Saturday, May 1, 2021

“Militant Wife Launches War Against Alimony in Chicago” - 1927

NOTE: This post will be “in progress” for a while since there is an enormous amount of text to be transcribed before being posted. This is a particularly important post since its subject, the Alimony Club of Illinois, represents the first formally established anti-alimony organization in the US. At this stage in my research, I regard this as the first, if prototypical, formally established Men's Rights organization in the US.

The story of its founders, Dr. and Mrs. Vernon P. Cooley, is of particular interest. As Dr. Cooley fought against his gold-digging wife in Chicago court, he was inspired to organize the men sitting in jail for non-payment of alimony into a formal lobby for reform. Shortly after announcing his plan to the newspapers, he received a letter threatening to bomb his home if he did not drop his court actions against his ex-wife.

It is important to note that anti-alimony was not regarded as anti-child support (even though many jurisdictions used “alimony” judgments to cover child support as well as gold-digger support). The Alimony Club of Illinois did indeed extend assistance to ex-wives who were attempting to collect child support from ex-husbands.


TIMELINE (in progress)

Jun. 13, ’27 – Dr. Cooley’s ex, Margaret, wins alimony suit despite having been found guilty of immorality and drunkenness.

Jun. 15, ’27 – Dr. Cooley issues a “call to arms” to alimony payers, especially those incarcerated in debtor’s jail, to get organized to fight alimony oppression.

Jun. 26, ’27 – Dr. Cooley is quoted in Chicago Tribune calling for the “formation of an association of disgruntled alimony papers.”

Jun. 28?, ’27 – Dr. Cooley receives a bomb threat in the mail, demanding he stop court action against his ex-wife. The letter threatens Cooley’s attorney Frank Johnston as well. Johnston had been an Illinois Appellate Judge before returning to private practice.

Jul. 7, ’27 – Dr. Cooley’s ex-wife remarries.

Jul. 20, ’27 – meeting held at High Noon Club to begin formal organization of the Alimony Club of Illinois.

Aug. 2?, ’27 – Office of the Alimony Club of Illinois opens at 189 West Madison Street.

Aug. 3?, ’27 – Plan for Alimony Club of Illinois are drafted in “secret session.”

Aug. 15, ’27 – Contempt of court charge against Alimony Club of Illinois.


ARTICLES to be added:

[“Calls Alimony Clubmen To Fight His Gay Ex-Wife – Dr. Cooley Resents Her Court Victory.” Chicago Tribune (Il.), Jun. 15, 1927, p. 19]

[“Doctor Battling Alimony Gets Bomb Threat,” Chicago Tribune (Il.), Jun. 28, 1927, p. 1]

[“Courts Blamed For Mixup Over Alimony Digging – Law Gives Judges Sole Power, Attorney Says.” Chicago Tribune (Il.), Jun. 29, 1927, p. 15]

[“Alimony Club Is Born To War On Gold Digging – Recruits Report Tales of Fraud.” Chicago Tribune (Il.), Jul. 21, 1927, p. 1]

[Genevieve Forbes Herrick, “Ex-Wife Wed; Foe of Alimony Is Un-Clubbed,” Chicago Tribune (Il.), Jul. 8, 1927, p. 1]

[“Alimony Club Is Born To War On Gold Digging – Recruits Report with Tales of Fraud.” Chicago Tribune (Il.), Jul. 21, 1927, p. 1] (very long)

[Cooley Alimony Case Again Aired In Court Today,” Chicago Tribune (Il.), Aug. 2, 1927, p. 3]

[“Alimony Club Will Draft Plans Tonight In Secret Session,” Chicago Tribune (Il), Aug. 3, 1927, p. 12]

[“Alimony Club Challenged in Contempt Case – Told Husband to Disobey Court, Wife Says.” Chicago Tribune (Il.), Aug. 16, 1927, p. 17]

[“Alimony Club Outlines War on Gold Diggers – Fake Detectives, Crooked Lawyers Also Targets.” Chicago Tribune (Il.), Aug. 24, 1927, p. 21]


FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 5): With the alimony problem becoming a question of the hour among judges, the clergy, and many citizens, a new sensation developed yesterday when Dr. Vernon P. Cooley, whose alimony case started the discussion, received an anonymous letter, printed in a feminine head, threatening to bomb his home.

