No. 522
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
May 17, 2021

Another Voice for Cleveland.

December 13, 2011
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The following tale comes from that classic collection of mostly first-hand accounts of supernatural encounters, "Lord Halifax's Ghost Book."  It was related to Lord Halifax in 1920 by his nephew, Charles Dundas.  Dundas had recently heard the tale from a renowned Royal Air Force pilot named Edward Villiers.  (Later Sir Edward Villiers.)  It is one of the briefest stories in the "Ghost Book," but
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Strange Company - 5/17/2021

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LOOK OUT FOR "SOAPY" SMITHSt. Louis DispatchSeptember 23, 1897(Click image to enlarge) e reported himself in good health and money."   New information showing that Soapy Smith did go to St. Louis to check up on his ailing wife, Mary, after leaving Skagway.  Below is the transcription of the article from the St. Louis Dispatch, September 23, 1897. LOOK OUT FOR “SOAPY” SMITH ― The Smooth Man
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Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 5/11/2021

Born in 1870 and completed 13 years later (at a cost of $15 million and with more than 20 worker deaths), the Brooklyn Bridge is marking its 138th birthday this week. What better way to honor an icon than with a brilliant lithograph produced by a Pearl Street publisher depicting the fireworks, ship parade, and […]
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Ephemeral New York - 5/17/2021
Youth With Executioner by Nuremberg native Albrecht Dürer … although it’s dated to 1493, which was during a period of several years when Dürer worked abroad. November 13 [1617]. Burnt alive here a miller of Manberna, who however was lately engaged as a carrier of wine, because he and his brother, with the help of […]
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Executed Today - 11/13/2020
The crack of gunfire startled the residents of 88 Merrimack Street, a boarding house in Lowell, Massachusetts, around 10:00, the night of  August 31, 1876. The boarders rushed to Lulu Martin’s room on the third floor, where the shot was fired. The door was locked; they heard a man inside shouting, “Go for the police! She has shot me! I will hold her! Break open the door!”A group of men broke in
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Murder By Gaslight - 5/15/2021

Along with Bertie Whitehead, Abby’s half-sister, May 13th was also the birthday of Helen Craig, famous stage actress best-remembered for Johnny Belinda. Helen Craig, who played Abby in The Legend of Lizzie Borden was born May 13, 1912, a month after Titanic sank. Helen Craig was not a great beauty by Hollywood standards, but a very fine actress. https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0185871/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1 Her portrayal of Abby Borden as a mean, greedy glutton, more than any other thing, has affected the way most people think of Abby Borden. Sadly it was not an accurate portrayal. Helen did some television in her later career, most notably The Waltons. She died in New York City in 1986. She was married to stage and film actor John Beal who played Dr. Bowen in Legend of Lizzie Borden. They are seen together in the publicity photo below.
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Lizzie Borden: Warps and Wefts - 5/13/2021
[Editor’s note: Guest writer, Peter Dickson, lives in West Sussex, England and has been working with microfilm copies of The Duncan Campbell Papers from the State Library of NSW, Sydney, Australia. The following are some of his analyses of what he has discovered from reading these papers. Dickson has contributed many transcriptions to the Jamaica Family […]
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Early American Crime - 2/7/2019
Cursing In Church | She Played Kissy Kissy

Another Voice for Cleveland.

I want my pa

July 1884-Another Voice for Cleveland. In the presidential election of 1884, Maria Halpin accused candidate Grover Cleveland of being the father of her love-child—a charge the candidate did not deny. [more]

In 1873, Grover Cleveland was an up and coming lawyer in Buffalo, New York with a reputation as a hard drinking brawler and womanizer. He was introduced by a mutual friend to Maria Halpin, a young widow who worked in a department store and on the evening of December 15, 1873 Cleveland met Maria on the street and persuaded her to join him for dinner. After dinner he walked her back to her apartment and there, in a situation that could only be described as rape, he had sex with her.

