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John Tuohy's MY WRITERS SITE: The Ansonia Hotel and the life of W.E.D. Stokes.: Crazy rich. The Ansonia Hotel and the life of W.E.D. Stokes. by John William Tuohy William Earle Dodge Stokes, h...
Vanished: What became of Connie Smith?
Connie Smith vanished from her summer camp on the morning of Wednesday July 16, 1952, a warm day, 80 degrees. The East Coast was in the grip of a heat wave that delivered thick, humid air.
Established in 1928 by the YMCA, Camp Sloane is an 85 acre camp that sits along the shore of Lake Wononpakook (Long Pond) is in Lakeville Connecticut, a section of the town of Salisbury, in leafy and wealthy far northwestern portion of the state.
Connie had been at the camp for three weeks with another month to go. She was 10 years old. She was a slight girl, only 5'0" tall and 85 lbs. She had comically long arms and flat feet. And she was nearsighted, so nearsighted that even when she wore glasses she had to hold book close to her blue eyes to be able to see the words. She had developed early and as a result looked several years older than her age.
But all reports she was a pleasant, happy, and well- adjusted girl with a penchant for coloring books and comics. She was well traveled largely because she was born to wealth and privilege. She was the granddaughter of former Wyoming governor, Nels H. Smith. Aside from a summer home in Mexico, there was the family ranch in Sundance, Wyo. The Smith’s had also once owned the infamous Ranch A, in Crook County Wyoming, a 410 acre vacation retreat for publishing mogul Moses Annenberg.
The family had interests in ranching, trout production, meat packing, executive conference center operation, and mineral investments. As a result Connie was widely travelled, well-spoken and could converse on a variety of subjects other kids her age couldn’t. But what she liked to talk about most were horses. It was her favorite subject developed by a life on the ranch. She loved animals. She had been at the camp for three weeks with another month to go.
At approximately 7:50 AM, and for some unknown reason, as the other campers were headed toward breakfast, Connie walked up the half mile of winding dirt road to the stone pillars that mark the camp entrance and took a right on Indian Mountain Road.
She was wearing a bright red windbreaker, on a warm, muggy day. Under the jacket she wore dark navy blue shorts with plaid cuffs, tan leather shoes and a red-hair-ribbon which would have helped keep her hair/bangs from blowing into her face. Her shoes were tan. She was carrying her black-pocketbook.
August Epp, the camp's caretaker, told police that he and another man were driving near the camps entrance at about 8:15 in the morning when he saw Connie turn right on Indian Mountain Road picking daisies. He said he didn't stop her because he thought she was old enough to be a camp counselor. "I saw this girl come out of the gate and head north towards Lakeville. I think she stopped to pick some flowers, then continued. I didn't think it was one of the camp girls. She was so tall I thought it was a counselor that's why I did not pay much attention to her."
She had walked from the camp entrance on Indian Mountain Road to Route 44, called Millerton Road locally. She followed Indian Mountain Road past Deep Lake Farm toward the Lakeville section of Salisbury.
Mr. and Mrs. E Hobbs Horstman were out for an early morning walk when they passed Connie about a quarter of a mile north of the gate. "We didn't speak," they said.
A few minutes later Alice Walsh, who lived in the area, saw a girl she described as 5-foot and about a 100-pound girl, crying while she walked. She gave her directions to Lakeville.
Further along the road, Connie knocked on the door of Mrs. William Walsh and asked "Could you tell me the way to Lakeville?"
Mrs. Walsh told her "Continue on up the hill and turn right on route 44," To which Connie asked "Do you mean straight up the hill?"
"That's right, straight up the hill."
Mrs. Walsh later said the child looked as though she had been crying. At her last glance of the girl a couple of minutes later, Mrs. Walsh saw Connie walking up the hill. "To think I might have stopped her. If only I had said something, but then others saw her, and nobody did anything about it."
Why was she crying? Was it over something that happened in the camp? Had something happened to her between the time she left the camp and came across Alice Walsh?
Two maids were sitting in front of the servant’s cottage adjoining the Frederick L. Cadman house at 50 Indian Mountain Rd watched Connie walk up the driveway toward them and ask for directions to Lakeville. They told her and she walked away.
Several miles later Mrs. Frank E. Barnett was driving from Millerton on Route 44 and just before turning into Belgo Road and said she saw the little girl walking east on the north side of Route 44. Barnet said the girl was looking for a ride.
Connie was last seen on Millerton and Belgo Road. She was less than a half mile from the village center. Reports to the police were that she was last by Mr. and Mrs. John Brun standing on the right side (South side) of the road. She had tried to hitchhike a ride from them at the Route 44-Belgo Road intersection.
If the reports are correct Connie had walked two and half miles from the camp in 45 minutes. When the couple left her she was walking along towards Lakeville.
At about 8:45, the time Connie was last seen, her seven tent mates returned from to their tent from breakfast.
The girls reported her absence to Carol Baker, their group leader. She, in turn, called Camp Director E. P. Roberts, who had the entire camp area searched. By 11:30 a.m. it was obvious Connie had left the camp.
