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The American radical shouldn't
have mistreated his French bride

The name meant nothing to me when I noticed it in the first story (below), but the fact the newspaper had used Bouck White as the first two words of the headline indicated his was considered a recognizable name. However, the incident itself would have been newsworthy no matter what his name.

Turns out Bouck White was a well-known radical who had a knack for alienating people. Born Charles Browning White, he studied journalism at Harvard, turned to religion (becoming a Congregational minister), then joined the Socialist Party (until he was kicked out for endorsing Prohibition candidates). He wrote books, one of which, "The Call of the Carpenter," portrayed Jesus Christ as an agitator and social revolutionist.

This cost him his job at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, so White started his own sect, The Church of the Social Revolution."

Like many self-styled radicals, White seemed forever uncertain about his goals and how to achieve them. In 1914 he and some followers disrupted the service of the Fifth Avenue Baptist Church, the membership of which included the Rockefeller family. White claimed he wanted to discuss Christ's position on the immorality of being rich. White was arrested for disorderly conduct and received a surprisingly harsh sentence – six months on Blackwells Island, where he reportedly converted some prisoners to socialism, thus earning a transfer to a more isolated facility in Queens.

Jumping ahead to 1921, White went to Paris where he met a young woman who must have been a stunner. Newspapers at that time routinely called young women "pretty" or "beautiful." White's wife, Andree Emilie Simon, was described as "unusually pretty." As 46-year-old men often do in the presence of women half their age, White went ga-ga over the 20-year-old French girl, making the big mistake of thinking that when he proposed marriage he was doing her a favor. He figured that once they went to the United States and settled in his mountain hideaway along the Hudson River, he would mold her into an obedient wife and an ardent socialist.

Both of them were in for a big, big surprise.

Syracuse Journal

Bouck White Beaten By Mob of Angry Men
NEWBURGH, May 30 —The Rev. Bouck White, radical agitator and former pastor of the Church of the Social Revolution in New York, was beaten by 12 hooded men last Monday night because of his alleged mistreatment of his young French wife, it was learned here today.

One version was that after he was horsewhipped, White's body was covered with a mixture of tar, asphalt, carbolic acid and feathers, after which he was forced to walk 13 miles to his home near Marlboro in his night clothes. White admitted that he was beaten but declared he was not tarred and feathered.

White's wife, who was Mlle. Andree Emilie Simon, daughter of Marcel Simon, superintendent of the Panhard-Levassor Automobile Company in Paris, recently began suit for annulment of their marriage on the ground of fraud, alleging she knew nothing of White's radical activities when she married him in Paris last month.

Mrs. White also told neighbors that White had beaten her and had forced her to subsist on their farm home on a diet of eggs and milk.

Wife Without Funds
The alleged horsewhipping, tarring and feathering, has stirred the citizens of Ulster County, all of whom have expressed disdain for White and his creeds, and undying loyalty for the unusually pretty French bride. She admitted that she is without funds, but added she is being sheltered by William McElrath, proprietor of the Marlboro Mountain House, and by his housekeeper, Mrs. Leonia Swifle.

It was Mrs. Swlfie who first saw the pathetic figure of the girl as the latter was trudging up the hilly road that rises to a point 1,350 feet above the Hudson on the westerly shore. It was Mrs. Swifle, aided by the girl herself, who yesterday related the circumstances
of Mrs. White's leaving home, and her condition when she reached the mountain inn a week ago Thursday.

The following narration, disclosed by Mrs. White, accounts for the purported tarring and feathering.

"I left the farm house last Thursday. My husband had told me in English not to throw the egg shells into the fire when I had cooked his breakfast. I am not a farm woman and never was intended to be one. I did not clearly understand him when he said that he wanted to save the shells for the chickens. So I threw them into the fire and he flew into a terrible rage. All we have had to eat since going to the farm from New York, May 12, has been eggs and milk, but I would have been willing to have stood for that.

“He hurled me to the floor and began to beat me. I scratched his face. He called out to me:

“ ‘You cow! I’ll teach you better.’

Account of Horsewhipping
“I screamed and fought and finally when I was all but exhausted I fled from the room and packed my suitcase. Then while he leered at me, I left him.”

