Rex Moore, 2500 University Avenue

Rex Moore, a large St. Bernard, has been gracing the entrance to 2500 University Avenue in the Bronx since 1922. Photo, P. Gavan

“Rex Moore died at his post. July 30, 1919, age 7. Always a most faithful and loyal friend to his master.” – Headstone for Rex Moore, Hartsdale Pet Cemetery

Ever since the apartment boom of the late 1800s, New York City architects and builders have been assigning names to apartment buildings. According to Elizabeth Hawes, the author of “New York, New York: How the Apartment House Transformed the Life of the City (1869-1930),” building names in Old New York added respectability to what was considered a radical new way of city living. After all, it wasn’t so bad if you didn’t have a mansion but could at least say you lived at the Eldorado or San Remo.

Many apartment names reflect their surroundings or neighborhoods, while others have been inspired by favorite places. For example, Edward Clark named his famous apartment building The Dakota because he was reportedly fond of the “well sounding names” of the new western states and territories.

The Rex Moore, 2500 University Avenue

The Rex Moore is a five-story building with 52 apartments. William Moore also built the adjoining apartment at 60 West 190th Street, Derwig Arms, in 1922. Photo, P. Gavan

And then there is the Rex Moore, a five-story brick apartment building at 2500 University Avenue in the Fordham Manor neighborhood of the Bronx. I can’t prove it, but I have a feeling this may be the only apartment building in New York City named for a dog – or at the very least, the only apartment in New York named after a Saint Bernard.

On the outside, the Rex Moore looks like every other cookie-cutter apartment building in the neighborhood. But look closely above the entrance-way, and you’ll see a St. Bernard panel in high relief. Walk into the lobby, and there you’ll find the same sculpture of Rex watching over a decorative fireplace.

Rex Moore, 2500 University Avenue

Rex Moore also stands guard over the decorative fireplace in the building’s lobby. Photo, P. Gavan

I wonder if anyone who has lived here or passed by this otherwise plain building ever questioned the dog, or even knows that the building is called the Rex Moore?

William M. Moore Takes Over University Avenue

University Avenue takes its name from the hill on which New York University’s Bronx campus was built in 1894 (today’s Bronx Community College). From about 1886 to 1913, the northern portion of the avenue was known as Aqueduct Avenue, in honor of the Croton Aqueduct constructed between 1837 and 1842. Other stretches of the road were at times known as Ridge Road and Lind Avenue.

Once occupied by large farms, suburban villas, and a few large mansions, Fordham Manor and the neighboring University Heights rapidly developed into an urban community of low-rise apartment buildings for the middle class when the IRT Jerome Avenue line began shuttle service between 149th Street and Kingsbridge Road in 1917.

University Avenue 1914

Several mansions and villas were still standing on University Avenue when this photo was taken just north of Burnside Avenue in 1914. Museum of the City of New York Collection

One of the men responsible for developing this section of the West Bronx was William M. Moore, a millionaire real estate developer and builder who constructed numerous five- and six-story brick walkup apartments. Numerous apartments along University Avenue from West 190th Street to Kingsbridge Avenue are William M. Moore buildings; he also built a few apartments in northern Manhattan and other sections of the Bronx.

William M. Moore was born in Baltimore in July 1872. Although no records of his early life exist in public archives, it is reported that he married Isabelle O. Gingell – who was nine years his senior – in 1895. William and Isabelle had two children: Louise I. was born in 1897 in Baltimore and Elsia M. was born in New York in 1899. According to the 1900 census, the family resided at W.185 102nd Street and William worked as a “boss mason.” Sometime between 1900 and 1909, William left Isabelle (or perhaps she died) and married Martha Elizabeth Hentz.

University Avenue 1917

University Avenue was just starting to be developed when this photo was taken in 1917. New York Public Library

It’s not clear how William got his start in real estate, but one of his first recorded transactions was in 1909, when he purchased several vacant lots on West 139th Streets in the Hamilton Heights section of Manhattan. William constructed two six-story elevator apartments at 508-516 and 518-524 West 134th Street. He named these buildings the Marthmoore and the Billmoore. You can see the buildings on the top right corner of this 1924 map of Manhattan.

In April 1911, the William M. Moore Company sold the Billmoore to Oscar B. Thomas. In lieu of full payment, Oscar transferred to Martha Moore a large parcel of land at the northeast corner of University Avenue and 190th Street containing a three-story frame house and stable. Soon thereafter, William and Martha moved into the home – it was from here that William earnestly began his real estate dynasty.

West 139th Street north of Amsterdam Avenue, 1905

In this 1905 photograph of West 139th Street, looking west from Amsterdam Avenue, these is a gap with vacant lots on the left where, in 1910, William Moore would construct the Billmoore and the Marthmoore. Museum of the City of New York Collection

A Brief History of University Avenue

The American history of University Avenue goes back as early as 1656, when the entire area of present-day West Bronx and Yonkers was owned by Adriaen van der Donck, one of the original Dutch patroons. Following his death, Adriaen’s widow, Mary, conveyed these lands to her brother, Elias Doughty. In 1666, Elias sold the land to Mr. John Archer, a Dutchman who had settled in the village of Westchester (today’s Westchester Square).

Adreien van der Donck

Adreien van der Donck (1615-1686)

On November 13, 1671, Governor Francis Lovelace gave Archer a patent which made him “Lord of the Manor.” Archer borrowed money on mortgage from Cornelius Steenwyck, New York’s wealthiest merchant, and established Fordham Manor on 3,300 acres of land bounded by the Harlem and Bronx rivers, High Bridge Road (Fordham Road), and Spuyten Duyvil.

A small number of Dutch families from the Harlem area crossed the shallow passage through the Harlem River and settled around this crossing in Fordham Manor (hence the name Fordham: houses near the shallow place).

Cornelius Steenwyck

Cornelius Steenwyck, 4th and 14th mayor of New York, served from 1668 to 1672 and again from 1682 to 1684. He was one of the richest men in New York of his time.

Because John Archer failed to make full payment before his death, all of the property reverted to Cornelius Steenwyck. Cornelius and his wife, Margaretta, later bequeathed all but 300 acres to the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church in their joint will dated November 20, 1684 (the remaining 300 acres were bequeathed to John Archer’s descendants).

In 1706, the first Reformed Dutch Church was built on the James Valentine farm just north of the intersection of today’s Fordham Road and Sedgwick Avenue. The old Valentine homestead, a stone building erected around 1702, served as a parsonage for the minister.

