Strange Times 105: Charges of Bigamy

Strange Times is a newsletter that explores the weirdest news of 1921, one day at a time.

Thrilling news! My Westside, is now available in paperback! If you haven’t treated yourself to this thrilling supernatural mystery, which was the original inspiration for this newsletter, grab a copy today.

Today brings entrapment on Reade Street and big big bigamy in New Jersey. Take a highly illegal drink on…

April 15, 1921

  • Further investigation into the Williams “death farm” has raised the number of murders ordered by the convicted plantation owner to eighteen.

  • After sleeping continuously for five weeks, a Massachusetts girl spends six hours awake, prompting hope for a full recovery.

  • The Weather: Showers today; Saturday, rain and colder; strong south and southwest winds.


Although I would never suggest that all cops are jerks, I think it is fair to say that in this story at least, Carl Zipf was being a jerk.

To attempt to revive a sick or dying man by getting a drink of whisky for him is a crime meriting imprisonment of not more than five years, according to one of the rulings in the Magistrates’ Courts yesterday.

“I’m awful sick,” said Policeman Carl Zipf of the Beach Street Station, a plain clothesman, collapsing in front of what was formerly a licensed saloon at 135 Reade Street.

“There’s a dying man outside,” exclaimed Leo Busch, a porter, 31 years old, of 83 Thomas Street, dashing inside. He returned with a glass of whisky and applied it to the lips of Zipf.

“You’re under arrest,” exclaimed that object of compassion, leaping to his feet and seizing Busch.

In the Tombs Court Policeman Zipf said:

“I only asked for milk, and he gave me whisky.”

Busch denied that milk had been mentioned. Magistrate Simpson said that it seemed very improbable that whisky should have been provided for a man who only asked for milk. Though taking a sympathetic view of the case of the humane porter, Magistrate Simpson said there could be no question that his act was forbidden by the new laws. He was held for the Grand Jury in bail of $500.


This is a lengthy follow-up to an item mentioned in last week’s issue, about the Wall Street broker who brought home a new wife wto live with his family and the media circus that ensued.

As the result of Herbert Thornton Andrews’s effort to introduce Levantine family ideas into the Bergen section of Jersey City, the Wall Street broker today faces jail, a divorce suit and the proceedings to dispossess him of the six-room apartment in The Rensselaer, 2848 Hudson Boulevard, where he and the two Mrs. Andrews have lived for almost three months.

Late last night, after the departure of wife No. 2 and the broker, policemen were called to the Andrews apartment by tenants in the building who reported a strong odor of ether. Lieutenant Halsey van Horn of the West Montgomery Street Station, accompanied by three detectives, hurried to the apartment.

The Lieutenant knocked on the door, and, failing to get a response, the policemen put their shoulders against it, snapping a chain and smashing a lock. Inside they found the first Mrs. Andrews, pale and frightened and clad in a nightgown. She came out of a front room and demanded to know the meaning of the visit. She was told of the report of ether and denied that any drug had been used in her home.

Weeping quietly, she said her husband had left without even a good-bye, but that, however worried she might be, the thought of suicide “is not in my mind, for I have my two boys to take care of.”

Last night Mrs. Maude Augusta Haynes Andrews, forty-two years old, married to Andrews nine years ago in Portland, Me., and supplanted by Mrs. Esther Marie Tatnall Andrews, twenty-five years old, took action herself.

Fortified by instructions of her lawyer, she ousted her husband and the rival wife. Carrying two suit cases, Andrews and the former stenographer from Pittsburgh quit the Hudson Boulevard neighborhood for Newark, leaving the first wife in the apartment with her two sons, John, eight years old, and Harley, six, the latter a cripple.

The fact that the broker might go to jail because of the triangle formed when he married Miss Esther Marie Tatnall in Greenwich, Conn., on Jan. 21 last was disclosed by former Judge James F. Walsh, Prosecuting Attorney of Greenwich, who announced that he had issued a warrant for the arrest of Andrews on charges of bigamy and perjury. He added that he would move for immediate extradition.

