Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Ariana. Ariana Wonders, “Is Sherlock Holmes real?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Ariana!

Have you ever had a nickname? Some nicknames are just short versions of a full name. Other times, people get nicknames because of a special talent!

Recently, we learned about a person whose nickname came from her excellent detective work. Her real name was Grace Humiston, but people called her “Mrs. Sherlock Holmes.”

We bet you’ve seen the character Sherlock Holmes in books, movies, and TV shows. The fictional detective was better at solving crimes than anyone else! He worked with an assistant named Dr. Watson, and together they cracked cases even the police couldn’t solve.

Was Mrs. Sherlock Holmes a character who married Sherlock Holmes? No, she wasn’t the fictional detective’s spouse! Grace Humiston was a real person. People called her “Mrs. Sherlock Holmes” because she was a great detective herself.

Grace Humiston started out as a lawyer. She owned The People’s Law Firm. There, she took cases for working-class people in New York City. Humiston often took cases for free when her clients couldn’t pay.

Humiston began detective work in 1906. The family of a missing man came to her for help. Humiston took the case, and she tracked the man to the deep South. There, Humiston found camps that were forcing men into slavery when they couldn’t pay their debts. Humiston realized that all the men there were reported missing in the north.

Humiston dressed in disguise and entered the camps to gather evidence. She returned to New York and reported what she had found to the police. The police rescued the missing men and closed the camps. Finally, those missing were returned to their families.

Soon after, Grace Humiston became a Special Assistant United States Attorney. She was the first woman in history appointed to this position. In this role, Humiston continued finding and shutting down forced labor camps all over the United States. 

Another ten years passed before people called Grace Humiston “Mrs. Sherlock Holmes.” In 1917, Ruth Cruger disappeared without a trace. She took her ice skates to be sharpened at a motorcycle shop, and she never came home.

The police looked into the motorcycle shop’s owner, Alfredo Cocchi. They quickly ruled him out as a suspect. The police told the Cruger family that their daughter must have run away. The family still worried someone had kidnapped Ruth. 

That’s when the Crugers asked Grace Humiston for help. Humiston took the case and got to work. She knew Ruth had visited the motorcycle shop the day she disappeared. Then, Humiston found that Alfredo Cocchi had fled to Italy. These clues made Humiston suspicious. She decided to look into Alfredo Cocchi again.

The police had searched Cocchi’s basement twice, finding nothing. Humiston searched it again with the help of Detective Julius Kron. This time, they found Ruth Cruger buried deep under the basement floor.

That’s how Grace Humiston became known as “Mrs. Sherlock Holmes.” People everywhere celebrated Humiston as an incredible investigator. Few women became detectives during Humiston’s time, making her success even more noteworthy.  The New York Police Department even made her an official detective

However, just as Mrs. Sherlock Holmes was building a name for herself, she disappeared from the public eye. Grace Humiston continued solving cases but got little public attention. For most people today, Mrs. Sherlock Holmes is as mysterious as the cases she once solved.

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.W.3, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2

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