Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Divorce, Insanity, and Celery Tonic

Sometimes a story is a story.
The New York papers had a scandalous and salacious story in the October 22, 1889 papers. The whole story reads like something out of a Victorian melodrama. A perfumer enters a hotel room where his wife is with another man! The young man flees, and the perfumer drives his wife in a carriage to her father’s home. He wakes the old man, leaving him with the woman, saying, “There is your daughter, keep her.”

If this were an 1889 play, there would be no hope of reviving it in 2014. But this story really happened. Well, it sort of happened. During this time, there were morning and evening papers, so before New Yorkers went to bed on October 22, 1889, they had heard both sides of the story. Or at least the beginning of the story.

Although Richard Young and his wife Emma lived in New York, this whole story came to a climax in Paterson, New Jersey. Paterson seems to have been chosen for this little drama despite its lack of ready proximity to New York, because Mrs. Young had moved to Montclair, New Jersey. The New-York Tribune narrates the start of the drama:
There was a big sensation at the Hamilton House, the chief hotel in Paterson, N. J. late on Sunday night. A man who would only say his name was Young, living at Montclair, caught his wife in a room with a young man who had registered with her as “William Allen and wife.” The real husband broke in the door and there was a disturbance which aroused all the guests. During the confusion the young man slipped out, leaving his valise behind him, and the husband and a male friend of his with the woman drove to Montclair in a hack. The driver says they went to the house of the woman’s father in Bloomfield-ave., and she went up the steps along, rang, and was admitted by her aged father. The husband shouted, “There is your daughter, keep her.”
But the story had started to crumble already. This is the Tribune’s second paragraph:
Young and his friend drove back to Paterson, arriving there about 4 a.m. Afterward they came to New-York to take steps, as the husband declared, for a divorce. The general version of the affair is that the husband had employed the guilty man, who, it is said, is a clerk of his, to get evidence against the woman to prove infidelity, and that the clerk consented to figure as co-respondent. The husband and his friend evidently knew of the guilty couple’s movements, as the two men had secured a room in the hotel on Sunday afternoon and were in it when the woman and the young man drove up and took the adjoining room. Young is said to be wealthy. Young registered at the Hamilton House as John W. Allen. He and his wife are said to have five children.
The “Young” of the story was Richard D. Young, a perfumer. He and his wife, Emma, did indeed have five children. They’re all listed on the 1880 census, so in 1889, we can add 9 and so some math. Richard was 49, and Emma 43. Their children were (all ages estimated for 1889) Pierre 22, Richard 17, Ethelbert 14, Winifred 12, and Mary 10. Oddly enough, in 1880, they all lived with Richard’s widowed mother-in-law, so it couldn’t have been Emma’s father at whose home the woman was dropped off. There clearly were elements of this that were staged.

By the afternoon, another view of the story had come forth. This is from the 2 o’clock edition of the Evening World.
Mr. Richard D. Young, member of the Downton Club and a well-known perfumer, at 100 William street, is having a rather stormy experience.
He was but recently released from an insane asylum, according to his own statement, and his wife not long ago began a suit for divorce, alleging cruelty and making other charges.
Now Mr. Young has created a great deal of comment by his peculiar share in a scheme by which, as a preliminary to a divorce suit by Mr. Young himself, his wife was lured to a room in the Hamilton House in Paterson, in company with Mr. Young’s confidential clerk.
You might be wondering why it mattered who started the divorce suit, but New York only recently allowed for no-fault divorce (everyone else has it, so New Yorkers were divorcing in adjacent states). Since fault had to be found, Mr. Young decided that before his wife could divorce him for cruelty, he would divorce her for infidelity (and presumably be off the hook for alimony).

After discussing the less-recent problems in the Young’s relationship, the Evening World notes that
Now it seems that Mrs. Young has been made the victim of a scheme to furnish Young with sufficient evidence to bring a counter suit for divorce.
To re-cap: according to the Tribune, Mrs. Young and the clerk are “guilty,” but according to the World, Mrs. Young was a “victim.” The World also enlarges on the Tribune’s statement that the couple “took the adjoining room.” Can we even think of what an amazing coincidence this is? The clerk takes his boss’s wife to a hotel and just happens to take the room next to his boss. Set up. The clerk’s name was Melano C. Richardt, who (if I’m finding the right one) was all of 17 or 18 at the time, about as old as her second eldest son. “Oh my God, Mrs. Robinson.”

