On the road with Sirsy

It’s two in the afternoon when we hop into the SIRSY van at the Park and Ride lot for Thruway Exit 34A. The band is less than halfway to work, only 170 more miles to go, to get to an opening slot at Niagara University. SIRSY headlined a big show at Revolution Hall in Troy last night, Halloween night, with costumes and candy and all that such entails. So their night ended some time this morning. A few hours of sleep later and the van was loaded and rolling towards Buffalo. It’s a beautiful, sun shining, first day of November and we’re going to be in the van for most of the rest of it.

Oh, and there is another gig on the calendar tonight, too, after the Niagara gig. Very soon after the Niagara gig, ninety miles away in Rochester. That’s what we’re here for – volunteer roadies, extra hands, “Donkey!” as Rich tags us when we are hauling gear. We have to load in the Niagara show, load out the Niagara show, load in the Rochester show, and load out the Rochester show. In between there is just a lot of time on the road.

What is that guy looking at? I keep getting weird looks from cars we pass. That guy, too. The SIRSY van is vanilla, no murals or airbrushing or adornment. You wouldn’t guess it was a band van until you saw the amount of rock and roll equipment that comes out of it at a load in. I’m not sure what is catching the eye of every driver we pass. Then I realize that we are passing everybody. Nobody is passing us. I peek at the speedometer and then dismiss the reading as a trick of the light or just the angle of my view. So that’s what they are looking at – a white blur going by, fast.

There is junk food passed around but also a bag for recycling; responsible rockers these SIRSY people. We’re all still laughing about the night before, the costumes, the contest, the characters. Melanie is on vocal rest for the day. She communicates via whiteboard, a technique that shapes the rhythm of the conversation as we pause to read and respond to her handwriting. There’s always a lot of laughing in the van. “Ha!” and “:)” from the whiteboard.

Rich fiddles with the GPS although it provides value mostly at the ends of each leg of this trip – hard to get lost on the Thruway. He announces that there is a lake nearby. We look out the window – passengers get one to share – and there is no lake. He is talking about Lake Ontario, miles over the horizon, but visible to him on the GPS map.

The Niagara University show is a big deal with a national recording act, a huge stage and PA (and eventually thousands of screaming girls). If only we could figure out where to load in. Rich makes an executive decision and drives around the building. On the sidewalk. Always easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.

No rock show starts when advertised and we are set up with time to spare. When nature calls I leave the gym to locate a bathroom and am assured by an over abundance of student volunteers that I do not need a wristband to get back in since I am “with the band”. Now if someone would have told the security guards. They have to walk me hip and shoulder all the way to the door to get clearance from an 18 year old to let me back in. It is a strange security hierarchy but I get inside as the lights go down.

We all know the plan – a five song set, load the van and roll. We will be late to Rochester no matter when we leave but we can control how late we will be. The crowd is great, the sound is great and, well, the band plays a great set.

At the end of the set Melanie returns to the merchandise table to help sell the band. We go in to donkey mode and haul everything that doesn’t move off the stage towards the van. In the bustle Rich yells across the stage to me, “Chet!” and when I look up, “Hey, how old are you?” My advanced age and Rich’s propensity for introducing me as his father has led some to call me “PAPA SIRSY”. Now here amongst the teen-to-twenty crowd I have a feeling he is digging at me again.


“How old are you?” He’s grinning ear to ear.

“I’m 44.”

“Did you ever think you’d be doing this at 44?”

And then we’re off to Rochester. We recap the short set with Mel and Rich and it turns out they had a blast playing the big stage with great sound and a good crowd. We ride on fumes the last couple of miles to the venue. We’re late but we don’t know how late. An unscheduled change in the line up – four bands tonight – and bad information from the promoters – pushes SIRSY to a spot on the bill they could never make from Niagara. When we bust in the back door there are a lot of people waiting for a band to show up. So we haul ass to load in and set up. SIRSY starts as soon as everything is plugged in and turned on.

After the set Melanie connects with the sound guy, a little professional networking that never hurts. We load out while the next band loads in and then the waiting starts. Waiting for the next band to wrap up. To be polite. To not march out during their set. Like them or not, three gigs in twenty four hours or not, we wait.

Dinner tonight/this morning is scrounged from the available fare at a mini market and a Dunkin Donuts near the club. It’s not good but it’s just fuel at this point. The van is gassed and we roll back onto the highway. Back on the Thruway, miles and miles of Interstate leading us home. Eventually it’s quieter, there is some head nodding.

“There is a lake to the left,” Rich announces for the tenth time this trip. “There is no f-ing lake!” which just makes him laugh.

It’s three in the morning – or is it two? – when we hop out of the SIRSY van at the Park and Ride lot for Thruway Exit 34A. (The time changed while we were gone.) The band is more than half way home, only 140 more miles to go. They played three shows in two days and had a 600 mile commute. On the short ride home I think about what Rich asked me. No, I never dreamed I’d be doing this at 44. But I sure am enjoying the ride.

Originally published on timesunion.com, December 1, 2009 (https://blog.timesunion.com/sirsy/on-the-road-with-sirsy-3-enjoying-the-ride/507/)

Ardent Love Letters of Wealthy Merchant and Fair Young Clerk Result in Plea of Guilt in White Slave Action

Ardent Love Letters of Wealthy Merchant and Fair Young Clerk Result in Plea of Guilt in White Slave Action


Long Secret Courtship and Journey of Youth and Old Age to Pennsylvania and New York City Revealed by Billets-Doux to Federal Judge.

Letters as ardent as those of Petrarch to Laura, of Dante to Beatrice, of Swift to Stella, written by 53-year-old Frederick A. Cooper, wealthy and respected business man of Edmeston, Otsego county, to his girl clerk, Melda Oliver, 33 years his junior, formed the meshes of the net which drew Cooper into the Federal court in session at Binghamton last week to plead guilty to a violation of the Mann act and to pay a $3,000 fine.

