Monday, September 19, 2011

“Schools for Kidnappers?” – Parental Kidnapping Recognized as a Serious Social Problem in 1907


NOTE: This article (along with hundreds of others) showing that by 1907 parental kidnapping was considered a serious social problem blatantly contradicts the historical account of parental kidnapping as presented in the 1997 book, Kidnapped: Child Abduction in America, by Paula S. Fass (Oxford University Press), a wildly inaccurate and poorly researched piece of academic scholarship.

FULL TEXT: New York.— Are the courts of the country turning into schools for kipnapers?

There is this newest case, for example, of Mrs. Maude C. Clarke, of No. 20 West Eighty-fourth street. Mother hunger proved too much for her – she kidnaped her little boy, though he was in the custody of another, by order of the court.

When the learned judge hands down his decision in the case of Smith vs Smith, does it mean that at once the divorced father or the divorced mother of the little children roost turn kidnaper? Nobody consults the children, of course.

The wise verdict has been rendered. Mrs. Smith is free to resume her maiden name of Miss Jones and gets the custody of the two little Smiths, boy and girl. There is alimony, a decree permitting Miss Jones to marry again, and formal permission for the father to see the children once in so often. And the very first time he does see them he steals them away – he is a kidnaper in the eyes of the law.

Or it may be the other way. The decree is Mr. Smith’s. The court says some unkind things about Mrs. Smith, and the children go to the father for education and support.


~ Mother-Love Triumphant. ~

But mere legal verbiage can’t destroy or root out mother-love. Despite her failings, Mrs. Smith loves the little ones she brought into the world. She is hungry for them; she wants to take them to her heart again and hear them whisper “Mother.”

But the court has made its decree. She must not see them. Under the law she is not regarded as a fit person to bring them up. But she finds them somehow, and off she runs with them – she has learned from the court to be a kidnaper.

She knows her lesson well.

Judges may sit and sit, and expound the law to its last letter, but fathers and mothers have a different code. They are learning to kidnap now. Railway train, automobile, horses, yachts—all have been used to kidnap children. It is anything to get the little ones out of the state where the divorce is granted, for then it means delay – more law and more court decisions. Meanwhile the kidnaper has the children.

And there has never been a conviction for this kind of kidnaping. Wrong as they be, no father or mother who has stolen back a child—and hundreds have done so—has ever gone to prison.

More children are kidnaped in the United States every year by father or mother than by all those criminals who steal children for ransoms or revenge. And the lesson is learned in the divorce court.


~ After a Runaway Marriage. ~

Mrs. Clarke is the divorced wife of Capt. Forrest C. Clarke, a civil engineer employed by the Metropolitan Steamship company. Capt Clarke’s father is a Boston millionaire, and his wife was Miss Maude Buchanan, of Dorchester, a suburb of Boston. They ran away and were married seven years ago.

A little boy, George, was born, and the mother’s heart rejoiced. Then there came rumors of this thing and that and It ended la a divorce. Capt Clarke had known and liked Dr. Carleton C. Kremer while both were students at Harvard and husband and wife would be just the people to take care Of little George. So Dr. and Mrs. Kremer adopted little George, then a boy of four, and Surrogate Fitzgerald. signed the formal order.

Dr. Kremer allowed the mother to see her little boy once a week, and for a time Mrs. Clarke obeyed strictly the orders of the court.

Meanwhile Dr. and Mrs. Kremer had become greatly attached to the boy. One day when Mrs. Clarke was with him they caught her stealing out of the house with the child.

“I can’t live without him,” she wept; “so please don’t blame me.”

Dr. Kremer explained as gently as he could that she must be more circumspect, even if she did love him, for the court had formally given the little fellow into his possession. In fact he bad been rechristened and was then – and is now – Carleton Clarke Kremer.


~ Regained Her Boy. ~

Mrs. Clarke went away, greatly agitated. The following Sunday she called again to see the boy and found that he was with the physician’s sister at the home of Dr. Kremer’s mother, No. 134 West One Hundred and Twelfth street. She went there in a carriage and waited outside. Then Dr. Kremer’s sister came out with the boy and took a Lexington avenue car down to Sixty-fifth street, where Dr. Kremer lives. Mrs. Clarke had a carriage up the block.

As the boy got off the car with his adopted aunt Mrs. Clarke rushed forward and literally tore the child from the astonished woman. In a jiffy she had him in the carriage and away she whisked. There was a woman friend with her, who promptly seized Miss Kremer and gave Mrs. Clarke plenty of time to escape with her boy.

A few hours later and Mrs. Clarke was safe on her way to Boston aboard the steamer Harvard, oddly enough a vessel belonging to the company in which her divorced husband is employed. Mother-love had won the victory— Mrs. Clarke had her boy despite all the forms of law. Mrs. Clarke had teamed her kidnaping lesson from the divorce court

~ Mrs. Hanna’s Victory. ~

Then there was the famous case of the Hannas. Mrs. Dan R. Hanna, wife of the son of the late Senator Mark Hanna, was forbidden by the courts of Ohio to take the children out of their jurisdiction. For an answer she promptly took the three boys straight to New York, hid herself in the Holland home, escaped from a little host of deputy sheriffs and process servers, and calmly Bailed for Europe, despite ail the decrees of the court

She had learned her lesson. Mother-love rose above the mandates of the law. And she has won, too. She has the three boys back in this country now and she can take them where she pleases, says a writer in the Sunday World. Mother-love proved too much for the courts and for Mr. Haana, whom she had divorced and who has married twice since.

