Friday, August 8, 2008


New York, 1895

Jacob R. Shipherd's Ruin of Mrs. Crowell.


Invited Her Home With Him the First Time They Met.


An Old Housekeeper that Goes By Three Names.


The Trial Lasted Two Days and the Jury Found a Substantial Verdict — A Present of a Bicycle — Mrs. Crowell Had Cramps and Shipherd Applied Hot Witch Hazel and Carried Her Corsets Home for Her — A Question She Could Not Answer Without Incriminating Herself — An Assault on a Process Server — Called Old Jake Her "Husband."

The suit of Charles B. Crowell of New York, formerly of Jamaica, for absolute divorce from his wife, Lydia S. Crowell, came on for trial before Justice Cullen at Long Island City on Saturday. Crowell is the New York agent of the Port Royal and Augusta railroad, the office of which is at 234 Broadway. The co-respondent is Jacob Rudd Shipherd, a lawyer and ex-preacher, of Richmond Hill.

Mrs. Crowell was present in court during the progress of the case. She was apparently very nervous, and continually marked with a pencil upon a piece of newspaper. Mr. Crowell sat near his lawyers, and seemed much pained by the testimony. The co-respondent, Shipherd, appeared for the most part unconcerned, except during the reading of some of his love-letters to Mrs. Crowell, when he wiped huge beads of perspiration from his brow.

Miss Sadie T. Bennet, a cousin of Mrs. Crowell, was the principal witness against her. She told in detail how Shipherd and the defendant spent many hours together at the house in Jamaica, where Mr. and Mrs. Crowell then lived. Shipherd, she said, would call at the house in the afternoon and would remain alone in the parlor with Mrs. Crowell until it was time for Mr. Crowell to return from work. Finally Mr. Crowell learned of this and went to New York to live. Thereafter Shipherd's calls became more frequent and were extended into the late hours of evening.

"Did Shipherd ever kiss Mrs. Crowell?" the witness asked.

"Oh, yes, frequently," was the answer. "And hug her?"

"Oh, often. They usually spent the whole evening on the sofa together."

The witness also told of visits which Mrs. Crowell made to Shipherd's house in Richmond Hill. On one of these visits, Mrs. Crowell told her, she was seized with cramps in the stomach. She removed her corsets and Shipherd gave her a hot application of witch hazel. He then took her home and carried her corsets for her.

In November, 1893, Shipherd went South, and during his stay there a correspondence was kept up between him and Mrs. Crowell. Some of Shipherd's letters to Mrs. Crowell Miss Bennet took from Mrs. Crowell's bureau drawer at the request of Mr. Crowell and gave to the latter's daughter. Three of the letters were offered in evidence in spite of vigorous objections from Lawyer Calvin. All of them were full of Shipherd's love for Mrs. Crowell, with an occasional admixture of piety.

The letters quote frequently from those sent by Mrs. Crowell to Shipherd, whom she referred to as her "husband." Part of one of the letters, dated Oct. 8, 1893, was as follows:

The happiest woman in the world? The happiest woman in the world? My! my, though! Wouldn't that be almost too happy, dearie?
Shipherd then went on to describe his visit to a Congregational church, where he spoke and was warmly welcomed. He also visited a meeting of a Christian endeavor society. After telling of his pleasure at receiving a package and two letters from Mrs. Crowell, he breaks out:
Oh, my lamb! It was lovely of you, but this Pig had other views. He wanted you to buy some things for yourself with those virgin bills. * * * It makes me glad with surprise that you like the city of your kin [Philadelphia] * * * Mayhap you and I will settle there yet and put on (both of us) the plain dress and say "thee" and "thine" and so drift out together upon the sleeping sea.
Another of the letters ends as follows:
Since I have found The Rock, I can never rest anywhere else. I do rest now, darling, absolutely, utterly. There is no longer any problems, in the old sense, for me. All my problems are solved. "Thy maker is thy husband," Multiply your rest in your husband by a thousand millions or so; that is what it is to rest in Him. Will you accept an unlimited number of kisses?" Try me, love. Try me.
Miss Bennet submitted to a sharp cross examination, and answered questions with much spirit. She recovered a judgment for $2,300 against Shipherd. She would not take the money, however, it still being in the possession of her lawyers. The ground on which she recovered this judgment was that Shipherd locked her in Lawyer Arthur M. Sanders' office at 29 Broadway, New York.

The next witness was Mrs. Alfaretta Klinck of Orange, who was an intimate friend of Mrs. Crowell. The latter told her all about her affairs with Shipherd, as she did Miss Bennet. Her testimony was substantially the same as Miss Bennet's. She added, however, that Mrs. Crowell said Shipherd had presented her with a bicycle that cost $125.

The trial was continued before Judge Cullen on Monday. A feature of the trial was the absence of the co-respondent, Jacob Rudd Shipherd. It was expected that he would go on the stand to deny some of the allegations as to the intimate relations between himself and Mrs. Crowell, but he did not appear upon the floor of the court room. Once during the afternoon his ruddy face was seen in the gallery, whence it as quickly disappeared. Mrs. Crowell was present throughout the day, and underwent a scathing cross examination.

