December 17, 1904

     Where William Oertzen obtained his money, no one knew.

     He arrived in Cross in 1876, and within a week, construction on his home began.

     Located on the southern border of the town, the Oertzen house would eventually have a total of seven levels, although there were some in town who were positive that the house had many more.

     Herr Oertzen loved children, and would often host parties for them, giving out gifts to not only the children but to their families as well. While some folk held misgivings about such charity directed towards those so young, it soon became apparent that there were no sinister designs on the part of the older gentleman.

     Instead, some of his history came to light. At one time, in Austria, Herr Oertzen was the father to 13 children, but an unknown accident had taken the lives of all his children and his wife.

     When he passed away in 1902, Herr Oertzen willed his home to the town of Cross to be used for the benefit of orphans and wards of the state. In addition to his home, the good man left a large trust fund to care for the upkeep of the building and whatever children lived there.

     A distant cousin arrived from Austria, however, and challenged the legitimacy of the will. As the fight continued in the courts, the cousin succeeded in winning the right to live in the home.

     Three days after he moved in, the cousin fled the house, certain that he had been attacked by his cousin’s dead children.

     Twice more he attempted to live in the home, and twice more he was driven out, finally relenting and withdrawing his claim on December 17, 1904.

     The Cross Home for Lost Children continues to operate on the town’s southern border.

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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