When state police were finally called in, at about 11:30, about three hours after the little girl was last seen, investigators looked at the possibility that Connie had been molested by a camp counselor or someone who worked at the camp. At that point, Epp, the grounds keeper came under very close scrutiny.
The speculation was that the camps very experienced director, (He had been with the YMCA since 1918) Ernest Roberts held back because he didn’t want to bring bad publicity to the camp. Or perhaps he just panicked and for good cause.
On July 14, 1940, an 11 year old boy died at the camp after he contacted septicemia. The boy’s father, US Army Colonel and note author John T. Winterich of Ossing New York, sued Ernest Roberts for the death of his son. The case was eventually dismissed but an investigation by the state showed that the camp doctor wasn’t registered with to practice medicine and that camp director Ernest Roberts knew the facts and covered them up. The doctor, a man named Fry, and Roberts were both arrested and eventually found guilty and fined.
All indications are that the state police quickly reached the conclusion that Connie was not just another lost child. State police Barracks across the state were alerted to the case. Local jeep owners were recruited to cover the woods and rough terrain.
Bloodhounds were brought in and the Connecticut Wing of the Civil Air Patrol and Air Force planes from Westover Field, Mass. twenty planes in all, conducted sky to ground searches for 20 hours. A dozen troopers assigned to the Canaan barracks and a dozen more local volunteers combed the area around the camp.
One of the first thing State Police did was to look around a nearby gypsy encampment. Police were so convinced that the gypsies, who were known to kidnap children that they hid in the forest for several days to see if Connie was being held against her will inside the camp but it went nowhere.
Still a gypsy angle hung over the case. A report came from Cooperstown N.Y. that a child resembling Connie had passes through town with a band of gypsies and a gas station operator in Mabbetsville, New York saw her with another band of gypsies. But both tips turned up nothing. Hundreds of dead end leads that swamped the police over the next twelve months.
Decades after the disappearance Connie’s father met with a “Gypsy King” in California and asked him if they still kidnapped children. The response was, “Not anymore.”
Police tested scat in the forest, thinking maybe Connie had been eaten by wild animals. Acting on a tip that Connie had been killed and was buried in a shallow grave, Trooper dug around local cemeteries plunging rods through the ground.
Truck drivers were stopped and questioned. Carnival workers in Lakeville were questioned and so were men from Arkansas who camped along Route 22 and hired out as barn painters.
No one in the village center of Lakeville had seen her. She had not gone into one of the towns stores or seen on the streets. "We couldn't have missed her if she came into town," said one shopkeeper. "She just never reached her."
There were no buses from the area and no cabs had ordered in the general vicinity for months.
Police looked at every possible set of circumstances. The road where she was last seen was busy and people tended to speed on it. Perhaps she’d been stuck and killed by a car and the driver hid the body. That had happened before. But a checked of several miles of roadway showed no trace of blood or an accident.
It was also possible that she had wandered off the road to beautiful Wononskopomuc Lake, one of the deepest waters in the state. Perhaps she had drowned. But no one on the lake recalled seeing her, she was an above average swimmer and a body has never been found.
Had one of her newly divorced parent taken her? Both parents were called in and would arrive in Lakeville within a days’ time. Considering the parents wealth, perhaps she had been kidnapped, (A nation both parents considered kidnapping a possible motive) but no ransom demands ever arrived.
One of the few possibility left was the strongest possibility, Connie got a ride on Route 44, perhaps with a child’s notion to make her way down to Greenwich or back home to Wyoming. Perhaps, a lunatic had picked her up by chance sometimes after 8:45 and probably killed her.
The next question was motive, what was Connie’s motive in leaving the camp? Why did she leave without telling anyone and why so early? Was she escaping or at least protesting the rough treatment from her tent-mates? Had she been assaulted by one of the camp employees and was headed into town to phone the police?
The days before her disappearance ranged between the mundane and plausibly traumatic. She has just celebrated her 10th birthday on July 11 and on Sunday, July 13, Connie's mother and grandmother visited her and deposited $5 to her camp account at the camp. (The children were not allowed to have cash but could charge purchases or small cash advances against their accounts.)
Her mother related afterwards that Connie was excited about a Square Dance at the Camp the next Friday, July 18, and a horse show scheduled for Saturday, July 19, and asked if she could stay at the camp longer than originally planned. However her mother had already arranged for them to return to Wyoming and said no, something that Connie, according to her mother took in stride.
Reportedly one of the counselors recalled “She seemed homesick after her mother left"
On the morning she disappeared, just before breakfast, Connie had some sort altercation with either one of her tent mates or a group of girls and her tent mate that resulted in Connie getting punched or kicked in the nose hard enough to draw blood. The camp said that the night before she left the camp that Connie had got a bloody nose when a tent mate climbing down from the bunk above her accidentally kicked her in the face, bloodied her nose and broke her glasses.
Aside from the bloody nose and broken eyeglasses, police learned that she had bruised her hip badly enough to require an overnight icepack. Camp personnel said that the little girl tripped and fallen off the elevated tent boards.
It was Connie's second injury within 24 hours.
On the morning she disappeared, Connie was said to have mentioned to someone, probably another girl at the camp, that instead of heading up to breakfast she was going to the medical tent to return the ice pack, but she never did, the pack was found on her bunk inside her tent.