A small, middle-aged woman first took the stand. She said her name was Helen Garfield, and that she kept house for Shipherd during a portion of the time that Mrs. Crowell lived there. She was with Shipherd on a trolley car one night, when he and Mrs. Crowell became acquainted. It was a stormy night, and Shipherd offered Mrs. Crowell the shelter of his house at Richmond Hill to avoid the necessity of her returning home to Jamaica. Mrs. Crowell declined but she and Shipherd exchanged invitations to call. Later the witness and Mrs. Crowell attended a series of lectures on theosophy in Brooklyn with Shipherd. Miss Garfield said she never saw any improprieties between Mrs. Crowell and the co-respondent. On cross-examination she admitted that Garfield was only one of her names. She had two others, Charlotte Rose and Katherine Potter.

Miss Garfield was a witness for the defence.

The prosecution then interposed a witness. He was Benjamin Jeselshon, a process server, and he told of his efforts to find Shipherd and Mrs. Crowell. He called at Shipherd's house in Richmond Hill on Aug. 17, 1894. Mrs. Crowell came to the door. The witness asked if Mrs. Crowell was in, and she replied that she was not and did not live there. Later in the day he encountered Mrs. Crowell near the Richmond Hill station. He told her he had a summons in an action for divorce to serve upon her. She declared she would not accept it.

"I then attempted to serve the paper by placing it on her shoulder," said the witness, "and she slapped me in the face."

The defence then resumed, and Mrs. Crowell herself walked up to the witness stand. The court attendant offered the Bible, but she refused it and made an affirmation. She said she was 48 years old and had been married to the plaintiff nine years. She declared that she and her husband had for a long time been unhappy together. He had frequently suggested divorce, but she had said she didn't want to be divorced. She wished to separate from him if he would allow her sufficient to live upon, but, she testified, he had insisted upon a divorce. The witness accused her husband of not paying her bills, and said her father, Hewlett J. Norris, had frequently been obliged to pay them.

When questioned as to Shipherd's visits, she said they were merely those of a lawyer to his client, her father's business being in Shipherd's hands.

"How did he come to give you a bicycle?" the witness was asked.

"Oh, he just bought it for me for cash, and I was to pay him back in monthly installments. I paid him twice and my father made the other payments. I took lessons on the wheel in New York and paid for them with money I earned myself."

Sho then told how she became acquainted with Shipherd on the trolley car without the formality of an introduction.

"It is untrue, is it not, that you and Shipherd were alone together?" she was asked.

"It is."

"Did he ever kiss you?"

"He did occasionally in a brotherly way."

"And hug you?"


The witness denied in detail all the other allegations of undue intimacy between herself and the co-respondent. Counsellor Luckey then began the cross-examination.

"How often did this man Shipherd call upon you?" he asked.

"About once a week," replied Mrs. Crowell.

"Did your husband over meet him?"

"Not that I know of."

"How many letters have passed between you?"

"I don't know."

"Did Shipherd address your parents as 'ma' and 'pa?'"

"Yes, sometimes."

"In 1886 did Dr. McGonigal, who is now serving a seventeen years' sentence in Sing Sing for malpractice, attend you at the house of a Mrs. Douglass in New York?"

Before answering this question the witness looked appealingly to Justice Cullen, and asked if she must answer it. She was told she must unless it might tend to incriminate her. She then declined to answer. Justice Cullen thereupon asked the witness several questions.

"You admit that Shipherd kissed you?" "He did; but the fact afterward caused me great mental agony."

"And he wrote you those extravagantly passionate letters?"

"Yes; it was foolish."

"Love letters are often foolish, and always so when the love is improper," said the Justice didactically.

The witness then denied that she parted her hair in the middle because Shipherd liked it that way. She further denied that she and Shipherd were once warned not to enter the Congregational church in Richmond Hill under penalty of expulsion.

In summing up for the defence, ex-Surrogate Delano C. Calvin said that Mrs. Crowell was a pure woman, and he denounced what he styled the plot of her husband and Miss Bennet to defame her. Ex-Judge McKoon, in his summing up, denounced Shipherd as an "infamous scoundrel," and said that Mrs. Crowell had been an unfaithful wife and a foolish woman. He re-read Shipherd's letters to Mrs. Crowell, and said they were evidence of the guilt of the two.

In his charge to the jury, Justice Cullen spoke of the letters as a preposterous mixture of piety and wrongful love.


Supreme Court, Queens County. — Charles B. Crowell vs. Lidie S. Crowell. Question for the jury:

Did defendant commit adultery, or was defendant guilty of adultery with one Jacob R. Shipherd between January 1st, 1893, and December 30, 1893, at No. 40 Central avenue, Richmond Hill, L. I., or No. 20 Clinton avenue, Jamaica, L. I., or elsewhere?

Answer: Yes.

We, the jury, say that we find a verdict for plaintiff.

—The Long Island Farmer, Jamaica, NY, June 14, 1895, p. 1.

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