The infatuation of Cooper, himself a grandfather, for the girl who might easily have been his daughter, and his willingness to count the world well lost for love, forms the foundation for one of the strangest stories of real life ever told.

Melda Oliver lived at New Berlin, a few miles from Edmeston, and had been employed as a clerk in Cooper’s store.  The merchant himself was a church member, was connected with numerous fraternal organizations and stood high in the community.   His home was one of the finest in the village, he owned an expensive touring car and his wife and family had everything that heart could wish.

Romance Long Unsuspected.

It was months after his love for Melda Oliver had developed to the point where he had told her of its existence that the tongue of gossip began to wag.  The girl’s father was one of the leading citizens of his community.  She herself was pretty, popular and with any number of admirers of her own age.  The idea that she could have found anything attractive in the gray haired business man never entered the mind of anyone who knew her until the tragedy had been written.

When Robert Oliver, Melda’s father, learned that people were talking about his daughter and Frederick Cooper – that the two had been seen automobiling in the evening and dining together at Edmeston and Sidney and Binghamton, he went at once to the store where the girl was employed and bade her come home with him.  He told her that he did not believe that there was anything wrong in her attitude toward Cooper but that things did not “look well” and he wanted to avoid even the appearance of evil.

Returns Home Reluctantly.

The girl obeyed her father, but reluctantly. This was just before the holiday season of 1917.  She returned to New Berlin and her parents, believing that her interest in Cooper was merely a passing fancy, placed no particular restrictions upon her.  They had no idea that she was receiving letters from him couched in endearing terms and was secretly mailing letters of the same kind.

Then, however, Cooper started writing letters to Mr. Oliver, telling him of his love for his daughter, the honor and respect in which he held her and the plans which he had made for persuading his wife to divorce him so that he might wed “the star and inspiration of his life.”

Mrs. Eve Cooper, wife of the merchant, wrote to Mrs. Oliver, mother of the young girl on who her husband’s fancy had fallen, begging her to take some steps toward protecting her daughter.  Mrs. Oliver and her husband became vigilant.  They forbade Melda to see Cooper or to communicate with him in any way.  This added fuel to the flame.  Early in January the young woman left her home and accompanied Cooper to Binghamton and then on a trip to New York.  The merchant purchased a stock of goods, leased a vacant store in Susquehanna, Pa., and installed Melda as manager.  He himself spent his time between Edmeston and Susquehanna.

Girl’s Father Forced to Act.

Finally Robert Oliver grew desperate.  He had fought against making the skeleton in his family closet public, but he felt that something must be done.  Mrs. Cooper would not fall in with her husband’s plans for a divorce.  Her heart clung to the lover of her youth, the husband of her maturer years and the father of her children.  Even though she knew that he had ceased to love her, she would not give him up to any other woman and so any hope that the Olivers might have had of arranging matters came to an end.

Oliver talked with an attorney who recommended that information should be given to the federal authorities, with a view of having an indictment presented to the United States grand jury against Cooper for a violation of the Mann act which prohibits taking a woman from one state into another for evil purposes.

Evidence was presented to the federal grand jury in session in Syracuse last April and a true bill was found.  Cooper was brought to Syracuse to plead to the charge, accompanied by his faithful wife who was ready to beg the court to have mercy on her husband.

The merchant was held in $3,000 bail, for which he deposited Liberty bonds, War Savings stamps and a number of gilt-edged securities as a surety for his appearance for trial at the June term of court at Binghamton.

Changes Plea to Guilty.

When he was arraigned there he changed his plea from “not guilty” to guilty.  His wife sat beside him in the court room and when Judge Ray asked her to come forward, she arose and stood at the side of the man who had forsaken her, her frame shaken by bitter sobs.

“Madam,” said the judge, “I ought to send this man to prison for a long term.  He has been guilty of the most contemptible and criminal acts, not only with reference to this young girl whose life he has blighted, but toward yourself.”

“Spare him, judge, I beg of you,” pleaded the wifed. “He has repented.

(Continued on Page 21, Column 1)



Long Unsuspected Affair Ends When Former Is Fined $3,000 by Judge in Federal Court at Binghamton.

(Continued from Page 15)

His heart has turned back to me and his children.”

“I should advise you,” said the court, “to get a divorce from him so that he may marry Miss Oliver.  Will you marry her if your wife divorces you?” he asked the prisoner.

“Gladly.  I ask for nothing better”, replied the latter.

“How would you provide for your wife if she were to divorce you?” questioned Judge Ray.

“I would make over to her three-fourths of everything that I have in the world and would go out and try to make a fresh start, ” said the man.

“But I can’t let him go, judge.  I can’t let her have him.   Don’t ask me to divorce him.  Don’t send him to jail.  Let him go home with me and he will live this down,” sobbed the wife, clinging to her husband’s arm.

One Count Left Standing.

“I’ll give him back to you, although I am afraid that you are getting a bad bargain,” replied the 73-year-old judge.  “He must pay a fine of $3,000 and there is one count of this indictment still hanging over him on which he may be arrested and sent to prison at any time if he does not keep away from this girl.  If he is reported as ever seeking her society or writing to her again, nothing can save him from prison.”

So Mrs. Cooper took her husband home. And Melda Oliver is living a few miles away with her parents.

The letters – the “human documents” are strange studies – studies of the man, the woman and the girl that formed the eternal triangle.  They are “exhibits in the case” placed in the charge of the United States attorney in this city.

Binghamton, Dec 14, 1917


Am writing two letters, so that you can get this one under cover.  Received your dear letter yesterday, and you bet I was glad to hear from you again.  I have at your request given up coming after you until you decided your own plans first, but one thing is sure, I can’t stay down here much longer alone, doing nothing but kill time and worry.

If you ever come this way, stop at the Arlington and stay until called for.  I shall never make any further plans until we can plan them together, not even a divorce, so you can see that I am somewhat blue. Have been all day at the dentist’s, and will put in tomorrow as well.  Am having several teeth gold-crowned and getting fixed up right for you.  Went to the movies from 7 to 9, and had a good laugh, as well as shed a couple of tears.

