There is only one thing that will make a young man's mind linger on chickens and lawnmowers.
"If you had not been so forbidding the other day, and hadnít made my beautiful soul close up like the sensitive plant, I was going to tell you of my misfortune," Harry Peyton Steger wrote to Gertrude King on July 1, 1910. "I have been married for some two or three weeks. I am moving out to Garden City today and I suppose that is the end of me. I am beginning to see chickens in my dreams and I am actually going to invest in a lawnmower. Unless something happens soon, I am a goner."
Garden City was a relatively new village at the time, created in 1869 by Alexander Turney Stewart, an Irish immigrant and brilliant businessman who managed to turn a $10,000 inheritance into an estimated $40 million by the time of his death in 1876.
Even today, many families in Garden City can trace their heritage back to ancestors that came to America from Ireland in search of a better life. No doubt, Garden City suited the new Mrs. Harry Peyton Steger to a "T." She was an Irish lass herself, having immigrated to the U.S. with her family at the tender age of 12.
Harry's blushing bride in June 1910, one Dorothy McCormack, known to her family as Dolly, had an interesting story in her own right. Records show that Jane (Dolly, Dorothy) McCormack was born in North Dublin Ireland in 1884.
According to The New York Times archives, Dorothy had married one of New York's wealthiest young men, Wilson Royal Crosby, heir to United States Express Company, on March 1, 1903. Evidently, WIlliam's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Chauncey M. Crosby, didn't approve and therefore the union was kept secret. United States Express Company was a privately owned company specializing in handling parcels and freight throughout New England and even as far west as Colorado.
Dorothy's father was listed as a furniture salesman and her mother was a midwife, not exactly the same social circle as Chauncey and Mrs. Crosby. The headlines read, "Says Parents Bar Bride -- Young Mrs. Wilson Royal Crosby Is Kept From Her Husband."
The May 2, 1903 New York Times article said, "The marriage was in the nature of an elopement, although the couple did not leave the city."
Wilson was 23 at the time and Dorothy 19. The ceremony had been performed at Church of the Heavenly Rest, although the marriage only became public knowledge because the pretty blonde caused quite a commotion when she came to see Magistrate Deuel at the police station and then left in tears.
Upon questioning, the magistrate explained that the young lady had been secretly married to Wilson Royal Crosby, however the groom had fallen ill and was now being cared for at his parents' home; the parents refused to acknowledge the marriage or to even allow Dorothy to see the man she claimed was her rightful husband.
Furthermore, the magistrate explained, Dorothy refused to say that her husband had abandoned her or refused to support her.
"Had she made such a statement as that," Magistrate Deuell remarked in the newspaper article, "I would have at least given her a summons."
Dorothy was afraid her husband was dying and she only asked for advice about how she might see him, but she steadfastly refused to incriminate him in any way and left the police station weeping.
"I will not attempt to deny anything which you say the young lady said in court," stated a resolute Chauncey Cosby. "Nor will I make a statement."
Miss McCormack had listed her address as 163 West 47th Street when she was married and the landlady confirmed that Wilson Crosby had lived there with Dorothy. The landlady went on to say that she couldn't understand the reason Dorothy had made the complaint at the police station because the young bride had mentioned having tea with her in-laws.
"Of course, that was before they were married," the landlady added.
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