The Eva Hamilton Scandal — Part Four

The New York Times — 6 September 1889


Her Husband Apparently Intends to Leave Her to Her Fate — He Orders Away His Trunks.

Atlantic City, N.J., Sept. 5. — The Noll cottage to-day furnished another important link in the new phase of the strange and sensational Hamilton case. A young New Yorker visited it shortly after 11 o’clock and handed Mrs. Rupp, the proprietress, a note of which the following is a copy:

Law offices of Root & Clark, No. 34 Nassau-street, New York, Sept. 4, 1889.
Mrs. Howard Rupp:
Please let the bearer, Mr. Edward R. Vollmer, have my personal property in your possession, including trunks, clothes, gun case, and box of saddles, &c. Yours truly, ROBERT RAY HAMILTON

When Mrs. Rupp received this note she refused to honor it, and referred Mr. Vollmer to Judge Irving. The latter gentleman gave his official sanction, and then began a thorough search of the rooms formerly occupied by the Hamiltons. All the wearing apparel and other personal effects of Mr. Hamilton were quickly packed in a trunk, and even the large photograph album was stripped of his pictures. Mrs. Hamilton’s trunks were carefully searched and every article belonging to her husband taken out, the young man, who was armed with a detailed list, being careful not to take anything belonging to the imprisoned woman. He left on the 3 o’clock express this afternoon taking with him two trunks, a valise, and a large box all filled with the personal effects of Robert Ray Hamilton. Judge Irving said to-day that this latest move on Hamilton’s part means that he will probably never set his foot in this county again. “We can do without him at the trial,” he said, “and would rather have his $600 bail than himself.” The removal of Hamilton’s personal effects is another conclusive proof that he means to desert the woman at May’s Landing.

It was learned to-day that during Mrs. Rupp’s visit to May’s Landing on Monday Mrs. Hamilton entreated her to send over six morphine pills for the purpose, as she stated, of allaying her nervousness. The guileless Mrs. Rupp promised to gratify her wish, but when she returned to Atlantic City was dissuaded from doing so by Judge Irving, with the injunction that she herself would be likely to occupy a prison cell if she aided Mrs. Hamilton in her “suicidal plans.” The question now is, “Will the forsaken and deserted woman attempt to take her own life?” and while that query is unanswered the May’s Landing authorities mean to take extra precautions to frustrate any such desperate move.

The visit of the two New York detectives to May’s Landing last night has been prolific of much trouble at the county jail, and as a result Deputy Sheriff Frank Moore was summarily discharged from his official position this morning by Sheriff Johnson. The Sheriff was in Atlantic City last night when the New Yorkers were seeking admission to Mrs. Hamilton’s apartments. She was not averse to their seeing her, and after a consultation between Mrs. Johnson and the Deputy Sheriff, the strangers were shown up to the attic. They were accompanied by the German midwife and a little girl whom she represented to be her daughter. They both failed to identify Mrs. Hamilton as the woman who had purchased the foundling which is now known as Beatrice Ray. The detectives spent the night at May’s Landing and left this morning for New York. Sheriff Johnson returned to the county jail this morning, and when he learned what had taken place in his absence he immediately ordered his deputy, Frank Moore, to quit the premises, which he did. Mr. Moore says the Sheriff’s wife gave the detectives permission to see Mrs. Hamilton, but she shields herself by stating that the deputy advised her to admit them, as they were not reporters, and it would therefore be all right. Sheriff Johnson puts his side of the case as follows: “I have all along refused the Atlantic City reporters, some of whom are my personal friends, access to the prisoner’s presence. And here was a lot of perfect strangers who in my absence and in direct violation of my positive orders were allowed to see and talk to the woman.”

The Sheriff was decidedly out of humor, and talked in a very positive vein. He has not yet selected a deputy, but as Mr. Moore has held the position for a number of years, and has always been faithful and upright in the discharge of his duties, it is generally expected that he will be reinstated. He is very popular in the county, and was strongly urged to accept the nomination for Sheriff at the last election. Counselor Perry went to May’s Landing to-day and stoutly upbraided his client for submitting to an interview with the New York detectives, and enjoined her to secrecy until the day of her trial. He reports that Mrs. Hamilton is still very weak, but that her nervous condition is somewhat improved. Nurse Donnelly was able to move her limbs to-day without any pain, and will no doubt be able to enter the witness stand when the case is called for trial. Prosecutor Thompson has ordered an extra guard placed on the Noll cottage, and has otherwise taken hold of the case in good earnest. With reference to Mr. Perry’s part in the coming trial, a legal authority said to-night: “On the first day of the trial he [Perry] will probably go before the court, state the peculiar circumstances under which he was retained in the case, and then ask to be relieved from further participation in it. Hamilton has paid him his retainer, and even he has since then notified him that his services were no longer necessary. In view of the first fact, Mr. Perry’s position as counsel for the woman whose husband has not only deserted her but is endeavoring to make her one of a guilty trio, would be a very embarrassing one.” The same authority gave it out that Prosecutor Thompson would take hold of the case in his usual vigorous way, and as New Jersey juries are not noted for sentimentality, Mrs. Hamilton would, beyond a doubt, be sentenced to a long term of imprisonment, and that thus Jersey justice would play into the hands of Robert Ray Hamilton and his influential New York friends. Then when her term would be up, she would be wanted in New York as an accomplice of the conspirators, Swinton and Mann, and probably end her days in prison.

