Monday, September 4, 2017

The Incarnations of Pauline...Vandervoort Steese Dresser Rogers Hoving

"It matters not one iota what political party is in power or what President holds the reins of office. We are not politicians or public thinkers; we are the rich; we own America; we got it, God knows how, but we intend to keep it if we can by throwing all the tremendous weight of our support, our influence, our money, our political connections, our purchased Senators, our hungry Congressmen, our public-speaking demagogues into the scale against any legislature, any political platform, any presidential campaign that threatens the integrity of our estate." Frederick Townsend Martin, The Passing of the Idle Rich (1911), p. 149.[1]

How Poppy Bush Became Controlled by Exxon: Follow the Dresser Money 

by Linda Minor

Dresser ad began running in 1888
Solomon Robert Dresser had a creative, inventive mind, and he was a hard worker, to boot. When he encountered a problem in his business, he set out create a solution. As a result, he became the owner of numerous patents he either designed himself, or paid others to design, for pipe coupling devices which prevented natural gas from leaking from the joined sections of pipelines.

The Dresser company really took off in 1878, when Solomon located his family in Bradford, Pennsylvania, in the state's northwest corner. While he worked, his wife (formerly Vesta Simpson) had given birth to children, only two of whom lived to adulthood--Ione (1870) and Robert Alexis (1877) Dresser. Vesta died of tuberculosis in 1883, but Solomon remarried two years later, and the new wife (Caroline Kirsch) gave him two more sons--Carl Kirsch and S. Richard Dresser.

In 1906, after Solomon had served two terms in Congress, it was reported that he had decided to build a large factory in Bradford, Pennsylvania to mass-produce his most common coupling devices. Having worked too hard, it was said, he became ill around 1907 and died after four years of illness. Robert Dresser married Olive Brady in 1900 and later worked for the Boy Scouts of America organization in Bradford, having little interest in his father's passion.

Solomon Dresser's mansion in Bradford sat atop a rise--at 149 Jackson Avenue--and was not far from his Boylston Avenue office, where the Medical Plaza in Bradford sits today. The factory was situated across town. Caroline, Carl and Richard had lived in the gigantic residence, but by 1911, when Solomon died, Carl Dresser was away at Princeton while Richard was in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, at the Hill School. Carl graduated from Princeton in 1912 and was followed there by Richard two years later.

When Caroline died in November 1916, she was stopping in New York City, with plans of visiting Richard in Trenton to take in Princeton's football game against Yale. Five months earlier, Carl had taken his mother and Richard, by then a junior at Princeton, to Atlantic City, New Jersey. He was accompanied by his new lady friend, Pauline Steese, divorced since March of that year.

The mansion would remain a relic of Bradford history for many years thereafter. Richard would bring his family there to live, and after his death his widow, who died in 1956, bequeathed it to the Presbyterian church, which made it into a home for the aged. Ione Dresser's husband, Fred A. Miller, worked for the Dresser company all his life, even after the company was sold to W.A. Harriman & Co.

Carl Dresser's Wife, Pauline: Her Many Husbands

Pauline Steese Dresser, 1920
Pauline's father was Charles Ransom Vandervoort of Jamestown, New York, who left his family home at Tonawanda, New York, in 1882 to work in Jamestown, New York, at a large textile mill called Broadhead Worsted Mills. In 1907 Pauline's brother, Sherman B. Vandervoort, went into business for himself manufacturing cement blocks, which he later expanded into coal delivery, taking his father into the company. Sherman's wife was the daughter of a Bradford, Pennsylvania, physician and maintained contacts by joining a Bradford social club through which they knew the Dresser family. Carl, like Sherman, was an avid sportsman.

Pauline's first marriage in 1908 was to Charles J. Steese, Jr., assistant cashier at First National Bank of Massillon, Ohio, where his father was the bank president. Pauline had divorced him in the spring of 1916, a few months before she accompanied Caroline and Carl Dresser to Atlantic City the following June.[2]

Pauline's marriage to Carl Dresser was announced in the "summer resort" section of the Pittsburgh Press on August 13, 1916. Although Carl was secretary of the S.R. Dresser Manufacturing Co., his main focus was finding new supplies of oil and gas, through his own company, Dresser Gas Company, which had drilled for natural gas in 1896, built a pipeline to distribute its gas to customers in northeastern Ohio. He first met Pauline, while she was playing society wife to her banker husband of Massillon, Ohio.

By the time Carl and Pauline married in 1916, however, he was president of the Malta & McConnellsville Gas Co. in Malta, Ohio, having succeeded to the company after his father's death in 1911 and his own graduation from Princeton. Steese's parental rights were terminated, apparently with his consent, and both of Pauline's sons, Charles and Bradley Steese, were adopted by Carl. The family moved into the mansion with Carl's mother until Caroline's death that November.

Thede Barnsdall
T. N. "Thede" Barnsdall, who had worked in Bradford before following the oil discoveries in Oklahoma, proposed Carl for membership in the American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers. His father had started Thede as an oilman in Bradford, Carl Dresser's hometown, and he eventually acquired over a million acres of oil lands in the Osage Indian reservation in Oklahoma upon his death in 1917. Those acres were found to actually end up in control of Standard Oil of New Jersey, which had given Barnsdall a loan of several million dollars, according to an investigation made by the U. S. Senate in 1917. Newspapers had been reporting that fact since 1908.

By 1918 Carl Dresser was talking of moving to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he hoped to expand his oil and gas business. He acquired a residence in Tulsa, where Pauline is said to have set up a "salon" to entertain other wives of wealthy oilmen in that location.

Mr. & Mrs. C.B. Wrightsman
At the Tulsa County Club in June 1922 Carl and Pauline Dresser hosted a tea dance in honor of the wedding of Charles B. Wrightsman to his bride, Irene Dill Stafford of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Irene was born into a Catholic working class family, the daughter of Thomas A. Stafford who in 1925 managed a clothing store and lived in a rented residence. Irene's mother died before 1940, her father had remarried, and at age 70 was still selling retail clothing and still living in rented accommodations at 96 S. Main Street.

