. Garfield never read the speech, but Guiteau later claimed it was “instrumental” in getting Garfield elected and demanded to be made Ambassador to France. He began to hang around the White House, even meeting Garfield once, harassing the secretary of state daily about the Ambassadorship. When he was rejected, he decided to shoot Garfield. He checked out the prisons in the Washington, D.C. area and found them suitable “accommodations.” Though clearly insane, he was tried for murder (I’m not sure about the insanity defense myself, but that’s another story). He acted as his own attorney, screaming constantly and at times even dancing around the courtroom. In his closing argument, he declared God had told him to kill Garfield. When the jury convicted him, he told they were “all low, consummate jackasses!” He was hanged on June 30, 1882. While on the gallows, Guiteau said, “I am going to the Lordy, I am so glad.”

Was there a saying about the truth and fiction?


One thought on “What Do Amelia Earhart and President James Garfield Have in Common?

  1. Hello.

    About the Amelia Earhart story:

    Amelia, Viola Gentry, and Irene Craigmile were all friends who flew out of Long Island, New York airfields in the 1930s.

    Irene was of the prominent "O'Crowley" family of Newark, NJ.

    Amelia and Viola of course, were famous pilots.

    It was Viola who in 1965, invited Major Gervais to come speak about his "five years pf Earhart investigations" to the Early Birds of Aviation senior fliers group on Long Island. Gervais was impressed by how the "seas parted" when Irene Craigmile Bolam walked into the reception. He has claimed ever since that day, that as soon as he saw her he "knew" who she used to be.

    Here's what happened in 2002 that inspired Reineck to go forward with his book:

    Two different similar looking older women were discovered to have shared the same later life identity as "Irene Craigmile {Bolam)" by way of a forensic science study. What's more, after finally obtaining elements of the long sequestered photo record that displays the life long photo chronology of Irene Craigmile's person, it was discovered that the original Irene Craigmile disappeared in the 1930s, approximate to the same time Earhart did. Hence, neither of the two women who were identified as "Irene Craigmile" after 1940, were the original "Irene Craigmile." But, one of them did command a complete physical congruence to Amelia Earhart in every detail. The other later life "Irene Craigmile" looked to be about twenty odd years younger than the Earhart congruent Irene looked, but they did have similarities.

    Reineck was wrong about "why" Earhart changed her name. She did so simply because she pulled a Greta Garbo move after wanting her privacy back for so long, but to, so she could manage her own life with her two "children," one, a daughter who people never knew about because Amelia secretly gave birth to her in 1924, four years before she became famous at age thirty, and the other was Irene Craigmile's 1934 born son, who the former Amelia assumed the motherly duties role for after she returned from Japan as Irene Craigmile.
    What people never knew, is that after she became famous in 1928 Amelia joined Zonta International where she met a lawer by the name of Irene O'Crowley, who was the original Irene Craigmile's Aunt. Somehow, lawyer Irene and her elderly mother, Sarah O'Crowley ended up adopting Amelia's secret daughter towards the end of 1928. A former beau of Amelia's, Lloyd Royer remains strongly supected to have been the father, as from 1921 on, life long even, he knew both Amelia and the former Amelia, Irene Craigmile Bolam. Indeed they were always close.

    Some feel the original Irene's death happened in childbirth and it was somehow hushed. Others believe she was actually the rumored captured and executed woman flier who had been a clandestine part of Earhart's last flight, and after she met her sad demise, Earhart borrowed her old ID and later returned to the U.S. The connective tissue that long privately existed between Amelia and the O'Crowley's has only recently been realized.

    The Catholic Church helped with her private return, and she had clearly conveyed to Monsignor James Francis Kelley (1902-1996) a former President of Seton Hall University who later admitted he helped the "former" Amelia become the new Irene Craigmile after the war…, that she could never be Amelia again because it would ruin her private life that she had worked so hard to create, but too, the 'cover up' would be revealed and answers would be demanded from not only her, but Japan, the U.S. government, etc. Mainly, she had worked hard to conceal that she had actually pre-planned her 1937 public exodus herself, and she received much help from some select individuals who knew about it. But something still went wrong apparently, leaving Amelia to still stick to her guns anyway, of not being Amelia Earhart anymore.

    This was one of the most historically obfuscated web-weaving exercises ever conjured, and it still has yet to be officially reckoned with. But it is true none the less. Why don't people pay attention to this truth? Because AE's and Irene Craigmile's families always fought against the AE became Irene suggestion, quickly dismissing it as "absurd" in public arenas just as the former Amelia always did. So you mention the cottage industry plane searchers such as TIGHAR, Nauticos on there are others too, but the reality of Earhart plane searches will always be endorsed simply because people have always been encouraged to "find the plane and solve the mystery." Yet hardly anyone views it as a Missing persons case, where to solve such a thing all one has to do is deliver the person or the body of the person to the world public. That's where forensic science came into play. Few realize that after Amelia's plane was impounded by Japan it was either stowed or destroyed at the end of the war. So the key to keeping the mystery alive became "Find the plane solve the mystery," because it has always been privately known by official sanctum that Amelia's plane would never be found and therefore, the mystery would always live on.

    The former Amelia and her MI6 British husband helped get radio free Europe going in the early 1960s. Indeed from the time they married in 1958, they traveled the world constantly until Guy died in 1970. She continued to travel after that, and Japan and China were two of her favorite places to go. Friends said her house in New Jersey was decorated like a Japanese relics museum.

    She was not just some coincidental look alike. She was the former Earhart, who gave birth to a little girl out of wedlock in 1924, and Amelia could not disclose that during her interview with Putnam for her 1928 Friendship flight, or he would have withdrawn the offer. Little did she know she would become one of the most famous women the world had ever seen, and that meant always having to keep the secret of her out of wedlock child she had, that the O'Crowleys secretly adopted after she first became famous. In Reineck's book there is a photo of the original Irene Craigmile's son standing next to Amelia's daughter, that was taken on Guy and Irene's wedding day in 1958. She was thirty four and he was twenty four, with his new military haircut. I am the one who sent Reineck all of the material about the dual identity and the "three Irenes" that shared one ID. But he is way off with his version. Amelia simply wanted to be left alone, just as Garbo did. It wasn't nearly as convenient for her though, as it was for Garbo.

    The origianl Irene's son is still alive and well today. He knows all about the forgery, and is very protective of the true identity of his step-sister, who he says is still living as well.

    Wanna know more? Google search "Tod Swindell Irene Bolam" and that will help get things started. Reineck's book does not do Amelia's story justice. It was simply a family secret that lives on still. In her later life she became an ambassador of good will and was quite a presence wherever she went. But only a few knew of her former ID value.

    Incredible story, but Reineck's book confuses things by practically inventing an entire complex scenario, when we have no real knowledge of what really happened at all.

    But one of the three "Irenes" was the former Earhart. At least that much is certain.

    Tod Swindell

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