In case you come here and I am away, will leave word with clerk where I am.  You can telegraph me at E. in case I am there, saying, “Have a stock for sale.” and sign “Smith” Will hustle to beat the band to get it.

Saved From Madhouse.

Binghamton, Jan. 6, 1918.

Dearest Melda:

You have saved me from the madhouse by your dear letter just received.  Dear, it was the only word from you in ages, and to one who had the blue devils since last November it was a ray of sunshine after a storm.  Honestly, as I came through South New Berlin today and looked up over the hill towards you the tears came to my eyes unbidden.

Mrs. C. says she is going to Utica to take a course in the spring, and expect I will have to dispose of the store at E. then, as she will take a position offered her.  Everything is working out just as I planned for you, dearest.  In the good old summertime – so long ago it seems as I look backward.

I did not realize how much I really loved you until we were separated so suddenly one day.  Perhaps it was all for the best, although it has given me some more gray hairs.  Nothing in my life ever hurt me quite so bad as this, but I  know it is coming out right.  For the last few days I have been feeling better both physically and mentally and now am optimist again, as usual, looking to happier days in the future.

Am sorry, dear, to hear you have been sick.  Am only wishing I could have been able to comfort and prescribe for you as I used to do in the long ago times.  You must have had some miserable times yourself since last I saw your dear face, but thank God, it can’t last always, dear, so be cheerful and hope for happier days in six months or more.

There was a big attendance at the masquerade at E. last Tuesday Night.  Everybody went but yours truly, and he had a good notion to but decided to wait and take your some time.

Mrs Burke was in Saturday.  I asked her if she and the girls missed Molly girl very much, and she said it seemed as though the old clock had stopped with you gone.

Au revoir, SWEETHEART.

Hopes for Happiness Soon

Dearest Molly

I am still planning to go to S. when you come and go into business there with you as my inspiration and help meet. Happiness has seemed just ahead of us for some time.  God knows I hope it will come near me very soon.

The way I feel towards your people on account of the way they have used you wouldn’t do for me to say on paper but remember if you want me all hell won’t stop me next time I come up there to see you. I have driven up from Sidney three times with the car.  Are you getting all my letters I wonder I have written you quite a number.  Some pretty plain talk in some of them of course but Molly dear with all the talk and scandal no one has any evidence of any wrongdoing at all. Not the first darn thing – that is some record considering the case all around from start to finish from the inside and the outside, too.  Had I loved you less fondly we couldn’t say this truthfully.  I want you to know dearest, wherever I am I am true to you in all things ready to take up the thread of life again just where we dropped it so suddenly.  It seems like ages since I kissed your dear lips goodby at old N B that evening and again at E. next day.  Love to you.

Binghamton Nov 3 1917.

Dearest Melda

I’m back here again. Could not remain any longer at the old store at E.  I tried to help them get ready for Christmas but every minute there is too suggestive of the happy days we were together.  I have no plans for the future any different from those you already know.  Your father’s idea is for me to stay down there until free but I cannot do this alone.  If you are to the store with me all will be well.  We have been together too long in business and happiness for me to now cut loose and run a store alone.  We can do business with B – as he is ready to accept any reasonable offer but to be candid I haven’t the heart to go ahead with things any different than we planned.

I am so badly broken up over no word from you that I am becoming desperate – if I can come there and see you call me on the phone here.  If not at least write here soon.  If you feel different about our plans or about me in any way tell me candidly as it is the suspense and uncertainty that is hardest to bear.

Just now when all is upset I shall make no further plans until some word comes from you . If you could come down and bring your mother and let her look over this proposition perhaps your people would feel different about it – that is providing I cannot come up there openly and honestly in a square way.

Unless I get some word before I shall come to your home on Tuesday anyway no matter what reception I get.  Yours for Always.

Tries to Get Marriage Consent

Dearest Melda Sweetheart – Am hoping I can see you very soon.  Am trying to get your father to consent.  Will be there soon unless you telephone me not to come.  This last week has been the longest hardest period in my life.  If I can see your mother I think perhaps our plans will go through as I will have her go down to Susquehanna and see you settled there unless you are ready to call it all off.  Tell your mother I have some things to say to her before I go away.  Have had a pretty plain talk with your father and hope it will be productive of good results.

Keep up a brave heart and all will come out right pretty soon.

A thousand kisses to you dear and am coming down soo so get your mother in the mood to meet me and I will tell her some real pleasant honest manly intentions.

Yours when you are ready


Dearest Melda Sweetheart – We seem to be up against a pretty hard proposition at present and I am grieving pretty bad over it.  God knows I have written enough but am not sure you are getting them.  This Sunday has been the worst day that I every have lived yet.  The blue devils had me all day and now at 8 p m I am down at the sore to tell you my love is as true as ever and as lasting as life itself.

Dearest don’t ever doubt this no matter what comes I shall be loyal to you.

I fear that business will wind up in the spring.  Either I’ll sell it out or give it to Mrs C. as well as the home on the Hudson and while you and I may never take any more joy rides in the car we will have a one seater runabout just the same.

Love and caresses

To My Best Girl – I want to see more of you than I do.  I have something to tell you before I go home. Have got to see you before I go. Come right out – don’t pay any attention to anybody.  If you cannot come tonight come tomorrow night.

Cares Deeply For Him

In December 1917 Cooper wrote to the father of the Oliver girl in which he assured Mr. Oliver of the deep respect in which he held the girl.  Part of this letter and others follow.

I care more for her than anything else on earth and I know that she loves me as well and I think she will tell you that I meant to have a divorce and marry her honorably.  As long ago as last July plans were made to do this.  My own family knows everything and there is nothing to conceal from any one.