In the meantime the hunt continued. State police searched the woods on horseback. Both of Connie’s parents scoffed at the notion that their daughter could become lost in the woods. They had taken time to teach her to walk downhill and find and follow a fence or a road.
A psychic horse from Virginia named Lady Wonder was brought in. Two years before, Lady Wonder had inexplicably helped find the body of a missing child with a crude typewriter she touched with her hooves to answer questions. However in Connie’s case Lady Wonder was a letdown and produced nothing.
They checked reservoirs and lakes and waded through swap land. Connie’s mother wrote to known hunters in the area and begged them to join the search and look in old wells and deserted buildings. The Connecticut Trail Riders Association gathered for a big weekend ride through wooded countryside. Connie’s body has never been found nor has a piece of cloth from her clothes ever been recovered. All of the known criminal suspects from miles around were hauled in for questioning. The Police had a long list of suspects that included the camp cook, deliverymen, August Epp the caretaker, two farm hands who had been out late the night before Connie disappeared.
Connie’s father, Peter Smith, arrived in Lakeville late Friday, two days after Connie disappeared. To the amazement of the locals he was dressed in a business suit, cowboy boots and a 10-gallon hat. He could take out three doves with three shots, a craft he continued up until the year he died at age 97 and standing six foot seven inches tall he was a man who made an impression.
Peter Smith and Helen Jensen, the daughter of Swedish immigrants, were married at her parents’ home in Greenwich, Connecticut, on October 23, 1937. They had two children, Nels Jensen, born in 1939 and Constance (Connie) Christine born in 1942. The couple divorced in 1949.
Helen Smith, who lived in a separate home on the massive Smith ranch, had custody of Connie and she brought her east to spend the summer with her Mother in Greenwich, Connecticut. It was Helen who decided to send Connie to Camp Sloane.
Peter Smith began to coordinate his own search for his daughter. He rented horses and led riders through the thick woods, he rented planes, rode in them and circled the search areas for hours and handed out missing person flyers. When a misguided tip came in that Connie's might be headed for the home of relatives in Chicago, he booked a private plane and went to the Windy City searched there for her.
He appeared on the nationwide The Art Linkletter Show asking for help in finding his daughter and then spent several days passing out poster to all the schools in the LA area. He said “In this case all roads lead to California” but never explained the statement. Years later it was revealed that a group of itinerant orchard workers who had spent the summer in New England were trailed to Los Angeles and that Smith had taken several trips to try an interview someone who had worked at the camp.
The search for Connie developed into the most extensive missing person search of the decade for Connecticut. More than 11,000 circulars were printed and posted in gas stations, post offices, restaurants and schools throughout the country. Connie's dental was printed in the Journal of the American Dental Association.
However the search waned during the late summer that year and resumed when the foliage was gone, still led by Connie’s father. The case was kept somewhat alive by Georges Joseph Christian Simenon (February 1903 – September 4 1989) a prolific Belgian writer who published nearly 500 novels and numerous short works most that revolved around the creator of the fictional detective Jules Maigret.
Simenon lived in a massive farmhouse at Shadow Rock Farm (Below) at 27 Cleaveland Road which is about three miles north of the spot Connie was last seen. He penned a quick novel called La Mort de Belle ("The Death of Belle") based vaguely on Connie’s disappearance (if only because the novel takes place in Lakeville. The premise is that while attending a university near Geneva, a young American, Belle, stays at the home of Professor Stephane Blanchon and his frigid wife.
Stephane becomes the principal suspect when Belle is found murdered in the Blanchon home. At the inquest it is revealed that although Belle dated often and was quite promiscuous, she had secretly been in love with Stephane. The news shocks Stephane into the realization that because of the brittle relationship with his wife, he has permitted his life to become aimless and listless. As circumstantial evidence against him mounts, he shakes off his former passiveness and has a brief affair. Obsessed by the death of Belle and all he has missed in life, he kills the woman--ironically, he commits this murder at the very moment the police get a confession from Belle's killer.
The French turned the novel into a 1962 film called The Passion of Slow Fire.
A reward of $3,000 was offered for any tips and $1,000 for her body. The tips poured in, all of them were followed up and all of them went nowhere. A woman upstate New York said she saw Connie riding a horse in front of her house; a New York construction worker said he shared his lunch with Connie and a lady from Great Barrington, Mass, swore she spotted Connie at the annual Fall fair. A runaway Indian girl in Texas was mistakenly identified as Connie. Another reported seeing her in Cooperstown New York.
Tips came in that said Connie was living in Canada and at a hotel in Cincinnati. She was also reported to be living in Alabama. Witnesses said they saw her on a bus in Albany, N.Y., and Randolph, Vt.
Then an itinerant Ohio jewelry salesman named Frederick W. Pope claimed he and a companion picked Connie up in Connecticut, drove her across country and once in Arizona his companion strangled Connie during an argument about directions.
Pope said that several hours later he killed the companion with an iron bar while the two were changing a tire. Pope it turned out made up the story as a means to get back into a psychiatric hospital.
In August of 1954 a newspaper photo taken at a Bronx New York Beach showed a little girl that looked very much like Connie. Police tracked down the lead and found the girl in photo. It wasn’t Connie.