Webb Shipbuilding Academy and Home

In 1893, Webb’s Shipbuilding Academy and Home was constructed for veteran shipbuilder William Henry Webb on the former site of the first Reformed Dutch Church. Today this site is occupied by Fordham Hill Oval, a gated residential community. Museum of the City of New York Collection

The one stipulation of the Steenwyck will was that the church could not sell or dispose of the land. However, the “tenants” of Fordham did not like having the church as their landlord, and some refused to pay rent. On November 21, 1753, the church petitioned the General Assembly to sell the land and give that money to the church minister.

The petition was granted and the land – except one acre for the church – was sold over the next ten years to Lewis Morris, Theophilus Hunt, Oliver Delancey, Walter Briggs, John Delancey, Isaac Valentine, Isaac Varian, Jacob Dyckman, and others.

1868 West Farms, Bronx

In 1856, Moses Devoe moved into the old church parsonage near the intersection of today’s Fordham Road and Sedgwick Avenue (Devoe Park). The old Berrian burial ground is seen south of High Bridge Road in the bottom left corner on this 1868 map. These burial grounds were used by members of the Berrian, Valentine and Cromwell families (Oliver Cromwell was buried here in 1818).

Fast forward 100 years to 1856, when Moses Devoe, a wealthy Manhattan butcher, purchased a portion of the Valentine farm, once owned by his wife’s grandfather, Peter Valentine. This land contained the old church parsonage, which had been enlarged in 1792. Moses improved this building and made it his home. In 1903, about 125 lots of the Moses Devoe estate were auctioned off; 45 lots were sold to the Roman Catholic Orphan Asylum while the rest were purchased by investors.

Frederick WIlliam Devoe

Frederick William Devoe was a senior member of F.W. Devoe & Co. paint and oil firm, located the corner of Fulton and William streets in Manhattan. He and his brother Moses were descendants of Frederick Deveaux, a Huguenot from France. Many of William Moore’s apartment buildings were constructed on the former Devoe estate.

The House on the Corner of West 190th Street

According to Cindy Moore, William Moore’s granddaughter, the frame house at 2508 University Avenue was quite beautiful. William kept several thoroughbred racehorses in the two-story frame stable and he also had several dogs, including Rex, an Irish setter named Mickey Moore II, and a black and tan dachshund. The Moores had a cook, Rose Maxwell, and a servant, Mary McConnell. (The frame house and stable, as well as the Rex Moore and Dan Moore, are shown on this 1923 map.)

Sadly, just two years after he and Martha moved in, Martha passed away at the home on December 29, 1913. In 1916, William married Adelaide Cary Smith, a young widow with four children. William and Adelaide had two children: William M. was born in 1917 and Daniel B. was born in 1918. His faithful dog, Rex, died a year later and was buried at the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery in Westchester County.

190th Street Bronx

Known as Croton Ave. when it was opened from University to Jerome Ave. (and later as Pipe St.) the entire stretch of present-day 190th Street was renamed St. James Street in 1884 at the request of Frederick Devoe and other landowners. The name paid homage to the Protestant Episcopal church, which was built in 1864 on the northeast corner of Jerome and Croton Avenue. St. James Street is pictured here at the intersection of Kingsbridge Rd. in 1890. Museum of the City of New York Collection

Over the years, William Moore constructed numerous apartment buildings in the Bronx, including the Loumoore (1914) and Danmoore (1918) — named after his children — at 2512 and 2600 University Avenue, the BillZan apartments at 2725 Webb and 2719 Sedgwick Avenue (1925), 2714-2734 University Avenue, 104 West 190th (1915), 111 and 115 West 190th (now a parking lot), and several buildings on the former Ryan homestead on E. 184th between the Grand Concourse and Creston Avenue (1914), to name a few.

The Will Dan Court, 75 West 190th Street

Where the Moore’s frame house and stable once stood, William built the Will Dan Court at 75 West 190th Street. William also moved his offices to this building. Most of Moore’s apartments, including the Will Dan, are still providing housing for Bronx residents.

Sometime after 1926, William and Isabelle moved to 3031 Spuyten Duyvil Parkway (today’s Henry Hudson Parkway), where they lived in with sons William and Daniel, Isabelle’s grown son, Richard Smith (a bricklayer), and two servants, Rose and Elizabeth Kern.

In his last few years of life, William enjoyed racing his horses, Lahor and Stretcher, at the Empire City Track (Yonkers Raceway). He died on August 3, 1934, leaving the business and his Bronx real estate legacy to his wife, sons, and sons-in-law.

Rex Moore, Hartsdale Pet Cemetery

Rex Moore, the St. Bernard that stands guard on University Avenue, was buried at the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery. Unfortunately, no arrangements were made to maintain his grave site, and the monument was moved to the far edge of the cemetery. Photo, P. Gavan

Peter Goelet Mansion, Broadway and 19th Street, 1870s

The extraordinary spectacle of a cow, storks, guinea-pigs, and other animals, feeding quietly in the busiest and most bustling part of Broadway, was one that attracted every stranger’s curiosity, and during the fine days in Summer it was no uncommon thing to see a considerable crowd gathered in front of the house gazing through the iron railing at the unwonted sight within.” — The New York Times, November 22, 1879

This is a tale about the last of the great millionaires of Old New York, a man who not only outlived William B. Astor, A.T. Stuart, and Cornelius “Commodore” Vanderbilt, but who was once the wealthiest bachelor in New York State. It’s a true story about a man with the most expensive pasture in the world and the last cow to ever graze on Broadway.

When he died in November 1879, the New York press called Peter Goelet an eccentric millionaire and a miser who hoarded his fortune and substituted his farm animals and birds for a wife and children. But to his family and neighbors, he was Uncle Peter, a kind old man who milked his cow, collected eggs from his hens, mended his own clothes, tinkered in his basement metal shop, and refused to give up the simple farming life as the city built up all around him.

The Goelet Dynasty

Our story begins around 1676, when Francois Goelette, a Huguenot refugee, arrived in New Amsterdam with his 10-year-old son, Jacobus. Shortly after their arrival, Francois was reportedly lost at sea while returning to Holland. Jacobus was raised by Frederick Philipse, the Lord of Philipse Manor (today’s Westchester County), but retained the anglicized surname. Jacobus Goelet’s grandson Peter, one of 13 siblings, was born in 1727.