I fought against my feelings for two years before I told Melda.  I do not think you desire to ruin her life as I know she cares deeply for me. Will you meet me as man to man and talk this over on the square?  And what ever decision is arrived at I will abide by.  I will say nothing to hurt your feelings but there are some things I have to talk over with you and which I believe you ought to know for the benefit of all concerned.  We must also settle things for the future as we can not let uncertainty rule any longer.  I’m asking you to make an appointment by phone.  I am actuated entirely by honorable motives as I care too deeply for your daughter to cause any of you further trouble.

Susquehanna Jan 29 1918

Friend Oliver – I am writing to let you know that all appearances to the contrary things are on the square concerning Melda and myself.  As I told you one day you need have no apprehension about us here.  As soon as our plans can mature all will be right and honorable in every way.

Melda is well and happy as manager of the new department store and the time will not be long now before I can square myself with you and the rest of the world.  In the meantime I shall protect and care for Melda and look after her interests in every way as one who cares more for her than for all the rest of the world.

Cannot some of you come? It would be better all around and am sure you would feel better about matters. We would certainly make it pleasant for you.  Melda feels that she has so incurred your displeasure that you can never forgive her again.  I do not believe this to be so and I ask either you or Mrs. Oliver to come down here and I will tell you frankly all our plans and actions since last we met.

Love and Kisses Due

The following letters were written by Melba Oliver to Mr. Cooper and to her mother the latter while in New York city

South New Berlin Jan 1 1918

My Dearest – Believe me you’ve got some loving kissing due you.  You cannot know how glad I was to receive your four letters all in a bunch Monday.  It certainly does me worlds of good to hear from you and I realize dear that I have been very very negligent about writing. I do not blame you for getting so anxious but no one knows that I answer your letters as I take mine to the village and mail them at the office.

In regard to the divorce case, I am ready and willing to do just as you want to for if there is anything I can do to make you happy that is my one aim in life and I intend that it shall continue to be. Of course I realize that it will be rather unpleasant but if she really wants one we can soon live down and forget the bad taste of the short time.

Listen dear if you want me to wait a while longer about going away and want to see me you know very well that it shall be done.  Of course my people will not consent to my seeing you as I really think they believe the affair about over. But I can and will come to the village and see you most any morning you want to come for I can come down on the train and walk back.  I am getting so I really enjoy exercising.

There is to be a dance at Amberville Friday night January 11th.  If you are ready to make a flight I will go to the dance and you can send someone from the village up on the side and I’ll go with him.  Wish you could be down to the village to go the rest of the way with me.  Now listen these are just a few plans I’ve doped out but cannot decide on anything definite until I know how long you are to be up there.  Please tell me which you would rather I’d do.  It will be very easy for me either way now.  Of course on either case I would have to go just as I was but I think they would send me my things later., I always carry my purse and those bonds in my muff and then I’m sure where they are.

You probably know by this time I resigned from the Eastern Star when I first came home.  I was so sore at those old hens that I sent in my resignation.  I still wear my pin although I have no right to but it is one you gave me dearest and it certainly makes you nearer to wear it and no one here knows the difference.

I certainly wish I might see you tonight dear one, but perhaps you will be all the happier when we get together at least. I am willing to take a chance.  Don’t get discouraged.  Good night dearest and plenty of kisses.


Dear Mother – Just a line this morning to acquaint you with my whereabouts.  No doubt you will be surprised to hear from me in the city. Instead of going to B. that day I took the milk train to Sidney have seen considerable of the country and am having a fine time.

Am very sorry to cause you so much worry disgrace etc but I could not be happy unless I was with Cooper. We have loved each other secretly for nearly a year and find it the only way to be happy was to be together.

We have found a stock in Susquehanna Pa and unless we get the Richfield one will probably locate there.  Now when we get somewhere nearer home we will send you an address and if you want me to come home for a few days with the understanding that I am to go back I will.  Don’t worry about me for it will only make you sick.

As we are ready to go and buy Christmas goods I must close. Will try and write you a few more lines tomorrow letting you know where I am and what I am doing. Love to all. MELDA

P S – Wish you could see the city.  It certainly is some sight.

Mrs Cooper Heart Broken

The following letter was written by Mrs Cooper to Mrs Oliver.

Edmeston N Y

Dear Mrs Oliver

Yours at hand and feel thankful you are taking steps to stop this terrible affair and I know this to be far more serious than you know.  As for me my heart is broken and my home life ruined. But for my children I should wash my hands of the whole affair. It seems strange a girl should be carried away by a man 53 years old and what a future for her.  He will soon tire of her – then what.

Now Mrs Oliver I have proof they are planning to go away together and she is fooling you.  This I know he is looking for a stock of goods and you can easily know what then will  happen.  I think he intends to be in New Berlin Monday noon on his way home.  He left here Friday morning.

Sometimes this burden is more than I can bear but I have always tried to do my duty and am trying to do so now and have tried all through this trouble to be a Christian.  You do not know half I have to put up with. My heart aches for you both and I do pray something will happen to prevent her utter ruin as it surely will happen if she goes away with him.  I’m sure he is not fair with either of us.  Would like to see you and talk with you but this must be handled with the utmost care.  Please burn this as soon as you get it for I shall only have to bear more if this is found out and Oh my God I cannot bear much more.  If in anyway I can help you do not hesitate to let me know.  EVE COOPER

The following are extracts from the diary of Melba Oliver during her trip to Susquehanna and New York city with Mr Cooper

After loving the boss since Feb 18 1917 I decided to make a getaway with him take a trip to New York and then finally settle down in some quiet place and begin business again.  Accordingly on Nov 21st I went to Sidney and waited for the Binghamton train. Tired out I finally reached the city and imagine my joy in finding Cooper at the depot to meet me. We went to the Arlington and although neither of us was very hungry made a pretense at eating.  The dinner was fine and negro service enjoyed very much.

We arrived at Susquehanna about 11 o’clock got our rooms and went to them. After breakfast the next morning we went out and looked the town over and made arrangements for an empty store in case we decided to locate there.  At 1059 we took a parlor car to New York passed much beautiful scenery ate in the dining car and reached New York about 5.  We first went to the Biltmore hotel but that was full so crossed the street to the Manhattan.  Here we stayed Thursday night.  Our rooms were on the seventh floor. It was real noisy so the next day we went to the Van Rensellaer, where we had a very nice suite of rooms on a quiet street. In the afternoon we bought waists and then went up in the Woolworth building.  From here we could see considerable that we could not see on the street.

