I came across this little human interest story tucked away on Page 4 of The Des Moines Register of May 28, 1920, while checking out coverage Lucas County's mining towns might have gotten in the big-time media.
It needs to be pointed, however, that there are issues. In the first place, the reporter got the name of his protagonists wrong and one of life's great lessons is to never trust the product of a reporter who doesn't spell your name right.
I can find no indication that a Mary or a John "Dokazich" ever lived at Tipperary. More significantly, neither could Rose Marie Briggs, a meticulous researcher who wrote the definitive histories of both Tipperary and its mate, Olmitz.
I did find, in the 1920 census, a Mary Dokovich (or Dakovich), 18, and her husband, Marko (or Mark), age 32, sharing a house with his older brother, Andrew, and another boarder. Rose Marie found several references to Marko, too. I'm comfortable with the conclusion this was the couple, subjects of The Register story.
In addition, the story is too good, with too much detail, to be exactly true. I'm guessing that the reporter --- probably assigned to the police beat --- relied upon Tom Blake, night chief of detectives, for his basic information, then embroidered it and perhaps even crocheted a lace edging.
But it's not a bad yarn and it does illustrate in a way just how isolated these little mining towns in Pleasant Township were --- deep in the hills, served by dirt roads with minimal rail service. And some of the challenges, too, faced by the wives of the miners who did indeed go down into the mines early and emerge late.
Mary Goes Back to Her Tipperary
John Scolds, She Flees, He Follows, Hugs and Home
It's a long way from Tipperary, Ia., to the bright lights of Locust street.
And Mary Dokazich, as she drudged about her daily task in a miner's cottage at Tipperary, thought that Des Moines' white way was the last word in splendor. Life had lost most of its glamor for Mary. Her husband went to work early in the morning in a coal mine, and didn't come home till late at night. There wasn't much attraction for Mary in doing the same thing day after day, and never seeing beyond the next door neighbor's back yard.
John Starts Something
Yesterday morning Mary got up early, as usual, and got John's breakfast. John was still sleepy, and a little ill-natured, as he drank his coffee and ate the breakfast of bacon and eggs.
He complained that the bacon was burned, and that the eggs weren't hard enough.
But Mary wasn't in a mood to listen to any scolding.
"I guess I'm as good a wife as most of 'em have got," Mary told him sullenly. "If you don't like me, I won't stay."
"You don't have to, if you don't want to," John answered her, half angrily, half in joke.
Hubby on the Trail
When John came home from work he found the house empty.
With feverish haste, he ran to the neighbors to ask them where his wife was. One of the neighbor women said she saw Mary go away with a satchel in her hand.
The Rock Island train! Mary had gone to Des Moines!
So John called the detective department at Des Moines, and told Tom Blake, night chief of detectives, that his wife had come to Des Moines on the Rock Island.
When the train came in, a little Croatian woman with a frightened look on her face stepped timidly from the rear coach. She looked up and down the platform and then started with short quick steps for the depot.
What's Your Name?
Blake walked up to her. "What's your name?" he asked. Mary hesitated.
"I'm a policeman; I can help you," Mr. Blake answered.
Then Mary broke down and told him all about why she ran away. The detective took her to the matron's ward at the police station, and telephoned to her husband that he had found her.
Last night at 9:15 a little Chevrolet chugged up to the police station and stopped. Out stepped John. He came up the steps and into the building on the run.
"Where is she? Where is she?" he asked anxiously of the first three men he accosted.
Bllake took him into the detective's office, and had Mary brought down from the matron's ward. She looked into the door and saw John.
Jumps Into His Arms
"John!" she cried, and jumped into his arms and nestled her curly head against his shoulder. "You didn't want me to run away? You did care?"
John mumbled his sympathy imperfectly.
"Come out in front and see what we got!" He announced. He took her by the hand and led her to the door of the police station.
"See there," he pointed. "Lookit the car. It's mine. I bought it from Jake tonight, for you and me."
"Oh, John!" his little wife sobbed, and clung to him again. "Take me home in it."
Detective Blake called the pair into his office and gave them a little bit of fatherly advice about how married people ought to get along. But it was all lost on John and Mary; they sat beside each other on a settee and gazed joyously into each others' eyes.
Back to Tipperary
Presently Blake led them out onto the portico of the station.
"Goodbye!" he said.
John and Mary climbed into the front seat of the little car and Mary watched admiringly as John started the engine and shifted the gears preparatory to starting away.
Then they both looked up at Blake.
"Goodbye!" they answered.
"John, take me up past the electric lights before we start home," Mary said as they started away --- back to Tipperary and home.