Pearl Street, 1600s New York

In the 1600s, Pearl Street was the shoreline of the east side of the island. With a boom in maritime trade, the city began a process of landfill to extend the island into the East River. By 1730, the eastern edge of Lower Manhattan reached Water Street; by 1780 it extended to Front Street. South Street was the last extension in 1800. NYPL Digital Collection

Peter Goelet was an ironmonger who used his profits from the Revolutionary War to buy real estate in Manhattan. As did the Astors, the Rhinelanders, and the Lorillards, Peter obtained much of his holdings through water grants (land under shallow water), which he purchased from corrupt city administrators.

Peter also ran a successful hardware business with Peter T. Curtenius in a little wooden building under the sign of the Golden Key at 48 Hanover Square. After their partnership dissolved, Peter moved his operations to his large residence at 113-115 Pearl Street, where he sold hardware, brushes, musical instruments, and cutlery.

On April 27, 1755, Peter married Elizabeth Ratsey, the daughter of another prominent New York merchant. Their son Peter P. (Peter #2) followed in his father’s footsteps as a merchant, selling fancy hats and bonnets at his shop at 63 Water Street.

In 1799, Peter #2 married Almy Buchanan, the daughter of Thomas Buchanan, a wealthy Scotch farmer who cultivated turnips, corn, and potatoes on 13 acres of land surrounding 45th Street and Third Avenue in what was then Manhattan’s northern wilderness. It was from this property that the Goelet family obtained much of its wealth.

Peter and Almy Goulet’s son Peter (Peter #3) arrived in January 1800.

The Tiebout Farm and Mansion

Before I tell you about Peter and his golden Jersey cow, I need to mention Cornelius Tiebout, a Dutch farmer and merchant who owned about 33 acres of land just south of the Gramercy Farm.

Laborers excavate Union Square south of 18th Street in 1832

Although Cornelius Tiebout Williams tried to prevent the opening of new streets through his property, the city seized a portion of his land in 1832 for a new public square called Union Place where Fourth Avenue met Broadway. This illustration depicts laborers excavating land just south of 18th Street (Broadway is on the right and Fourth Avenue is on the left). The Goulet mansion was located just one block north of this site.

When Cornelius Tiebout died in 1785, this property passed to his widow, Mary Magdalene Tiebout. Mary got busy right away and married Edward Williams that same year. Their son, Cornelius Tiebout Williams, eventually inherited the property.

Cornelius Tiebout and Peter Stuyvesant Farms, New York, 1830

Cornelius Tiebout’s estate, Roxborough, was bounded by the Bloomingdale Road (Broadway) and the Bowery Lane to the west, 20th Street, Third Avenue, and 14th Street (shown in dark green on this 1831 map). He purchased the land on September 20, 1748, for 250 pounds and built a farmhouse on the property near today’s 18th Street and Park Avenue.

In 1830, Cornelius Williams built a large, four-story Greek Revival mansion with a carriage house and stables on the northwest tip of his property, about three blocks north of Union Place (today’s Union Square). When he died five years later, all his heirs drew lots out of a hat. A daughter, Mrs. Julia C. Miner, drew the 96 x 168 foot lot with the mansion on 19th and Broadway. Peter Goelet paid $22,500 for the property on January 1, 1844.

The Goulet Mansion

The home at #890 Broadway was considered extremely elegant in its day. It had a peak copper roof – which Peter replaced with a flat roof — cast iron balconies along the parlor-floor windows, and a large glass-enclosed conservatory that extended into the back gardens.

Peter Goelet mansion, Broadway and 19th Street

The brick and brownstone Greek Revival mansion featured a glass-enclosed conservatory that extended into the back gardens. In cold-weather months, the conservatory housed Peter’s fine collection of peacocks, pheasants and guinea hens.

The mansion was surrounded by a grassy yard and gardens, which were under the care of Thomas Crimmins, Peter’s gardener. Peter filled the yards with exotic birds from around the world — Pheasants from India, storks from Egypt, birds of paradise, cranes, and other brilliantly plumed fowl with clipped wings would feed from his hand as New Yorkers and tourists alike gazed in astonishment through the iron fence. (It was a standing joke to tell passengers on the stages that the yard was an annex to the Central Park menagerie.) In winter, the cow and the birds would take shelter in the stone Gothic Revival carriage house.

One New Yorker who loved to watch Peter’s exotic birds was Theodore Roosevelt Jr., who lived with his family one block over at 28 East 20th Street. From their third-floor back porch, where Theodore and his siblings played, Theodore could look down over the private garden and watch Peter feed his birds and milk his cow.

1891 New York Map Goelet residence

This 1891 map shows the old Goelet mansion in an island surrounded by the large buildings of dry goods merchants.

In 1849, Peter’s sister Hannah Green Gerry lost her husband, Naval officer Theodore Russell Gerry. She and her twelve-year-old son, Elbridge, and her nine-year old daughter, Almy, moved from their home at 48 Broadway into the old house at 890 Broadway with their bachelor brother and uncle. Rural life went on as normal, save for during the Draft Riots of 1863, when Eldbridge reportedly ordered the family’s coachmen to pull all the feathers from the peacocks so as not to attract attention.

In the years that followed, particularly after the Civil War, many of the city’s dry goods and specialty merchants relocated to northern Broadway in the area of Union Square. They occupied brand-new buildings that were five and six stories tall with elaborately detailed facades, grand entrances, and large show windows to capture shoppers’ attention. Still, Peter continued to demonstrate that rural living was possible within a busy metropolis. (Some say he kept the cow and the birds in defiance to the encroachment of uptown improvements.)

890 Broadway, Goelet Mansion

The Goelet mansion at 890 Broadway was constructed of brick and brownstone. Along with the Henry Parish mansion at 17th Street and the Anson Phelps mansion at 15th Street, stood out among the row houses that were constructed on Broadway in the 1840s.

The End of an Era

“[The] once fanciful windows [of the carriage house] are shattered, its ornamented timbers are rotting and crumbling away, and the door on Nineteenth street has not swung on its hinges for a half dozen years or more.” –The Lewiston Daily Sun.

Peter Goelet died in his home on November 21, 1879. Although many of the peacocks and other birds had long disappeared, the cow and the remaining birds were allowed to live out their lives in the yard (the cow was last seen around 1886). Peter also stipulated in his will that the house should not be destroyed for as long as Hannah Gerry lived. The family did not pressure Hannah to leave and she remained on with her two servants.