Friday night we went to the Jefferson theater and had a very enjoyable time with lunch after. During the whole stay in New York we ate at Childs restaurant.

Saturday morning we bought stock and from there went to the aquarium, after looking at fish for about an hour we took a subway to Bronx park and wandered around the grounds until about 3 o’clock.  Dined at the Casino and then took another subway to 14th street and lunched again. Then we went to our rooms for the rest of the afternoon.  Went out to supper at 6:30 and from there to the Union Square theater.  About 10:30 we left there and went out and lunched, making five times in all that day.

At 1 o’clock Sunday afternoon we started for Utica in a parlor car. Had dinner about 2 o’clock and the rest of the time made plans and enjoyed scenery until we arrived about 7:15.  From the depot went to the Yates hotel to supper and sleep.  Here they had music and dancing and could not sleep until after 1 o’clock.

We reached New Berlin shortly after 7 the next night.  Had supper at the Eagle.  I registered and here we stayed until train time and Cooper said good-bye until the next noon.  I never hated to see Cooper go before as I did that night.  I went directly to bed and in a short time was asleep.

The next noon I went to Edmeston after my trunk; went in the store and said good-bye to him, until, as we supposed, Friday morning.  He came home on the 4 o’clock and everything was wrong.  My people refused to let me go Friday, so I telephoned Cooper to that effect. Friday he phoned me, also sent a car, but I knew nothing of either until it was over. So here I am, Saturday, December 1st, with a heart as heavy as lead in the bottom of my shoes, trying to look cheerful and make believe I’m glad I’m here.  However all things are for the best and all things come to him who waits, so I am walking and hoping to be happy some day soon.


Source, The Syracuse Sunday Herald, Sunday Morning, June 12, 1919


Death Notice Not Inserted

Death Notice Not Inserted By Her, She Tells Herald


Requests Publicity Given Her Case and Hope to Return to Syracuse When Health Improves.


Stuffed Keyholes to Keep Out Draft, She Says — Husband Not Traveling in South.

(Previously Death Notice In Handwriting Of ‘Deceased’ Woman Following Her Disappearance, Mystifies Police )

Mrs. Mabel M. Wallace, discovered alive in Camden after the appearance of her obituary in local papers, gave a long interview to a Herald reporter Saturday, in which she denied all knowledge of the source of the notice.

Health Apparently Good.

Mrs. Wallace did not appear physically weak.  However, she seemed to be laboring under a severe mental strain.  The only time she smiled during her talk was when the conversation led to her husband.

The woman admitted stuffing cotton in the keyholes in the doors of her home, but declared it was only to keep out the draft.  She also said it was she who took down the pictures from the wall of her home, but that she left them covered up on a bed.

The mysterious telephone call received by Mrs. Genevieve Searle, and also listened to by Chief Cadin, in which the woman on the Camden end said Mrs. Wallace was alive, was sent by Mr. Wallace’s sister, Mrs. Nellie McDaniel.

The woman whose death according to notices in local papers was said to have occurred in Camden, February 23d, was discovered at the McDaniel home by Deputy Sheriff Earl E. Paddock, Friday night.  On his first visit, Mrs. McDaniel stated that she knew nothing concerning her sister, however the Sheriff was called back after threatening to appear with a court order the following morning.

Condition Looked Serious.

This time Mrs. Wallace made her appearance in her night clothing, and looked to be in serious condition, according to Sheriff Paddock.

Saturday morning a Herald reporter call at the McDaniel home.  The woman who answered the door stood about 5 feet 7 inches in height, was dressed in brown calico with a working apron.  She wore laced shoes and her hair was neatly done.  She appeared as if she just came from work in the kitchen.

Addressed as Mrs. McDaniel the woman replied, “Mrs. McDaniel isn’t here now but I am her sister, Mrs. Wallace.”

The surprise was great as Mrs. Wallace had been described as seriously ill the night before and just able to leave her bed for a few minutes.  At first sight she did not look as if she were seriously ill.  During the talk however she showed signs of severe mental strain.

“What is all this notoriety about?” she asked.  “I’m alive; what interest is it to the outside now?”

Something of the serious consequences which might result from the placing of the paid notice of her death in Syracuse papers, was hinted at.

May be Another.

“But what has that to do with me?” she asked. “I surely did not place the notice in the papers.  Then it may have been another Mabel M. Wallace who died.  The notice did not read that the woman was from Syracuse or that she died in Camden, N. Y.  It just said Camden, it may be Camden, J. J.

“I know there is another Mabel M. Wallace for at one time by mistake $101 was deposited by this woman was placed to my credit in Syracuse banks.

“I have been with my sister since January 25th, when I left Syracuse.  Early in February we went to Utica and rented rooms but returned here about a week ago. Since then I have been sick in bed, in fact I have been in ill health several years.  I heard the conversation Mrs. McDaniel had with another Syracuse reporter yesterday and she did not say whether I was here or not. She just said she would give no information.  I was upstairs at the time.

“The first we know of the ad appearing in the paper was when letters inquiring in to it were received from Mrs. Searle and another neighbor. At the time I didn’t care whether I was alive or not.  In fat sometimes I wonder what is the use of living for I have been ill for several years.”

Questioned about her husband, Mrs. Wallace brightened. Smilingly she described him as “very good looking.”

Traveling in South.

Mrs. Wallace said her husband was traveling in the  South and that she had not heard from him in a few weeks.  Told that her husband was seen leaving the Fage avenue home two weeks ago, Mrs. Wallace showed interest and asked the name of the neighbor who saw him.

Before leaving the city Mrs. Wallace said she covered all her furniture and stuffed the keyholes. She said she did this to keep the draft out of the house. She says that she had the water and gas turned off and had the telephone temporarily discontinued expecting to stay in Camden for several weeks.