Both father-love and mother-love figured in the disappearance of little Freddie Krieger, of Chicago. He was kidnaped twice, once by his father and once by his mother, after two courts had made formal orders in the case.

The boy was the son of Flora and Bert Krieger. His father got the first divorce, and though his mother was supposed to see her son at stated intervals the father took him away to Germany, where he placed the lad, who was then 12, with friends in Hamburg to be educated.

Mrs. Krieger married again and became Mrs. McDonald. Then, with plenty of money at her command, she resolved to hunt for the boy to the end of the earth, despite all the orders of the American courts giving him into her former husband’s custody. The trail led to Hanover, and there detectives in her employ kidnaped the boy for a second time.

~ Learned Lesson Well. ~

She hurried the lad to Hamburg, and there she disappeared — though she was divorced, she had obtained the custody of her son, no matter what the court ordered. She had learned her lesson in the divorce court, and she did business another way.

Theodore Wood, policeman, and his wife long ago agreed to disagree. They lived at No. 1717 Gates avenue, Brooklyn, and their child, Florence, who was not consulted in the matter at all, stayed on there with the father.

One day when Policeman Wood was on post Mrs. Wood stole into the house and took little Florence away. Fearful of being followed, she hurried the girl to Middletown, N. Y. Wood heard where she had gone and had a warrant issued. A detective arrested Mrs. Wood there and brought her back to Brooklyn.

The case was taken to court. Mrs. Wood was weeping, after a sleepless night in her cell. She couldn’t see why a mother should be locked up for taking her own child.

“She stole her!” declared the husband.

But, as always happens, Mrs. Wood went free. There isn’t a law yet that will send a parent kidnaper to prison.

~ Madden Defied Court. ~

John E. Madden, the turfman, long separated from his wife, boldly kidnapped his two boys, ten and four years old, rather than let the mother take them to Europe. They were at school in Madison, N. J. Madden learned that the mother intended taking the boys to Europe, and he made up his mind that she shouldn’t.

So he went out to Madison and visited the boys. It was a snowy day and the ground was white.

“Let us take a sleigh ride,” he said to the boys.

They were only too glad. A sleigh was ordered, the boys climbed in and off they hurried into the snow. But Madden drove direct to the railway station, bought tickets for New York and took the boys with him. They left that night for Lexington, Ky., where Madden has a stock farm, and before Mrs. Madden knew the truth the children were out of the jurisdiction of the courts of New York. But nobody arrested the boys’ father, even though he did defy the court.

Mrs. Katherine Cadiex used an automobile to kidnap her son. There had been the usual family jars and eventually the nine-year-old boy, son of George Cadiex, was committed to the German Odd Fellows’ home In Union-port, the Bronx.

One fine afternoon an automobile stopped outside the grounds of the institution and from it stepped a tall, handsomely dressed woman of 40 with  prematurely gray hair. It was Mrs. Cadiex, and she had learned in advance the routine of the home. She knew that the children would be playing outside at that hour.

~ Off In the Automobile. ~

At the ring of the bell the little fellows fell in line to march to the refectory for supper. When the moment came Mrs. Cadiex jumped from the car while the chauffeur kept his hand on the wheel. She seized the child and before his astonished playmates could raise an alarm she had him in her auto and was off In a cloud of dust

She was followed to New York and arrested at her home. No. 123 West Thirty-ninth. street. But the boy was to be found.

“I’m going to keep him,” she declared, as she was taken to a cell, “no matter what you do with me. He’s safe now – far away in the south. Nobody shall have him but me.”

And Mrs. Cadiex went free and she kept her boy, too, thanks to the automobile.

The three Ward children have been kidnaped twice by their father and two of them rekidnaped by their mother— quite a family record!

John E. Ward and his wife have been separated for nine years. The three little girls, Marion, Vera and Cecilia, lived with their mother at No. 673 East One Hundred and Seventy-fourth street. One night Mr. Ward went there, demanded to see his child was a heated argument, and the upshot of it was that the father took the three little daughters away from their mother and placed them at once in the convent of the Holy Cross.


~ Stole Children from Convent. ~ 

After three days’ search Mrs. Ward found the girls. Several times she tried to get at them but failed. For days she haunted the neighborhood of the convent until the long vigil made her desperate.

She saw two of her little ones, Vera and Cecilia, playing in the yard. In she ran and the next moment the two were in her arms. Marion wasn’t there and the distracted mother was afraid to wait. So off she ran with the two, hatless and coatless.

At once the sisters notified Mr. Ward, but he couldn’t find them — they were not at their mother’s home. The husband got a warrant, but he couldn’t find the children — and the mother has them still.

The records tell of  countless other cases – of how Mrs. James Cook kidnaped her boy in a carriage from right in front of his father’s hotel in Jamaica; how Anton Head Richards, grandson of Eugene L. Richards, professor of mathematics at Yale, was kidnaped in Chicago by three men whom Mrs. Richards declared were emissaries of his father; how Mrs. Montague Rolls, of Detroit, paid $10,000 to get her boy back after his father had kidnaped him – there are many more cases.

Love causes more kidnaping than money. And the lesson is learned in the divorce court first.

[“Love Proves Superior To Law’s Decrees – ‘This One Shall Have the Child,’ Says the Court, and the Other One Proceeds to Capture the Offspring of the Broken Partnership and Run Away With It.” Nationally syndicated article (from an unidentified New York, N.Y. news service), Marble Rock Journal (Io.), Dec. 12, 1907, p. 3]

{Note: the original spelling, “kidnaping,” has been retained. It is equally correct to the “pp” spelling.}

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