29 East 19th Street

This 19th-century photo of 29 East 19th Street shows an empty lot to the left where the Goelet mansion once stood. Today this building is home to Manhattan Center for Kitchen and Bath. NYPL digital collection

Hannah passed away at the age of 89 on September 13, 1895. Her daughter, Almy Gallatin, now the wife of Frederick T. Gallatin, inherited the property. By that time, the stone carriage house had fallen into ruin, the iron fence was rusty and all the gates were held fast by rusted padlocks. The window panes in the stable where Peter once kept his horses were broken and the grass where cows and chickens once grazed was gone.

In April 1897, the Goelet mansion was demolished. A year later, in June 1898, plans were filed by Mrs. Gallatin for an eight-story brick structure on the site at 892 Broadway and 27 East 19th Street. The building’s earliest tenants included Mc Gibbon & Company, Linens and Upholstery, on the first two floors; and dealers in millinery goods, lace curtains, oriental rugs, and a corsets on the upper floors. Since 1986 it has been home to the Lawrence A. Wien Center for Dance and Theater.

890-892 Broadway

Today, 890-892 Broadway is home to the Lawrence A. Wien Center for Dance and Theater and a Loews movie theater. Photo, Peggy Gavan

A slice of the block bounded by Mulberry, Houston, Crosby, and Bleecker Streets has been torn away for the Elm Street (Lafayette Street) lengthening. By rare good fortune this demolition took the course of the little slum… It razed every vestige of the slum, leaving only a broad street, with a semi square where Bleecker Street and Mulberry Street meet it, and Cat Alley, with all its turbulence, its crime, its police record, and, it must be confessed, its picturesqueness, is now only a name. — The New-York Tribune, July 30, 1899.

Trilby Cat Alley

Trilby, from The Battle With the Slum by Jacob A. Riis.

Trilby was just a scared little puppy when she first appeared on Mulberry Street in the winter of 1895. She had run down the street at top speed with a tin can tied to her stump of a tail and the nasty little boys of the Mott Street gang in pursuit. Seeing a narrow opening between two buildings on Mulberry Street, she darted through the gap and found herself in the confines of Cat Alley.

Cat Alley was not really an alley but rather a row of four or five eighteenth-century frame tenements in a back yard nestled between Mulberry and Crosby streets, midway between East Houston and Bleecker. Cat Alley was also not home to many cats, albeit quite a few strays did find their way into the yard.

Reporters at 301 Mulberry Street

Trilby spent a lot of time with the police reporters, shown here in their office at 301 Mulberry Street. Photo by Jacob A. Riis, Museum of the City of New York Collection

Access to the yard was via a three-foot-wide passageway between the front houses at 301 and 303 Mulberry Street, which were owned by New York City Comptroller Richard Alsop Storrs. Directly across the street from Cat Alley was the New York Police headquarters at 300 Mulberry Street.

The tenement houses of Cat Alley had once been rather stylish – in fact, one of them had been the parsonage of the church at 307 Mulberry (the San Salvatore Church at this time). In 1897, the front houses were occupied by newspaper offices for the reporters who covered the police and crime beat. The cramped and squalid back houses of Cat Alley were home to Irish and Italian immigrants.

Back lot shanty

This frame shanty on Bleecker Street, just northwest of Cat Alley, represents a typical back house of the late 1800s. Barney lived in the attic of a building like this, with a garret roof that made it impossible to stand up straight.

Many of the policemen and reporters stationed at headquarters — like the renowned author and photographer Jacob A. Riis of The New York Tribune — were friends with the residents of Cat Alley. On hot summer nights, they’d all sit around and drink beer or lemonade and listen to music from the accordion players. Most of the families got along okay, although like any impoverished neighborhood, Cat Alley certainly had its share of crime.

From the moment she entered Cat Alley, Trilby was the alpha dog — and the only dog — among all the alley cats who rummaged through the garbage cans and all the reporters who took their daily walks in the yard. She’d spend her time wandering from one newspaper office to the other, poking her head in each doorway looking for some attention. If the reporters were too busy, she’d head over to police headquarters, where she would ride on the elevator and get off at each floor to visit the police chief and all the commissioners.

Cat Alley Mulberry Street

The entrance to Cat Alley was this narrow gap located between the brick walls of 301 and 303 Mulberry Street. From The Battle With the Slum by Jacob A. Riis.

On slow news days, Trilby would hang out with the reporters or the kids on the stoop and sing. She could sing only one note, but what she lacked in range she made up in volume. Surrounded by her humans, she would point her nose toward the sky and howl “woe is me” until laughter would drive her away to some hiding spot in one of the newspaper offices, from which she’d refuse to come out.

One time, shortly after she arrived, Trilby ate about two pounds of meat and went running up and down the street barking and howling. She ran between the Gilligan homestead and John Sonntag’s liquor and cigar store at 40 East Houston Street and got stuck. After about two hours of trying to get her out, a reporter took off his coat and vest and dove between the two walls, emerging on the other side with Trilby in his arms.

Trilby

It was her “singing” that inspired the dog’s name. Trilby, a novel by George du Maurier, was one of the most popular novels of its time, published serially in Harper’s Monthly in 1894 and in book form in 1895. In the novel, Trilby O’Ferrall, the novel’s tone-deaf heroine, goes under the spell of a hypnotist and becomes a talented singer.

Another time, Trilby was at risk of being killed by a gang called the Midnight Marauders of Mulberry Street. These young men, who made their headquarters in a cellar in Cat Alley, created an execution device out of a soap box covered with a piece of glass and attached to a gas jet with rubber tubing. They would put the alley cats and even people’s pets in the box and kill them.

The police started patrolling more heavily, which stopped the killing. Residents of Cat Alley also said they would execute the Marauders themselves if any more of their cats disappeared.

47 East Houston Street

Katie Gilligan, one of Trilby’s human playmates, lived at 47 East Houston Street with her grandmother and grandfather, Beesy and Matthew; her two uncles, Thomas and Edward; and her siblings Matthew, Mary, and Alice. The four-story apartment was built in 1800 and is today home to Estela restaurant.

About six months after she came to Mulberry Street, Trilby was run over by a horse-driven wagon while chasing little Katie Gilligan. Her two hind legs were badly injured by the wagon wheels. A good Samaritan brought Trilby to one of the newspaper offices, and the reporters summoned a vet. Some of the children offered to donate their pennies to help pay for her medicine.