Inspector Byrnes, in order to establish a perfect case, questioned “Josh” Mann again yesterday, and he repeated his statement that at no time was Eva enceinte. He said that after Eva married Mr. Hamilton she brought him “Ray’s” will. It left all his property, jewelry, and plate to Eva and the child and Eva was to manage the estate for the child until she came of age. Eva, after reading the will, tapped it with her finger and remarked, “Now, that’s a good thing to have. ‘Ray’ is reckless and might get killed, and if anything does happen I’ll marry you.”

Inspector Byrnes does not believe that Mann and Eva were ever made man and wife by a clergyman of any sort. He has probed every phase of the case, and has not a scintilla of evidence that there was ever any plot to kill Mr. Hamilton suggested or discovered. A friend of Mrs. Swinton was a Police Headquarters yesterday, and said that he was going to get a criminal lawyer for her, but last night she had not consulted any legal advisor.

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The New York World — 17 September 1889


Eva Also Indicted in New Jersey.

She Must Answer for Atrocious Assault on Mary Donnelly — Robert Ray at May’s Landing.

If any one ever doubted that Robert Ray Hamilton had decided to sever all connection with the woman Eva, who bears his name, let the doubt be quickly dispelled, for yesterday, on complaint of Hamilton, the Grand Jury found two indictments against Eva Hamilton, Joshua J. Mann and Mrs. T. Anna Swinton. One of the indictments is for conspiracy, and the other for grand larceny in the second degree. At the same time, at May’s Landing, where Eva is imprisoned, the Grand Jury was preparing to hear her case. And so, in two States, the machinery of the law is slowly closing around the miserable woman and her accomplices.

The papers in the case were sent to the Grand Jury yesterday morning by Assistant District Attorney Lindsay, who drew up the indictments. Robert Ray Hamilton was not present as a witness, as his presence was necessary at May’s Landing, where the Grand Jury was preparing to consider the charge of the attempted murder of Nurse Donnelly by the woman Eva. It is likely that the woman’s conviction for assaulting Mrs. Donnelly and confinement in prison will be the basis of an action for divorce by Robert Ray Hamilton.

As Mrs. Hamilton was in the jail at May’s Landing she could not be arraigned on the indictments in General Sessions, for New Jersey justice has a prior claim. In order, however, that there could be no possible hitch in the criminal proceedings Judge Martine yesterday signed and issued two bench warrants for Mrs. Hamilton’s arrest, and they will be sent to May’s Landing and there lodged with the warden of the jail as detainers in case Mrs. Hamilton should be acquitted or discharged.

The Grand Jury filed the indictments in court at 1.30 o’clock. Joshua J. Mann and Mrs. Swinton were soon after brought up from the Tombs and were arraigned before Judge Martine. Both pleaded “not guilty,” and were taken back to the Tombs to await trial.

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Atlantic City, N.J., Sept. 16 — Robert Ray Hamilton came down to May’s Landing this morning, accompanied by young Edward Vollmer. The September term of the court, which has been delayed for a week on account of the storm, was opened this morning promptly at 10 o’clock, with Judge Reed, of the Supreme Bench, presiding. The Grand Jury was impaneled and went upstairs to deliberate. They filed into the court-room again shortly after 4 o’clock, and were discharged for the term by Judge Reed.

Among the true bills found was that of Mrs. Evangeline Hamilton, who was indicted for “atrocious assault upon Mary Ann Donnelly.” Capt. Perry, her counsel, expects the case to be called for trial to-morrow afternoon.

Hamilton said to-day that he was not here in the interest of Mrs. Hamilton and would take no part whatever in her defense. She could suffer the penalty of her crime and it would give him no concern. He simply came to May’s Landing to fulfill a promise he had made to Judge Irving. Hamilton chatted pleasantly with his acquaintances and did not seem to give a thought to his wife, who is confined to her bed with nervous prostration in the attic room of Sheriff Johnson’s house. Although the little court-room was crowded, there were few women present.