McElrath, the stalwart host of the inn, and a stern, blue-eyed man, gave the best account of the so-called horsewhipping and tarring and feathering incident. He said:

“Understand, I was not a witness. All I know is from what I heard. But when this girl’s case began to grow beyond the limits of her own home, some dozen citizens of Ulster County took it upon themselves to see that no woman was mistreated in this part of the country.

“At 9 o’clock they went in three automobiles to the White farmhouse. Leaving the lights on and leaving their machines somewhat up the road, they crept to the door and began hammering on it. White was in bed upstairs. One man threw a rope around him and he was tied tightly. Then he was dragged downstairs, screaming and protesting.

Whipped Near Home
“Right out in front of the house, he was whipped soundly. Then a coat of tar was administered. Then came the feathers. I understand that White denies this part of it, but it is curious to note that he has been limping about recently and that he has a rag around his neck.

“He says it is from ‘sunburn’ and says that is the reason he has put flour on the scars. I went past his house two days later and found an empty can and a brush. There was some tar in the can yet and some clung to the brush. I smelled the can and there was a sort of carbolic acid smell to it. That’s what made the ‘sunburn’ so sore.”

White was discovered on the piazza of his somewhat modest farmhouse, a structure that once was white. He was reclining on the left side of a white birch sapling swing. He drew a white silk handkerchief from his baggy serge trousers as interviewers approached and placed it about his neck. He wore no collar and had a soiled pink and white striped shirt on. A dingy linen cap was perched on his head. He said:

“It is true that we have been having some trouble – my wife and I. It is true that she wants to annul our marriage. That is all right.

“I was an extremist when when went into the war and was one before that. I have been biding my time here until the brainstorm is over and things are revolutionized. But I never deceived my wife.”

White, rising gently, as though in pain, from his piazza vantage point, continued his narration.

Was Roughly Handled
“I admit I was handled roughly. It is true that I had a visit last Monday night from about a dozen men who came here in three automobiles. But I wasn’t dragged from bed. They knocked at the door and when I asked them to come in, they grabbed me. But they are no good, those fellows, and if you are going to write a dignified account of this, you would best leave them out of the story.”

While he was speaking one could see red blotches on his neck and his arms. He added, rolling his piercing brown eyes at his inquisiors:

“I paid $4,000 for this place about four years ago. I wanted it as a haven where I could rest and work out matters while waiting for things to be readjusted. I met my wife in Paris last February while I was over there to look at peasant pottery, which I had planned on importing. We were introduced by a widow, a mutal friend. It was all very romantic. At that time I told my wife that I was a political extremist. You know how those things are, though; they go right along.

“The day I met my wife was during the Lenten season, on a day set apart. The introduction was accomplished at a bazar. She is the daughter of Marcelle Simon, superintendent and chief chemist of the Panhard-Levassor Authomobile Company, of Paris.

“When we got over here all did not go well. I tried to convert her to my views, but with no success. Our whole trouble is simply the difficulty that always is encountered. It is simply that these French-American marriages don’t turn out well. A different temperament and a different strain cannot mix well. Thirty-three percent of these war marriages go on the rocks, so why should it matter if ours – only one, more or less – does not succeed?

Fault of Temperament
“Our failure to get along was not so much her fault or my fault but the fault of temperaments. Really, though, boys, I think there is a great deal of good in this girl – that wife of mine – and I hope she won’t do anything that will darken herself in shielding me.

“I don’t believe I made her perceive my idea of causing a social reconstruction. She must have known I was an agitator. I tried my best to give her the real lessons of life. I introduced her to my friends. I introduced her to Louise Adams Grout, but that didn’t make an impression on her.”

Sighing and caressing his side, as though something pained him there, he went on:

“I sincerely think I did something for that girl by marrying her. I dreamed a dream of elevating her, but, well ..."

While reading the remarks attributed to Bouck White, I found myself thinking of a fictional character, TV psychiatrist Frasier Crane, who never missed an opportunity to remind anyone within earshot that he had a degree from Harvard. I could picture Crane also saying, about one of his girl friends, "I dreamed a dream of elevating her, but, well ..."

