The Curious Disappearance of Grand Rapids’ Mysterious Mr. Rover
This guy may not be familiar to many people outside of Grand Rapids, but to a handful of Grand Rapids historians and collectors, he is very well known.
First off, this man’s last name has been spelled many different ways so it’s difficult to tell which is correct: Wyckom, Wychom, Wickham, and Wykom, to name a few, so I’ll just stick with the first.
In the early 1900s Harry Wyckom called himself “Mr. Rover” and loved super-imposing his larger-than-life self on photos in a variety of Grand Rapids locations. He was an insurance salesman and fancied himself a ‘dedicated follower of fashion’, appearing well-dressed in these comical cards.
In exchange for promoting the places in the photos, he would receive sponsorship money for his endeavors…and he seemed to make a pretty penny in doing so. But is that all there is to it? Was he in this just for entertainment purposes, or to make a few bucks, or for something a little shadier? Shadier, it appears.
This happy-go-lucky, wacky Mr. Rover was also believed to be an embezzler. His fun little card collection – 28 scenes in all – were released in 1907 by a local printer. Not long afterward, in 1908, Harry snuck out of Grand Rapids, with all the cash he collected from his insurance customers. He was already well-known in GR and yeah, he had to sneak out, but not alone. Harry was married – but it wasn’t his wife who slinked out of town with him…it was his secretary, Mamie Lynch. They were never seen in Grand Rapids again. Harry’s wife was left in the dust - stunned, shocked, and surprised.
He reportedly – but not proven - showed up in other states out east.
It makes you wonder why would he go through all the trouble to make himself a well-known, highly-recognized character and then skip town with the townsfolk’s money?
He was never seen or heard from – ANYwhere - again.