was an alias used by Philip Adam Straw. Another alias he used was J. C. J. Waters. He had a book published using the name Phil Straugh. In fact, Philip tells the tales of using many aliases throughout his travels, even destroying personal papers, so that his true identity couldn’t be discovered.
Philip Straw purposely disappeared for 27 years and had no contact with his family. They considered him dead. One day, in 1905, he shows back up in his family’s lives. Joy! Joy! Philip is ALIVE! Let’s kill the fatted calf. Or so Philip has us believe with his tales in The Mysterious Traveler and the Return to the Country of His Boyhood. Really?
Philip’s story has enough facts to make it believable, yet some of those facts often don’t hold up to testing. His claims of the family name are questionable. Much of the family did go by the name of Stroh in the early years of residency in the United States and prior in Germany. By the 1850’s, most of this line of family had changed to using Straw. ‘Stroh’ literally means straw in German, so it would be natural for them to spell it the English way. I find no evidence that the family ever used the alternative spelling of ‘Straugh’. In addition, Straiho was never used. A quick search on Ancestry.com shows only one family with that name and they lived during the 1700’s in Slovania. Also, I have a copy of DAUPHIN COUNTY, PA TOMBSTONE INSCRIPTIONS Volume 1, by Oscar H Stroh and Associates and there are no Straugh or Straiho listed within its 202 pages.
Philip writes of his boyhood. His memories are from the perspective of a child, not necessarily what actually happened. He writes glowingly of his parents and that both were educated and could read, write, and speak German and English well, yet he could only speak ‘Dutch’ when he first started school. I find this hard to believe in such an educated household and considering as well, having many older siblings who would also be speaking English.
After reading the book, The Mysterious Traveler, I am left feeling like Philip lives in his own world… the world according to Philip. He is very articulate and probably highly intelligent, as well as self-taught. He is good at convincing people of his views. He reminds me of someone with Autistic tendencies. His writings lack true emotion. For someone who likes to tell stories in detail, one of [what should have been] the highlights of his life, is only given a short few paragraphs. We never find out the name of his wife, his life with her, etc. It leaves the reader wondering if its inclusion in the book was an afterthought or some sort of validation.
The Mysterious Traveler and His Return to the Country of His Boyhood by Phil Straugh
published Chicago 1906 – M. A. Donohue & Company Publishers
The following are .pdfs of newspaper articles and will have to be increased in size to read.