And I wonder if anyone ever broke the news to Bouck White that Louise Adams Grout didn't make much of an impression on anyone ... except folks impressed by socialist with a Boston pedigree.

Clearly White had a vastly overinflated opinion of himself and his intellect. Also in common with Frasier Crane, White didn't know when to keep his mouth shut. His remarks apparently so annoyed his neighbors that some decided a second visit was warranted.

Syracuse Journal

Former Clergyman Again
Horsewhipped by Mountaineers

NEWBURGH, N.Y., May 31 – The Rev. Bouck White, radical agitator and former pastor, has added another beating and ducking to the program of punishment being meted out to him by the villagers of Marlboro because of his difficulties with his French bride, it was learned here today.

The latest attack occurred Friday, but White has been reticent about his beatings and the "vigilantes” have just begun to talk about the additions to their repertoire.

The first beating White received was a week ago last night, shortly after his wife, whom he had married in Paris last month, left his farm home after a five days' residence and told neighbors he had mistreated her.

Friday night the "vigilantes" again called at White's home in automobiles and took him to Orange Lake, 12 miles away, where they ducked him. From there they went to Walden, six miles from. Marlboro, and tied him to a tree, while they debated what should be the next step. They finally decided on a horsewhipping. Afterwards he was taken back to his home.

By then it was clear some folks in Marlboro, N.Y., had been waiting for an excuse to gang-up on White. My reading of articles from 1921 revealed it was not uncommon for neighbors to turn on a man who had abused his wife or children. But what may have bothered Marlboro residents even more was Bouck White's 1916 conviction for desecrating the American flag, an act that had earned him another prison stint. His neighbors seemed to be looking for any excuse to convince White he'd be happier living elsewhere.

Syracuse Journal

Further Punishment for White Considered
MARLBORO, N. Y., May 31.—Bouck White rode down to this town early Monday morning in his dilapidated flivver from his small farm in Snake Hollow.

He left the flivver in front of a cobbler's and went ln to get a pair of boots he had left there for repair. While he was inside, a villager pasted on the windshield of his automobile a copy of a New York newspaper containing an account of his tarring, feathering and horsewhipping a week ago last night.

When White came out he pulled the newspaper off and tossed it away. A Grand Army veteran, bearded, bemedalled and in uniform, across the road laughed.

Hooted and Jeered.
Hoots and cat-calls immediately arose from the gaily decorated village street. Then, just as White meshed his gears, a flock of nondescript vegetables flew about his head.

He shot out of the village on high speed. The last seen of him he was about two jumps ahead of a tired turnip.

The village was laughing about this this afternoon. But there was an ugly undercurrent to the mirth. Several prominent residents said:

"This isn't the end of our affair with Bouck White. We don't want him here. Why, he has only paid the interest on the debt we owe him when he was tarred and feathered and whipped.

Resent Flag Burning.
"They may tolerate things like this elsewhere in the United States, but we can't stand up here in Ulster County for a man to burn an American flag like we are told he did back in New York in 1914. And we certainly aren't going to stand for having him treat this poor little French girl he has married the way she says he has treated her."

One mountaineer wept today while he criticized Bouck White. Tears coursed down his tanned and weatherbeaten cheeks, aa he shook his list and cried:

"Before God, I thought this man was worthy to live here and enjoy God's, good, clear air, His sunshine, but I have heard these stories, and I don't know what is going to happen."

That is the situation here in this part of the country, so strangely rural and isolated despite its really short mileage distance from New York.

White's account of his marriage had pretty much absolved himself of any blame for his wife's departure. He may have felt that a wife was subject to her husband's will and lacked any of the rights he had crusaded for on behalf of the world's workers. In any event, he seems to have underrated Andree Emilie Simon, who comes across in the interview that follows as more forthright and realistic. I can't help but think White had more to learn from her than she did from him.

Syracuse Journal

Abuse Blighted Romance,
Says Bouck White’s Bride

MARLBORO, N.Y., May 31 – Here is the story of Andree Emilie Simon White, Parisienne wife of Bouck White, told for the first time today to a reporter in her mountain refuge three miles from this village:

"I was born November 21, 1900. Six years later my family removed to Rheims, the birthplace of my mother.