Early yesterday it appeared that the singular domestic arrangement which had prevailed in the Andrews home since last January would be continued. It was during that month that Andrews had returned home and announced that he had taken a second wife, who was to share the apartment with the first.

Take Refuge in Apartment

After he had admitted his double marriage and had promised that he would be able “to explain everything satisfactorily,” Andrews, the two women and the children practically barred themselves in the apartment yesterday. Newspaper men and a throng of curious persons kept watch outside, but Andrews refused to see any one or to answer the telephone.

Shortly after 1 o’clock he hurried out of the house and, turning aside questioners, hurried off for Manhattan.

“I’m going to see my attorney, J.J. Lazaroe of 25 West Forty-third Street,” he snapped, “and if there’s anything to give out he’ll do it at 3:30 o’clock.”

While inquiry at Mr. Lazaroe’s office was establishing the fact that the lawyer was “out of town” and did not expect to discuss the Andrews case in any way, the broker reappeared and went up to his apartment. He had lost some of his brusqueness, but smilingly refused to talk.

Immediately afterward, William Cahill of Michel & Moore, a real estate operator at 203 Sip Avenue, Jersey City, owner of the apartment house, showed up. He came to tell his tenants that he had decided to ask the Andrewses to “get out.” Cahill went up to the Andrews apartment on the second floor and began to knock. The only response was the strains of a phonograph playing a jazz record, and he finally went away, announcing that dispossess proceedings would be started this morning.

Then ensued a period of further inaction—the two wives, the husband and the children continuing their occupancy of the apartment despite the crowds and the buzzing gossip of the neighborhood. Now and then Andrews, in his shirt sleeves, would approach a window and, smoking a cigarette, gaze down on the crowd.

Occasionally little John Andrews would put his head out of a window and gaze at the throng. Nobody in the household, said other tenants, appeared to be upset in any way by the revelations.

About 3 o’clock a closed automobile arrived in front of the Renssalaer with a broker friend of Andrews at the wheel. John Andrews dashed out of the house and to the car, holding the door of the auto open. A wait, while the photographers got “set,” then Mrs. Esther Marie Tatnall Andrews came running out.

The short, slender, girlish rival wife outmaneuvered the picture men. She had her face completely hidden back of a big shawl and the moment that she got into the machine she pulled down the curtains and got away.

“Just a little ride to get the air,” was the explanation offered for the trip.

Although Mrs. Maude Augusta Haynes Andrews once more was alone with the husband she calls “Daddy,” she did not long remain at home. Directly after the departure of the second wife, another machine appeared and the wife whom Andrews married in Portland was off on a trip of her own.

The first Mrs. Andrews proceeded to an attorney’s office, where she began divorce proceedings. Although she refused comment, a statement issued by the prosecutor’s office hinted at legal action to be taken against Mr. Andrews:

“My attention has been called to the case,” said [Prosecutor Pierre P.] Garven, “and if Andrews has married two women he is guilty of bigamy. If he lived with a woman as man and wife without ceremony and has married another, he also is guilty of bigamy. I don’t know whether I can take action in this case.

“If Andrews was married in Connecticut the charge of bigamy is out of our jurisdiction and Andrews cannot be prosecuted on such a charge. One thing is certain: If evidence is brought to me indicating that he has violated any of the New Jersey laws governing relationships of this sort I will take up the case and prosecute.”

Much more detail follows, the most interesting points being that the second Mrs. Andrews was introduced to the landlord as a family cousin, that Mr. Andrews claims his first marriage was invalid because he was strong-armed into it, and promises from the Connecticut legislature to close loopholes in that state’s bigamy laws that threaten to make prosecuting Mr. Andrews impossible.




Strange Times 104: The Same Sorrowful Story

Strange Times is a newsletter that explores the weirdest news of 1921, one day at a time. If you like it, forward it to a friend or back me on Patreon. And while you’re at it, why not grab yourself a copy of Westside, my 1921 mystery novel, or preorder the looming sequel, Westside Saints?

Today we have a single story of an ingenue accused of fraud most foul. Deny every allegation on…

April 14, 1921

  • New York City police search private apartments for liquor, seizing 300 barrels of whiskey, 20,000 bottles of liquor, about 500 jugs and demijohns, four taxicabs and two touring cars.

