City Bosses in the United States: A Study of Twenty Municipal Bosses

By Harold B. Zink | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
DOMESTIC AND SOCIAL RELATIONS

On the whole city bosses give reasonable attention to domestic affairs. "Commissioner" Murphy loved his fireside above the average man, and "Honest John" Kelly broke in health at the death of his wife. Even "Honorable" Tweed, with all of his wandering habits, seems to have been genuinely devoted to his family. With three exceptions the twenty barons under study married and established homes. Only Martin Lomasney, Israel W. Durham, and Abraham Ruef preferred the single state. Of the seventeen married bosses "Big Tim" Sullivan had three wives, Dick Croker, John Kelly, and A. A. Ames two each, and the remaining thirteen contented themselves with a single match.1 "Doc" Ames contributed largely to the death of his first wife by evil conduct and created a humiliating scene at her funeral rites. Then he took the sister of a New England clergyman as a second wife. Richard Croker had not lived with his first wife for more than fifteen years prior to her death in 1914 and shortly thereafter married an Indian maiden thirty years or more his junior in age. "Big Tim" Sullivan separated from his first wife many years before her death and left children by two other women. John Kelly lost his first wife many years before he married as a second wife the niece of the first Roman Catholic cardinal of the United States.

The wives of city barons have not usually distinguished themselves outside of their homes. However, Mrs. Tweed was prominent in church work and Mrs. Hugh McLaughlin in hospital and orphan service. Mrs. Magee belonged to numerous clubs and displayed much interest in art and music, while Mrs. Vare has been an enthusiast at golf and other

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1
Tweed, Murphy, Olvany, McLaughlin, McManes, Vare, Cox, Flinn, Magee, R. Sullivan, Lundin, Butler, and Behrman.

-25-

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