Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Scandal of 1922: A Footnote

Yesterday, in the post reporting on the cast of characters in the trial of Chief John J. Cruise, Gossips confessed being intrigued by the possibility that, at the time of the trial, Robert Monell Herzberg, Cruise's principal attorney, might have be living just two doors away from Samuel B. Coffin, the attorney for the Commission of Public Safety, who was assisting William J. DeLamater, the city attorney, in prosecuting Cruise. It turns out he was.

Soon after the post was published, the current owner of 3 Willard Place provided a copy of the page from the 1920 census on which Robert H. Herzberg (spelled Herzbergh) appears. When the census was done in 1920, Robert, his wife, Sarah, their two children, Robert (14) and Helen (10), and a servant named Elizabeth Williamson were living at 3 Willard Place. Herzberg was renting the house at that point, but on March 13, 1922, he bought it.

Another reader, Raymond Clapper, provided more information about Herzberg. As it happens, he had a familial connection to Oliver Wiswall, the man principally responsible for the secession of the landowners from the City of Hudson and the creation of the Town of Greenport in 1837. Herzberg's mother was Mary Wiswall Waldron, the daughter of Mary Sophia Wiswall and Charles P. Waldron. Mary Sophia was Oliver Wiswall's niece, the daughter of his brother Samuel. She and her brother, Oliver, and her sister, Amelia Margaret, were adopted by Oliver Wiswall when his brother died, and the children were orphaned. 

Clapper also provided some information about Herzberg's wife, who was twelve years older than he. Her maiden name was Sarah Pearson. She had a bachelor's degree in classics from Cornell, which she completed in 1893. (Herzberg received his law degree from Albany Law School in 1901.) At the time they were married, she was teaching Latin at Poughkeepsie High School, but for the 1898-1899 school year, she was a classics teacher at Hudson High School. It is likely they met during that year, when Herzberg was still in his teens, and Sarah was 30.

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