  • Jersey City’s Maud Augusta Haynes Andrews claims that her stock broker husband has brought a second wife home to live with them, without divorcing her or kicking her out.

  • Caruso celebrates his continued recovery by humming for the first time since December and making plans for what operas he will sing in the fall.

  • The Weather: Cloudy today, followed by rain tonight or Friday; no change in temperature; east and southeast winds.


This may be the best heel turn in the history of this newsletter. Dorothy Miller, who won the nation’s attention for offering to mary “any white man” in the country in exchange for $1,000 to save her mother’s life, who was spared that fate by being given a $1,000 one-week contract to appear on Broadway, has been accused of being a fraud.

I am genuinely shocked by this—and far more impressed with Miss Miller—as well as being embarrassed for forgetting that, “My ma needs an operation,” was an old lie even in 1921.

Dorothy Miller, who said she would marry any white man for $1,000 to pay for an operation to have her mother’s life, and who got the $1,000 to appear on Broadway one week, denied last night that her family is the same one which is registered with charitable organizations in Manhattan and Brooklyn, as well as in other cities, as having appealed for money to pay for “operations” for the last ten years.

She is now appearing with the Winter Garden company, in which she sings a little song. When she first went on earlier in the week she received much applause, and Tuesday night she had three curtain calls, but last night, after the publication of a story that her family had written letters to many prominent persons and to newspapers in the last year, telling the same sorrowful story, she did not get the same handclap. Her engagement will end Saturday night.

“We accepted her story in good faith and gave her a contract to appear in good faith,” said a representative of the Shuberts yesterday. “We have no reason to believe that her story is not true, and we will keep her on until the end of the week, as we intended.”

Miss Miller is a most self-possessed young woman. She discussed the stories which have been printed with composure, and seems fully as nonchalant in the wings of a theatre as any chorus girl who has danced through half a dozen seasons. The first night she went on some one asked her if she were nervous.

“No; should I be?” she asked.

A woman connected with a charitable organization said yesterday that she was certain the Miller family was the same Miller family which for several years in Brooklyn asked for aid in a similarly spectacular way. This Miller family wrote a letter to a Brooklyn newspaper and asked for help, and the letter was forwarded to the charitable organization. Later other letters came to the same organization, which had been forwarded for investigation by wealthy men and women to whom they had been written. The organization found out that Mrs. Miller had a husband in perfect health, who seemed to be constitutionally unable to get work. Later the family went to Baltimore and then to Trenton, N.J.

Miss Miller denied last night that her family had ever lived in Baltimore, and was emphatic in saying that they had never applied to any Trenton people for help. She said that neither she nor her mother had ever written letters asking for help before the one in which she offered to marry any man for $1,000.

“My mother is not going to have the operation until she gets stronger,” she said, and added that her father was going to work pretty soon.

Marie Dressler hummed a little song last night off stage which went:

It’s spring and I’m full of syncopation,

‘Cause I got a thousand dollars for my mother’s operation.



Strange Times 103: The White Slavers

Strange Times is a newsletter that explores the weirdest news of 1921, one day at a time. If you like it, forward it to a friend or back me on Patreon. And while you’re at it, why not grab yourself a copy of Westside, my 1921 mystery novel, or preorder the looming sequel, Westside Saints?

Today brings tales of justice absurd, honorable, and utterly absent. Scurry down the fire escape to escape…

April 13, 1921

  • Four Tennessee road gang foremen are arrested on charges of holding 75 black men in peonage, compelling them to work without pay in order to make up debts and beating them with a wooden board when they tried to escape.

  • Robbers steal $415 from a United Cigar Store on Columbus Avenue after gagging the clerk, shoving him under the counter, and waiting on customers before making their escape.

  • The Weather: Fair and warmer today; Thursday, unsettled and cooler; moderate to fresh southwest winds.


Just one question: how big was this lavatory that the cops didn’t blink when twenty-five gamblers were able to enter all at once?