Barney the Cranky Old Key Man

Barney the Key Man, born Michael Coleman, was a Civil War veteran who lived in a decrepit attic on the third floor of an old frame tenement house in Cat Alley. The neighborhood kids called him Barney Bluebeard because, like Bluebeard of the seventeenth-century French folktale, he supposedly detested women, was always crabby, and had lots of keys. They’d get in his face and shout “Barney Bluebeard!” and then run away and hide in trembling delight as he leered and shook his key ring at them.

Old Barney the Keyman

Barney told people he was a locksmith, but in fact, many of the keys he always carried with him were for the five or six bolts on the flimsy door of his attic home. From The Battle With the Slum by Jacob A. Riis.

Born in Ireland, Barney supposedly came to America with an older brother when he was 10 years old. He served three years as a private with Company H of the 23rd Regiment of Illinois Volunteers — the Irish Brigade — in the Civil War, and was wounded two times during the Battle of Lexington. Before moving to New York sometime around 1888, he lived at the National Home for Disabled Volunteers in Virginia.

Over the years, as cobwebs and dirt accumulated in his room, neighbors told tall tales of Barney’s fabulous wealth, which they said he had concealed in cracks in the walls. In truth, Barney was reportedly receiving a veteran’s pension of $8 a month, but he never showed any signs of spending it — save for the dollar he would always give at the early mass on Sundays. The alley residents, however, loved to think that they had their very own miser with a hoard of cash stuffed in the garret roof.

The End of Cat Alley

In July 1897, a man from the Department of Public Works handed a resident named Mrs. Finnegan an eviction notice. The notice said that everyone in Cat Alley had to move out by the last day of July. The city had approved a plan to improve Elm Street by extending it south from Lafayette Place (then one block south of Astor Place) and combining it with the roadbeds of the former Marion and Elm Streets. The plan necessitated the demolition of Cat Alley and the Church of San Salvatore.

By the end of July, almost every resident of Cat Alley had packed up and moved. Even Trilby moved out, apparently adopted by the Gilligans or another family from the neighborhood. The buildings were sold at auction for $30 and prepared to be torn down. Still, Barney refused to go, for fear that if he changed his address, his monthly pension would be lost forever.

Cat Alley demolition

Construction workers demolish buildings along Cat Alley to make room for the widening of Elm Street in 1898. Museum of the City of New York Collections

As workmen began tearing down Cat Alley for the Elm Street extension in November 1897, Barney continued to stand his ground. All around his attic home, he watched the structures come down. By March 1898, the only way he could get into his house was by going through the New York Herald’s office at 301 Mulberry Street and climbing over a mountain of loose bricks to an attic window.

By March 1898, there was nothing left of Cat Alley but bricks and dismantled frames — and old Barney. Although the contractor saved Barney’s building for last, he couldn’t hold out anymore. The first thing the workers removed was the attic roof. Then the workers moved inside, where they found a smoke-filled, dusty lair filled with cobwebs. The only furniture consisted of a broken stove, a bedstead, and two chairs.

On Barney’s last day in Cat Alley, a reporter from the New York Tribune climbed up the pile of bricks to visit him in his attic home. He found Barney removing about six locks and bolts from the door. “‘Tis a bad lot they have around here, and they always try to get in, thinking I’ve money,” Barney told the newsman.

Church of San Salvatore Mulberry Street

The plan necessitated the demolition of the Church of San Salvatore at 305 Mulberry Street. In the 1850s, the building was home to St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, he oldest African-American Episcopal parish in New York. The structure also served as a barracks for militia and police during the Draft Riots in 1863.

As the reporter watched, Barney put all his possessions in a dilapidated iron padlocked trunk and climbed out onto the pile of bricks that covered the front of his house. He brought his trunk to the janitor of the front house and went out to seek new lodgings. “Sure, I don’t know where I’ll go, but I’ll find a place somewhere,” he said. “‘Tis a good place to get away from, after all.”

One Sunday afternoon in May 1898, Trilby came walking down Mulberry Street. She made the rounds of the newspaper offices, waiting patiently until everyone had spoken to her. From that point on, she started to appear every Sunday and holidays for another year or so.

I don’t know where Barney ended up, although it was reported that someone from the Grand Army of the Republic had come around to make arrangements to move him back to the home for disabled veterans in Virginia.

In 1905, the Board of Alderman adopted a resolution introduced by Alderman T.P. Sullivan changing the name of New Elm Street and Elm Street, to Lafayette Street. A small section of the original Elm Street near City Hall still exists today as Elk Street.

Cat Alley demolished

In March 1898, Cat Alley was no more than a memory. This view looking south at the intersection of Bleecker and Mulberry shows the empty lot at 305-307 Mulberry where the church once stood and the vacant land awaiting the extension of Elm Street to the right.

Black cat Mets Cubs 1969

Quite a few cats have interrupted Major League ballgames. In September 1969, a black cat appeared on the field at Shea Stadium in New York while Ron Santo of the Chicago Cubs was standing in the on-deck circle. The Cubs would go on to lose the game and their spot atop the National League East. The Mets went on to win the World Series a month later.

Of all the athletes in the world, baseball players are no doubt the most superstitious of them all.

Dr. Stuart Vyse, an author and psychology professor at Connecticut College, says one reason baseball players are such a suspicious bunch is that the game involves a lot of waiting around. “And if they’re waiting, they have time to perform these rituals.”

In general, superstitious players and coaches will always go out of their way to avoid stepping on the foul line on trips to and from the dugout so as not to jinx their game or their game stats.

These same folks believe that if a black cat crosses their path they’ll have bad luck and bad stuff will happen during the game or series.

Derek Jeter Joe DiMaggio sign

Many New Yorkers know that Derek Jeter always made a point of touching a signed painted with the famous Joe DiMaggio quote –“I want to thank the Good Lord for making me a Yankee” – before every home game. That pre-game step may not have had anything to do with superstition, but it was a ritual.

The Black Cat at the Polo Grounds

On September 21, 1932, in a game between what were then the New York Giants and the Boston Braves (today’s San Francisco Giants and Atlanta Braves), superstition struck twice when a little black cat appeared on the field and began meddling with a ball that had just landed on the foul line. For Braves pitcher Tom Zachary, the bad luck signs were enough to shake him up so much it cost him the game (at least that’s what he said).

