Sunday, September 15, 2013
The Blind Agent's Divorce, The Rest of the Story
One of my readers of my last blog post about the blind insurance agent discovery, found the newspaper articles about the back story. I was sure there had to be more details. The first article was on page 15 of the 18 March 1916 of The Chicago Daily Tribune. It not only described the altercation, but it told of Frederick losing his sight, refusing to marry his fiancée, being lured into the marriage, and a rather scary night with a stranger in the apartment.
Roomer in Home;
Romance of Broker and
Fiancee Who Stuck to
Him Bared by Suit
SHE CHARGES A PLOT
Frederick T. Richardson, whose sudden
blindness figured in a romatic marriage
in 1907, and who is a prosperous insur-
ance broker, brought suit for divorce yes-
Richardson accuses his wife of being
too friendly with Henry F. Baker, 26
years old, a clerk, and a member of the
Richardson household. Richardson is 47
years old and his wife 35.
Richardson, who is junior member of
the insurance firm of William Richardson
& Son, was engaged to be maried in 1907.
His eyes were failing, but it was believed
that he would recover their use. One
evening as he sat with his father, mother,
and sister he spoke suddenly:
“Who turned off the lights?”
Stricken with Blindness.
He was assured that the lights were still
burning. For a time it was feared he had
lost his reason. Then it dawned upon his
family that he had lost his sight. At first
he was dejected, then determined to make
the most of it. The girl to whom he was
engaged came to him.
“We cannot marry,” he told her. But
she would not listen.
“Your affliction shall not keep me from
your side.” she told him. “We shall be
married and I will always be with you.”
But Richarson persisted in refusing to
handicap, as he thought, the future of
his financée. On Sept. 4, 1907, Richardson
was encouraged to attend a party in St.
Joseph, Mich. As the story goes, he was
taken on an automobile ride and the end
of the journey was in a justice’s office.
His brave fiancée was determined to show
that she was “with him through thick
and thin.” They were married.
Taps His Way Out of Flat.
A week ago Friday neighbors said there
was a commotion of some sort in the
Richardson flat. After it had quieted
down Richardson was heard tapping his
way downstairs with his cane. For the
last few months, since he has been en-
tirely without sight, he has been led
about by a boy.
Last night Mrs. Richardson told of
her domestic affairs.
“On the night in question,” said Mrs.
Richardon, “Mr. Richardson was in his
room and I was in mine. Mr. Baker, who
is a boarder at our house, was in his
Plot, She Charges.
“I hear a noise and tried to awaken
Mr. Baker, but the boy slept soundly.
Before I could arouse Mr. Richardson
there was a man in the apartment and
another man and a policeman were at
the door. Mr. Richardson tired to push
me into a room with Mr. Baker, but when
I saw they were private detective I re-
fused to be made a scapegoat.
“The men then took the poor boy, Mr.
Baker, who was white with fright into a
rear room and forced him to sigh a con-
fession of guilt.”
The elder Richardson is residing in San
Diego, Cal. The younger man could not
be found last night.”
The next article, gives both versions of the events of that Friday night 10 March 1916 and the threats in the months leading up to it. It sounds like a divorce is a good idea for both of these people described in The Chicago Daily Tribune, on Tuesday 16 May 1916:
SET TRAP TO TEST
Says New Dollar Bills He Put
In Her Bed Were Not Wrin-
kled Next Morning.
SHE DENIES ALL CHARGES.
A blind husband and his wife -- the wife
alleging her nerves had been shattered
by treatment she received at his hands--
yesterday testified against each other in
Judge McKinley’s court. Frederick T.
Richardson, junior member of the insur-
ance firm of William RIchardson & Son,
is the husband, and he is seek divorce
from his wife, Mrs. Frances E. Richard-
son, on charges of infidelity.
Blindness, the affliction which cast a
halo of romance about their marriage
seven years ago, was capitalized in the
testimony by both the man and the
woman. Mr. Richardson swore that his
wife took advantage of his condition to
flirt with Henry F. Baker, a one time
friend and roomer in the Richardson
home, at 4021 Lake Park avenue. Mrs.
Richardson emphasized the assertion
that she married Mr. Richardson al-
though she knew he was doomed to blind-
ness and that she cared for him faith-
fully during the seven years of their mar-
Says He Threatened Murder.
In addition to denying her husband’s
accusations Mrs. Richardson brought
countercharges against him. His con-
duct, she said, was “inhuman.” She
accused him of compelling her to submit
to indignities by threatening to end his
life unless she did as he demanded. On
several occasions, she said, he had
threatened to kill both her and himself.
