Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Genealogue Challenge #120

Victoria Moloney sent me this item from the Tucson (Ariz.) Daily Citizen of May 3, 1906.

CHICAGO, May 3—Mrs. Helen Moloney, the beautiful wife of James Moloney, the Chicago manufacturer, obtained a divorce solely to get a $500,000 estate left her by her mother on condition that she separate from him.

They are to be remarried this summer, just as soon as Mrs. Moloney perfects the title to the estate.

This was the statement made today by Mr. Moloney, who declares groundless the charges that his wife flirted with W. J. White, the "chewing gum king," of Cleveland. He declares that Mrs. Moloney is still true to him.

"Mrs. Moloney's mother, who is an English woman of title, took a strong dislike to me. She inserted in her will a bequest of nearly $500,000 to Mrs. Moloney, with the proviso that she divorce me. So we agreed to be divorced and remarry."

"What is the name of the titled English family to which Mrs. Moloney belongs?" was asked.

"I do not care to say. I do not wish to draw them into this affair," said Mr. Moloney. "We will be remarried before September 1."
Victoria asks, is the "divorce story true or a bunch of hooey?"

Can you find any proof that the story is true and the couple remarried?

Drew Smith

The story may indeed be true, but sadly for James, Helen did marry her juicy-fruit boyfriend. In an October 5, 1906 Chicago Tribune article, it was stated that Helen Sheldon married William J. White. (She married him in New York on the previous Wednesday.) Apparently William and Helen had begun sharing sticks of gum while the Moloney and White families were vacationing in Palm Beach.

In an August 19, 1920 Tribune story, we learn that the bubblicious Mr. White had also been a congressman and mayor of Cleveland, that Mrs. Moloney-White had been living with her sister (Mrs. Madelaine Barker) at the Plaza hotel in New York City, that Mrs. Moloney-White obtained a divorce from her bazooka-man in 1914, and finally that Moloney's family were contesting his will because he left bequests to Helen's sister and to a Brooklyn spiritualist, Mrs. Theodore A. Backe.

In the first article, Moloney believed that his wife was under the spell of White. I guess Helen appreciated White's carefree nature. Clearly, White sent Helen into orbit.


Andy E. Wold sent in this information:

"Interesting to note that the W. J. White mentioned in the article is William John White, who was a partner with Dr. Edwin E. Beeman in Beeman Gum and the American Chicle Company, now owned by Cadbury Adams (makers of Halls cough drops, Chiclets, Swedish Fish, etc.) William was also a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for Ohio.

Well, I found an article in "The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History", which gives the following information:

White divorced his first wife, Ellen, in 1906, the next day marrying divorcee Helen Sheldon. They moved to New York.

I found William and Helen living with her two sisters, at 157 Rivermill Blvd, Manhattan Ward 12, New York, NY on the 1910 US Census. Amazing to me that 4 people needed a chauffeur, cook, butler, valet, horseman, and three maids! William's occupation is listed as "Own Income" -- no wonder he shortly lost all of it (including Helen's inheritance, I would assume.)

I went back and found William and his first wife, Ellen, and 5 of their 7 living children on Madison Ave in Cleveland Ward 41, Cuyahoga, OH on the 1900 US Census.

Ellen filed for divorce on grounds of desertion, and the divorce was granted on 02 Oct 1906 (just 5 months after William and Helen "didn't flirt") [SOURCE: The New York Times, 03 Oct 1906 edition]"

Andy also found this profile and portrait of White in the book Prominent and Progressive Americans.

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