It was the bottom half of the final inning and the score was tied with Zachary on the mound. Giants slugger Carl Hubbell took a swing, sending the ball down the third-base line. Just as the ball rolled onto the foul line, a skinny black cat came out from under the left-field stands, made his way across the diamond, and walked up to give the ball a sniff. As the cat started to play with the ball, everyone on the field and in the stands froze in place.

Carl Hubbell New York Giants

Carl Owen Hubbell, nicknamed “The Meal Ticket” and “King Carl,” was a pitcher for the New York Giants from 1928 to 1943. Joe DiMaggio once called Hubbell the toughest pitcher he’d ever faced.

“It’s a black cat!” shouted Al Spohrer, Boston’s catcher, breaking the silence and sending the cat into a panic around the field. As the chaos ensued, Braves shortstop Walter “Rabbit” Maranville threw a handful of dirt over his left shoulder (he didn’t haven’t any salt to ward off the devil). The players, umpires, and over 54,000 fans in attendance continued to watch in amazement until a groundskeeper finally caught the cat and carried him back to the stands.

Still shaken by the appearance of a black cat on the field, Zachary was not on his game when he pitched the next ball to Hubbell. The Giants’ southpaw singled to left field, and although he was forced out by left-fielder Joseph “Jo-Jo” Moore, Jo-Jo was able to score – he even picked up some of the dirt with the cat’s paw prints as he ran to home plate — and the Giants won the game by a score of 2 to 1.

Jonathan Tom Zachary

Jonathan “Tom” Zachary is probably best known for giving up Babe Ruth’s record-setting 60th home run in 1927. Before joining the Boston Braves, he went 12–0 for the 1929 Yankees, which is still the major league record for most pitching wins without a loss in one season.

A Brief History of the Polo Grounds

In the late 1800s, the “polo grounds” was a name used for multiple New York City ballparks where the sport of polo was played. The first Polo Grounds for baseball was located on the northern edge of Central Park between 110th and 112th Street at 6th Avenue.

Here, in 1880, John Bailey Day rented land previously used for polo matches to construct a single-tier grandstand for his baseball team, the New York Metropolitans. In 1883, Day’s new National League Team, the New York Gothams, played their first game at the ballpark on May 1, 1883. A second deck was added to the ballpark that year, giving the first Polo Grounds a seating capacity of 12,000.

1888 New York Giants

In 1885, under manager Jim Mutrie, the New York Gothams were renamed the New York Giants. The 1888 team, shown here, played their last game at the first polo grounds on October 13, 1888 — city officials evicted the team and 111th street was constructed through the outfield.

In 1889, the Giants moved to Coogan’s Bluff, an elevated area extending from 155th to 160th Street and overlooking the Harlem River. The bluff, along with a grassy knoll called Coogan’s Hollow, was named in honor of James J. Coogan, a real estate merchant who owned much of the property in that area. The land remained in the Coogan estate, and the Giants rented one of the two ballparks in the hollow. They played their first game at the second Polo Grounds in Coogan’s Hollow on July 8, 1889.

After the Giants played their last game at the second “polo grounds” (Polo Grounds II) on September 30, 1890, they moved to the adjacent field to the north, called Brotherhood Park. (There were actually two New York Giants franchises for a short time during this era; the Players’ League team played at Brotherhood Park and the National League team stayed at Polo Grounds II.) The Players’ League folded in 1891, and the National League team moved into the bigger ballpark. Polo Grounds II was renamed Manhattan Field and converted for other sports such as football and track-and-field.

Coogan's Bluff Polo Grounds

Because of its elevation, fans frequently watched games from Coogan’s Bluff without buying tickets. Locals from Harlem and Washington Heights often referred to it as Deadhead Hill.

The National League Giants played their first game at Brotherhood Park – Polo Grounds III — on April 22, 1891. The third incarnation of the Polo Grounds had a seating capacity of 16,000 and featured a double-decked grandstand that arched around home plate and down the baselines. Bleachers were located in center field.

By 1911, the ballpark was the largest stadium in baseball with seating for 31,000 fans. Built of wood, the ballpark caught fire and burned while the Giants were out of town on April 14, 1911. Following the lead of other teams, the Giants constructed their fourth and final Polo Grounds of steel and concrete. The team played its first game at the partially completed stadium on June 28, 1911.

The Cat Colony of the Polo Grounds

For many years, a colony of cats lived under the dark and cool stands at the Polo Grounds. In 1932, when the little black cat stopped the ballgame, the space under the stands was also used as storage for circus seats, so there were lots of places to hide.

Sometimes the luckier cats that didn’t run and hide would go home with women who came to the ballgames or with the ballerinas from the opera companies that performed at the Polo Grounds when the Giants were out of town.

Polo Grounds 1905

This 1905 photo of the Polo Grounds shows Coogan’s Bluff in the background — the Morris-Jumel Mansion is to the right.

The dean of the cat colony was groundskeeper Henry Fabian’s big black tomcat, Tiger. Tiger kept to himself in Henry’s tool shed near the left-field boxes, and he was always ready to defend his master when other cats tried to move into their territory. Henry denied charges that Tiger was the jinx at this ballgame.

Jack, the long-time assistant foreman in charge of sweepers, also kept several cats in his little cubbyhole where he stored his brooms. The cats, which he named Blackie, Wildcat, Little Red, Mickey, Big Blackie, Nig and Brownie, would all gather around him and rub his legs when it was time for supper. Jack admitted that while first baseman Memphis Bill Terry was the best player on the Giants, the ballplayer couldn’t hold a candle to his cat Brownie. “Brownie’s the best rat catcher I’ve got,” Jack said.

Henry Fabian, New York Giants groundskeeper

Born in New Orleans in 1866, Henry Fabian spent nearly 60 years in professional baseball as a player, manager, owner, and groundskeeper. Henry joined the New York Giants as head groundskeeper in 1914; he was considered the premier groundskeeper in baseball for the next 25 years.

Jack told reporters that it cost him 30 cents a day to feed the cats – most of that budget went toward Wildcat, who always tore into the milk with gusto — but it was all worth it. “They’re more fun than a barrel of monkeys,” he said, while also denying that it was one of his cats that caused the ruckus during the Braves game.

The End of the Polo Grounds

With few fans, a stadium crumbling into disrepair, and a slew of tenement housing encroaching Coogan’s Bluff, Giants owner Horace Stoneham announced on August 19, 1957, that the team would move to San Francisco the following year (the Brooklyn Dodgers would also move to Los Angeles).