Casino St. John's baths
It was sometimes claimed that Irene Wrightsman had been a debutante who had wintered in Miami Beach, Florida, but the truth was much different. She had first gone to Florida because her sister Kathryn, who married Thomas McHale in 1918, was there with her husband. Thomas enlisted in the Navy aviation division when the United States entered WWI. Kathryn, a dance teacher in Pennsylvania, worked as a "dancing hostess" at the Casino St. John in Miami Beach while her husband was stationed at the Miami Naval Air Station.
Collins' Pool Older than Beach" - 166th in a series on early Miami by HOWARD KLEINBERG
More than a year before the City of Miami Beach was incorporated in 1915, pioneer developer John Collins and his son-in-law, Thomas J. Pancoast, created a tourist attraction at what is now Collins Avenue between 22nd and 23rd streets. It was given no particular name, people just called it the pavilion, but it became better known through the years as the Miami Beach Casino and Roman Pools. In its lifetime, the casino and pools had a considerable number of owners and names. Among them were the Collins Casino, Miami Beach Casino, Casino St. John's, Roman Pools, Everglades Cabana Club and its last name, the Riviera Cabana Club. Collins opened his swimming pool on Jan. 11, 1914, at a time when Miami Beach had not yet settled upon the name “Miami Beach.”
Social life based on wealth
J.N. Lummus, who owned the property on the southern portion of the beach, called the land Ocean Beach. Carl Fisher called his properties Alton Beach, and Collins used Miami Beach as a name. Fisher bought the facility from Collins in 1917 and, according to “Billion Dollar Sandbar," Polly Redford's 1970 biography of Miami Beach, added "$350,000 worth of improvements to the bathing pavilion that the Collins family had built of driftwood three years earlier. With a second pool and a Dutch windmill to pump in seawater, a restaurant, ballroom, and shopping arcade topped with rococo towers, the old Collins pavilion was transformed into the "Roman pools."
From that point on, the place took on a more social air. It was fashionable to be seen at the Roman Pools and Casino. Leading swimmers appeared there regularly, and visitors dined in an elaborate setting or danced the night away in the main ballroom. By 1925, the casino and pools had moved into the hands of N.B.T. Roney, who was about to build a magnificent hotel on the northern side of the pools-- calling it the Roney Plaza.
At about the same time Irene Stafford met Wrightsman, possibly at the large swimming pool on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, developers began turning the pool into the town of Palm Beach, and wealthy New Yorkers who had introduced polo to C.B. began building polo fields about 20 miles to the north of the new resort, which were to become the town of Gulf Stream:
Starting in 1922, Bessemer Properties, a real estate venture controlled by the family of Henry Phipps, Jr. (co-founder with Andrew Carnegie of the company that became U.S. Steel) began to accumulate parcels of land on both sides of the intracoastal canal for future development. Friends and business associates of the Phipps family in Palm Beach saw the roughly 500 virgin acres of property as an ideal location for a golf course and polo fields, surrounded by seasonal residences.
Charles J. Wrightsman of Oklahoma

Charles B.'s father, C. J. Wrightsman, had been born in Ohio but got into the oil business in Pawnee, Oklahoma, before his son was born there in 1895. C.J. was a lawyer, leasing lands of members of the Osage Indian Reservation tribe. At first his family lived in the tiny community south of a bend of the Arkansas River, on the west side of the Indian lands, but by 1910 had moved to Tulsa.

Somewhat more prosperous now, C.J. added two live-in yardmen to a household that also included a Swedish house maid. Tulsa was fifty miles away, now on the southeast side of the Osage Reservation, north of another bend of the Arkansas River. Today the United Way building sits where their home on Boulder once stood. There were no tall buildings in 1910, such as the Boulder Towers which Skelly oil built in 1959 across from where their house sat.

In 1915 C.J. set up Wrightsman Oil company, a Delaware corporation, which he located at the top floor of the then-new Kennedy Building, 321 S. Boston Avenue in Tulsa. Wrightsman sold most of his oil leases to Harry F. Sinclair:
Early in his career, Sinclair attracted the attention of wealthy speculators like Chicago meatpacker J.M. Cudahy, Pittsburgh capitalist Theodore Barnsdall, and James F. O’Neill, president of Prairie Oil Company, a subsidiary of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil of Kansas. Unlike his backers, Sinclair came from humble beginnings.
Exeter Academy and the Dekes

C.J.'s only son, Charles B. Wrightsman, was away at school during this time--first at Phillips Exeter prep (class of 1914) then pre-law at Stanford University in California, where he was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon (ΔKE) during 1915. From there he went on to Columbia University in New York, where he became interested in becoming a pilot in 1917, as America began revving up to enter WWI.

As a resident member of the Aero Club of America, at Madison Avenue at 41st Street in Manhattan, C.B. served on the Central Committee which funded the Liberty Loan. He was also an ensign in the Naval Militia of New York, and thus came into contact with men from the East Coast and Ivy League schools involved in the Aerial Coast Patrol. F. Trubee Davison, Henry P. Davison and Robert A. Lovett were three of the twelve who constituted the "First Yale Unit." After training all summer at Peacock Point and Port Washington on Long Island, they returned to New Haven in the fall and organized the Yale Aero Club.

The first new training base to open was at Bay Shore, Long Island, which was headed by Albert Cushing Read, with help from his chief aide, C.B. Wrightsman.

As cold weather approached, Lewis Rodman Wanamaker, son of John Wanamaker and brother of the late Thomas B. Wanamaker, allowed them to use the property at West Palm Beach, where he was building a new flying boat, and airplanes were also supplied by Henry Woodhouse through the Aero Club of America. As more airplanes were donated, the size of the group increased. William A. "Bill"
Rockefeller and Samuel Sloan Walker were among the 18 new recruits in early 1917, and the pilots of Unit #1 were sworn into the Naval Reserve Flying Corps on March 24, 1917.

The unit which trained C. B. Wrightsman, Columbia's Aerial Coast Patrol #4, was engaged in a balloon training camp with St. Louis millionaire Albert Bond Lambert--the St. Louis Lambert family profiled in Part IV of our series here on George Bush 41's grandfather Bert Walker. There were other ACP units as well, including one in Dayton, Ohio, of which Harold E. Talbott, Jr., whose father was president of the Dayton-Wright company, was part.

After his Naval Aviation service during the war, C.B. went abroad to Roumania and Russia, to "make investigations of petroleum markets and production" for his father's company. We must assume he also reported back to the appropriate government officials at the time. President Woodrow Wilson had been re-elected in 1916, and his head of the War Council of the Red Cross, banker Henry P. Davison, was father of two of the young men who instigated the group of college men with which C.B. trained. F. Trubee Davison in 1951 would be named director of personnel for the newly established Central Intelligence Agency, leaving us to wonder if he had not been involved in the agency from its first days.