“I wish this publicity hadn’t started,” she remarked as she accompanied the reporter out on the front porch of the house, ” I am a great lover of my home and have never injured a soul.  I want to return to Syracuse an expect to just as soon as I get in communication with my attorney who is Mr. Wallace’s brother- in-law in Albany.”

Source : The Syracuse Herald, Sunday Morning, March 2, 1919

Mrs Wallace Found



Syracuse  Woman, Whose Death Notice Had Been Twice Published, Discovered Seriously Ill After Search by Deputy Sheriff of Oneida County.

(Previously, Death Notice In Handwriting Of ‘Deceased’ Woman Following Her Disappearance, Mystifies Police )

(By Staff Correspondent.)

Camden, March 1. — Mrs. Mabel Wallace of No. 128 Fag avenue, Syracuse, a notice of whose death was sent to two Syracuse newspapers on February 26th and 27th, was discovered on Friday evening by Deputy Sheriff E. E. Paddock of Oneida county seriously ill at the home o her sister, Mrs. Horace MacDaniels of Camden.

The notice read as follows:

“Wallace — In Camden, Sunday February 13th, 1919, Mabel M. Wallace.”

When Deputy Sheriff Paddock called at the home of Mrs. MacDaniels on Friday the latter declined to state where her sister was. She declared that it was no one’s business.

Leave to Get Court Order.

“Perhaps a court order which I will bring to-morrow morning will make you more talkative,” said the sheriff, and left the house.  He had not yet reached his own door when Mrs. MacDaniels’s young son came rushing after him.

“My mother wants you to come back the house right away, said the boy.

“There’s no use in my going back there and wasting any more time,” said the sheriff.

“Mother says may be it might be worth your while to come.  She might have something to tell  you,” answered the boy, and Mr. Paddock returned with him, and followed the messenger into the MacDaniels living room where Mrs. MacDaniels and her husband sat.

Woman Sought is Ill.

“Just a moment, ” said Mrs. MacDaniels, and left the room.  In a few moments she returned, half leading, half carrying a woman clad in a nightrobe, her hair streaming down her back.  She swayed to and fro and was unable to stand on her feet without help.  She looked terribly ill.

“Here’s the woman you’re looking for,” said Mrs. MacDaniels.  “Here’s Mrs. Wallace.”

The sheriff spoke to Mrs. Wallace who demanded in a weak voice what interest her whereabouts were to the police or to anyone else.

“It’s because you put a notice of your own death in the papers,” said the deputy.

“That notice didn’t say anything about Syracuse, said Mrs. Wallace.  “It didn’t say Camden, New York.  It might have referred to another person entirely. There are other Mabel Wallaces.”

Asks Penalty For Crime.

She was silent for a moment.  Then she asked:

“What will they do to the person who put that notice in the papers?”

“It’s a State prison offense,” said Mr. Paddock.  The woman bent her head and seemed unable to speak.  The she said,

“Just as soon as I am well enough I’ll consult an attorney and then I’ll go to Syracuse and straighten matters out.”

In the opinion of the sheriff Mrs. Wallace is seriously ill.  It is the general belief among her friends here that she inserted the death notice in the hope that it would meet the eye of her husband who left his home in Syracuse early in January and whose whereabouts have been a subject of speculation to acquaintances of the family.

Source : The Syracuse Herald, Saturday Evening, March 1, 1919

(The Story Concludes : Death Notice Not Inserted By Her, She Tells Herald)

Mrs Wallace Reported Dead

Death Notice In Handwriting Of ‘Deceased’ Woman Following Her Disappearance, Mystifies Police



Home on South Side Deserted and Keyholes Are Plugged With Cotton — Husband Also Missing.

A notice in the Syracuse paper of the death of Mrs. Mabel M. Wallace, following the disappearance of both Mrs. Wallace and her husband, Adelbert F. Wallace, presents a mystery which the police believe may lead to a suicide or even a possibly murder.

The advertisement in a local paper read:

“Died — In Camden, Sunday, Feb. 23d, 1919, Mrs. Mabel M. Wallace.”

Upon investigating, the police have learned that there is no record of the woman’s death in Camden, N.Y.   A sister, whom Mrs. Wallace told neighbors she planned visiting, says that she has not seen Mrs. Wallace in several weeks.


The keyholes in the doors of the Wallace home, No. 128 Fage avenue, were found stuffed with cotton when officers visited there this morning. Expecting to find Mrs. Wallace dead inside Detective Edward  Smith broke down the door.  Nobody was found inside and everything was in order. The only thing missing from the home was a picture of Mr. Wallace and another of his wife, which had adorned the walls.

The police investigation followed a report by Mrs. Genevieve Searles, woman officer, who is a friend of Mrs. Wallace and who during the Christmas holidays, received a postal card from the young woman mailed from Camden.

The death notice appeared in the Post-Standard on the morning of Wednesday, February 26.  The newspaper office was called on the telephone and said that they believed the paid notice of Mrs. Wallace’s death was turned in by an undertaker.

Recognizes Handwriting

Mrs. Searles and Detective Smith visited the Post-Standard and the copy of the ad was furnished.  The writing corresponded with that on the postal card received by Mrs. Searles from Mrs. Wallace. It also corresponded with other samples of the missing woman’s handwriting.

Mrs. Wallace’s sister in Camden was later reached on the the telephone.  She was as much surprised as Mrs. Wallace’s friends here to learn of her sister’s death.

She said that she had not seen the Syracuse woman in five weeks..  Mrs. Wallace was in Camden during the holidays, when she sent the postal card to Mrs. Searles.  Undertakers in Camden were then reached by telephone, but they also were ignorant of the fact of Mrs. Wallace’s death, saying that to their knowledge nobody answering her description has been buried in Camden in the last few months.