In 1955 western Connecticut was shattered by a massive flood. Ten days after the flood hit, while the state was trying to recover from massive damages in its wake, at 1:00 Am a state trooper took a collect call from a man who identified himself as William Dugan who said he was calling from Canada. He told the trooper that he had worked for a circus in Hartford 13 years before and that he wanted to confess to a crime.
The trooper agreed to meet Dugan in Canada the next day. But hundreds of emergencies created by the flood forced the trooper to turn the meeting over to Canadian police. The Canadian police never called back and Dugan and his phone call fell by the wayside. However the trooper did phone Dugan's ex-wife and she said Dugan was actually was with the US Army stationed in Japan, not Canada.
Some 33 years later, in 1988, the trooper who took the call read a news story about the state of Pennsylvania charging a former carnival worker, William Henry Redmond, then 66, with the 1954 murder of a 10-year-old girl. Redman was a former Ferris wheel operator with the Penn-Premier Show carnival.
The trooper recalled the call from the man calling himself Dugan who said he had worked in the circus and phoned the Pennsylvania state police to urge them to press Redmond to find out if he was the man who pretended to be Dugan.
It was plausible since the Pennsylvania police had evidence that Redmond had lived in Canada at some point but police were never able to determine whether Redmond was in Connecticut in the 1950s or if there was a carnival in the Lakeville area around the time of Connie's disappearance.
While in a prison hospital awaiting charges, Redmond allegedly told a fellow inmate that while police had him for one murder but that three others remained undiscovered. Redmond was later questioned about Connie and submitted to a lie detector test, which he passed.
On May 14, 1957, eight-year-old Brenda Doucette was found dead, stabbed 22 times with a screwdriver and strangled with a man's sweater. Police arrested 38-year-old George Davies, a paroled sex offender who confessed to the crime. And to the murder of 16-year-old Gaetane Boivin on May 9 of that year.
At first Davies denied any role in Connie’s disappearance but while on death row for the Doucette and Boivin murders, he changed his story, said he killed Connie and took police on a pointless, expensive and time consuming excavation of two places he said he buried her body. The searches turned up nothing and on September 20, 1959, murderer George Davies, a half hour before being executed, said that he had lied about killing Connie.
Also in 1959 police were led to a local deliveryman who had told his wife that even if the Connie’s body was found that there would be nothing left it and that Connie had tried calling her father the night before she vanished. (Actually Connie’s father had never received a call from his daughter that night)
When police interviewed the man he admitted that his newspaper delivery route took him by Camp Sloane around the time Connie was last seen and that he finished his route around 8 a.m. Connie disappeared sometime after 8:45. He was given a lie detector test and passed.
However, in 1958, a young girl’s remains were found near Williams, Arizona and Police were never able to identify her.
In 1962, a letter received by the Connecticut State Police claimed that the dead girl was Connie Smith. A comparison of the Arizona child’s teeth with Connie’s dental records was inconclusive and forensic tests were unable to definitively link the two. In 2004, the Connecticut State Police collected DNA from the Smith family, hoping to match it to the dead girls DNA but by then the girl’s grave couldn’t be located.
As late as 1988, DNA tests were given to women who came forward and said they were Connie Smith but there was never a match.
In July of 2010, 58 years after Connie disappeared, some children found human bones in a river in Great Barrington Mass. The police checked the DNA to Connie’s family member but there was no match.
Eventually the investigation died off although it still remains an open case for the Connecticut State Police.
Connie's mother, Helen, died of a heart attack in 1962. She was 47 years old. She never fully believed her daughter was dead, only missing. Helen and Pete Smith always believed that Connie was suffering from Amnesia and that one day she would eventually turn up unharmed.
Connie father Pete was almost completely absorbed by his daughter’s disappearance. He returned to Lakeville until deep into the 1980s hoping against all hope to find a fresh clue in the case.
In a 1984 interview, Smith said he imagined his daughter in the face of every woman he passed who would be about her age. He never gave up the hope that "something would turn up"
He eventually remarried and died peacefully at his winter home at Kino Nuevo, Sonora, Mexico with his son Nels at his side on February 22, 2012 at age 97. His obituary began “Pete Smith left for his next hunt at 4:35 p.m. Feb. 22, 2012.”
Connie Smith has not been seen or heard of since, nor have any of her possessions been found.
Michael V. O'Hare was bookkeeper to former US Sen. Thomas J. Dodd (D-Conn., d. 1971 father of current Sen. Chris Dodd) who blew the whistle on Dodd in 1967 because Dodd was using campaign money for his personal benefit.
O'Hare, who began working for Dodd in 1961, was one of four staffers who copied more than 4,000 documents from Dodd's files and provided them to syndicated columnists Jack Anderson and Drew Pearson.
The files purportedly showed that Dodd was doing political favors for a registered foreign agent and that he double-billed seven airline tickets and used $116,083 in political donations to pay personal expenses, including back taxes. The accusations immediately caused a media firestorm. It was the first case to go before the newly created Senate Ethics Committee, and Dodd was the first U.S. senator to be censured for personal financial misconduct.