Three detectives attached to the Chief Inspector’s staff had too much faith in human nature early this morning. They and a fourth detective raided an alleged gambling room on the fourth floor of the Circle Hotel, next door to Reisenweber’s, at Fifty-eighth Street and Eighth Avenue. There, they said, they found about thirty-five men and women playing poker with chips cashable at $5 each.

No patrol wagon was available immediately when the patrons of the place were told they were under arrest, so Detective Reynolds marched seven of the prisoners to the West Forty-seventh Street Station. There he charged six of them with disorderly conduct and the seventh, Francis Kay, with keeping and maintaining a gambling establishment.

The three other detectives stayed behind to guard the rest of the prisoners.

One by one the twenty-five or so men and women waiting to be taken to the station house discovered that their hands were too soiled for them to appear properly before a desk Lieutenant. So they asked if they might go out and wash. The detectives assented and the prisoners filed into the lavatory.

Washing seemed to be such a prolongued process that finally the detectives went to look for them. Every last one was gone—down the fire escape.


High drama in Frederick, Md., where Juddge Turner acquits himself better than most judges in these pages do.

FREDERICK, Md., April 12.—An outbreak occurred in the Circuit Court late this afternoon when a jury acquitted Charles Henry Dorsey, a negro, of criminal assault on Miss Delsie Tweedale, of Baltimore. The negro prisoner was struck by a member of the girl’s family; an inkwell, hurled at him, struck the clerk of the court, and Dorsey was saved from mob violence by one of the Judges. He was finally taken to another part of the State.

When Miss Tweedale screamed, “He is guilty,” Marcus Tweedale, her brother, struck Dorsey several times, cutting his cheek. The room was in an uproar. Judge Turner stepped down beside Dorsey and announced that the “law will protect the negro at all hazards.”


I thought this was an interesting piece because its depiction of human trafficking is so close to the way it’s portrayed in the media today, including the fact that those purchasing the kidnapped women are shiftless “aliens,” and not the honorable white residents of Detroit.

DETROIT, April 12.—Charges that a ring of white slavers is selling young girls from Armenia, Palestine and Turkey to wealthy Detroit aliens are under investigation by immigration authorities as the result of revelations made by Mrs. Violent Kalajian, wife of a wealthy Armenian business man.

More than 200 girls between the ages of 14 and 20, imported from the Near East at an average cost of $1,500 each, are now on the way to Detroit to be sold to alien residents, according to Mrs. Kalajian, who asserts that many girls of foreign families in Detroit and Highland Park also are being sold. Some of them are legally married, but many others are being forcibly detained in typical harems.

Girls living in the Orient are sold through their photographs, Mrs. Kalajian told United States Immigration Inspector Short. Relatives in Detroit sell the pictures to members of the ring. Persons desiring to purchase a girl go to the white slavers, make their choice, and order the original of the photograph brought to this city.

“Although the Armenian women of Detroit have been endeavoring to check this hideous traffic,” said Mrs. Kalajian, “we have been overwhelmed by the vast majority of men. Now we are asking officials to aid us.”




Strange Times 102: Parents Threaten to Kill Children

Strange Times is a newsletter that explores the weirdest news of 1921, one day at a time. If you like it, forward it to a friend or back me on Patreon. And while you’re at it, why not grab yourself a copy of Westside, my 1921 mystery novel, or preorder the looming sequel, Westside Saints?

Today we have too many cows, too much ether, and three disappointed millionaires. Get yerself a Texas divorce on…

April 12, 1921

  • Continuing a theme begun yesterday, a police horse bolts upon being frightened by a falling piece of paper, leaving a “trail of ruin” as he collides with a laundry wagon and auto, injuring three. The horse is subdued after running into a tenement foyer, where a half-dozen men “choked the runaway into submission.”

  • The Weather: Fair and warmer today and Wednesday; moderate west and southwest winds.


If you’ve ever wondered, “How many cows is too many cows?”, the answer is 8,000,000. Now you know!

BERLIN, April 11.—Dr. Alonzo E. Taylor, chief of the division of research of the American Relief Administration, who is here after having completed a tour of the areas receiving American relief, declared today that in his opinion no more cows should be sent to Germany from the United States.