Dr. Cooley has announced a finish a finish fight in the courts against “gold-digger” wives, who view marriage simply as an aid to alimony. Frank Johnston Jr., until recently a judge of the Appellate court, has promised to present the case for Dr. Cooley to the Illinois Supreme court.

~ Letter Threatens Bombing. ~

“You and Johnston better let well enough alone unless you and your present wife want to be exposed,” the letter stated. “And what’s more your home will be bombed when you least expect it. Take warning. One Who Knows. Johnston will get his share too.” The letter was given to federal authorities.

While Dr. Cooley and his present wife, Mrs. Bessie Cooley, expressed a determination to proceed with their plans to form an association of alimony victims, and to present a strong demand for consideration in the courts. Chief Justice Joseph Sabath of the Superior court, who has heard 25,000 divorce cases – more than any other judge in the world – revealed his knowledge of the women he labeled the “alimony adventuress.”

“I have known women to come into my court who were receiving alimony from three husbands, Judge Sabath said. “There have been many cases where two husbands were paying.”

~ Tells of Deception. ~

“Of course, the laws specifies that when a divorced woman remarries, her alimony from the former husband ceases at once. But these women deceived their former mates, and continued to collect – extort would be a better word – from them. When we learn of such cases, the courts make short shrift of these adventuresses.

“This same type of woman lures men into marriage often just for the purpose of making them pay alimony. Bringing all their attractions into play, the trap the fat and jolly and prospering gentry into marriage, and immediately their attractions fade into cold disdain. Soon the husband sees his mistake, and then he’s compelled to pay alimony.

~ Stay Single to Collect. ~

“Unless they set a better prospect, these women – I have had any number of them before me demanding alimony – stay single, and for years they live, riotously and often immorality, on this deliberately gotten bounty.

“And our upper courts have held that no matter how depraved these women become, the alimony must go on, with the ex-husband paying for the liquor, the gigolos, and the love nest.”

Superior Judge Harry A. Lewis had an alimony seeking women before him yesterday and urged her to free her husband with a divorce or become reconciled with him. The wife, Mrs. Belle Glicksman, had sued for separate maintenance, demanding support from Aaron Glicksman, who owns a leather shop at 2223 Montrose boulevard.

~ Leading Men to Sin. ~

“Why should you hang on this man’s neck the rest of his life?” the judge demanded. “You want his money, but you don’t want to live with him. Man’s natural instincts move him to mate, and you are deliberately heading him to sin by your refusal to free him. Court can’t make a man virtuous.”

[“Doctor Battling Alimony Gets Bomb Threat,” Chicago Tribune (Il.), Jun. 28, 1927, p. 1]


FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 5): Chicago, July 12—A modern Joan Arc has risen here in the person of one Mrs. Bessie Cooley, and round her standards are gathering recruits from Chicago’s pretty badly defeated army of alimony payers.

Her cry is: “Down with alimony gold-digging.” “Millions for defense, but not one cent for alimony,” the heartened troops under her command are singing as a march song. Mrs. Cooley is the wife of Dr. Vernon P. Cooley. Cooley was married once before and the first wife is still receiving alimony, which makes the present militant Mrs. Cooley angry.

The Illinois appellate court recently ruled on Dr. Cooley's petition to have the alimony to the first Mrs. Cooley stopped. The court supported his contention that Mrs. Cooley No. 1 was spending the money he was paying her in riotous living, but that fact, so the court ruled, as a mere moral issue, did not warrant any order for the discontinuance of payments.

It was a long legal treatise on morality and alimony. And the upshot of the whole thing was that Dr. Cooley was ordered to keep paying and probably would have done so if it hadn't been for Mrs. Cooley No. 2.

“No, sir,” she said. “Let them put you in jail. But don't pay another cent. No woman without children, who is able to support herself, is, deserving of alimony.

“If while she is living with him and is still his wife, a woman, conducts herself in an improper, manner, a husband can go into court and rid himself of her completely.”

“But if after she divorces him and lives riotously, on the alimony he is forced to pay her, it is irreconcilable that his duty to her should be greater than while he is married to her.

“The two theories don’t harmonize. There are too many gold-diggers among divorced women, and half of them aren't deserving of consideration.”


As the first part of her drive Mrs. Cooley is forming the Society of Disgruntled Alimony Payers.

Eligibility to membership will be based on experience only.

