Author digs into history of local murder involving family

Gary Sosniecki, like most journalists, is naturally curious.

Growing up, he knew that there was a family secret, about a death in the family years ago, the type of thing that was whispered about at holiday gatherings.

“I knew that there was a death,” Gary says. “I’d overhear things at Christmas or Thanksgiving at my grandparents house.”

He didn’t know the details, but he knew it involved his great-grandmother and her second husband.

Finally, as an adult, he asked his mom tell him and began doing internet research on the-then-budding information highway.

That’s when he found out that his grandmother’s second husband, Albin Ludwig, allegedly murdered her in their home in Mishawaka in 1906.

“This was a major story in the Michiana area,” says Gary.

Gary will be joining Elkhart Public Library in a virtual author visit to talk about the book he’s written about the murder, “The Potato Masher Murder: Death at the Hands of a Jealous Husband” on Wednesday, July 15 at 6 p.m.

Click here to register for the virtual author visit and book discussion

Piecing together court records, newspaper accounts and more, Gary spent 24 years putting the story together. He said he really began putting the book together following his retirement in 2016.

Using the Elkhart Public Library and Mishawaka-Penn-Harris Library, Gary used microfilm, newspaper archives, court records and interviews with family members to gather information about the trial and the crime.

The couple’s ties to Elkhart were plentiful too: they owned the Monument Saloon, which was on Main Street where the Key Bank building is now and they lived in the 1200 block of Harrison Street, according to Gary.

For Gary, telling the story wasn’t about settling old family stories but just about producing facts that much of the family didn’t really know.

“It’s not like this was haunting my family but I’ve talked to and chatted with other relatives from my side of the family and descendants of Albin Ludwig’s family and there’s many of them that this has been a mystery,” he says.

“The book is 99 percent truth, it’s all the truth I could find,” he says.

During his virtual talk, Gary will share details of the book, the crime and trial and how he went about tracking down all the facts and more.