O'Hare went on to work as a financial officer for Big Brothers of the National Capital Area, the Overseas Development Council, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the malaria program of the Naval Medical Research Center. But he was devastated by the initial attack against him during the Dodd uproar.
Dodd blamed the scandal on O'Hare's "sloppy bookkeeping" and in a speech on the Senate floor called him "a liar and a forger and a thief." Newspaper articles described Mr. O'Hare and his former co-workers as turncoats, and in the Senate coffee shop, Dodd's son Jeremy poked him in the chest and said, "When this thing is over I'm going to follow you to your [deleted] grave," according to a front-page account in The Washington Post in 1966. O’Hare died of a stroke in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on March 15, 2009
Because Hiram Bingham resigned after one day in office, John Trumbull served the shortest term of any lieutenant governor in the state. Despite his famous Connecticut name, he was not related to any of the three previous Trumbulls who had served as governors.
His parents were Irish immigrants who moved to Ashford in the early 1870's to operate a farm. Trumbull was born there in 1873, but the family later moved to Plainville where he developed an interest in the emerging industry of electricity. In 1898 he and a brother formed an electrical business in Plainville in partnership with another man. Known as the Trumbull Electric Company, it produced appliances and later became part of General Electric. Trumbull was its president from 1911 until he retired from the company in 1944. He was also active in other business firms.
Trumbull had an interest in the militia and joined the First Connecticut Infantry in 1891. He achieved the rank of colonel in the State Guard. He also developed an interest in flying and piloted his own airplanes during speaking engagements. This earned him the title of. Flying Governor. Trumbull married Maud Usher in 1903 and they had two children.
With Bingham leaving office on January 8, 1925, Trumbull served that complete term as governor and was reelected two more times. He chose to retire in 1931. As a conservative Republican, he balanced the state's budget and sought to assist Connecticut's businesses.
During his terms the state government began a building program and worked to improve Connecticut's roads. When the Great Depression came in 1929 Trumbull was unable to prevent the state's unemployment from growing nor to solve its financial problems. Trumbull did seek to become governor again in 1932, but lost to the incumbent, Wilbur Cross.
When Trumbull left office he continued overseeing his business interests. He was also an active sportsman. The Museum of Connecticut History owns a propeller from a plane he once crashed. It also owns a firearm that was presented to him by the Colt Company of Hartford. His factory building in Plainville still stands on Woodford Avenue.
George Lloyd Murphy (July 4, 1902 – May 3, 1992) was a dancer, actor, and politician. He was born in New Haven, Connecticut of Irish Catholic extraction, and attended Yale University. He worked as a tool maker for the Ford Motor Company, as a miner, a real estate agent, and a night club dancer. In movies, Murphy was famous as a song-and-dance man, appearing in many big-budget musicals such as Broadway Melody of 1938, Broadway Melody of 1940 and For Me and My Gal. He made his movie debut shortly after talking pictures had replaced silent movies in 1930, and his career continued until he retired as an actor in 1952, at the age of 50.
He was the president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1944 to 1946. He was a vice president of Desilu Studios and of the Technicolor Corporation. He was director of entertainment for presidential inaugurations in 1952, 1956 and 1960.
In the 1950s, Murphy entered politics as chairman of the California Republican State Central Committee. In 1964 he was elected to the United States Senate; he defeated Pierre Salinger, who had been appointed several months earlier to serve the remainder of the late Clair Engle's unexpired term. Murphy served from January 1, 1965 to January 3, 1971. In 1968, he served as the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Murphy assumed his seat two days early, when Salinger resigned from the seat in order to allow Murphy to gain an edge in seniority. Murphy was then appointed by Gov. Pat Brown to serve the remaining two days of Salinger's term. He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1970, and subsequently moved to Palm Beach, Florida, where he died at the age of 89 from leukemia. During his Senate term, Murphy suffered from throat cancer, forcing him to have part of his larynx removed. For the rest of his life, he was unable to speak above a whisper. This played a significant role in his 1970 defeat. Murphy's move from the screen to California politics paved the way for the successful transitions of actors such as Ronald Reagan and later Arnold Schwarzenegger. Reagan once famously referred to George Murphy as "...my John the Baptist" (in a political sense).
Frank McHugh: Born May 23, 1899 Died Sep. 11, 1981 in Greenwich. Film, television and stage actor, part of the 1930s Hollywood’s Irish Mafia. He often played the leading man's good-natured or wisecracking sidekick to such stars as Bing Crosby and James Cagney. He appeared in the films "The Fighting 69th" and "Going My Way." McHugh came from a theatrical family. His parents ran a stock theatre company and as a young child he performed on stage. His brother Matt and sister Kitty performed an act with him by the time he was ten years old, but the family quit the stage around 1930. Another brother, Ed, became a stage manager and agent in New York
McHugh debuted on Broadway in The Fall Guy in 1925. Warner Bros. hired him as a contract player in 1930. McHugh played everything from lead actor to sidekick and would often provide comedy relief. He appeared in over 150 films and television productions and worked with almost every star at Warner Bros. By the 1950s, his film career had begun to decline, as evinced by his smaller role in Career (1959). From 1964 to 1965, he played the role of Willie Walters, a live-in handyman on ABC's sitcom, The Bing Crosby Show. His last television appearance was as Charlie Wingate in the episode "The Fix-It Man" on CBS's Lancer western series. McHugh played a handyman in that role too. He is buried in West Hartford.