C.B. Wrightsman, poloist
Intriguingly, Wrightsman claimed that he first saw polo played in 1921 at the Westchester Cup. That event took place at Meadow Brook, the polo fields closest to Bert Walker's Long Island residence, and all the players lived nearby. More than a decade after watching his first polo match, Wrightsman was still an avid polo enthusiast, frequenting clubs such as Gulf Stream in Florida, developed by, among others, the Phipps brothers and Stewart Ighlehart, close neighbors of George Herbert (Bert) Walker in Old Westbury, Long Island.

Gulf Stream polo fields
The Wrightsmans in 1935 gave their address as Wheatley Hills in Old Westbury, the same address used, not only by the Walker family, but also by Cornelius Vanderbilt "Sonny" Whitney, frequent polo teammate of Tommy Hitchcock, Jr. In 1939 Wrightsman would still be playing with his team known as the Texas Rangers, against Hitchcock's team. Sonny Whitney was not only an heir to his mother's Vanderbilt fortune, he was also a pilot who ran an airline company, and he was heir to a fortune from his father, Harry Payne Whitney, from whom Bert Walker and Averell Harriman acquired the first horses with which they set up a partnership known as Log Cabin Stud based in Wheatley Hills, Old Westbury.

Palm Beach polo
The Phipps land in Florida was purchased by Henry Phipps in 1912, when he paid $90,000 for one-thousand feet of vacant oceanfront land located on Palm Beach’s North End, but the family eventually amassed 25 miles of ocean-front property, and they "financed the Miami International Airport, the Venetian Causeway and the University of Miami, as well as developed the Miami Shores and Bay Point subdivisions. Their portfolio included the two miles of oceanfront that became the Town of Gulf Stream." In 1923 they built the Gulf Stream Golf Club. Before that, however, they had constructed the polo grounds next to the Everglades Club.

Polo near Meadow Brook
Within this circle of millionaire sportsman, George Herbert Walker had insinuated himself. We do not know the exact location of the residence he acquired in the early 1920 at Wheatley Hills, Old Westbury, but we do know it was surrounded by polo fields and golf courses, not to mention fellow horse breeders.

The sale to W.A. Harriman & Co.

Carl Dresser's marriage to Pauline became a casualty of divorce in 1927, the year after he sold his father's company to W. A. Harriman & Co., whose president was G. H. "Bert" Walker. Pauline appealed the Oklahoma decree regarding alimony, alleging fraud by Carl in his monetary evaluation of his Dresser Manufacturing Co. stock. The court's opinion ruled against her, stating the facts as follows:
They were married in 1916, he being 25 years old, the son of wealthy parents, and worth over $1,000,000, among his assets being some Dresser Manufacturing Company stock upon which this litigation principally turns. That was a close corporation, and the stock was held in the family. She was 26 years of age, but in both marital and financial experience was much older than he, having been married and divorced, then facing the world with one child six years, and one three years, of age, with a total financial worth, according to her own testimony, of about $15,000, principally the proceeds, over attorney's fees, of $23,000 alimony. He owned a gas company and a torpedo company, but later sold them. About two years after marriage they moved to Tulsa, Okla., and he was reported in 1919 and 1920 as worth $2,000,000, largely speculative, paper value of oil leases, although he did have considerable production. In 1919 and 1920 and subsequently he spent about $750,000 in drilling many dry wildcat wells, but much of that was paid from production, of which he once had considerable, and much was met from the proceeds of the sale of leases around the drilling sites. That did not put him on the verge of bankruptcy and in the terribly embarrassing condition existing at the time of the divorce. That condition was due to expenditures for living expenses, which ran about $100,000 a year, and which she refused to appreciably reduce. His stock in the Dresser Manufacturing Company in 1925 and 1926 paid about $60,000 in dividends each year, and in 1927 about $70,000.
The opinion seemed to conclude that the divorce had stemmed from Pauline's desire for a living standard exceeding their means, which caused Carl's inability to pay debts. Part of the difficulty, the court concluded, was that the manufacturing company was not a public corporation and had no market for its shares. It was for that reason, we have been told by Darwin Payne, in his book Initiatives in Energy, that Carl sought out the W.A. Harriman & Co. investment bank. Additional facts are given in the same opinion:
The Harriman deal came about because Mr. Atkins [bookkeeper for S. R. Dresser Manufacturing Co., called as a witness by Pauline] knew Mr. [Alexander O.] Cushny of that concern and sold him the idea of getting control. Carl Dresser was in debt and had to have money, and at first W. A. Harriman & Co. loaned him $225,000, out of which Mr. Atkins got a commission of $15,000. Later he borrowed $15,000. And in closing up the deal they paid $17,000 on his debts, paid $30,000 to his [Carl's] second wife [Gloria Jack], whom he married December 13, 1927, about eight months after the divorce, and issued the balance, $555,000 of paper price to her in class A stock, 12,000 shares at $46.25 each. Also, in the original agreement they agreed to loan him up to $400 a share on up to 500 more shares, evidently to permit him to try to get the stock from his brother [Richard], in which he was unsuccessful. Also, they took an option on the 1,000 shares at $650 a share, but nothing indicates that they would have exercised it if the deal had not gone through. Nobody got $850, that price to Carl Dresser being largely a paper price, and the others got only a paper price of $700 share, plus about $38 tax, which would be a paper price of $738,000 for 1,000 shares, which was the number owned by Carl Dresser, if the owner paid the tax from his own money. If we were to adopt either price as a basis to work from, the price to the others would be the better basis, for they did not have to sell, and none of that was for aiding in putting over the deal. The other stockholders took new stock for about all of the price, and it seems that had they not done so, the deal would not have been made, for W. A. Harriman & Co. put as little money in as it had to, and busied itself in getting it out with despatch.
The above details of this opinion were not made public until April 1933, two years after Carl's death from "liver trouble," and five years after his remarriage in 1927 to Gloria Jack of Kane, Pennsylvania. We know, however, from Darwin Payne's book that what followed next was putting Neil Mallon in place as Dresser's president. In 1931, instead of selling or dividing the Dresser company, the stock was shifted to the new Brown Brothers Harriman company, of which Prescott Bush became a partner. Bert Walker remained at the old offices (39 Broadway) while Prescott moved to the new digs--Brown Brothers offices at 59 Wall Street.

