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A Taxi Wedding & a Mutt and Jeff Tattoo

Updated: Jul 30, 2023

I've previously touched on my ongoing research into Juliette DeVries here and introduced her parents and specifically her father here. Juliette married Edward C. Berger on 11 February 1925 in Hudson County, New Jersey.¹ In about October 1927, Juliette began an extramarital affair with Edmonde Stewart Eades.² On 24 April 1928, Edward Berger confronted his wife and Mr. Eades about their affair. Mr. Berger recalled, “I spoke to my wife and Eades and told them what I found, and I told Mr. Eades to leave my house at once. They both became very angry, and called me vile and indecent names, and my wife said that if he went, she would go with him. They both packed up their things, and left, together, still calling me names until they reached the street. I have never seen them since.”³


Edmonde Eades is somewhat of a dark horse in my research. There are unsubstantiated

theories that "Edmonde Eades" was an alias and Edmonde was less than an upstanding citizen. I have heard speculations that he may, at least in his earlier years, have been a con artist, but again, this is all unproven and may never be. Simply put, Edmonde has been an impossible individual to research before his relationship with Juliette and the tiny breadcrumbs we have found hasn't shown Edmonde in the most complimentary light.


With his story mostly unconfirmed, a much broader research net was cast and the most fascinating story was discovered across numerous newspaper articles starting on about 7 December 1921. This particular story is perfect for Week 16 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing prompt, "Should Be A Movie."


There is a lot of conflicting information across more than a dozen newspaper articles, so bear with me as we travel down this rabbit hole together.


It begins in about November or early December 1921. Apparently a man going by the name of Harry N. Eads or Eades, a lieutenant in the US Navy, learned of an inheritance left to him, and possibly a brother, by their mother, an uncle, or maybe a grandmother. The value of that inheritance may have been between $20,000 and $36,000. (That would be roughly half a million dollars, today.) What remains consistent across all accounts is an apparent stipulation that Mr. Eads be married before his 27th birthday in order to collect his fortune. The story continues that Harry learned of the inheritance and the caveat a handful of days before his 27th birthday.


A woman named Ethel Apt agreed to marry Harry Eads, but she had stipulations of her own. An agreement was notarized advising that Ethel was to receive $2,000 once Harry received his inheritance and was allowed to file for divorce as soon as possible.⁵ With this agreement in place, Harry and Ethel were married, in a car (possibly a taxi), during a heavy downpour of rain, by Rev. E. K. Denton on 2 December 1921.⁶ The couple had plans to travel from Norfolk, Virginia to Cleveland, Ohio where Harry purportedly had been detailed on "recruiting duty."


Less than two weeks after their marriage, Ethel returned to Norfolk, alone and penniless. Eads had deserted his new wife in Baltimore, Maryland and had even left her without any of the clothing or belongings she had taken with her on their intended trip. At this same time it was announced that Harry was "being sought by agents of the Department of Justice for impersonating a government officer."


On 28 December 1921, Harry was arrested in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was charged with "wife desertion in Norfolk, bigamy in Baltimore, impersonating a Federal officer in Indianapolis, passing worthless checks in Roanoke, and deserting the navy." He was confirmed to have used additional aliases including William Ellis Eades, William Ellis Newman, Harry Moore Miller, and Fred G. Hickman. Apparently a tattoo of Mutt and Jeff helped confirm his identities.⁹


While there are many victims to feel sorry for, in Harry Eads' wake, Ethel Asp may not be one of them. At just twenty five years old, she is quoted as saying, "It was my fourth dip in the sea of matrimony. I intend to have seven husbands and if the Virginia law won't permit that I'll move to another State. I can love anybody that has lots of money: the man who can give me the biggest and greatest number of diamonds, who can supply me with the finest clothes, is the man that I can really love and be true to."¹⁰


The marriage record for Harry Nerry Eades and Ethel Catherine Ash identifies Harry's parents as William and Florence Eades.¹¹ It further provides his birthplace as Roanoke, Virginia. Of course we have learned that Harry Eades was an alias and none of the information he provided in this record should be considered reliable. So, is Harry N. Eads (a/k/a William Ellis Newman, Harry Moore Miller, and Fred G. Hickman) the same man as Edmonde Stuart Eades, the paramour of Juliette DeVries Berger? It's possible.


No records of our Edmonde Eades have been located prior to 1922, before the aforementioned events with Ethel Asp. Furthermore, Edmonde continuously stated his birthplace as Virginia, which aligns with the information provided in Harry's marriage record. Edmonde also self-reported service in the United States Navy. On the other hand, the names Edmonde has provided as his parents do not match the names Harry listed as his parents.


Through handwriting comparison, it is believed that Edmonde had at least two wives between 1922 and 1925. Living descendants of the second wife state that the marriage between their grandmother and Edmonde never ended in a legal divorce, suggesting that she had been abandoned. Edmonde is recorded as meeting and beginning a romantic relationship with Juliette DeVries in 1927. This behavior is eerily similar to Harry's recorded track record.


To date, none of Edmonde's living descendants have been able to confirm or refute whether he had a Mutt and Jeff tattoo.


As is often the case, more research is necessary to determine if there is a connection between Harry Eads and Edmonde Eades. In the meantime, it's undeniable the dubious story of Harry Eads and Ethel Asp is one deserving of a movie!