Note: The hyper rich Stokes family were deeply intertwined by blood, business and investments to Ansonia and Derby Connecticut other leading industrial Baron families.
The prickly but well intentioned heiress Caroline Phelps and her sister Olivia built the Ansonia library in 1892 in memory of her grandfather, Ansonia founder Anson Greene Phelps and her parents; Caroline Phelps Stokes (The daughter of Anson Greene Phelps) and James Boulter Stokes of New York City.
James and Caroline had 11 children, including the notorious William Earl Dodge Stokes (WED Stokes) who built the famed Ansonia Hotel in Manhattan.
James Stokes parents came from England in 1798 where they started several businesses including importing fine woolen cloth, selling coal and real estate investment. In his life time Stokes was known as simply James Stokes, although he had been born James Boulter Stokes, Boulter being his mother’s name and her father’s full name. However on a trip to England in 1833 to meet his grandfather, he found the old man so cantankerous that he legally removed Boulter from his name.
A deeply religious man he joined the New York Peace Society and the New York Tract Society and from those groups met the industrialists Anson Greene Phelps and David Low Dodge. When he died in 1832 his sons James and Edward Halesworth Stokes took over the businesses.
James Stokes's younger brother, Josiah, worked for Anson Greene Phelps as a confidential clerk and was engaged to Phelps daughter Caroline when he was killed on May 4, 1832 when a warehouse he was working in collapsed. In 1837 James Stokes married Caroline and became a partner in the Phelps-Dodge financial and industrial empire, the third son-in-law of Anson Phelps to become a partner in the family business.
By 1847 James was a partner in Ansonia Brass & Copper Company, the Ansonia Clock Company, and the Ansonia Land & Water Company. He still held interest in the Stokes, cloth importing company.
Stokes had several homes. One in England, a house called Clifton Cottage, on the grounds of Anson Phelps's 35 acre estate on the East River, 37 Madison Avenue and in a house situated between Derby and Ansonia that was originally an Episcopal rectory, enlarged at the rear.
Despite his wealth Stokes visited Bellevue Hospital and taught Bible class there and gave of his time to several public schools. He supported the YMCA and gave fortunes to the Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor; Hospital for Ruptured and Crippled; New York Eye and Ear Infirmary and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. He was offered the nomination for Mayor of New York but declined.
Caroline Stokes, James wife died on March 9 1881 and Stokes died shortly afterwards.
Caroline Phelps Stokes partner in building the Ansonia library was her sister Olivia Egleston Phelps Stokes (1847-1927) the sixth child of James and Caroline and the older sister of Caroline Phelps Stokes.
Both sister were raised in an atmosphere of Christian piety, missionary zeal, and philanthropy. Her father thought it his duty to spend the family’s wealth in alignment with his Christian values.
They were both home educated and grew to be almost identical in their outlook and tastes despite being seven years apart. When their sisters married, both girls stayed single and dedicated themselves philanthropic deeds.
Olivia served as secretary on the board of the New York Young Women’s Christian Association, taught Sunday school, inherited her mother’s sewing class at the Phelps Chapel, and attended a club for working girls. She was an accomplished writer and authored several inspirational and religious works.
The sisters had been especially interested in creating opportunities for the vocational education of African-Americans in the South, and Caroline bequeathed large sums of money to support institutions like the Tuskegee Institute and the Calhoun Colored School in Alabama. Most importantly, she bequeathed the remainder of her estate to establish the Phelps-Stokes Fund for the improvement of tenement housing in New York, and the education of “Indians, deserving white students, and Negroes in Africa and the United States.”
Following her sister Caroline’s death in 1908, Olivia Phelps Stokes donated generously to the Phelps-Stokes Fund, which concentrated primarily on African-American education and the improvement of race relations in its early years. She bequeathed $100,000 (equivalent to approximately $2.4m today) to both the Tuskegee and Hampton institutes, as well as a smaller sum to establish similar facilities in Africa.
In 1915, Olivia donated two tenements she had built in memory of her sister to the Phelps-Stokes Fund. Surviving Caroline by nineteen years, Olivia died of pneumonia in Washington, D.C., at eighty.
James Fisk, Jr. (April 1, 1835 – January 7, 1872) was a stockbroker corporate executive who was one of the robber barons of the Gilded Age. Born in Pownal, Vermont, he ran away with the circus as a boy, when on to become a hotel waiter and peddler and eventually found his way to Washington DC where he worked for Jordan Marsh selling textiles to the government. Army contracts and probably some cotton smuggling across enemy lines made him rich (Although he lost his first fortune in speculation)
Fisk became a stockbroker in New York City, and went to work for Daniel Drew a master at manipulating stock prices, as a buyer and played an essential role in Drew’s campaign to wrest control of the Erie Railroad from Cornelius Vanderbilt. Fisk and Jay Gould eventually took the railroad for themselves (By continually issuing fraudulent Erie stock) and remained lifelong business partners. The pair had an alliance with corrupt Tammany Hall leader Boss Tweed who handled their political bribery and when their back channel attempts to corner the gold market caused thousands of investors to lose fortunes Fisk and Gould another fortune.