"We lived there until 1915. Then the German Krupps leveled our home. We lost all we had and fled to Paris. I became a student of chemistry in the Latin Quarter.

"On February 11, 1921 there was a Mardl Gras in our neighborhood. During the celebration I was walking in a crowded street with a friend, Mrs. Carman Levy. Near the Palais Royal a man accidentally jostled me. He raised his hat and was profuse in his apologies.

"It was carnival time, so Mrs. Levy spoke to him. Then she introduced me. He asked if he might call at my home.

"I agreed. The next day he paid a visit to us. My parents were profoundly impressed with him. Three days later he called again, and on this visit he proposed to me.

"When I told my parents they urged me to accept. I did so. Mr. White wanted to be married that very day. But my people suggested a wait of two weeks. In the interval between our engagement and marriage he was a constant caller at my home.

"Marriage A Nightmare."
“In time he told me he was in France to organize parties of Americans to tour the battlefields. I believed him when he told me that. But since then I have believed little he has said. I think he is a hypocrite.

“My marriage—it was not a dream, but a nightmare—was performed in the American Episcopal Church. We are Catholics, but at Mr. White's request the wedding was performed there.

"The night of the wedding we left for Cherbourg, where we booked second class passages on the Aquitania.

“On the fourth day out, we were at dinner – my husband, myself, an Italian, and a German.

“The talked turned to the proper sphere of women. My husband, in his positive way, declared:

“A woman should always lead a very secluded life.” The Italian disagreed with him. So did I. An argument ensued. We exchanged high words, but it passed.

Says White Scolded Her
“Later, however, in our cabin, my husband gave me a terrible scolding. He declared that the best thing for a wife to do was to be just a wife. He said:

“ ‘You must never embarrass me again with any of your views.’

“I said to him: ‘I have always lived a free and unhampered life, and I tell you now I always expect to.’

“Arriving in New York, I thought the city rather artificial. We went to the Hotel Holly. My husband took me for one ride on a Fifth Avenue bus, and for one walk at night up Broadway. We did not go to any theater.

“Many friends of his came to visit us. Among them was Kilburn Scott, an English artist. It was he who first aroused my suspicions that my husband’s politics were not those of Americans.

“I found his house was filthy. The next morning Mr. White came into my room at six o’clock and ordered me to get up. I thought he was joking. I laughed. He, however, became furious and dragged me from the bed and told me I would have to obey all his commands.

“I finally got up and he ordered me to clean up the house. I knew little about such work and I told him so. He turned to me and said:

“ ‘You do it!’

“So I tried. I am afraid I was not much of a hand at it, but he seemed satisfied. For two days I lived this life. And I cannot describe my feelings.

Thrown to the Floor
“Then came the Thursday morning (when she left him). I wanted to dispose of some egg shells. I threw them in the stove, where I thought they would burn up. This made him furious. He seized me and threw me to the floor. I scratched his face. Then I left him. I never could go back.

“Now I recollect once that Mr. White predicted to me a great revolution in the United States, and said to me that he expectd to be one of the leaders.

“As to my future plans? I like America. I want to stay here for a time, at least. My mother must be grieving for me in Paris.

“What can I do? Perhaps tutor someone in French. Or maybe I could beome a governess.”

So Andree Emilie Simon was headed for divorce court, while Bouck White was soon headed for a friendlier neighborhood.

Syracuse Journal

Former Pastor Says He Will Not Stay
Where He’s Not Wanted

MARLBORO, N.Y., June 1 – Bouck White, who was tarred and feathered and carried in a cart by irate citizens of Ulster County, may leave his little farm down in Snake Valley. He admitted as much today.

“If this feeling of hostility persists, I will leave this wonderful garden spot,” he said. “I could not remain where I was not wanted and where my neighbors were not friendly.”

But there was no recurrence of open hostilities against the former pastor today. He came into Marlboro in his rattle wagon and not a resident threw a decayed turnip at him. It seemed a if all the spoiled tomatoes and cabbages and carrots in Marlboro had been exhausted in the barrage of yesterday.