 

1. "Weddings DeVries-Berger," The Jersey Journal (Jersey City, New Jersey), 12 February 1925, pg. 6, col. 3; digital image, GenealogyBank.com (https://www.genealogybank.com/ : accessed 8 October 2022). Also, "Other Hudson City Social News," The Jersey Journal (Jersey City, New Jersey), 12 February 1925, pg. 11, col. 7; digital image, GenealogyBank.com (https://www.genealogybank.com/ : accessed 10 October 2022).

2. Hudson County, New Jersey, Court of Chancery, divorce file W-73-348 (1929), Edward C. Berger v. Juliet T. Berger, Examination of Witness Edward C. Berger; New Jersey State Archives, Trenton, New Jersey.

3. Ibid.

4. “Marriage Licenses,” The Portsmouth Star (Portsmouth, Virginia), 3 December 1921, pg 2, col 3; digital image Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/image/907187286/ : accessed 16 April 2023). Also, “Whirlwind Courtship Ends In Auto Wedding In City; Groom Receives $30,000,” The Portsmouth Star (Portsmouth, Virginia), 7 December 1921, pg 1, col 6-7; digital image Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/image/907187655/ : accessed 16 April 2023). Also, “Weds In Curtained Auto,” The Daily Star (Fredericksburg, Virginia), 8 December 1921, pg 2, col 2; digital image Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/image/797220162/ : accessed 16 April 2023). Also, “Girl marries Man To Help Get A Fortune” The Daily Review (Clifton Forge, Virginia), 9 December 1921, pg 1, col 3-4; digital image Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/image/794817448/ : accessed 16 April 2023). Also, “Virginia News Paragraphed,” Alexandria Gazette (Alexandria Virginia), 12 December 1921, pg 1, col 6; digital image Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/image/347414365/ : accessed 16 April 2023). Also, “Naval Officer Marries In Haste To Secure Legacy,” The World-News (Roanoke, Virginia), 13 December 1921, pg 20, col 2; digital image Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/image/912104186/ : accessed 16 April 2023). Also, “Bride Returns Home Without Her Husband,” Alexandria Gazette (PAlexandria, Virginia), 20 December 1921, pg 5, col 2-3; digital image Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/image/347414857/ : accessed 16 April 2023). Also, “Roanoke "Lieutenant" Arrested In Baltimore on Series of Charges,” The Roanoke Times (Roanoke, Virginia), 29 December 1921, pg 1, col 5-6; digital image Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/image/911960750/ : accessed 16 April 2023).

5. “Girl marries Man To Help Get A Fortune” The Daily Review (Clifton Forge, Virginia), 9 December 1921, pg 1, col 3-4; digital image Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/image/794817448/ : accessed 16 April 2023).

6. “Whirlwind Courtship Ends In Auto Wedding In City; Groom Receives $30,000,” The Portsmouth Star (Portsmouth, Virginia), 7 December 1921, pg 1, col 6-7; digital image Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/image/907187655/ : accessed 16 April 2023). Also, “Weds In Curtained Auto,” The Daily Star (Fredericksburg, Virginia), 8 December 1921, pg 2, col 2; digital image Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/image/797220162/ : accessed 16 April 2023). Also, “Girl marries Man To Help Get A Fortune” The Daily Review (Clifton Forge, Virginia), 9 December 1921, pg 1, col 3-4; digital image Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/image/794817448/ : accessed 16 April 2023).

7. “Bride Returns Home Without Her Husband,” Alexandria Gazette (PAlexandria, Virginia), 20 December 1921, pg 5, col 2-3; digital image Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/image/347414857/ : accessed 16 April 2023).

8. Ibid.

9. “Roanoke "Lieutenant" Arrested In Baltimore on Series of Charges,” The Roanoke Times (Roanoke, Virginia), 29 December 1921, pg 1, col 5-6; digital image Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/image/911960750/ : accessed 16 April 2023). Also, "Man Left Trail of Brides," The Devils Lake World (Devils Lake, North Dakota), 14 June 1922, pg 5, col 1; digital image GenealogyBank (https://www.genealogybank.com/ : accessed 16 April 2023).

10. "Mutt and Jeff Lead to Capture," Trenton Evening Times (Trenton, New Jersey), 4 January 1922, pg 18, col 1-4; digital image GenealogyBank (https://www.genealogybank.com/ : accessed 16 April 2023). Also, "Has Had Three Husbands; Intends To Get Four More," The Sun (Baltimore, Maryland), 1 January 1922, pg 1, col 7; digital image GenealogyBank (https://www.genealogybank.com/ : accessed 16 April 2023).

11. "Genealogy Records," index, Portsmouth Public Library (https://www.portsmouthpubliclibrary.org/163/Genealogy-Records : accessed 16 April 2023), index entry for Harry Nerry Eades and Ethel Catherine Ash, 2 December 1921; "Marriages of Portsmouth Virginia 1921-1925," pg 66 of 258.



 

Disclaimer: Each blog post is created and presented for marketing and entertainment purposes only but are based on larger research which adheres to the standards of The Board of Certification of Genealogists® as set forth in Genealogical Standards (Nashville, Tenn.: Ancestry Imprint, Turner Publishing, 2014).

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Guest
Apr 20, 2023

Quite a saga, quite some characters! Admire your research and ability to tell the story.

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Guest
Apr 19, 2023

Wow, what a story!!! I'm very intrigued! Great thought process and correlation! Who is she to you? Can I help in the search? :)

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