Four months after losing her appeal against division of the Dresser assets, Pauline made headlines once again: "Pauline Dresser To Wed Col. Rogers". The friendships she had made in Tulsa in 1922 paying dividends by 1933.

Port of Missing Men, Southampton
Pauline was honored by an engagement dinner given by her stepdaughter-to-be, Millicent, daughter of Col. Henry Huddleston Rogers. Millicent was then married to an Argentine millionaire named Arturo Peralta Ramos. It is not rightly known exactly how Pauline snared her wealthy third husband. Their wedding took place at Col. Rogers' "summer home" on Long Island. Fortunately for her, Pauline did manage to stay married to her multi-millionaire husband, becoming a widow after only a two-year marriage.

The mansion Pauline inherited in Southampton, Long Island, New York, had also been the scene of Millicent's 1927 wedding to the Argentinian polo player. Intriguingly, Millicent divorced him in December 1935 after a six-week stay in Reno, obtaining her divorce on the same day that "Sidney" Wrightsman obtained a divorce from Irene Wrightsman--the same person Pauline had honored with a tea on the eve of her wedding in Tulsa in 1922. Possibly one of those amazing coincidences?

No mention of the Charles B. Wrightsman divorce has been found, although we know he did marry Jayne Larkin in 1944. His obituary failed to mention his first marriage, which had occurred at the time the Dressers had known them in Tulsa in 1922 and produced two daughters, Irene Margaret and Charlene. The daughters were living with their divorced mother in a modest apartment building in Santa Monica in 1940, a mile from the Pacific Coast highway. Five years earlier they had all lived at the Warwick Hotel in Houston, and C.B. had his office for Standard Oil of Kansas at #1540 Mellie Esperson Building.

In May 1937, Walter Hoving, after leaving Chicago and obtaining new employment as president of Lord & Taylor in New York, married Pauline at her New York City apartment on 57th Street, and they immediately sailed to Bermuda, along with her son (Bradley Steese Dresser) and his new wife--a sort of double honeymoon. 

Pauline received one-third of the income from Rogers' estate for the remainder of her life, including the use of the Port of Missing Men property pictured above:
a lavish estate in Southampton on Long Island, ... set on 1400 acres of prime land, including an 800-acre shooting preserve called The Cow Neck and a 400-acre lake, called Scallop Pond. As designed by the renowned architect John Russell Pope, the Rodgers’ manor house resembled not one, but several modest Colonial cottages, all strung together, to form an abode of palatial proportions with opulent appointments, not so different from Marie Antoinette’s retreat at Versailles. It included perhaps the most lavish Greco-Roman indoor swimming pool ever conceived in this country, which has since been destroyed.
Pauline would later be described by stepson, Thomas Hoving, in his 1994 book--Making the Mummies Dance: Inside The Metropolitan Museum Of Art--as a woman for whom he "developed an instant hatred" (page 85). Tom's parents were divorced when he was five, in August 1936, only seven months before Pauline married his father, and he recalled spending summers with two governesses at Pauline's Long Island estate as his stepmother tried to teach him how to live "in society."

During cooler months when he lived as a boy in Manhattan, Tom would go to the Hovings' apartment on the top floor of River House, 435 East 52nd Street on the East River. Sonny Whitney had a residence one building down at the corner of First Avenue, and Bert Walker's Manhattan residence was a few doors away at One Sutton Place South. Tom would even hint in his book about a possible romance between his stepmother Pauline and Charlie Wrightsman.

The Exxon story, too, is also hinted at here, but further research articles will hopefully bring it into clearer focus.


[1] Frederick Townsend Martin wrote the book from which the quote is taken about three years before his death. When his brother's obituary appeared in the Washington Post (1913), Frederick was said to be "a Bowery settlement worker." The real "idle" wealth of Frederick's brother came in the form of his wife's inheritance of hundreds of millions from her parents, with which she became noted for exceptionally elaborate balls at the Waldorf-Astoria.

[2] In Atlantic City, Pauline apparently encountered her ex-husband with an actress using the name Mae Francis, (a niece of "Wild Bill" Donovan, a famous baseball player of the day, not the spy). Steese, in his roadster, was insanely racing against aviator E. Kenneth Jaquith, flying above him. Steese married the actress early in 1917. The next time he was heard from, however, he was married to a woman named Blanche, with whom in 1925 he had built a house at Lake Salubria near Bath, New York, and moved there from Ohio. When Steese's mother died in 1929, Blanche was named Executrix. Soon after that, he received another inheritance from Anna Steese Baldwin, his late father's sister. He had no problem inheriting from family, but he suffered no qualms it seems in disinheriting his own two sons, giving them up to be raised by Pauline's second husband.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

How Rich Men in Greenwich Came to Control Pan Am

Back in the fall of 2014 at this blog I was heavily engaged in a review of Nixon's role in Watergate, while at the same time exploring his connection to Rebe Rebozo. Researching Bebe in depth had led me to Bebe's marriage to high school classmate Clare Gunn, who had their marriage annulled just before she married in 1937 an extremely wealthy man, E. Vose Babcock, Jr. That marriage ended in divorce after only two years. Her final marriage would be to a Pan Am Airways pilot named James N. Gentry.

Although I did promise to continue researching what to be was a quite intriguing connection, i.e., Babcock's connection to the Mellon and Scaife families in Pittsburgh, I neglected to post my followup research. Instead, curiosity about land developers in Florida, among many other subjects,  intervened. Refer back to my previous post to refresh your memory, as the saga continues here.

Vose Babcock, Sr. dies.
Juan Trippe's Social Circle Within a Circle

Prior to his becoming Pittsburgh's mayor, Vose Babcock, Sr. had been a trustee of the University of Pittsburgh with Andrew Carnegie himself a decade or so after  Carnegie sold his steel company to J.P. Morgan and became America's richest philanthropist. Vose Jr., something of a black sheep, did not follow the lead of other wealthy Pittsburgh citizens who married within their class. 
David K.E. Bruce & A. Mellon
Scions from that Pittsburgh group include Richard Beatty Mellon's daughter Sarah Cordelia, for example, who married Alan Magee Scaife, nephew of William L. Scaife, also a fellow trustee with Vose Babcock, Sr.; Sarah's first cousin, Andrew Mellon's daughter Ailsa, married David K.E. Bruce, who himself had a founding role in Pan American Airways, as well as a secretive career in intelligence. Passing the Maryland Bar in 1921, Bruce then "dabbled at the law and began preparing for a career in the State Department at its foreign service school."*  It would be in David Bruce's footsteps a young George H. W. Bush would tread in the years leading up to Bush's rise in power and status as President Richard Nixon was being drummed out of office in 1974, a path which ended in late 1977 upon Bruce's death.