The Giants played their last game at the Polo Grounds on September 29, 1957. The ballpark sat mostly vacant for three years, until the newly formed Titans (present-day New York Jets) began to play there in 1960, followed by the newly formed New York Mets in 1962.

Demolition Polo Grounds

What remained of the Polo Grounds in July 1964.

Although the Mets upgraded the stadium and made it their interim home while Shea Stadium was being built, the Polo Grounds was demolished in April 1964 with the same wrecking ball (painted to look like a baseball) used to take down Ebbets Field in Brooklyn four years earlier. New York City had already decided to claim the land under eminent domain – the Coogan family fought this takeover but lost in 1967.

The John T. Brush Stairway

The John T. Brush Stairway, which runs down Coogan’s Bluff from Edgecombe Avenue to Harlem River Drive at about 157th Street, was named for the recently deceased owner of the Giants when it opened in 1913. The stairs led to a ticket booth overlooking the stadium and offered a clear view of the stadium for fans who did not purchase tickets.

Today, the site is home to the Polo Grounds Towers, a public housing project opened in 1968 and managed by the New York City Housing Authority. Inside the complex is a faded plaque — supposedly placed at the approximate location of home plate — that commemorates the Polo Grounds. The only other reminder of Polo Grounds is the John T. Brush Stairway which leads down Coogan’s Bluff from Edgecombe Avenue to Harlem River Drive.

And who knows, maybe a few descendents of the Polo Grounds cats still make their home in the area…

Polo Grounds plaque

A rusty plaque inside the Polo Grounds Towers commemorates the place where the New York Giants, Yankees, and Mets once made their home.

LuluGroverNews

To the Coroner or First Police Officer that Finds My Body Here: I beg of you to telephone to President Theodore Roosevelt. He will have my body cremated. I have written to him, have made my will, and all I have is his. He will have everything attended to just as I wish it to be, and all will be right. He knows where to find everything. Please find inclosed $5, and a thousand thanks for your kindness.

Please do not let my poor kittens be frightened or annoyed. President Roosevelt will take them as soon as he receives my letter I mailed to-night to him. Please let them stay here until then. My heart is broken, so I take my own life in the familiar way I know by drinking chloroform. No one is to blame but myself. I trust my spirit and future life to a merciful and loving God, who knows and judges our sorrow. —Lulu B. Grover, December 8, 1906

White Angora Cats

Lulu B. Grover loved her two Angora cats almost as much as she adored President Theodore Roosevelt. So when she decided to end her life on December 8, 1906, she first made sure that all the necessary preparations were in place to ensure her cats went to a good home after her death – in other words, the White House.

Lulu was reportedly the daughter of a rancher named Smith, who supposedly owned the ranch adjacent to Theodore Roosevelt’s Elkhorn Ranch near Medora, North Dakota. Lulu allegedly married sometime around 1880 when she was 17, but by 18 she was a widow. I say “reportedly” and “supposedly” because when Lulu told stories about her earlier life to her middle-age women friends in East Harlem, she was not quite of sound mind.

Elkhorn Ranch, Theodore Roosevelt

Lulu Grover told friends she met Teddy Roosevelt in North Dakota, where he had built his Elkhorn Ranch in 1884.

Lulu, who was described in the newspapers as a comely woman about 45 years old at the time of her death, often claimed to be a distant relative or good friend of Roosevelt. She loved to tell people how, as a young woman in Medora, she would take long horse rides with Theodore across the North Dakota prairies. She also claimed to have met him in New York on several occasions, including the time she bumped into him at a bookseller’s shop.

Mrs. Grover was also quite fond of the president’s eldest son, Theodore Junior, for whom she purchased several Christmas gifts when Roosevelt was the governor of New York. According to news reports, she sent the boy a shotgun, compass and watch. Roosevelt wrote back to the mysterious gift-giver, “Dear Sir or Madam,” requesting that no more presents be sent to his son as he didn’t want the boy to be spoiled by strangers.

According to Mrs. Marie Hunter, who was caretaker of the house at 2089 Lexington Avenue where Lulu lived, Lulu was a magazine writer and artist who was always well dressed, and seemed to have a generous income from an unknown source. Although she loved to paint and do needlecraft, her chief concerns in life were her two cats, Magistrate Joseph Pool and Queen Fairy Snowdrop. Every day she would have meat cut up into fine pieces for them and she was always concerned about their welfare.

Theodore Roosevelt house, 28 E. 20th Street, New York

Theodore Roosevelt, the only U.S. president born in New York City, was raised in a four-story brownstone townhouse at 28 E. 20th Street. The family moved from the home in 1873, and it was immediately converted to a rooming house. The building underwent several structural changes and uses over the years, and was demolished in 1916. In 1919 the property was purchased to erect a replica of Roosevelt’s birthplace, shown here in 1923. Click here for a look inside the home. From the collection of the Museum of the City of New York.

In December 1906, Lulu Grover was renting the parlor floor of the house on Lexington, which comprised two large rooms and a bath. Lulu had found the apartment through Mrs. Hunter, who had previously rented rooms to her in a house at 2 East 119th Street near Fifth Avenue.

It was while she was living on 119th Street that Lulu began calling her cat Magistrate Joseph Pool. According to news reports, in January 1906 Lulu Grover had charged another tenant, Mrs. Emily Wishauser, of throwing water on her whenever she complained of the woman’s dog, which frightened her cat Flossie. Appearing in Harlem Court before Magistrate Pool, Emily said she threw the water in self defense when Lulu came after her with a poker and a revolver. For some reason, Magistrate Pool took Lulu’s side – hence, she named one of her cats in his honor.

On November 23, 1906, Lulu wrote her last will and testament in which she bequeathed her entire estate – including about $800, some jewels, and the two Angora cats — to President Roosevelt. In the will, Lulu noted that Roosevelt was “her only true friend in trouble.” Her neighbors, Edwin and Rosetta Taft, signed the will as her witnesses.

Harlem Court House

Lulu Grover appeared before Magistrate Pool at the Harlem Courthouse in 1906. The courthouse, at 170 East 121st Street and Sylvan Place, was designed by Arthur M. Thom and James W. Wilson and completed in 1893. The brick, brownstone, bluestone, granite and terra-cotta building was built for the Municipal and Magistrate’s Courts, and included the Fifth District Prison. Today the landmark building is occupied by the Harlem Community Justice Center.