A big mass meeting of members is being planned and will take place here just as soon as the society can whip its battle plans into shape. Many Chicago judges agree with Mrs. Cooley that there is need for a movement such as she has set in motion.

They concur that alimony, to healthy and able-bodied ex-wives without children is as out of date in the changed order of social conditions as a horse and buggy.

[Gibbons, Roy J., “Militant Wife Launches War Against Alimony in Chicago,” syndicated (NEA), Freeport Journal-Standard (Il.), Jul. 8, 1927, p. 13]



FULL TEXT (Article 3 of 5): Chicago, July 20 – The alimony club, refuge of the solace-seeking male, meets tonight and portends ill for the gold-digging ertswhile wife.

Statistics of women putting poison in their husband’s coffee and then running away or filing suit for divorce, while the victim is in the hospital, will be related at the dinner for those daring enough to appear.

Letters written by men who are shy about hanging their family troubles on a public line will be heard, says Dr. Vernon P. Cooley was relieved of paying alimony when his wife revealed she had married an older man months ago.

“One of our members, who will be at the dinner,” said the doctor, “is paying alimony under a court order to a bigamous woman who already has had him thrown in jail once when he fell behind in his contributions.

[“Alimony Payers to Seek Refuge at Club Dinner,” syndicated (AP), Jul. 21, 1927, p. 1]


FULL TEXT (Article 4 of 5): Chicago – Married women who are gold-diggers rather than wives, are facing bitter opposition from the newly formed Chicago Alimony club, founded by Vernon P. Cooley, a Chicago dentist, who has been through the alimony mill himself. His organization is actively engaged on a campaign to amend divorce laws in such a manner as to afford proper protection to wives who are victims of circumstances, while at the same time clipping the wings of those matrimonial birds of passage who go through the marriage ceremony with one eye on the divorce court and an income for which they will not have to work.

It will be a fight, too. Cooley Alimony club was emblazoned across the front pages a year ago when he announced his determination to oppose alimony graft. Recently, as his organization began its active campaign, he received an anonymous letter.

“Cooley, you lay off, or you will suffer,” the letter read.

As a reply the militant anti-alimonist called a meeting of the Chicago Alimony club, at which he said plans will be completed for a final drive for a revision of existing divorce laws, and the exposure of scores of outstanding cases of ex-husbands who had been bankrupted by their efforts to appease the voracious appetites of gold-digging women, backed by the power of a court order.

Cooley was divorced from his first wife a year ago. Heavy alimony was charged against him. Ever since that time he has been waging his fight, in which he is supported by his second wife, Mrs. Besse Cooley.

[Hargis Earlywine, “Threaten Leader in Warfare Against Alimony Graft,” The Shamokin Dispatch (Pa.), Jul. 9, 1927, p. 2]



FULL TEXT (Article 5 of 5): Chicago, Aug. 12. – Why the alimony club?

To stop the indiscriminate awarding of alimony to gold-digging parasitic women.

The Alimony club of Illinois was created for the purpose of preserving the American home from disintegration, the abolition of legalized white slavery, the prevention of fraud and perjury and to eliminate forever the imprisonment of men for non-payment of alimony to conscienceless, vindictive wives who apparently delight in the prosecution an humiliation of “The goose that laid the golden egg.”

Because there apparently exists in Chicago no organization founded for humanitarian purposes, to which those wishing help and advice might turn with some assurance of immediate and concrete help, the creation of such an organization as this was imperative.

Primarily the intent of the law with reference to alimony was to reward a faithful, loving wife who had done her duty to her home and family.

How far we have retrograded from the original purpose of this beneficent law may be gleaned from the fact that today the securing of alimony is a highly specialized, vicious industry, made possible by an alliance between perjurers, unscrupulous attorneys and politicians.

Does a man, after divorce, owe his wife a greater duty than while the marital relations existed, in that she may commit with impunity low and degraded, be guilty of improper friendship with other men, and still receive alimony? You cannot reconcile these two ideas.

This club is to save ex-husbands from the persecution of such women.

[Dr. Vernon P. Cooley, “Purpose of Alimony Club Is Outlined by Dr. Cooley,” St. Petersburg (Fl.), Aug. 13, 1927, p. 9]














For more revelations of this suppressed history, see The Alimony Racket: Checklist of Posts 

No comments:

Post a Comment