Accompanied by Detective Smith, Mrs. Searles visited the Wallace home in Fage avenue.  The curtains in the house were drawn.  The front door was locked.  The side door was also found locked and the keyhole was plugged with cotton.  The rear door was also locked and the keyhole plugged.

Entrance Forced.

Fearing that Mrs. Wallace had stopped up the doors in an attempt to asphyxiate herself, Detective Smith force entrance.  There was nobody inside.  A close inspection showed that the only thing missing in the house were the pictures of Mr. and Mrs. Wallace.  Mrs. Searles says that she has visited at the house many times and would know if anything else was gone.

Mr. Wallace is a traveling salesman and until the first of the year was employed by the Continental Can company.  Nothing has been seen of him by his friends in the company since he severed his connection with the firm.  Some say that he told of plans to establish a business in the West.

Mrs. Wallace was last seen by neighbors in Fage avenue several weeks ago.  At that time she said that she was going to visit her sister in the North.  Neighbors say that Mr. Wallace was seen as late as two weeks ago.  At this time he is said to have visited the Fage avenue house and when he left he carried two suitcases.

Source : Syracuse Herald, Friday Evening, February 29, 2019




Other Witnesses Quizzed by District Attorney on Dance Hall Shooting.


Chester C. White, Employer of Dead Man, Says He Drew Gun in Self-defense.

Investigation today into the fatal shooting yesterday of Arthur Bowe, 26, or 211 North Edwards Avenue, Eastwood, by Chester C. White, 25, of 242 North Edwards Avenue, Let loose charges by Eastwood authorities that lawless conditions with which they have been unable to cope with there led directly to the tragedy.

Bowe, the father of two young children, was wounded while trying to act as peacemaker in a row in front of the Domino Inn, James Street and Stafford Avenue, at 3:40 o’clock yesterday morning. White fired the fatal shot while in a scuffle with Herman Staats, 24, of Camillus and Augustus HartKopf, 28, of  Syracuse according to their lawyer.

Bowe and White had attended a dance earlier with their wives.  The men continued the party after midnight at the inn, and White had a brush there after an accidental collision with a woman on the dance floor.  The scuffle and it fatal outcome outdoors followed.

Shot Through Abdomen.

Bowe died in the Hospital of the Good Shepherd late yesterday afternoon, punctured through the abdomen by a .32-calibre revolver bullet which entered the left side and lodged just under the skin in the right hip.  White was arrested soon after the shooting.

Besides Staats and Hartkopf, other witnesses at the district attorney’s office today included Beryl Dane, 32, Syracuse, Louis Kemper, 26, Camillus and Ernest  Brandt, 27, Syracuse, all represented by F. A. Lyman as their lawyer.  He insisted that his clients had not been drinking and that they had no woman in their party.  Hartkopf danced with a woman acquaintance there., Lyman said, but the couple did not arrive together.

Staats pitched on White in front of the place when he saw Hartkopf and Bowed apparently squaring off for a fist fight., according to the lawyer’s version.  Staats thought White was going to mix in a fight between Bowe and Hartkopf, Lyman said.  White, who is proprietor of a James Street Bakery where Bowe was employed, is held.  Two Eastwood witnesses are missing.  Other witnesses have been allowed to go after making statements. District Attorney Malpass obtained an ante-mortem statement from Bowe.

Eastwood Officers Aroused.

The death of on resident and arrest of another has arousd Eastwood offcials.  They charge that half a dozen establishments are brazenly selling booze day and  night in James Street extension of the most fashionable Syracuse thoroughfare.

According to the combined stories of White and Bowe, who was able to tell something of the fight before he died, the two men went to Domino Inn shortly after midnight yesterday morning after the had taken their wives home from a dance at H…

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Source : Syracuse Herald, Monday Evening, November 24, 1924

Naked Man Scares Children In Woods


Unknown Miscreant Terrorizes Residents of Teall, Paul and Peck Avenues


Two Little Girls Chased by Strange Character Flee to Their Homes – Others Report Seeing the Undressed Man – Neighborhood Pestered by Tramps.

Residents at the junction of Paul, Peck and Teall avenues are incensed at the acts of an unknown man who for several days has been suddenly appearing before children in the woods about that neighborhood only partially dressed.

On Tuesday afternoon, Helen Yorman, the daughter of  Mr. and Mrs. Adolph T. Yorman of No. 137 Paul avenue, and Eva Harrington, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Harrington of Peck avenue, asked their parents if they could go and pick thimbleberries in a woods that runs near the junction of Teall and Peck avenue.

The request was granted and the two little girls, who are about 10 years old, started out on the journey.  The children picked berries in the woods for some time and shortly after 4 o’clock in the afternoon they started back home with their baskets full.

When they had passed out of the woods and were walking along Teall avenue a man leaped out from among the bushes.  He was nearly naked and motioned to the girls to come back.  They children, terror-stricken, dropped their   baskets and ran toward the Harrington home on Peck avenue.

Woman Took Whip in Hunt.

Hurrying  into the house they told Mrs. Harrington what had happened.  Mrs. Harrington took a long whip, which she thought would serve the purpose if the man was found, and started in search with the children.  The place where the man jumped out from the underbrush was visited, but there was no person about or no clothes on the ground.  Mrs. Harrington walked about the district for some time, but she could find no trace of the man.

The children were so frightened on  sight of the naked individual that they could not render a very good description of him.  However, they stated that he was more than six feet in height and wore glasses and a soft hat.  They said that he didn’t speak to them, but that when they started to run the man followed them for a short distance along the side of the trees, making motions to them.  Other children have reported seeing the miscreant in the woods at various times.

Mrs. Harrington said that she had lived on Peck avenue for a little more than a year.  The neighbors had warned her of treacherous men who were in the habit of lounging along Teall avenue.  She has relatives living on Manlius street and when going to their home often take a short cut.  When asked if she was not afraid to go along the way alone and sometimes even at night, Mrs. Harrington replied :

“No, why should I?”

“What if the man should jump out into the road and stop your journey?”

“Well, I always carry a rawhide whip, and if the man gets in my way he will get one of the best beatings ever.”