Three weeks after preparing her will, on a Saturday night, Lulu wrote a letter to President Roosevelt. In the letter, she told him he would find her will and a bank book sewed into the lining of the cat basket, and the jewels in a hiding place under the hearth. Then she went into the bathroom and swallowed a vial of chloroform.

Lulu may have gotten the idea to commit suicide by ingesting a chemical poison from a previous neighbor, Adelene L. Callender, who lived in the flat above Lulu at 58 East 84th Street in 1898. At that time, Lulu had accused Police Captain Henry Frers and Policeman Joseph A. Wasserman of the East 88th Street station of hounding her and threatening with her arrest because they said she had a bad character.

She supposedly contacted then Governor-Elect Theodore Roosevelt – who had served as New York City’s Police Commissioner from 1885-1887 — and told him that the constant police harassment had caused her neighbor Adelene, to kill herself by taking carbolic acid. Roosevelt apparently wrote back saying he would have the matter fully investigated.

On Sunday, December 9, Rosetta Taft (a niece of then Secretary of War William Howard Taft) heard groans coming from Lulu’s apartment. She found Lulu lying on the bathroom floor in a house gown and losing consciousness. The place smelled of chloroform and there was an empty vial on the floor. Rosetta called for the police at the East 126th station and for Doctor E.G. Maupin of 151 East 127th Street.

Original Harlem Hospital in 1887

The first Harlem Hospital was a 20-bed municipal institution that opened in 1887 in a Victorian mansion at 120th Street and the East River. Construction of a larger, 150-bed facility on the east side of Lenox Avenue between 136th and 137th streets began in 1903. By 1909, when Lulu died, the new hospital was already overcrowded and extra patient beds clogged the aisles.

Lying on her hospital bed at Harlem Hospital later that day (many newspapers reported that she “would probably die” there), Lulu was questioned about an incident that took place during the wedding of Theodore’s daughter, Alice, and Representative Nicholas Longworth II. Apparently, a “woman in blue” tried to break into the White House, claiming she was a magazine writer. Lulu denied the charge.

A Shrine to Teddy Roosevelt

As Lulu lay dying in the hospital, Detective Sergeants O’Rourke and Charles J. Kammer searched her rooms. In one room, possible a study, the walls were covered with pictures of the president at almost every stage of his career. The room also contained many pictures cut from newspapers and magazines, three oil paintings of him that Lulu had painted (one in uniform on horseback, one standing in his Rough Rider’s uniform, and one in civilian clothes), a few poems she had written about him, and several tapestries in his likeness. On the book shelves was a complete collection of his writings.

29th Police Station House

The 1870 “Nathanial Bush” police station at 146-148 East 126th Street was home to the 12th Precinct. In 1887 it became the 29th Precinct. The station house was located just diagonally across the street from Lulu Grover’s home on Lexington. From the collection of the author.

The detectives also found two letters on standard writing paper — the one to the coroner transcribed above, and another to her neighbors, Mrs. Taft and Mrs. Lyons, in which she spoke of the pleasure she had in knowing them and apologized for any shock she caused them by taking her own life. Finally, the detectives found a cat basket and two Angora cats.

Lulu Grover died at Harlem Hospital on Sunday, December 10 — the very same day Theodore Roosevelt became the first American to win a Nobel Prize. Her body was taken to the undertaking shop of W.P. St. Germain at 1984 Lexington Avenue. He held the body there for three days waiting for someone to claim it. During this time, all of her property was turned over Public Administrator William M. Hoes. This included a wicker cat basket that was lined with silk inside and out (the bank book and will were located under the inside lining) and several small diamond pieces and other jewels, which were found inside a leather bag tucked into the smoke vent of the fireplace chimney.

Hoes knew that he could sell the jewelry at an auction, but he was in a quandary as to what he should do with the Angora cats. He could not give them away, he told the press, because they had been willed to President Roosevelt. The care of the two cats worried him greatly, in fact, and he appealed to Mrs. Hunter to relieve him of the burden. Mrs. Hunter wrote to President Roosevelt about the cats; he told her to send them on to Washington and he and his family would take care of them.

Henry Lewis Stimson

District Attorney Henry Lewis Stimson, who later served as Secretary of War under President William Howard Taft and as Secretary of State under Herbert Hoover, handled all the arrangements for Lulu’s cremation and for the cats’ transportation to the White House.

Even though he vehemently denied knowing Lulu, Theodore Roosevelt saw to it that her last wishes were carried out. Under his orders, U.S. District Attorney Henry L. Stimson supervised the cremation of her body in the Bronx and burial of her ashes at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx (the president was adamant that she not be buried in a pauper’s grave). Only four people — her friend Mrs. Richard H. Connor of 72 East 120th Street, Secret Service Agent Tate, and the undertaker and his daughter — attended the funeral.

Following Roosevelt’s request, Stimson also made arrangements to have the two cats sent to the White House. A carriage arrived at Lulu’s former apartment house on Lexington Avenue, and the two cats reportedly traveled with Douglass Robinson, the president’s brother-in-law, to Washington DC.

At the time, the Roosevelts had several pets at the White House, including a few guinea pigs, dogs, ponies, a cat with six toes, a parrot, and two Kansas jackrabbits. The grounds of the White House were also covered with very tame squirrels – one was even so bold to walk into the White House (guess the Secret Service were not doing their jobs). I’m sure the large house and lawns must have seemed like paradise for two Angora cats who grew up in a small apartment Harlem.

Theodore Roosevelt Jr. with Slippers

The Roosevelts had a six-toed cat, Slippers, who had a habit of falling asleep while sprawled out in hallways. At one state banquet, guests even had to walk around her as they made their way to the dining room. Here’s Theodore Jr. with Slippers sometime around 1893.

At an auction of Lulu Grover’s estate in September 1907, one of the items was an 18-carat gold ring in which was set two small diamonds and a tooth that the auctioneer said formerly belonged to Teddy Roosevelt. Robert R. Jordan, who had an antique shop at 762 Lexington Avenue, bought the ring and exhibited it on a royal purple velvet cushion in the shop window. A friend of Lulu’s said Theodore reportedly gave the tooth to Mrs. Grover in North Dakota when she asked him for a keepsake. Robert thought he could get about $25 for the ring.

In June 1907, New York State Attorney General William S. Jackson notified the president that some distant relatives from New York City, Fitchburg, Massachusetts, and Fresno, California, were seeking the estate. There was no further mention of the final outcome of her estate in the newspapers.