Sunday, September 4, 2011

Florence Miami Blood’s Paternity Fraud Scam – Minnesota, 1892

FULL TEXT: New York, Aug. 9.—The World prints the following remarkable story involving the name of a prominent St. Paul young man:

Florence Miami Blood was a very pretty girl three years ago. She is attractive yet, but there is an air of melancholy about her face that in itself would be interesting were it not for the fact that at times the expression changes to one of chagrin and hate. Then she is positively ugly. She is a brunette, but her hair now is an artificial auburn. She is of plump figure and has a mobile face.

Florence, is nearly or quite twenty-four years old. When she first met Ezra Park Foot she was about twenty. She was a vivacious girl, fond of fun. talkative and bright. She knew the world, and had tasted many of its sweets, and much of its bitterness. So pretty a girl doubtless had many sweethearts, and maybe she loved. Be that as it may, Florence proved weak, and when Ezra Park Foot and she met in Philadelphia she had grown somewhat callous of public opinion.

~◊~ Ezra Was Twenty-Three. ~◊~

He was a student of dentistry in Philadelphia, and about twenty-three years old.

His father, Silas Foot, was and still is a wealthy leather dealer in St. Paul, Minn. Ezra decided that he was better fitted for a professional than a mercantile life and for that reason went to Philadelphia to learn how to be a dentist. He was liberally supplied with money.

Florence Blood made young Foot think that she was as much smitten with him as he was with her, and it was at a delicate suggestion of hers that they went to live together. During the day Ezra studied how to get at the root of a tooth and to drill a hole and fill a cavity. in the evenings he and Florence would take a drive along the pretty willow-lined Wissahickon or go out to Belmont mansion and enjoy, the breezes and the beer.

Matters went on in this shape for months, and Ezra had acquired such proficiency in the handling of teeth that his teachers qualified him to practice. He concluded to go to a smaller town, and, after looking about, went to Lancaster, Pa., where the old reliable Pennsylvania Dutch had money enough to pay good prices for new teeth.

~◊~ He Was Tired of Florence. ~◊~

Florence Blood had been a convenience in Philadelphia. She would be a drawback in Lancaster. Besides, Ezra had outgrown his “puppy love,” and the sprightliness of his companion had grown wearisome. His prospects and his feelings both demanded that the liaison be broken off. So he and Florence parted.

“Nearly a year went by. Florence naturally had learned from Ezra all about himself and a great deal about his family and prospective wealth. To return to the precarious life she once led was not a pleasant outlook. She began to think.

It may have been original with her, or some one of her shrewd female friends – for Florence has many friends among the birds of prey – but anyhow she conceived a scheme. Why not do as Eva Mann had done? She might induce Ezra Foot to marry her, just as Eva did Robert Ray Hamilton. Ezra was high-minded and honorable. Yes, she would do it.

~◊~ But the Baby ? ~◊~

That was easy enough. Florence had been in New York and knew scores of women of shady reputation who would aid her. When she lived here a few years ago she was known as Maggie Lawrence. To reappear, in her old haunts might jeopardize success, it would be better, she thought, to come to New York as a wealthy and respectable woman and deal through strangers. Walking through East Forty-fifth street a day or two after her arrival she saw this sign on the door of No. 110:

Florence entered the house and requested an interview with the doctor. the knew the place was a lying-in hospital, and presumed she could get a baby there. According to Dr. Landau’s story, Florence represented herself as Mrs. E. P. Foot, of St. Paul, Minn. She had lost a little boy and wanted another.

Her husband was as anxious as she was. Dr. Landau told her that she had no little boys on baud, and, alter a conference, they agreed that the best way was to advertise. So the next day an advertisement was inserted in the newspapers asking for a baby boy to adopt. Those with the required article were instructed to call at No. 110 East Forty-fifth street.

~◊~ The Baby Appears. ~◊~

That was in the first days of December, 1890. The very next day Mr. Landau had a caller. The stranger said her name was Mrs. Theresa Campbell, and that she lived at No. 1550 Stebbins avenue, in the annexed district, on the edge of Westchester. She told a pitiful tale. Her husband was out of work. They had six small children. She herself was employed in a store and could not possibly support her family. Without consulting her husband she had decided to answer the advertisement. Dr. Landau promised to place the case before the lady who desired a child for adoption, and Mrs. Campbell went away.