Six weeks later Maria Halpin realized she was pregnant. In hysterics she went to see Cleveland and insisted that he marry her. He told Maria he would do “everything that was honorable and righteous” and, according to Maria, he agreed to marry her. He put her in the care of Dr. James E. King who delivered the baby boy on September 14, 1874. At Cleveland’s insistence the boy was named Oscar Folsom Cleveland, after his best friend and law partner, Oscar Folsom. But Grover Cleveland did not marry Maria Halpin.

Dr. King took the baby and for the first year of his life he was raised by a foster family who called him Jack. Maria took him back and raised him as Oscar Folsom Cleveland, but 1n 1876, Grover Cleveland arranged to have Maria declared an unfit mother due to alcoholism. She was sent to a lunatic asylum and the boy was sent to an orphanage. In 1877, Maria Halpin was given $500 to give up the child and Dr. King took him from the orphanage and raised him as James E. King, Jr.

1884-campaign-cartoon-2
Anti-Blaine Cartoon

Despite persistent rumors, Grover Cleveland was able to keep the matter quiet through successful campaigns for Mayor of Buffalo and Governor of New York. In 1884 Cleveland was chosen as the Democratic candidate for president. With a reputation as a reformer and a man of integrity, Cleveland was seen as the perfect opponent for James Blaine, the scandal ridden Republican candidate, who was accused, as Speaker of the House, of pushing legislation to benefit various railroad companies in exchange for financial kickbacks. Cleveland’s candidacy was so appealing that may prominent, life-long Republicans bolted from their party to support him.

But in Buffalo, some of those who were familiar with the story of Cleveland’s illegitimate child and his treatment of Maria Halpin, did not feel they could stand by and watch such a man become President of the United States. In July 1884, during the Democratic Convention, Reverend George H. Ball, pastor of the Free Baptist Church in Buffalo, sent a letter to the Chicago Advance telling the whole story. The letter bounced around to several newspapers before the story was finally published by the Buffalo Evening Telegraph.

The press was exceedingly partisan in 1884—Republican papers picked up the story and ran with it while Democratic papers ignored it. But the voting public could not ignore the Halpin Scandal and many who had once ardently supported the reform candidate now had doubts. Cleveland was dogged at rallies by opposition groups chanting “Ma, Ma, where’s my Pa?”

Cleveland himself decided to stay above the fray and issued no public statement, hoping the scandal would blow over before Election Day. He told his campaign staff, “No matter what, tell the truth.” –which they almost did. They admitted that in an act of youthful indiscretion Cleveland had taken up with Maria Halpin, as had two of his friends, including Oscar Folsom. When she became pregnant, Cleveland, being the only bachelor of the three, took the responsibility to save his friends from shame. In fact, they said, no one knew who the father was.

This statement infuriated Maria Halpin, who had never known a hint of scandal until she met Grover Cleveland.  She issued a sworn affidavit saying, “There is not and never was a doubt as to the paternity of our child, and the attempt of Grover Cleveland or his friends to couple the name of Oscar Folsom or any on else with that of the boy, for that purpose, is simply infamous and false.” In a second affidavit she described in detail how she had been ravished by Grover Cleveland, saying, “While in my rooms he accomplished my ruin by the use of force and violence and without my consent."

The presidential election now came down to which candidate’s scandalous behavior was less repellent to the public, Blaine’s railroad kickbacks or Cleveland’s abuse of Maria Halpin. Cleveland won an extremely close election; he won the popular vote by just 25,000 and a switch of 600 voters in New York would have given Blaine the election.

The Halpin Scandal soon died down and eventually was all but forgotten. In fact a 768 page biography of Grover Cleveland, published in 1923, does not even mention Maria Halpin. On June 2, 1886, Grover Cleveland married Frances Folsom, 21-year-old daughter of his late law partner Oscar Folsom. Grover Cleveland was the last bachelor to be elected president.


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