“Germany has about 8,000,000 cows and feed for about 6,000,000,” Dr. Taylor said. “Because of the scarcity of fodder the German milk cows are below the normal milk yield. What Germany needs is fodder, not cows. Every additional cow is an embarrassment. Last year 900,000 cows were killed in inspected abbatoirs.

“Those desiring to aid Germany’s milk production,” he added, “should contribute oilcake and other concentrated feed.”


This is a classic Strange Times story, not just because it references an old issue, but because it is a story about parents literally threatening to murder their own children that only rates three sentences in the back of the paper.

WESTFIELD, Mass., April 11.—Parents have threatened their children bodily harm and even death if they give school authorities further information on ether drugging that has now become popular among many residents, according to investigations made today by School Superintendent Chester N. Stiles. One woman told the Superintendent that she would drown her children if he attempted to get any more information.

The Director of the State Department of Health will arrive Wednesday to look into the situation.


There’s a lot to love in this story, from the concept of lumber kings to the Times’ abhorrence of nicknames, which results in the main character being referred to in scare quotes for most of the piece. My favorite thing about it, however, is the way it descends into almost incoherent snark in the fifth graf, upon which the narrative literally collapses under the weight of the author’s indignation. Chill, newsboys. Let “Peggy” do her thing.

CHICAGO, April 11.—“Peggy” Hopkins, who has been the wife of three millionaires, is about to part company with the latest of them—assuming the courts uphold the plea of James Stanley Joyce, whose attorneys today filed suit, asking annulment.

Mr. Joyce, who is one of the lumber kings and who has been in the limelight before, not only desires his freedom, but he asks the court to require “Peggy” to give back the jewels, money and property he lavished upon her, said to aggregate a considerable fortune.

Joyce married “Peggy” in Miami, Fla., Jan. 23, 1920. She has been prominent as a dancer, singer, movie star, artists’ model, dress model and, incidentally, the wife of two other very wealthy men, the first being Everett Archer of Denver. She was Miss Marguerite Upton of Norfolk, Va., when she and Archer eloped to Bel Air, Md. Their married career lasted six months.

Husband No. 2 appeared in the person of Sherburn Hopkins Jr. of Washington, lawyer and legal representative of nearly all the great mining and oil interests in Mexico. He had formerly been the husband of Margaret Maury of Baltimore, but their marriage had been annulled. When he met “Peggy” she was 19 and they promptly married. However, his millions did not make life perfect, so she ran away from him in March, 1915, and went to New York to carve out her own career on the stage.

She explained that millionaires were horrid things, all wrapped up in coupons and bonds, and mergers and business of all kinds. They had no time to give to a sweet girl wife. She was left to her own devices. It was so lonesome in those big mansions with nothing to do except to go motoring or golfing or riding or swimming or make social calls, and nobody around but half a dozen maids and butlers to wait on one. Oh, if she could get all the young girls together and tell them what a tragedy it was to be the wife of a millionaire!

And then she married Joyce—but with one matrimonial interlude, it appears.

As Joyce tells the story in the bill, “Peggy” was the wife of Philbrick Hopkins when he (Joyce) met her. Joyce was known to be a millionaire. Peggy had no means and was compelled to engage in the business of play acting to obtain a livelihood.

A meandering summary of the bill of annulment follows, claiming that Peggy compelled Philbrick to divorce her, but that the divorce obtained was fraudulent because they didn’t meet residency requirements in Texas. Even before her divorce was obtained, the suit claims, Peggy was romancing Joyce and imploring him to marry her. He did.

The Chicago lumber king and the movie queen went to Europe on their honeymoon. The bridegroom returned alone and inserted notices in the New York papers that he would not be responsible for his wife’s debts.




Strange Times 101: Destroy All Life

Strange Times is a newsletter that explores the weirdest news of 1921, one day at a time. If you like it, forward it to a friend or back me on Patreon. And while you’re at it, why not grab yourself a copy of Westside, my 1921 mystery novel, or preorder the looming sequel, Westside Saints?