Alan Magee Scaife, graduating in the 1920 class at Yale, had been roommates with Juan T. Trippe there. No doubt that relationship helped Trippe become the founder of Pan American Airways at the age of only 27. David Bruce, Scaife's cousin by marriage, who grew up in Baltimore amongst heirs of Alexander Brown's fortune, became a partner in an investment bank set up in 1926--W.A. Harriman & Co.--which would soon merge with Alex Brown's New York sons' descendants in Brown Brothers, founded in 1825. 

The Brown descendants included the wife of another close Yale friend, Robert A. Lovett, who in 1919 had married Adele Quartley Brown, daughter of senior partner James Brown. In 1926 Lovett became a Brown Brothers partner. That was the same year Trippe broke up with PanAm's former investors, which included Averell Harriman, after the military brass who ran Colonial Air Transport accused Trippe of neglecting the airline's core business--contract mail routes--while trying to build a passenger transport business.** 

Juan Trippe of Greenwich
At that time the core mail routes were Boston to New York and New York to Chicago, but Trippe was more interested in a route to America's Pacific coast, California, and from the Florida keys to Cuba, with a more distant eye to the "Orient."

The man who blew the whistle, as it were, on Juan Trippe's "loose management" was none other than Andrew Mellon's son-in-law David Bruce, whose fellow partners at W.A. Harriman & Co. were Roland "Bunny" Harriman, Knight Woolley, and Prescott Bush--all of whom had been classmates at Yale who had been tapped for Skull and Bones just as America entered WWI in 1917. Another partner, the one with the most banking experience, however, was our old friend George Herbert (Bert) Walker, who became Prescott Bush's father-in-law in 1921.

Founding of W. A. Harriman & Co in 1920

In May of that year Robert Scott Lovett (father of Robert A. Lovett, also a Bonesman from Yale's class of 1918) volunteered to work full-time with the War Council, headed by Henry Pomeroy Davison of Locust Valley, Long Island, New York. Bobby Lovett had moved from Texas to New York at a young age when his father began running E.H. Harriman's Union Pacific Railroad, and grew up alongside the Harriman boys and attended Yale with Davison's son, Frederick Trubee Davison, and Knight Woolley's brother John, in the 1918 class. Prescott Bush and Bunny Harriman were one year ahead of Lovett, who, with Knight Woolley and Neal Mallon, were in Yale's Class of 1917. Averell graduated in the 1913 class. All were in Skull and Bones.

Unnamed industrial finance company being set up by G.H. Walker.
In January 1920 St. Louis investment banker George H. Walker announced he would set up a new "industrial finance company," with many wealthy businessmen, including:
  • J. Ogden Armour, the meat packer in Chicago, was involved, as were 
  • Averell Harriman, 
  • Percy Rockefeller, 
  • Sam F. Pryor, and 
  • W. C. Potter, among many others. 
On April 10, 1920 the new company,  incorporated as Morton & Co., Inc., announced it would operate a general investment banking business, issuing and underwriting securities, and engaging in all the normal activities of such banks. Its temporary offices were moved on May 15 to 25 Broad Street. Directors and officers were named in the Announcement below:

G. H. Walker, president of Morton & Co.--WSJ 4/10/1920

How did these Yale men meet the St. Louis banker, one might well wonder.

Percy A. Rockefeller had been in the Yale (and Skull and Bones) 1900 class with Frederick Baldwin Adams, Frederic Winthrop Allen from Massachusetts and James Cowan Greenway. In fact, when F.W. Allen's wedding was held in St. Louis in 1911 his Bones classmates attended. Allen's bride was Irene Catlin, daughter of Daniel Catlin, founder of a tobacco company in St. Louis bought out by American Tobacco Company in 1898. Catlin had used the money from the sale to invest in St. Louis real estate and built the Security Building at 319 N. 4th Street, "St. Louis' most costly tall office building." At the corner of Locust and North Fourth, it sat opposite the Federal Reserve Bank in downtown St. Louis. For years the Catlins had lived on Vandeventer Place near the family of David Davis Walker, father of George Herbert Walker. Mrs. Catlin's mother, Mrs. Henry Kayser lived at #59 until her death in 1915.

Fred Winthrop Allen had moved to St. Louis shortly after his Yale graduation in 1900 to work for Simmons Hardware, the same company which hired Prescott Bush after he too graduated from Yale in 1917. Allen had quickly taken his place among St. Louis society folk, making friends with Daniel Catlin, Jr. and his brother Theron, whose sister Allen later married.***

Averell, Bunny's big brother and the senior partner of the investment bank set up with his inheritance from the railroad tycoon, E.H. Harriman, ignored the warnings given him by both David Bruce and Colonial Air Transport (CAT) executive Sherman Fairchild. There are varying accounts of what exactly happened in 1927 (Gabrielle Durepos, Albert J. Mills, Anti-History: Theorizing the Past..., pp. 195-200).; see also pages 4-5 of a paper delivered by the authors which sets out the founding and merger history of Pan Am). One account, written by "leftist" writer, Matthew Josephson, relates that after being fired by the board of CAT, Trippe formed Aviation Corporation of the Americas (ACoAs) with John Hambleton and Cornelius Vanderbilt "Sonny" Whitney, son of Harry Payne Whitney and grandson of William Collins Whitney. Hambleton, son of a Baltimore banker and married to the daughter of the president of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, died in a plane crash in the summer of 1929, to be heard from no more. Sonny Whitney, however, turned out to be Juan Trippe's most omnipresent backer, as we will explore in subsequent posts here.

We receive a totally different perspective of Juan Trippe's role in this airline from Rudy Abramson's
biography of Averell Harriman, Spanning the Century. Abramson states that Averell, who graduated from Yale four years earlier than his brother and other Skull and Bones partners at W.A. Harriman & Co., had begun aviation investments with his brother-in-law, Charles Lawrance, who sold military planes to the French during WWI and to the U.S. Army in 1920. Charles soon became president of the Wright Company, which made the plane Lucky Lindbergh flew to Paris. 