“Mrs. Foot” called again in a few days, and Mrs. Campbell was sent for. She came down with the baby that was to change hands, and the women had a long talk. Her mother said the baby’s name was Willie. Satisfactory arrangements were made, and the next day Florence Blood hied herself first to Philadelphia and then to Lancaster, Pa. She stopped at a hotel and sent for her old lover. He came.

"There Ez; see our baby,” she said.

“Our baby. Why, I haven’t seen you for a year.”

“Yes; I know. But he’s nearly six mouths old now, and. Ez, I’ve named him Willie. Don’t  you think that’s nice?”

Young Foot almost collapsed. That was no baby of his, he was sure. Florence; was weeping. Her lachrymal glands were under perfect control, and she opened the valve wide. She got on her knees and drenched Ezra’s trousers with her motherly tears.

He was touched. The baby was a fine little fellow, and how precocious, too! Not yet six months old. and lie could walk. He could prattle a little and had already learned to say “papa” and “mamma.” The “papa” captured Ezra. He was only a man and not posted on babies.

They went to Camden, N. J., where no license was required, and were married December 12.

~◊~ Goes to St. Paul as Mrs. Foot. ~◊~

How elated Florence was, and Ezra, too.” stepped a little higher. Now that he was married, he would inquire mere money. He must maintain his wife and children a manner befitting their future station in life when he should come into the thousands of his father.

They went to St. Paul, and Father Silas became reconciled. Florence exerted herself to win the old gentleman, and none knew how better than she. Florence shone in society in St. Paul, and Ezra was given an interest in the leather business of his father becoming a member of the firm of Foot, Schulze & Co., on East Third street. He also became vice president of the Dulutb, Red Wing & Southern railway, and abandoned tooth-pulling and repairing.

Those were glorious days for Florence Blood, alias Maltie Lawrence, alias Maggie Murphy. Instead of. Singing in Bowery concert halls, as she used to do, and drinking stale beer, she queened it in elegant parlors and . sipped champagne.

A year went by and Mother Campbell had not heard of her little Willie. The rich lady had promised to write often and occasionally Jet the mother see her boy. She had done neither. Mrs. Campbell did not know Willies adopted mother’s address, and she began going to Dr. Landau’s for information. Dr. Landau would give her none. Then she went to Supt. Jenkins, of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, and poured into his ear her sad tale. Her husband had left her, she said, because she had parted with Willie and couldn’t tell where he was or who had him. Supt. Jenkins sent her to Lawyer William Travels Jerome and Mr. Jerome began to think.

He sent for Dr. Landau. She had heard of Mr. Jerome when he was assistant district attorney, and she obeyed the summons. The lawyer told her he wanted the address of the woman who had Mrs. Campbell’s baby. Dr. Landau said she didn’t have it.

~◊~ A Faint Clue Obtained. ~◊~

“Well,” said the lawyer, “you had better have it here by this time tomorrow
if you want to avoid trouble.” The next day Mr. Jerome received a slip of paper marked, “Foot, St. Paul.”

That wasn’t much, but it was an opening. The lawyer searched a St. Paul directory and saw the name of Silas Foot. He wrote to the old gentleman, explaining matters.

Shrewd old Silas kept his counsel. He wrote back and learned more. It was hard not to believe that little Willie was his grandson, for Willie was a handsome child, and his merry laughter and cute prattle had wound around the cockles of the old man’s heart. How he did glare at Flo. though. He had learned to call her Flo, but he did it no longer.

Little Willie’s picture when he was younger was put in Grandpa Silas’ grip, along with a dozen other photographs of babies. Grandpa was shrewd, and he was not going to be robbed of his Willie too easily. He came to New York and saw Mr. Jerome and Mrs. Campbell.

The real mother repeated her story! And the rich man from St. Paul spread out a lot of babies’ photographs and asked her if she could pick out her child’s. Instantly she picked out Willies. Mr. Foot had had babies of his own, and he knew that they all look pretty much alike in photographs, so he was convinced that it was a mother’s instinct which prompted Mrs. Campbell’s identification.