Today brings the end of the world and a runaway horse. Load up a blank cartridge for…

April 11, 1921

  • In order to prevent a recurrence of the 1919 Black Sox scandal, American League president Ban Johnson announces that observers will be stationed at every ballpark to watch for gamblers in the stands.

  • The New Jersey grand jury announces plans to investigate claims made by an assemblyman that profiteering Jersey City landlords had compelled parents to sell their daughters in order to pay rent.

  • After the NYPD’s renewed efforts to stamp out liquor in the city began yesterday, New York City is dryer than it has been since the start of Prohibition.

  • The Weather: Fair today and tomorrow; rising temperature tomorrow; diminishing winds, becoming southerly.


This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Or it’s one of these seven other ways

DETROIT, April 10.—The Rev. George T. Gullen, pastor of the West Grand Boulevard M. E. Church, told his congregation tonight that the world was traveling on its way to destruction at the rate of 600,000 miles a day. He also said that there were at least seven other ways in which the earth could complete the “death journey.” They were these:

  • The axis of the earth might shift a few degrees, with the result that the oceans would sweep over the dry land and destroy all life.

  • Failure of the internal fires of the earth, after which the crust of the earth would absorb all the water and air.

  • The heat of the sun dying out and leaving the earth a mass of ice

  • The earth passing through the tail of a comet, causing asphyxiation of all life.

  • Collision with a world wandering through space.

  • The slowing down or the speeding up of the rate of the earth’s rotation on its own axis. If it were slowed down the earth would fly into the sun. If it were accelerated the earth would fly into a temperature of 400 degrees below zero, and the oceans would be frozen to their utmost depths.

  • The closing up of all the volcanoes and other vents for gases, the inevitable result of which would be a terrific explosion which would shatter the world, or the bringing of part of the atmosphere to such a heat that the oxygen and nitrogen would unite and cause combustion of the atmosphere.

The world, Mr. Gullen says, is traveling straight toward Hercules at the rate of 600,000 miles a day, and, while the distance is immense, it is not infinite.


From the very beginning, this newsletter has loved stories about runaway horses. This is a good one, because both horses survived and nobody got hurt.

Terror-stricken at the firing of the last volley for the dead, a field artillery horse ran out of St. Raymond’s Cemetery yesterday afternoon, galloped seven and a half miles through the most crowded streets in the Bronx and fetched up at its armory without hurting any one. A mounted patrolman who pursued the animal at breakneck speed was less fortunate, having been scratched and bruised when his own mount, ridden to exhaustion, collapsed in the street.

The horse, name unknown, since those in charge at the Second Field Artillery armory were inclined to be reticent about the whole affair, had been tied to one of the gun caissons on which the three bodies of overseas victims over whom the last rites were to be performed had been borne to the cemetery. Sergeant Daly, who rode him, believed the animal was gun-broken and paid no attention to him when the blank cartridge volley sounded.

Shying and tossing his head, the horse ripped his bridle rein loose and started full tilt into Tremont Avenue. He reached Morris Avenue, turned north in White Plains Avenue, thence into Pelham Parkway, west to Fordham Road, diverted from his course now and then by the hue and cry and the dense tangle of traffic, but ever working in the direction of the armory at 166th Street and Franklin Avenue, where he landed eventually, foam-flecked, panting and trembling, but docile and unhurt by his adventure.

Patrolman Frederick Boyer of the Westchester Precinct heard the noise of the chase in which many automobiles participated, and fearing that the animal might run over some child or force two automobiles into collision, spurred his horse, Moose, in pursuit. The two animals were about evenly gaited, but the policeman’s was handicapped by the weight on his back, and while he was able to keep the fleeing beast in sight he could not gain on it. Boyer pressed Moose to even greater effort until, just at the Fordham Road and Southern Boulevard entrance to Bronx Park, the game animal, having spent its last ounce of strength in the gallant pursuit of more than three miles, went sprawling in the roadway, spilling Boyer, who slid some distance. The policeman was able to go home after an ambulance surgeon had dressed his scratches and bruises and Moose was taken in hand by the Police Department’s veterinarian.




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