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Monday, 27 July 2015

Mad, Bad & Sad: James Bartlett Hammond's Last Six Years of Hell (Part III)

Foiling Hammond's Rogue 'Heirs'
James Bartlett Hammond's last will and testament was witnessed and signed on board his second yacht, the Lounger II, while it was moored at Nyack, New York, on August 30, 1912. It read:
The witnesses were Hammond's executor and new Hammond Type Writer Company president Neal Dow Becker (1883-1955), New York City map engraver and publisher Caleb Stillson Hammond (1862-1929, no relation), and Patrick Keogh, James Hammond's chauffeur.
Neal Dow Becker
Olean Evening Times, New York, February 3, 1913
James B. Hammond died almost exactly five months after signing the will. Just 14 weeks after his death, an overwhelming majority of his "heirs-at-law" declared their then belief that the matter of his estate had been settled - for good. On May 9, 1913, the "heirs-at-law" signed an agreement with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, stating that, in return for a payment of $135,000, they would make no claims against the terms of the will. This agreement included the key words "by reason of any other alleged last will and testament which may appear or be produced in the future."
An important contributing factor in the family's initial hesitancy to - in the words of Thomas Francis Hammond - "declare war" on it, to waste money contesting it in court, was their realisation that James B. Hammond's will had been cunningly conceived and intricately framed - and, as events transpired, was watertight. 
Becker's Wall Street lawyer partner, Charles Edward Kelley, told The New York Times that:
Yet, incredibly, on April 10, 1914, the heirs broke the terms of their agreement with the Metropolitan Museum of Art and began 18 months of legal proceedings, based on the contrived claim that there was a later will - a "family-friendly will". They said this will had been signed by James B. Hammond on December 20, 1912, almost four months after the will which had already been admitted to probate.
The major problem with their claim was that, as the courts were to establish, the "later will" - which the family alleged was in the possession of the Hammond Type Writer Company's New York factory foreman, Arturo "Arthur" Lopez - never existed.
A young Thomas Francis Hammond
The "heirs-at-law" were:
Two brothers -
Charles Nash Hammond (1859-)
Thomas Francis Hammond (1852-1924)
Three sisters -
Harriett Walker Hammond Phipps (1841-1933)
Jennie (aka Jane) Swan Hammond (1849-1929)
Mary Elizabeth Hammond Hardy (1854-1945)
Three nephews (the sons of Martha Ann Hammond Raynes, 1843-1895) -
John Charles Raynes (1873-1924)
William Augustus Raynes (1879-1963)
Joseph Francis Raynes (1876-)
And one niece -
Marion Trow Raynes (1872-)
(Four of James B. Hammond's brothers had predeceased him: John Trow Hammond, 1845-1907, died in California without leaving a widow or family; William Augustus Hammond, 1837-1904, left a widow, Sarah Elizabeth Fowler Hammond1843-1923; Henry Walker Hammond, 1847-1893, no widow; and George Frederic Hammond, 1857 - 1884, no widow).
With Thomas F. Hammond now cast out of the "family loop", this second unsuccessful bid by the heirs for the Hammond typewriter fortune was guided by another of James Bartlett Hammond's brothers, Charles Nash Hammond (1859-), a Broadway taxidermist and furrier and a millionaire businessman in his own right. And if Thomas F. Hammond's failed 1907 "insanity plot" had made the family look like mealy-mouthed money-grubbers, Charles Hammond's plan revealed them to be downright untrustworthy. But his nasty scheme at least proved somewhat easier to disprove.
7. O, Another Brother!
This one an alleged briber
(Plus a long-lost widow)
Charles Nash Hammond allegedly attempted to bribe Spanish-born Hammond Typewriter Company factory foreman Arturo "Arthur" Lopez (1875-) and his German-born wife Anita Lopez (1880-), into falsely testifying that they were in possession of a nonexistent later will. According to court statements made by Anita, Charles N. Hammond offered Arturo Lopez $75,000 to "produce" a fake "family-friendly" will on a Hammond typewriter. (Arturo Lopez was also said by the heirs to be James B. Hammond's private secretary; in fact Hammond's last private secretary was Harry Stewart Mackan, 1884-1971, a young clerk and bookkeeper who Hammond had recruited in Mackan's home town of Norfolk, Virginia, in May 1912, and who remained with Hammond on board the Lounger II until Hammond's death).