Fisk married a women named Lucy Moore, an orphan from Springfield, Massachusetts, when he was 19 and she was 15. Lucy was. (She was a stepsister of Col. George W. Hooker of Vermont) It was a sort of open marriage. Fisk carried on in extramarital affair and Lucy had a childhood friend, Fanny Harrod as her lover. One of Fisk’s women was Josie Mansfield, a plump woman whom Fisk put up in an apartment a few doors down from the Erie Railroad headquarters on West 23rd Street and had a covered passage built linking the back doors of the headquarters and her apartment building.
In 1867, Jim Fisk met Helen Josephine “Josie” Mansfield, an unemployed actress, while visiting to the Manhattan bordello of Annie Wood, who introduced the couple. Mansfield was a friend of the Madam and may or may not have been working for her, history isn’t clear on that. Mansfield was broke and close to homeless and Jim Fisk fell instantly in love with her. He bought her clothes, gave her a place to live (a four story house on Twenty-Fourth Street) and paid all of her bills.
Mansfield was born in Boston and at age ten moved west to Stockton, California with her family. Her father was killed in a duel over a political issues and her mother remarried a man named Warren.
She was caught in a scandal when a middle-aged attorney named D. W. Perley started flirting with her and her stepfather had to chase him away at pistol point. Mansfield would later say she was being used by her parents in a blackmail plot. According to a newspaper report “
About one month after this acquaintance had been formed, Perley was visiting at the house of Mrs. Warren. Some have said that Mrs. Warren was Josie’s mother. Perley was in the parlor with Helen Josephine at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. The door was locked.
Suddenly a loud knocking was heard at the door. Before the inmates of the room had time to respond, the door was burst open, and Lawlor and Mr. Warren rushed into the room. Each had a cocked revolver in his hand. Lawlor quickly advanced to Perley and placed the revolver to his head. Warren stood guard at the door, while Helen Josephine pretended to faint. Lawlor said to Perley: “You infernal scoundrel, you have tampered with the affections of my wife. If you don’t instantly sign a check for $5,000 I will blow your brains out.”
Lawlor then produced a check already filled up for the amount on a local bank, only lacking the signature of Perley. Perley signed it. Lawlor then put his pistol to Perley’s head a second time, and ordered him out of the house, telling him if he ever spoke of the affair he would shoot him on sight.
When Perley escaped he hurried to the bank and stopped payment of the check. He then published the whole transaction in the San Francisco newspapers, describing it as a conspiracy by Warren, Mrs. Warren, Lawlor and his wife. He also sent a friend to Lawlor, warning him out of California within thirty days, on penalty of death. Lawlor sailed with his wife for New York. Mansfield eventually married an actor named Frank Lawler and made their way east. They divorced two years later.
The married Fisk's relationship with Mansfield scandalized New York society.
On New Year’s Day, 1870, Josie Mansfield hosted an open house and Fisk invited d Stokes to join him at the party where he introduced Stokes to Mansfield. Soon afterwards Stokes and Mansfield were secretly seeing other behind Fisk’s back. Mansfield eventually left Fisk and Stokes left his wife and children and moved in with her.
Edward Stiles Stokes (April 27, 1841 – November 2, 1901) was the owner of a New York oil refinery and the son of Edward Halesworth Stokes, A millionaire who owned a New York cloth business. Edward Halesworth Stokes was the brother of James Stokes.
Young Stokes was educated in Philadelphia and later New York before starting in a partnership with Jenks Budlong, manufacturing and selling cheese. In 1862 he married Maria Southack, daughter of John W. Southack, wealthy furniture manufacturer of New York.
In 1865 Stokes was operating an oil refinery in Brooklyn at Hunter’s Point and brought in railway man James Fisk as a silent partner and carried on a secret arrangement with Fisk discounting freight charges for the Stokes refinery while they billed buyers for the nonexistent charges. Stokes, was a well know figure in New York’s night life. He was rich, tough, dashing, desperately handsome and athletic from a good family. But he was also spoiled and rash, a gambler who spent most of his free time between racetracks and saloons. A flashy dresser who liked be the center of attention, Stokes spent money at a faster rate than he could make it.
Fisk learned about the affair no doubt, since he regularly hired private detectives to follow his partners and top executives around. He struck in a revenge campaign and had Stokes arrested on a charge of embezzlement in connection with the oil business. Stokes also took over the refinery by force and got injunctions against Stokes and his mother (Who the land the refinery was on) from entering the property.
Mansfield has epic nerve. Although she has purred Fisk, she demanded that he turn over $25,000 he told her that he was keeping in trust for her. Fisk refused of course. Now she was in trouble. Word went out across the city that Fisk was no longer paying Mansfield bills and the creditors came called.
Stokes was almost bankrupt at this point. Fisk attacked Stokes Wall Street speculations and refused to ship oil from the Pennsylvania regions to New York. Stokes began a scheme to extort Fisk by blackmail, threatening to give his love letter to Mansfield to the press. The letters were said to outline Fisk’s various fiscal crimes and cheating but Fisk refused to pay.