And Florence, what was she doing? The mysterious mission east of the old man had alarmed her guilty conscience. She had felt an intuitive dread from the first moment he looked at her in a changed way, and stopped addressing her as “Flo” and “daughter.”

~◊~ Florence Disappears. ~◊~

When Grandpa Silas got back to St. Paul Florence was gone, and so was little Willie. Ezra knew nothing about them. He appeared distracted. Grimly did the old gentleman remove that distraction.

He insisted that his son should immediately apply for a divorce. Florence had been a faithful wife so far as they knew, and desertion was the plea.

They had to wait a year, though, and it was only recently that the law’s limit expired. Ezra is now a single man again.

What had become of Florence and the Campbell baby no one knew. Silas Foot was old. and the little fellow’s pranks had been enjoyed by him so long that he missed them more and more as the days and weeks rolled on. There were no little hands to pull his beard, and no little voice to ask unanswerable questions. Silas Foot felt that be could not live with that void in his heart. He came back to New York and proposed to Mrs. Campbell that she allow him to adopt her child. She was still working in a store as a saleswoman, and consented.

Willie would be great and rich some day, and she agreed to let him go. Alas, she had no Willie to give away. He was in the hands of the brazen creature who had stolen him to win a husband and wealth. Silas Foot said lie would pay the expenses and the search began. Naturally Philadelphia was selected as the starting point, it was here that Ezra had become involved with Florence, and it was there that she concocted the scheme by which she was lifted to the position of a wealthy dame of society.

It was learned that her father was a private detective in Philadelphia, and the directory showed that H. C. Blood lived at No. 4541 Saybrook avenue, on the outskirts of the city. Supt. Jenkins gave Mrs. Campbell a letter to Supt. Grew, of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children in Philadelphia, and she went there. The Blood house stands at the foot of the hill. Supt. Crew and Mrs. Campbell took up a position on the hill one evening and watched the windows of the house. When the lights were lit they saw a baby boy playing on the floor of the room into which they looked.

“There he is! There’s my child?” exclaimed the mother. “Oh, yes, it is; I could never mistake him. Willie! Wi” ---

~◊~ Baby Willie Recovered. ~◊~

Officer Grew placed his hand over her mouth; for detectives are always mysterious and cautious. They went away, and the next morning with Matron Puncheon, of the society, they returned to the house and asked for Mrs. Foot. She came down and matters were explained. Mrs. Campbell recognized her immediately, and she knew Mrs. Campbell.

She did not deny that she was not the mother of the boy, and Matron Puncheon took charge of him in the name of the society. They proposed, if necessary, to go into the courts and prove ownership. Silas Foot would pay the lawyers. Mrs. Foot kept the appointment she had made for the next day, and met Mrs. Campbell in Lawyer Gorman’s office. No. 520 Walnut street. She knew it would be useless to fight.

She consented to release the child if no proceedings would be taken against her. Mrs. Campbell brought Willie back to New York, and later he was taken to St. Paul, occupying a lower berth all to himself on a palace car. He is a brother now of Ezra, who only a year ago was his father.

Balked in, her magnificent scheme after she had achieved success, and through that slight inadvertence of giving the name and address she expected to bear, Florence Foot returned to her old ways. She had not fought the divorce suit because she knew the result in the Robert Ray Hamilton case, and besides she had grown to love her stolen boy.

In the old clays, before the bogus baby plan suggested itself, Florence knew a printer in Philadelphia named George Wilson. Wilson seldom or never set type. He preferred the poker rooms and the faro banks [gambling with cards], and occasionally tried his hand at confidence games and even burglary. New York and Brooklyn offered wider opportunities than Philadelphia, and they came here.

A woman answering the description of Florence Blood-Foot was arrested with Murphy for shoplifting in Brooklyn early last March. “They were not convicted, but a little later, on March 14, they were again arrested on the charge of a tailor named Beeswantz. in Williamsburg. He said Wilson and the woman entered his shop, and while the man was trying on a pair of trousers the woman stole a roll of cloth.

They were found guilty, and Wilson was sentenced to a year. in the Kings county penitentiary. He is there still. The woman was given twenty-nine days in Raymond street jail.