On May 22, 1914, an Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court threw out an earlier demand on Arturo Lopez to produce this "later will", having satisfied itself that the Lopezes were telling the truth and that no such later will had ever existed. The court decided, "The petitioner [Charles Nash Hammond] has failed to establish that Arthur Lopez had in his possession at the time in question any such paper characterized as a will as the petitioner describes. Furthermore, the petitioner having parted with all his interest in the estate [to the Metropolitan Museum of Art] of the decedent [James B. Hammond], was not a person interested in such estate ... the motion to require said Lopez to produce the paper in question is denied ..."
The Sun, New York, May 23, 1914
The Hammond family, in trying to justify the decision to break the commitment it had made under the terms of its $135,000 agreement with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, claimed it only became aware of a "later will" when a settlement of up to $40,000 was reached with James Hammond's long-lost widow, Jennette Maxwell Hammond Pattison (1862-). Mrs Hammond "materialised" in New York from Scotland a fortnight after James B. Hammond's death. Charles N. Hammond and Thomas F. Hammond both admitted knowing about her existence, as did Neal D. Becker, but none of them appeared to know much more about Jennette or whatever claims she may have had to the Hammond estate.
Jennette Maxwell
The Appellate Division decided in May 1914 that the Hammonds, given their agreement with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, could make no further efforts to interfere with James B. Hammond's will - that is, to try to get their grubby little hands on the typewriter money. Nonetheless, in March 1915 the youngest sister, Mary Elizabeth Hammond Hardy, of Dallas, Texas, was encouraged by Charles Nash Hammond's son James Bartlett Hammond Jr (1890-), who was not an "heir-at-law" (as his father was still alive), to make yet another attempt to revive the "Lopez will". The case was reopened by Justice Emory Albert Chase (1854-1924) of the New York Court of Appeals on September 27, 1915, and decided on October 29.
Justice Chase
Chase said Hardy was also "not interested in the estate of the decedent [James B. Hammond] by reason of the assignment of her interest unqualifiedly transferred to the Metropolitan Museum of Art". However, she reasoned that if Lopez did have a later will, the agreement with the museum could be rescinded, annulled and set aside. Hardy claimed she "was in no way a party to the proceeding commenced by her brother [Charles Nash Hammond] and is not bound by the decision in that case". Chase was far from convinced, but ordered a further Surrogate's Court hearing. At the same time, he ordered that costs for both this further hearing and the appeal be met by Hardy. Given the mounting legal bills for the Hammonds, the family elected to divide up what was left of the museum's $135,000 and take the 18-month-long fight no further.  
Hammond's main motivation
In fairness to his "heirs -at-law", there was another hugely significant reason for James Bartlett Hammond to frame his will the way he did. Even as late as August 1912, he feared the Union Typewriter Company would capitalise on his death by engulfing the Hammond Type Writer Company within the trust. The trust had been trying to embrace the Hammond company since the time the Union company was formed in January 1893. The Union had not, however, paid a dividend since 1907 and in March 1913 it ceased to exist. Still, James B. Hammond's concerns, right up to 1912, would appear to have been quite reasonable and justifiable, the more so given what would become of the trust's typewriter brands once it was disbanded: Smith Premier and Monarch, for example, became mere Remington model names. Yost simply disappeared.
The New York Times, March 12, 1913
As The New York Times reported on February 2, 1913, a week after Hammond's sudden death, Hammond had been an "inveterate foe" of the trust and believed it might "gobble up" his company:
And the penalties of human avarice
As well as all this, James Bartlett Hammond had to contend with his own company directors. By October 1908 he had ceased to have the same trust in company officials as he had when released from confinement in December 1907.
In February 1907, two months before being declared insane, Hammond had had a nervous breakdown and, fearing death was nigh, he had entered into a trust deed agreement with the six directors of the Hammond Type Writer Company to transfer his stock to them - with the proviso that should he recover, the stock would revert to him. He owned 520 of the company's 550 shares and the directors already owned the rest - five each, qualifying them to be on the board under company by-laws. There was another provision in the February 1907 agreement: the company had to pay Hammond $60,000 a year for five years in lieu of the stock. If he did die, his stated wish was for the directors to distribute the shares amongst his longest-serving employees. Again, he was planning to deny his company to the Union Trust
Greedy: Hammond Type Writer Company secretary John Milton Bancroft
The board was reduced to five in late 1907 with the sacking of general manager Albert Bryce, who had helped Thomas Francis Hammond have James B. Hammond incarcerated in April of that year, then to four when Hammond's old friend James Wilson Davis died, aged 70, in 1908. 
After being released from Walker Gill Wylie's private sanitarium, James B. Hammond planned to regain full health by holidaying in Europe in the summer of 1908. In August he sailed to Liverpool through Cobh in Ireland on the RMS Lusitania. But soon disturbing reports of the behaviour of his board members back in the US reached him and in mid-October he returned to New York from Liverpool on the Cunard Line's RMS Campania
Hammond found the four surviving directors, headed by company secretary and factory superintendent, Civil War veteran John Milton Bancroft (1838-1918), had developed other interpretations of his wishes, as clearly outlined in the terms of the February 1907 trust deed. For one thing, they had divided up the 520 shares between themselves, giving each between 10 and 80 shares at $2000 a pop. And they had also, thus empowered, given themselves massive pay rises.
The other three greedy directors were:
Alexander Brough
Scottish-born attorney Alexander Brough (1863-1940), the Hammond company's counsel and in 1909-10 a New York state senator. In 1916 he was appointed a New York City magistrate. Sacked as James Hammond's lawyer in 1908 and replaced by Max Steinert (1857-).
Swiss-born Theodore Frederick Ecklin (1861-), the Hammond company's cashier; sacked in 1908 and replaced by Herman A. Peterson (1880-). 
John Anderson Ruffin (1867-1924), company vice-president, factory foreman and Hammond's lead mechanical engineer-designer. After being sacked in 1908 and replaced by LopezRuffin went into a joint venture with George Gould Going. The pair moved to Noiseless in 1916, and then went to work for Remington, with Ruffin as works manager;