The couple separated, though by the end of November 1889, Emma Young is arguing that the provisional alimony of $50 a week is insufficient to support six children (the earlier reports say “5,” and surely she’s not supporting Pierre, is she?). The 1900 Census states that she had six children, of whom 5 are living. Her request for $150 weekly was countered by her estranged husband.
Young’s counsel stated to the Court that Mrs. Young had been guilty of acts of infidelity since the alimony was granted and that Mr. Young’s financial condition had been impaired by the extravagance of his wife.
Mr. Young’s mental health status weaves in and out of this case. There’s a reason why I chose “insanity” as the second word. On October 22, 1889, the World noted that Young had been "recently released from an insane asylum,” and actually detailed the three places where he was treated. On February 7, 1890, the World reported that Mr. Young was now claiming that he had given certain properties to his wife during a period of mental instability.
Louis R. Hasbrouck, a lawyer, testified that in 1888, Young wanted to assign his business, but upon Mr. Hasbrouck’s advice executed a power of attorney to his wife. Mr. Young said then that he was going to an asylum. 
“At Mr. Young’s home,” said Mr. Hasbrouck, “I saw his eight-year-old daughter refuse to kiss him until he should give ‘mamma the formulas she wanted.’”
Dr. Cromwell, of “Cromwell Hall,” a Connecticut private insane asylum, testified that Richard D. Young visited him in November, 1888 , with the intention of becoming an inmate. 
He appeared to be very weak physically, and he seemed full of delusions that his business was ruined. He stayed but one night, and left with his wife the next day.

Subsequently, Mr. Young was in the Mechanicsville, N. J. Asylum, but left that, according to the World in the spring of 1889.
Soon after his return they separated. Mrs. Young alleging that her husband tried to kill her by shooting at her with a revolver. In October last she began suit for divorce.
And that’s when the whole thing at the Hamilton House took place. Mrs. Young made further claims about the events, which were reported in the November 12, 1890 Evening World, more than a year after the initial events. Describing the events of October 20, 1889 (which were initially reported on the 22nd), Mrs. Young alleged that:
On that day Mrs. Young was induced by young Richardt to take a drive with him. Unknown to her, she alleges, de drove to the Hamilton House, where, under specious pretenses, he induced her to occupy a room with him, which he secured by registering as “William Allen and wife.”
Later the article states that
Mrs. Young alleges that she was drugged, and that she was the victim of a deliberate plot concocted by her husband, with the aid of young Richardt and Theodore W. Torrey, of 48 West Twelfth street, who accompanied her husband to the Hamilton House as “F. Morrey.”
Mrs. Young’s claims that her husband had engaged in a conspiracy to falsely accuse her of infidelity got their time in court. Mr. Young lost, as reported in the May 1, 1891 New-York Tribune. The Sun reported on May 30, that Melano Richardt was fined $100, which he paid, but Mr. Young would not initially pay the fine and costs, “saying that he had done nothing wrong and would not be punished.” The Sun reports that his friends convinced him to pay the $132.79.

Presumably they had a divorce at some point, though in the 1900 Census, Emma is listed as “widowed,” not divorced. Oh, and Pierre is still living at home. He’s a thirty-three-year old actor. His brother Richard has followed his father into the trade of being a druggist (which the elder Richard Young did before specializing in perfumes). The rest of the family has followed Pierre to the stage, with Ethelbert and Wilfred listed as actors and Mary (widowed like her mother) as an actress.

In a way, it’s ironic that four of his children (but not his namesake) became actors, given that when they were young, in an attempt to divorce their mother, Richard Young put on a little play.

I am certain that Mr. Young
did not authorize this.
Oh, but what about the celery tonic? On the day that the events of October 20, 1889 were revealed, along with the embarrassing detail that Mr. Young had gone into insane asylums three times, the manufacturer of Paine’s Celery Compound took out an advertisement in the New-York Tribune that stated that although once pronounced incurable, Mr. Young was
in perfect health, perfect strength and perfect sanity to-day, wholly through the use of PAINE’S CELERY COMPOUND, which cured him of insanity.
There is, of course, no evidence that Mr. Young ever tried the stuff.
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