~◊~ Was This Florence Foot? ~◊~

Wilson gave his name to the police. and said he was a bartender. The woman gave her name as Mary Ann Murphy, and said she made vests for a living. While in Raymond street jail she told Matron Cunningham that she had been to St. Paul, and her husband, from whom she was divorced, was a rich man. She also said she came from Philadelphia.

“There was a lawsuit over some property between her and. her mother, she told me,” continued the matron. ‘It was compromised for $3,500 and the girl had that much money when she left Philadelphia. She lost it all on the races. She was a pretty girl, twenty-two or twenty-three years old, with blue eyes and auburn hair. She spoke well, and was evidently educated. Her manners were as fine as any lady’s.”

One of the officers at the Raymond street jail told a World reporter that Mary Ann Murphy had showed him a pool ticket on Montana, the winner of the last Suburban calling for $400. She had placed $40 at 10 to 1 on the horse in the spring.

On her release the woman returned to New York. She is well known along the Bowery and in the Chinese quarter. Now and then she goes on sprees and haunts the saloons and opium dens in that neighborhood. At No. 9, No. 15 and No. 17 Bowery the proprietors of the saloons said last night that they remembered Mary Ann Murphy very well. She used to sing in No. 17 a few years ago. None of these people had seen her for two or three weeks.

“She never comes around,” said one of them, “unless she is drinking. She gets on a spree every month or two, but she knows how to take care of herself. She is a perfect lady.”

“Does she swear?”

“Swear? Never. She’s a perfect lady, and none of the fellows around here dares to fool with her. She treats sometimes, but she makes the fellows and the women keep their places.”

~◊~ THE MOTHER’S STORY. - It May Cause the Divorce to Be Set Aside. ~◊~

Philadelphia., Aug. 9.— The story told by Mrs. H. D. Blood puts a new phase upon the celebrated divorce case of Eza Park Foot, of St. Paul, against Florence Miami Blood, his wife, of this city, which resulted two months ago in the sundering of their matrimonial bonds at Red Wing, Minn. Foot, who is the son of Silas Foot, a wealthy merchant, of St. Paul, secured the divorce on the ground that his wife forced him to marry her by procuring from Mrs. Campbell in New York a baby, which she fraudulently alleged was his own. He forthwith married her in Camden, N. J., in December, 1889. Harry D. Blood, the father of the divorced woman, lives in Philadelphia, and his wife told a story that may lead to setting aside of the divorce. She said:

“It was in November, 1887, that young Foot and my daughter, who had been intimate
for some months, came to my house and said they had been married on Thanksgiving day. For six months they lived with us as man and wile and introduced one another as such. There was no shadow of doubt of their marital relation. In the middle of 1889 Mrs. Foot gave birth to a boy during the absence of her husband in the West, and although she immediately communicated the fact to him, she kept the baby out of his view on his return East. The story she told was that the infant was sick. It was in the fall of the same year that my husband and insisted that there should be a second marriage by a reputable minister. This was the Camden marriage. It was not till almost a year after this, in the latter part of 1890. that Mrs. Foot, toy daughter, secured the child from Mrs. Campbell in New York.

“She took it to her husband and said it was his. It is therefore plain that the two were man and wife long before the one child was born in wedlock and before the Campbell baby was secured in New York.  Why my daughter used the child to deceive her husband I do not know, for it was not to force marriage, tor the marriage had already been performed. There is no question of my daughter having had a child by Ezra Foot for when she left me in the middle of 1889 she was about so become a mother. The child was a boy. Where this child disappeared to our daughter has refused to tell us, and we do not know. It may have died and the bogus baby been secured to take its place. Our daughter Florence we have not seen for several months, but she will appear to right herself. If the Red Wing divorce was secured on the ground of fraudulent representation at the time of matrimony, it was fraudulently secured. Whether an attempt will be made to set it aside I do not know.

[“She Duped Ezra Foot - The Remarkable Career of Florence Miami Blood, of Philadelphia. - Her Intimacy With Ezra Foot,  of St. Paul, and What Came of It. - She Forces Him to Marry Her by Means of a Bogus Baby Boy. - The Divorce, Arrest and Imprisonment—Story of the Girl’s Mother.” St. Paul Daily Globe (Mn.), Aug. 10, 1892, p. 4]


For more cases, see: Paternity Fraud Rackets


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