Mrs. White whose troubles with her husband brought on the outbreak of community spirit against him, calmly reiterated today her story of “fried eggs for breakfast, lunch, dinner and supper,” and of coffee “sans lait.”

“My husband went to sleep when I played the piano,” she said. “When I got through he woke up and clapped his hands.”

Andree Emilie Simon White wasted little time getting rid of her fourth name. I am still trying to find out what became of her after this court appearance.

Oswego Daily Times

Bouck White and French Wife
Are Parted By Court

POUGHKEEPSIE. July 20.—Mrs. Andree Simon White was awarded a decree today annulling her marriage with Charles Bouck White, radical Socialist and clergyman. The marital affairs of the strangely mated young French girl and middle-aged American preacher received wide notoriety a few weeks ago when neighbors were alleged to have whipped and tarred and feathered Bouck White under the imipression that he had ill-treated his wife.

The annulment decree, one of the briefest on record, was handed down by Supreme Court Justice Morschauser as follows:

“The plaintiff is entitled to the relief asked for in the complaint, I direct judgment for the plaintiff.”

White moved to Vermont, but eventually moved back to New York, settling peacefully in New Scotland, a few miles west of Albany, in the Helderberg Mountains area.In the 1930s two Swedish brothers help White build a primitive castle out of local limestone. He made a living selling "Bouckware" pottery. However, in 1940s fire destroyed his living quarters.. Four years later he suffered a stroke and moved into the Home for Aged Men in Menards. He died in 1951.

Bouck White misunderstood?
Some people thought so

Bouck White had his champions. Speaking out on his behalf during his prison term that followed his 1914 church invasion was none other than Mary Harris "Mother" Jones, the famous labor organizer and supporter whose name has been perpetuated by a magazine that became famous in the 1970s.

What follows is a newspaper column by Christopher Morley, a wonderful writer best known for his 1939 novel, "Kitty Foyle," that was turned into a movie melodrama that earned a best actress Oscar for Ginger Rogers.

I love the way this column is written, though I wasn't at all convinced by Morley's argument in favor of Bouck White. As is often said in TV and movie courtroom dramas, Morley assumes too many facts not in evidence, starting with his statement that White is "a cultivated man of the gentlest and most lovable nature."

Morley's portrayal of the folks of Marlboro as "rustics" also smacks of elitism, but this is an entertaining piece that registered with me on several points, particularly his suggestion that the church invasion that resulted in White's imprisonment would turned out far differently if the minister at Fifth Avenue Baptist Church had been gifted with a sense of humor.

New York Evening Post

The Bowling Green / June 2
The Case of Bouck White
Sometimes we fear that the newspapers, in spite of the large attention they pay to sport, do not show themselves very good sportsmen. To put it mildly, we are troubled by the way most of the papers have been hounding Bouck White. Now we used to know Bouck pretty well; we are more or less familiar with his ideas; he is not at all the wild and dangerous anarchist that the Times and the Tribune and the Herald portray for their readers.

And if you want to know what we consider a maddening spectacle, discreditable to American journalism and to every intelligence capable of mature reflection, we submit the picture of metropolitan newspapers whooping up a man hunt, and, in a vein of hardly disguised applause, encouraging the persecution of one whose ideas they happen to misunderstand.

Bouck White is a cultivated man of the gentlest and most lovable nature, a man of serene courage and quixotic devotion to what he considers his duty. The highly colored stories told of his marital troubles we take the liberty largely to discount. By all accounts it was a fool marriage; but idealists often do fool things.

In any case, it was an affair of gold and ivory compared with the Stillman row. But the point is this – it is an affair for the law to decide, and when a group of rustics take it into their heads to outrage the law it is not a subject for newspaper applause and merriment.

Bouck White has done a great many things that the world’s coarse thumb and finger fail to plumb. He is, by the judgment of the comfortable scoffers, a fanatic. He has sometimes an extravagant and Carlylean way of expressing himself that lends itself, in quotation, to misunderstanding. He made the crowning mistake (from the Broadway point of view) of taking Christianity seriously.