Complain of Tramps

People in Teall avenue have complained of tramps making the district near Paul avenue a hangout. They come in troupes of four and five and make the fields their night lodging house.  Some of them even come along in the day and, discovering a shady tree, take part of their clothes off and sleep for two and three hours.  Most of them, if awake when women pass by, make remarks to them.

Within the last week on of these men approached two small girls who were walking along Manlius street.  He walked up between them and started in a conversation.  He showed them some lewd post cards and then asked one of the little girls for a kiss.  The children became scared and ran away.  The man also disappeared when a search was started.

The fathers of children in the neighborhood, where all of these incidents are taking place, have been discussing plans of getting rid of the men.  It is said if one of them is caught a sound thrashing will be his pay.

Source : The Syracuse Herald Saturday Evening, August 5, 1911.


Solvay Woman Topples Backwards From Car Into Coat Room, Thence Down Shaft.


Question Whether Elevator Door Was Closed – Victim’s Husband Recent Heir to Fortune of $40,000

Mr. Mary Dunn Mathews, 43, wife of Daniel C. Mathews of No. 130 Freeman avenue, Solvay, was instantly killed at 3:30 o’clock yesterday afternoon by falling off the elevator at the second floor of the Wieting Block, while the car was ascending, and into the pit of the building, at South Salina and West Water streets.

Her death was tragic and and the accident most peculiar.

In the car with Mrs. Mathews at the time were John J. Driscoll of No. 104 Tennyson avenue, janitor of the block, and another man and a boy.

With the three passengers aboard, Mr. Driscoll said he closed the door entering the elevator shaft, on the Water street side, and the car door on that side.  He then stepped across the car to start it upwards.  He stated positively that the door was closed tightly but as the car reached the second floor Mrs. Mathews fell through the door and into a coat room on the north side of the shaft.

Screamed as She Fell.

There is another door in the coat room opening from the elevator shaft, and it swung open under the woman’s weight.  Mrs. Mathews screamed as she fell, as did the man and boy in the car.  As the car went up the woman rolled out of the coat room doorway and dropped to the bottom of the elevator shaft, two floors below.  Mr. Driscoll stopped the car, but it was too late.

George W. Garrett of No. 1138 South Salina street, for eighteen years agent of the block, rushed out of his office and into the basement.  He was the first to reach Mrs. Mathews and to all appearances she was dead when he got to her.

Calling the engineer he lifted her out of the pit, with the engineer’s assistance, and then telephoned to the Hospital of the Good Shepherd for an ambulance.  The ambulance surgeon pronounced Mrs. Mathews dead and the body remained in the basement of the building until Coroner George R. Kinne arrived and gave permission for its removal to Meagher & Cody’s undertaking rooms.

Coroner Kinne at once started an investigation, questioning both Mr. Driscoll and Mr. Garrett.

Running Car Two Days.

Mr. Driscoll, who has been janitor of the Wieting Block for a number of years, had been running the car two days, in the absence of the regular conductor, who is ill.  “Mr. Driscoll was one of the most careful men who ever stepped into that car,” said Mr. Garrett after the accident.  “He is positive that he closed the door.  It is a folding door and the only solution we can offer is that the woman must have become faint and in falling against it forced it to slide open.

“Mr. Driscoll stopped the car withing two feet, but Mrs. Mathews went through the door of the cloak room and fell back under the floor of the elevator.  The only opening in the coat room is into the elevator shaft.  This room is used by the men to hang their coats in and it is probable that the door opening into this room was not latched.  It was closed.”

After his investigation Coroner Kinne said,

“The theory  is that Mrs. Mathews was startled as the car was started up and leaned against the door, grasping hold of the door to regain her balance.  In doing so she probably opened the door and fell out.  The clothes room door might have been closed, but I do not believe it was fastened.  This door swings open.  I believe internal injuries caused her death, but have ordered a post-mortem that we may know definitely.

Mr. Mathews was at work in the coal and wood yards of his cousin, James M. Mathews, at Solvay, when informed that his wife had been killed.  He hurried to the undertaker’s rooms.  The scene as he viewed his wife’s body was heartrending.  “Now that we had everything to live for she has been taken away from me,” he cried.

Recently Inherited $40,000.

Mr. Mathews inherited something over $40,000 from the estate of John Davin of Liverpool, a relative, about one year ago.  Last fall he and Mrs. Mathews made a two months’ trip to Kansas City, Kan., to visit Mr. Mathews’ brother, Hugh Mathews.  Among the dead woman’s effects were found two $50 bills, which the husband said he had given her when they were in Chicago on their way home in November.  For more than an hour efforts to console Mr. Mathews failed, until finally Rev. James F. O’Shea, his pastor arrived from Solvay.  Miss Stella Dunn, a sister of Mrs. Mathews, collapsed when told of Mrs. Mathews’ death.

Besides her husband Mrs. Mathews is survived by three sisters, Mrs. Maude Dunn Hunter, wife of William Hunter of Caroline avenue, Solvay, Frances and Stella Dunn, who resided with her, and a brother living at Cleveland.  The husband is  a cousin of former Coroner Daniel F. Mathews.  Detective Harvey Larum, detailed from Police Headquarters immediately after the woman met death, investigated, but did not appear fully convinced that the elevator door had been closed


No Sign of Illness Just Before Mrs. Mathews Fell, Verdict of Autopsy

Coroner’s physician, Archer D. Babcock, and Dr. Herman L. Weiskotten, pathologist, performed an autopsy last night at Meagher & Gocdy’s undertaking rooms to ascertain the exact nature of the injury which  had caused Mrs. Mathews’ death.  The autopsy was under direction of Coroner Kinne.

It disclosed a fracture at the base of the skull.  This, Dr. Kinne said, produced a shock which had resulted in almost instant death.  The post mortem showed nothing to indicate that Mrs. Mathews had been taken ill just before she went through the elevator doors.

Source : Syracuse Post Standard, March 18, 1910.