There was also the name of “another
woman.” Mrs. Richardson said on one
occasion three years ago she overheard
he husband talking over the telephone
with another woman. She said she cried,
threatened to end his life, and finally
gave her the woman’s name. Mrs. Rich-
ardson said the woman was “Mrs. La
Pointe, who lives at 2541 Indiana avenue.”
Broke Into Apartment.
Mr. Richardson rested his case on cer-
tain occurrences on the night of March
10. Since that night, he said, he and
his wife have been living apart. Pri-
vate detectives testified that they went
to the Richardson apartment that night
and found Mrs. Richardson in Mr. Bak-
er’s room, which adjoined her own. Mr.
Richardson told the jurors that he called
the detectives after his own original
methods had led him to believe his wife
Handicapped by his blindness, according-
ing to Mr. Richardson, he put crisp dol-
lar bills between the sheets of his wife’s
bed in the evenings. In the mornings,
he said, he would enter his wife’s room
after she was out of the way. If he
found the bills still there unwrinkled,
then he believed that his wife had not
occcupied the bed.
Story by Wife.
Mrs. Richardson gave another version
of what happened in the apartment that
night. She said she had gone to be “at
the usual time, 10 or half-past.”
“Between half-past 1 and 2,” the wife
said, “I heard voices outside the window.
Then I saw a hand raising the window.
I jumped out of bed and ran through to
Mr. Baker’s room screaming for help. I
locked the door behind me. He didn’t pay
any attention and then I ran to my hus-
band’s room. I told Mr. Richardson there
were burglars in the house. He didn’t
seem to pay any attention. He grabbed
me, and I had to break a-way.
“Neither Mr. Richardson nor Mr.
Baker seemed to care about the burglars.
I couldn’t understand. Neither one of
them said anything. Then Mr. Richard-
son opened the door and these men” --
she indicated the detectives in the court-
room--”came in. I went to my room to
get on some clothes.”
Mrs. Richardson then denied the
charges of infidelity made against her.”
Traps to show infidelity by one of the "happily married couple" and information on "the other woman" revealed by the other. Stories of threatened violence and even putting new dollar bills under the other's bedsheets. The next day is the verdict, 17 May 1916, The Chicago Daily Tribune, page, almost word-for-word reprinted in the Portland Oregon paper quoted in the last post.
“BLIND MAN GETS DIVORCE
Chicago Broker Gets Decree on Mis-
CHICAGO, May 22 -- Twelve men
with two eyes apiece marched from
an anteroom into Judge McKenley’s
courtroom, gazed impassively at a
pretty woman, and stood while the
clerk read their verdict finding the
pretty woman guilty of misconduct
and granting a divorce to her sightless
The wife, severely costumed, turned
to look at the face of Frederick T.
Richardson, blind insurance under-
writer, who began tap-tapping to walk
from the room. A little later, Mrs.
Richardson, accompanied by her attor-
ney, Robert E. Crowe, also departed.
She had recited her defense. Henry
F. Baker, said she had been a roomer
and a family friend in the Richardson
home at 4021 Lake Park Avenue. Her
Husband had tried to thrust her into
Mr. Baker’s room when private de-
tectives, prearranged by plan, had ap-
peared at the door.
“I married Fred Richardson, al-
though I knew he was going blind.”
she said. “Always I was faithful to
him. They frightened that that poor boy,
Baker, into making a confession.”
Thinking about a timeline of events:
• 1907 F. T. Richardson marries Frances E. [last name to be determined], his 3rd wife.
• 1916 scandalous divorce makes front page with all the details, including "other woman" (Mrs. LaPointe who lives at 2541 Indiana Ave.)
• 1923 F.T. Richardson dies in Winamac, Indiana, one of his obituaries says he and his wife moved there about 6 years ago. 1923 - 6 = 1917. The final wife in the court papers (I'm still waiting for from Chicago) is named Sadie Richardson, as is in the land records from Pulaski County, Indiana.
I checked the 1910 census for Chicago for a "Sadie LaPointe" -- guess who shows up at 2541 Indiana Avenue, married to a Frank R LaPointe? Sadie LaPointe.
Is this the Sadie who our Frederick marries and moves with to Winamac, Indiana about a year after his divorce?
Maybe the wife was telling the truth and the jury of 12 men didn't believe her!
© Erica Dakin Voolich 2013
The link to this post is http://genea-adventures.blogspot.com/2013/09/the-blind-agents-divorce-rest-of-story.html