By the time the forerunner to Pan Am was founded, Averell (then 36) was already making his third aviation investment. He teamed up with Bobby Lehman to help Trippe launch Aviation Corporation of America (AVCO), also bringing in Sonny's cousin John Hay "Jock" Whitney, their uncle William H. Vanderbilt, and William G. Rockefeller, Juan's close neighbor in Greenwich, Connecticut. In fact, the part of Greenwich where Trippe, Prescott Bush, Sr. and Jr. lived had been developed out of the vast Rockefeller holdings in that city.
William Rockefeller first acquired land in Greenwich in the 1870's.

Juan Trippe in 1928 married Elizabeth "Betty" Stettinius, daughter of Edward R. Stettinius, Sr. whom Ron Chernow described as the man bearing "the unlovely tag of father of the military industrial complex." [See Chernow, The House of Morgan (page 189)]. President of the Diamond Match Company during 1909-15, Stettinius lived with his family in a mansion called Dongan Hall at Staten Island. Recruited by Thomas Lamont in 1915 to work for J. P. Morgan & Co., he became chief buyer of war supplies for the Allies before the U.S. declared war. In this role he reorganized American manufacturing companies into munitions makers, using Morgan's interest in Guaranty Trust to finance its acquisition of factories by Midvale Steel and Ordnance for that purpose. Midvale then set up Remington Arms Co. in Delaware "primarily to manufacture rifles for the Allies in Europe." Mostly Wall-Street bankers bought up the stock in Remington, Cambria Steel and also Wilmington Steel.

Two men who were most helpful to Stettinius in converting America into a war machine were Samuel F. Pryor and Percy A. Rockefeller. Pryor, who was a director of the Baldwin Locomotive Works, helped negotiate the lease to house the new factory for Remington Arms, of which he would serve as a vice-president. The contracts to sell the rifles were already in place by 1915, and the United States had already racked up a huge trade surplus. Pryor would become a vice president of Union Metallic Cartridge Co. and later serve as a director of Wright-Martin Aircraft with Frederic Wintrop Allen and Frederick Baldwin Adams, both of whom were shareholders in W.A. Harriman & Co. of which George H. "Bert" Walker was president in 1920, as were Percy and Pryor. Percy A. Rockefeller was a major investor in Midvale with his sister's husband, Marcellus Hartley Dodge, and with Frank A. Vanderlip, while Andrew Mellon was a Midvale director. (See Gerald G. Eggert, Steelmasters and Labor Reform, 1886-1923, page 96).

A couple of years later as Assistant Secretary of War in Woodrow Wilson's administration in 1918 Stettinius oversaw procurement and production of supplies for the U.S. Army, spending many months in Europe after WWI on the Advisory Liquidating Board settling munitions contracts and those for "aeronautical material" no longer needed by the U.S. Government. His job was then to terminate contracts established during the the war on terms favorable to the government. Thus, Juan Trippe's father-in-law would have been well qualified to have mentored Richard Nixon, who terminated Navy contracts at the Philadelphia Bureau of Aeronautics office beginning in January 1945. Nixon's entire Naval career is much more intriguing than has heretofore been explored.

Before that assignment Nixon had been an administrative officer at the Alameda Naval Air Station, where Pan American World Airways' Pacific terminal was located. One who collects coincidences might be fascinated to learn that Alameda Naval Air Base was also the point of departure in 1944 for
the last flight (photo below) of James Norman Gentry, the man Bebe Rebozo's ex-wife (Clare Gunn) married after she divorced Bebe. But, again, we're getting ahead of ourselves.

Captain James Norman Gentry, who married Clare Gunn in 1939, crashed in 1944.

When W. A. Harriman & Co. merged into the newly created Brown Brothers, Harriman investment bank in 1931, "six of the twelve partners in the new company had been at Yale with the younger Harriman brother [Bunny]" — adding Robert A. Lovett and Ellery James to the other four Yalies, all of whom had been tapped by Skull and Bones during the time Percy Rockefeller was investing in aircraft with fellow Bonesman F. B. Adams.

A secretive high-level "spook" within State Department and OSS circles, Bruce in his diaries from WWII, published in 1991 as "OSS Against the Reich recounted his experiences as "a top deputy of William J. 'Wild Bill' Donovan, founder of the Office of Strategic Services," forerunner of Central Intelligence Agency. Bruce had also served as Averell Harriman's assistant in the Department of Commerce.

Like Carnegie, Andrew Mellon and his numerous corporate interests before the 1929 crash had been an integral part of the Morgan banking network of industries then centered around steel, mass transit and mass electrical utility systems and the local street railways, which were recently consolidated into one holding company by Democrat, William Collins Whitney. (See Taking the Golden Eggs, Part I and Part II.) W.C. Whitney had very strong ties to Yale, but wanted to send his two sons to Harvard because of a rift between him and his wife's brother, Oliver Hazard Payne, also a Yalie, but a Republican, heavily invested in Standard Oil, whose owners were incensed at what had transpired under the Democrat President Grover Cleveland and the Republican trust-buster Theodore Roosevelt to their oil monopoly. 

The Rockefellers, Stillmans, and associates in Standard Oil and National City Bank were determined to wrest control of the government and the direction of investment from Whitney's benefactors, and they planned to do it through the power structure at Yale University, in particular through the Skull and Bones secret society. Andrew Mellon had known Texan Jesse Jones since at least 1905, when Jones was a young man managing his uncle's lumber estate. Not long after meeting Mellon, who owned the Lucas oil gusher at Spindletop as part of Gulf Oil, Jones went into the construction business for himself and convinced Mellon to build a headquarters for Gulf Oil in Houston in 1908. Jesse Jones built two Gulf buildings, and a third was constructed by Cadillac Fairview (Bronfman) many years later as part of Texas Eastern Transmission Co.'s Houston Center complex.

Since 1937 Gulf Oil had been in Kuwait as a partner with BP, from whom they “took most of their political advice,” and who “gave them patronizing lectures on how to deal with the Arabs.” [Anthony Sampson, The Seven Sisters, p. 230.] According to Sampson, Gulf “moved into coal and nuclear energy; they bought an insurance company (CNA), an industrial center in Florida, and a whole new town outside Washington called Reston.”

