In October 2000 someone claiming to be John Titor alleged that they had travelled back in time from the year 2036. Whilst the truthfulness of their forum posts were debated at the time there were, and still are, plenty of people who believe his story. However, did someone precede his time-travelling antics some 160 years earlier?
In 1950, a man reportedly appeared out of nowhere in Times Square. He was dressed in extremely old-fashioned clothes and sported sideburns of a style that were not currently seen. Witnesses claimed that the man appeared surprised at first, and then horrified, as he was hit by a car. The man died immediately.
When the police arrived on the scene they discovered that the man possessed money from the nineteenth century money in addition to business cards that had his name on – Rudolph Fentz.
When background checks were run on the man they revealed that he didn’t seem to exist, as no records about him could be found anywhere. The closest match was a Mrs. Rudolph Fentz. When the police spoke to Mrs. Fentz they discovered that she was the widow of one Rudolph Fentz, Jr. Apparently, her dead husband’s father has mysteriously vanished in 1876, leaving behind no clues as to what may have happened to him, or where he had gone.
Could this Rudolph Fentz, who disappeared in 1876, be the same man who was killed by a car in 1950?
For many years people thought so, accepting the above account as fact. However, some years later a researcher eventually found out that the ‘facts’ of this case were hardly unique – in 1951 an author, Jack Finney, had written a piece of fiction for a sci-fi anthology. A couple of years later that same story had been reprinted without permission. The reprinted story also failed to disclose the fact that it was a piece of fiction.
Rumour has it that the story was reprinted by someone who believed in time travel and who wished to convince others of it’s validity. Ironically, the knowledge that it was derived from a work of fiction would probably have had quite the opposite effect.