The New York World — Wednesday, 18 September 1889


The case will be called to-day.

Mrs. Hamilton Begged Her Husband to See Her, But, Acting Under the Advice of Counsel, He Declined — Nurse Donnelly’s Heart Believed to be Warming Towards the Wretched Adventuress.

[Special to The World]

May’s Landing, N. J., Sept. 17. — Robert Ray Hamilton will appear as a witness in his wife’s behalf in the trial which is set for to-morrow morning at the County Court-House. He was served with a subpoena this afternoon at the insistence of Capt. Samuel E. Perry, counsel for the accused woman. This step, while unexpected, was not taken until after consultation between Hamilton, the Sheriff and the lawyer.

To-night the strangely deceived husband sleeps in May’s Landing, within a stone’s throw of the jail and within full view of the attic in which his wife is imprisoned. He has shown no signs of relenting and will probably follow out the course he has evidently determined upon, which is to renounce completely and utterly the woman who has brought his name into such scandalous notoriety. Hamilton had an interview this morning with the wife of the Sheriff, but the subject of it can only be surmised.

There have been strong efforts made, especially during the last three days, to surround the case with mystery. Any question concerning Mrs. Hamilton, her condition, her hopes, her fears, is met with a blank stare. The questioner is referred to the Sheriff, who seems to have placed the entire village under a ban of impenetrable secrecy. When this official is approached he refuses point blank to say a word. Indeed, it was not without some difficulty that the information was gained as to the time set for the trial, and that was given with injunctions that the source should not be divulged. Hamilton himself is more courteous, but positive in his refusals to make a statement.

The fact that Prosecutor Thompson discharged Mr. Hamilton as a witness for the State and that Counselor Perry immediately secured him to testify in favor of the defendant is the first indication of the probable policy to be pursued by the defense. The World correspondent learned from an undoubtedly authentic source in Atlantic City this morning that the child Mamie, on whose testimony the defense rests with a good deal of confidence, is not the only witness whose story is valuable. A lady living in Philadelphia was in the Noll Cottage when the nurse entered and made threats against Mrs. Hamilton and started upstairs with the avowed intention of doing up her mistress. Immediately after the fracas occurred the lady left for her home in Philadelphia, but not until she had told Mr. Hamilton what had taken place. It is believed that the statement was made in the presence of the defendant. If so it will be competent testimony and will have a significant bearing on the case.

The plea will in all probability be self-defense, and the defendant’s counsel will attempt to prove that Mrs. Hamilton was in such imminent danger from her drunken assailant that she seized the dagger to defend herself. Robert Ray Hamilton will therefore be placed in the rather paradoxical position of helping to shield a woman whom he has already abandoned.

On the first train from Atlantic City this morning there came a bandbox addressed “Mrs. Robert Ray Hamilton, May’s Landing Jail. “It contained a lot of toilet articles and underclothing, and was addressed in the unmistakable angular handwriting of Nurse Donnelly, and underneath were the words: “Beatrice is nine months old to-day.” Whether the wounded woman had done this out of pity for the wretched condition of her mistress, or whether she simply wrote the address at the request of Mrs. Rupp, the proprietress of Noll Cottage, nobody knows. If the former it shows that the nurse’s heart has softened and that she will not be a willing witness for the prosecution.

Notwithstanding the vigilance of the Sheriff, it leaked out to-day that Mrs. Hamilton passed the day principally and making cigarettes. She read nothing, because she had nothing to read. She managed to have a message conveyed to her husband, who sat on the hotel piazza, begging him in terms of endearment to call and see her. Hamilton declined, sending back word that he was acting in accordance with the instructions of counsel, who advised him to hold no communication with her pending trial. There is one thing that excites some little pity for the adventuress and that is her distress when she was unable to obtain morphine. Mrs. Hamilton has long been a confirmed victim of the morphine habit. Without the drug, like all fiends, she is utterly miserable. It was this propensity that led to the unthinking sensation-mongers to assume a couple of weeks ago that Mrs. Hamilton contemplated suicide.

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David Blixt is an author, actor, and fight director based in Chicago, where he’s allowed to co-exist with an awesome woman and a pair of really cool kids. His new book, WHAT GIRLS ARE GOOD FOR: A Novel of Nellie Bly, is available now on Amazon Kindle and print. Follow David on Twitter @David_Blixt, on Facebook here, and on his website at Sign up for David’s Mailing List here and get free books and more!

Actor. Author. Father. Husband. In reverse order. Latest novel: WHAT GIRLS ARE GOOD FOR.

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