On January 6, 1872, Fisk, 36 years old, came across Stokes in the Grand Central Hotel and Stokes shot him twice, once in the arm and once in the abdomen as he climbed a set of marble stairs where Stokes was waiting. Fisk died six hours later after giving a dying declaration identifying Stokes as the killer.
The murder was the sensation of the day. Jubilee Jim Fisk lay in state for a day at the Grand Opera House, a theatre he had owned and managed where 20,000 people came by to pay their last respects. His body was taken by train to Brattleboro, Vermont where thousands more turned out to see the body.
Stokes pleaded self-defense using a blithering string of half-baked truths to explain his actions. Stokes was tried three times for the murder, with each trial showing signs of bribed jurors. He was eventually found guilty of manslaughter and was sentenced to four to six years in Sing Sing prison.
The thirty-nine blackmail letters from Fisk to Mansfield were published in the New York Herald one week after Jim Fisk’s death. They contained no proof of wrong doing and were, essentially, syrupy love letter and little else.
Stokes’s father had gone bankrupt paying for his son’s defense and Stokes himself was penniless. Businessman Cassius Reed put up the money for the second trial, and relatives spent $60,000 on the third trial. Stokes cousin, W. E. D. Stokes, convinced his father to spend this $60,000 for Stokes legal defense. The money never stopped pouring in. While in Sing Sing, he had a private office, a very comfortable cell with a small but respectable library and shelves stocked with good whiskey, cigars, champagne and delicacies.
After his release from prison Stokes became a one third partner of Cassius H Read, a friend of his who owned the Hoffman House Hotel, corner of Twenty-Fifth Street and Broadway. The Hoffman House was New York’s gather spot for the rich and famous. Its tenants and guests included Sarah Bernhardt, Grover Cleveland, Buffalo Bill Cody, Tony Pastor, John L. Sullivan, General Winfield Scott and others. Stokes and his family lived there as well. Stokes and Read were involved in several business ventures together before the Fisk killing.
While Stokes was on trial and sitting in a cell in the Tombs, he asked Read to watch over his affairs for him, which Read did faithfully. Despite the toll it took on his own reputation, Read stood by Stokes during the entire trial.
It’s interesting that while Stokes was being held on Murderer’s Row in the Tombs, he didn’t live badly. At the time, prisoner with money could have whatever they could pay. Stokes had a carpet on the cell floor, had meals brought in from Delmonico’s which was across the street from his home.
When Stokes was in Sing Sing Prison. Read loaned him $1,500, a considerable amount of money at the time and when Stokes was released from prison, Read took him in. But Stokes was always quarrelsome, with everyone, and seemed to thrive on lawsuits and he of course eventually sued Read. (Stokes also had a long running battle with his cousin, W. E. D. Stokes)
When he took Stokes in as a partner, Stokes managed to have Read change ownership of the hotel into a corporation. Stokes managed to get control of the corporation by secretly buying up stock and making himself President of the company. At the same time, Read made a series of bad investments at Stokes suggestion, and by 1895, Stokes had pushed him out of the company. Broke, Read retired from business. When Stokes and Read first went into business together, Read was worth an estimated $700,000, a fortune at the time equally today to about $20 million dollars.
Three years later, Stokes, now very wealthy, sold the hotel. However the New York Times reported that Stokes never went to bed without the lights on and a valet on a couch, beside him. He was always afraid of Fisk’s ghost.
Stokes died in New York City on November 2, 1901 at 3 o'clock afternoon at his sister home at 731 St. Nicholas Avenue. He had been battling Bright's disease for two month. Just before he died Rosamond Langdon Barclay, who was half black and half white, (called an “Octoroon” in the newspapers of the day) appeared at Stokes death bed and claimed to be his wife. She said they were married a year before “On Oct. 18, 1900, at Shipmen’s Point, Canada, by an Episcopal minister whose name I don’t remember.”
She said that she had first met Stokes when she was a little girl. She said her father was Charles Barclay, an Englishman, and a friend of Stokes and that she was given a private education in Farmington, Conn., and that twelve years ago she renewed her acquaintance with Stokes. “Mr. Stokes and I were married He was stopping at the hotel where we were. At the time Mr. Stokes was not in good health, and he wished to provide for me and arrange matters so that should he become seriously ill I would have the right to visit him, even though our marriage was not made public.”
The Stokes family probably managed to pay her off because a day after Stokes died Rosamond and her mother and brother (Who lived at Stokes house as well) left Stokes mansion and moved to Yonkers never to be heard from again.
Josie Mansfield, the lover of both Fisk and Stokes, sued Fisk’s widow for $200,000, which she claimed she was owed. She lost the suit. She left New York for Paris, France. In 1891, at the age of 50, in London, she married Robert Livingston Reade, a young multimillionaire who soon left her but always supported her. In 1899 she was stricken with paralysis she moved to Philadelphia to live with her sister, the wife of a wealthy merchant. In 1909, she was reported to be living in poverty with her brother in Watertown, South Dakota. She went to Boston. But was hooted and booed in the streets. She managed to return to Paris where she lived for many years, dying in an American hospital in Paris in 1931.