Horace Greeley Allen (1873-), a bookkeeper with the Hammond company, gained James W. Davis' five shares as Davis' executor. When James Hammond called Allen to his office on December 9, 1908, allegedly raised his cane, called Allen a "dog", threatened to bury him and demanded the shares be returned, Allen pressed charges. As well as pursuing $10,000 in damages for assault, humiliation and other perceived hurts, Allen maintained Hammond was guilty of larceny for not returning to Allen the five Davis stock certificates that Hammond had snatched from him.
Hammond was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct outside the Plaza Hotel, where he then lived, on December 15, 1908. He was placed on three-month $200 good behaviour bonds and the matter eventually returned to court on April 2, 1911. Ironically, Hammond often claimed he was almost hanged for "writing abolition lies for Horace Greeley" during the Civil War. Allen believed Hammond wanted to hang Horace Greeley Allen.
Without having to resort to further violence, share by share Hammond gradually regained all his stock from "a lot of ingrates". He cancelled the 30 shares he had given to board members and took legal action against the four former directors and Allen, claiming "causa mortis" (in contemplation of approaching death) to set the trust deed aside and get back the remaining 520 shares, a process which took more than two years to resolve. Hammond described his experiences in the years between 1907-11 as "the penalties that human greed ... brought upon me." The trouble was caused "by the desire of my associates to make money too quickly [and] to hamper the improvements I foresaw to be possible in my invention of a typewriter." Hammond believed that had he been permanently incarcerated as toxically insane, or had lost control of his company to his directors, the Hammond typewriter would not have been advanced. "Yes," Hammond said, "there are many ways in which a man's money places him in [a] dangerous predicament."
Gave Hammond his stock back: Supreme Court Justice Edward Everett McCall
Court proceedings against the four former directors began on August 23, 1909, and on September 7 Hammond was granted an injunction pendente lite (for the term of the suit) by Supreme Court Justice Leonard Anthony Giegerich (1855-1927). This restrained Bancroft, Brough, Ecklin and Ruffin from being recognised as stock holders and from amending company by-laws to make long-term lucrative contracts with themselves.
Leonard Anthony Giegerich
On June 22, 1910, before Supreme Court Justice Edward Everett McCall (1863-1924), and represented by his counsel Henry Waters Taft (a brother of US President William Howard Taft), Hammond won his case. A jury decided he had the legal right to change his mind.
Standing up for Hammond: Henry Waters Taft
Bancroft was sacked in 1908 and replaced as company secretary by Charles Oliver Gardner (1867-1942), who was joined by John Albert Guest (1886-) as general sales manager in 1912. In 1915 Gardner returned to his former duties as New York manager and was succeeded by Albert Palmer Brooks (1870-) as the Hammond company's general manager. Brooks had previously been Royal's European director. At that time the company's leading officers were:
By then, James Bartlett Hammond was probably already little more than a fond memory.
Tomorrow: Last part - Into the Darkness

1 comment:

Richard P said...

'Tis a curse to be rich.