We have frequently said to our friends, we here say openly, that we have never met any man who so faithfully and literally as Bouck White put the teaching of Christ into effect in his life. He set aside a carer of brilliant conformity in the church. What he had, he shared with others. He adopted the smock of Tolstory as a mark of abhorrence of a world mad with bloodshed. He went to prison for six months because he interrupted a Fifth Avenue preacher during a service. A fool? Undoubtedly, by the general standard; but one of God’s fools. Is it a subject for mockery and general catcalls if such a man has made an unhappy or mistaken marriage?

Let us have more of such fools as Bouck White. It may be that they will accomplish more general helpfulness if they are more tactful in their speech; if they trim their hot enthusiasms for humanity; if they effect some working compromise with the state.

But what big newspaper has ever taken the trouble to state fairly Bouck White’s aim in life? You can find it in his books, somewhat marred by extravagant phraseology, but honestly put. He saw – long ago – that there was danger of violent revolutionary outbursts by the more hot-headed class of radicals. He (a Harvard man, a minister of the church, a writer of successful books) deliberately went down into the world of radical unrest to do wht he could to turn that revolutionary uneasiness and passion into effective peaceful channels. Is there a more patriotic and truly understanding thing a man can do?

Let us have more such fools as Bouck White. They will do many things that some of us will think silly; they will use a language queerly mixed of fine poetry and absurdity. (Have you heard the name of Percy Bysshe Shelley?) They will be mocked and stoned. The papers will make fun of their battered flivvers and their mountainside shacks. But we have seen many limousines on Fifth Avenue that are of less honor in our eyes that Bouck White’s little mountain flivver.

His troubles with his wife we are content to leave to the law to adjust. That is not our affair. Where the dreams of poets and reformers are understood, and the wild visions of the lovers of mankind are given their due honor, the foolishnesses are forgiven and the courage remains.

We have a tenderness for the honor of American journalism. Newspapers are edited by hurried men who do not have time to think things out very carefully. They are always on the lookout for something that will make an amusing or incongruous “story,” particularly where the point of the story pricks most sharply against the hypocrite and the mountebank or the respected smug bourgeois.

It is unlucky that they have this taste for hounding Bouck White, because it plays into the hand of those nincompoops – Upton Sinclair, for example – who accuse the press of being the creature of capital, and who see in the papers only an eagerness to hound to death those with whose political or social ideas they happen to disagree. Now, the papers that have consistsently mocked Bouck White perhaps quite honestly think that he is a dangerous man. We happen to know differently.

But we will merely add a small parable of our own. We have often thought of writing a fairy tale in which a young newspaper reporter went out to see what was doing in the way of news. He saw some very strange events going on, which seemed to him quite too outlandish to be real. He reported to the city editor that he had only seen a costume set being filmed for the movies. But what he had really witnessed was the Crucifixion.

Very likely we have bungled out little sermon. For it is a difficult matter to make plain, particularly in a field like this, where patriotic, religious, and sentimental elements are so grotesquely intermingled. There is a certain group of self-protective social fetiches, wholesome enough in the main, which, when some people imagine them touched, arouse instanteous automatic and unreasoning outcry. We would counsel you never to forget Chesterton’s noble phrase – “the fanatic who is at once a nuisance to humanity and an honor to human nature.”

Now, Bouck White is not a fanatic; he is a gentle, devoted, and most attractive lover of his kind. That sort of servant of humanity deserves to be loved, not hounded. To the seeing eye the work that he has done arouses, in many of its aspects, that mingled emotion that is both laughter and tears. Some of the things he has done are extremely funny.

Consider the visit to Dr. Woelfkin’s church on Fifth Avenue. Bouck and his pathetic little band of zealots culled from the earnest purlieus of the unfortunate. At a pause in the service – “I am here, Dr. Woelfkin, as the pastor of a neighboring church ..." The policemen rush in from the next room. Six months in jail. Dr. Woelfkin had no sense of humor. We think it well to remember that when a man laughs heartily enough, he finds tears in his eyes.

– CHRISTOPHER MORLEY

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