What we need to understand at this juncture is that Miami in 1930 was the center of what was to become America's first international airline corporation and that Yale was strutting to lead the way through Juan Trippe. We learn much of this history from author Rosalie Schwartz in her book Flying Down to Rio: Hollywood, Tourists, and Yankee Clippers.

With the depression, a new type of infrastructure pushed out the old to create an economy based upon the concept of individually automobiles as and the petroleum products used as fuel, thus supplanting the electric-powered street railways. Mellon was in the process of abandoning Morgan interests in favor of Rockefeller-Stillman interests, as his activities during the 1920's, leading up to oil ventures in Venezuela and Colombia in 1930, affirm.

In 2001 a map of the real estate holdings in these counties appeared in the Sarasota Herald, which shows that Babcock Lumber's hardwoods grew in swampy lands later sold to the state for a wilderness preserve. The Babcock heirs declared that nobody had made any money off the cattle and farming operations of the ranch, at least not since Babcock, Sr. turned the lands over to Junior's younger brother Fred Courtney Babcock, a white sheep graduate of Dartmouth, who married and returned to Pittsbugh to head the lumber company even before Vose Senior died in 1948. Fred lived until 1997, dying in Punta Gorda, Charlotte County, Florida.

Smathers firm deprived of these fees!
Fred's heirs in 2001 breathed not a whisper here of the name of black sheep, Vose Jr. What we learn of Clare's husband number two is found in 1957 Florida Senate hearings on the impeachment of Judge George Edward Holt, whom critics alleged received a suspicious loan from an attorney named Joseph Gersten. George Smathers' partner, Jack Thompson, it seems, had been appointed in 1955 to be guardian ad litem for Vose Babcock, Jr. (incapacitated by an unknown blood malady). The guardian apparently would have had some measure of access to Babcock's $8 million trust fund as well as oversight of $4 million in Florida real estate and his cattle spread over several counties (see p. 419 of excerpt at left), all valued in 1950s dollars. According to testimony in the hearing, the Judge revoked the first appointment to the Smathers firm, replacing Thompson with Gersten.  

When Vose Jr. died  in 1956, his obituary in the Princeton Alumni Weekly state he had been a director of the Florida State Cattlemen's Association and a member of the Riviera Country Club at Coral Gables. A 1955 photograph of him appeared alongside Florida's anti-Klan Governor Fuller Warren showing off his purebred Santa Gertrudis bloodline bull acquired from the Texas King Ranch, whose website states:
In 1940, Dick Kleberg, Jr., joined his father, Mr. Dick, and his uncle, Mr. Bob, in managing King Ranch. Together, they initiated a series of innovations that kept King Ranch successful and at the leading edge of the ranching industry. ...After World War II, the ranch’s agricultural business was extended, in part to expand the national and global presence of the Santa Gertrudis breed. Acquisitions came through the purchase of property in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, and West Texas, and through joint ventures and partnerships in Florida.
Clare divorced Babcock in 1939.
Clare Gunn's 1937 marriage to Vose Jr. was over in very short order, as stated in a prior post. She divorced him early in 1939 in Miami in order to marry James N. Gentry, a 1934 mechanical engineering graduate from Georgia Tech, who had joined the Naval Reserve and trained as a pilot in Pensacola, Florida, before moving to Miami to fly for Pan American. By the spring of 1940 they were living in Fort Myers, and he tended his cattle on the Crescent B Ranch, which covered a large part of Lee, Charlotte, Hendry and Collier Counties' swampy range. Vose Babcock and his brother Fred were in Fort Myers to look after the 156,000-acre Crescent B. Ranch their father had begun buying from timber speculators in 1914. The ranch was then still part of Manatee County and would not be divided into Charlotte and Lee Counties until seven years later. What remains of that real estate investment is now the Babcock Ranch community east of Punta Gorda.

Vose Babcock remarried again so quickly, we might wonder whether  Clare caught him fooling around with the young widow, Georgie Areca Stone Moore, whom he married in short order. Born in Punta Gorda around 1915, Areca was a 1933 graduate of Fort Myers High School and lived with the family of her deceased husband, Charlie Swoope Moore, Jr. who died December 8, 1937. Charlie's father fancied himself as something of a defender of national security, serving on the Fort Myers Defense Council during WWII. 

After the marriage, to Areca, Vose Babcock soon moved down to the Miami area, where the 1947 directory finds him in Coral Gables in a large Spanish colonial ranch home just east of the golf course named for the historic Biltmore Hotel a few feet from the Babcocks' front door. Intriguingly, thirteen months after Vose died, Areca married Guy B. Bailey, who became one of the founders of the Country Club of Miami, which announced its golf pro would be Arnold Palmer, then the hottest golfer on the PGA circuit. After the club opened, however, it turned out Arnie was too hot to spend much time at all in Miami, and he was replaced when his contract expired.

Clare too quickly remarried. The U.S. Census recorded in April 1940 reveals Clare was already remarried to James Norman Gentry and living at 24-29 51st Avenue in Douglaston, Little Neck, New York, ten miles east of La Guardia Airport, the New York terminal for Gentry's employer, Pan American Airlines. To get to work and back, Gentry would have had to pass the World's Fair in Flushing (current site of Flushing Meadows tennis center) which did not close until late October 1940. Used as a model for Walt Disney's Epcot Center in Florida, the 1939 World’s Fair "sprawled over 1,216 acres of former marshland adjacent to Flushing Bay."

1942 Miami Directory
Incidentally, Bebe Rebozo lived with his mother and sister in this same neighborhood in 1942 before he and Clare married for a second time and were listed in the 1947 Miami Directory at 7200 School House Road (now known as SW 52nd Avenue)!

During the 1920's Florida was the hottest market for real estate, as we have explored in many posts that appear in this blog (see label 'Florida Land Boom'). It was also struggling to build airports during those years and attracted the interest of two important menGlenn H. Curtiss and Juan T. Trippe.
Here we return to review what happened in Florida after WWI, trying to understand how the new transportation technologies led to that state becoming central to the growth of an intelligence empire.

Florida and Airplanes--the 1920's

Wall Street invaded Miami in the 1920's, but a hurricane in 1926 and another in 1929 brought recession, just as the stock market crash ushered in the Great Depression. Prior to the crash investors were zeroing in on the latest technology—airplanes.

The three biggest American names in the field at that time—Wright, Curtiss and Martin—would soon be swallowed up into one conglomerate. The Great War (WWI) had razed the playing field, forcing the winner to become a partner with the federal government, which dangled the most lucrative contract, air mail, like a carrot before corporate eyes.

One of the foremost pioneers of the "aeroplane," Wilbur Wright, died in 1912, and his brother Orville, after winning a patent-infringement lawsuit against Glenn H. Curtiss in 1914, sold out to a New York investment syndicate, headed by William Boyce Thompson, formerly a copper miner in Montana, was involved. For a mere $250,000, one-quarter of what the Wright company had initially raised in 1909, Thompson's group of investors included Charles H. Sabin of the Morgan-affiliated Guaranty Trust.

Wright plane in 1910
The new syndicate which acquired Wright's stock merged it with that of Glenn L. Martin, forming in 1917 a new corporation called Wright-Martin Aircraft Corporation, which began manufacturing aircraft in New Brunswick, N.J. at the Simplex automobile factory which Wright had also acquired. Preferred and common shares of Wright-Martin, which were authorized to raise a total of $10 million, were oversubscribed by $5.2 million.

Percy, mgr for Wear team
Wright-Martin quickly evolved into Wright Aeronautical Corporation, filed in Albany, New York, in October 1919 by Frederick Baldwin Adams and others, shortly before Adams joined with the other shareholders involved with Averell Harriman and G. H. "Bert" Walker in W. A. Harriman & Co. Walker's brother-in-law, Jim Wear, played football at Yale while Percy Rockefeller was the football manager.

Adams had also been tapped for Skull and Bones the same year as Percy. Wright Aeronautical operated for ten years, until June 1929 when both it and rival Glenn Curtiss were acquired by a $70 million holding company called the Curtiss-Wright Corporation.

The Curtiss-Wright Corporation would eventually become a subsidiary of a huge conglomerate formed in 1915, the American International Corporation, which Antony Sutton referred to as "a Morgan-controlled firm," with William Boyce Thompson high up in its management. Eustace Mullins has also written about AIC, stating that it was
"funded by J.P. Morgan, the Rockefellers, and the National City Bank. Chairman of the Board was Frank Vanderlip, former president of National City, and member of the Jekyll Island group which wrote the Federal Reserve Act in 1910." 
Mullins also wrote that the directors included George Herbert Walker along with an assortment of other well known men. Although many of those he mentioned were original directors of AIC, Walker was not, as evidenced by the absence of his name in the article published in Washington Post of November 24, 1915.

G.H. Walker, USGA
By 1929, however, when the corporation advertised to sell $25,000,000 in gold debentures, Walker, then president of  W.A. Harriman & Co., was listed as a director of AIC. That year also saw both Averell Harriman and G. H. Walker sitting as directors of The Aviation Company (AVCO), a connection begun possibly in 1928 when AIC's Matthew Brush was on the board of Petroleum Bond and Share, a Delaware corporation, with Averell and Walker.

Until passage of the Federal Reserve Act in 1913 the United States had had no official central bank, but historians have stated that J. P. Morgan had acted as an unofficial central bank. When Morgan died in 1913, four years after W. A. Harriman's father, the railroad tycoon, had passed from the scene, many investment bankers aspired to replace the role Morgan had played. George Herbert Walker was one of those men who aspired to such heights, but he was one who hid in the shadows. My project to shed light on him and his extended family extends to five segments, which can read at QJ. Something triggered his ambition to broaden his banking interests in 1916, the year he was named president of the New Orleans, Texas & Mexico Railway Company, whose chairman was Houston attorney Frank Andrews.

G.H. Walker named President of new railway company, 1916.
Central banks provide the nation with one financial voice to speak for it in commercial matters abroad. Morgan had been that voice for years. With his death in 1913, Woodrow Wilson stood ready to appoint the first director to head the new central bank, and the following year chose W. Boyce Thompson, an ingenue Republican millionaire who favored Theodore Roosevelt's progressivism over Taft's policies. It could only have been a political ploy designed by Colonel House of Texas, who was pulling Wilson's strings from behind the curtain in an obvious  attempt to garner favor with the Roosevelt progressives who had helped the Democrats defeat Taft.

The New York branch of the Federal Reserve from which Thompson came was then as now comprised of the biggest, wealthiest banks on Wall Street. In 1914 the member banks were chomping at the bit, with WWI looming in Europe, to cash in on financing the war. American International Corporation, an entity set up by this Wall Street branch of the new central banking establishment, wanted to leverage millions of dollars in federal grants, together with stocks and bonds issued by its member Wall Street banks, to buy American companies able to produce weapons, ammunition, and other equipment, such as airplanes--all then in great demand by the warring nations.

Glenn H. Curtiss had
Glenn Curtiss
developed an airplane that could land on water for the Navy, but he soon found himself in a legal battle with the Wright Brothers, who held a patent on their wing-warping system. While the Wrights won in court, Curtiss paid no penalty, and a Wall Street syndicate formed the Curtiss Aeroplane & Motor Company, with Curtiss as president. ... When the company underwent major financial reorganization in 1920, Curtiss moved to southern Florida, where he became a real estate developer during the 1920s.
As WWI approached, eleven manufacturers of airplanes and parts set up Manufacturers' Aircraft Association as a clearing house to avoid litigation which would delay the manufacture of aircraft needed to sell to Europeans engaged in the war. They put all patents used by manufacturerd into a pool and members of that pool were able to use all these developments in their aircraft without having to pay exorbitant royalties.


*David E. Koskoff's The Mellons.
**(Anthony J. Mayo, Nitin Nohria, Mark Rennella, Entrepreneurs, Managers, and Leaders... published in 2009, (p. 47). The footnotes at the end of chapter 2 of their book are quite useful for those engaged in further research.)
*** Theron, who was 6 foot 4, was elected as a Republican to the Missouri Legislature in 1906, and was elected to the U.S. Congress in 1910. He had barely taken his seat when the Democrat Patrick F. Gill, who had contested the election, Fred's bride, Irene Catlin Allen, served with a subpoena on the day of her wedding. Gill ultimately prevailed in the House Elections Committee by proving that Fred's father-in-law, millionaire Daniel Catlin, had spent $10,000 getting his son elected and that he spent more than twice the allowed amount of $660 on his campaign.