Part five:
According to the New York Sun (December 9, 1904), Alice York said that after the divorce, her sister "returned to Woodstock to live on the farm with my mother. There she took to writing letters to friends to say that Elizabeth Springsteen was dead. Many people believed her."

She didn't long remain in Canada, though details of her life over the next few years are fuzzy, reported differently from story to story.

In 1883, she arrived in Erie, Pennsylvania, setting up an incident included in most versions of the Cassie Chadwick story. Whatever sent her to Erie is unknown, but while there she posed as the wealthy, but ailing niece of Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman. She claimed her first name was Mazie. (Some sources say it was Marie, but Mazie received more mentions in the stories I found.)

The gist of her Erie scam is the same in every story. She feigned illness with a trick that caused her gums to bleed. She said she was on her way home to her big house in Cleveland, but wasn't well enough to resume travel just yet, and, alas, she was temporarily in need of funds.

Folks in Erie were generous, and soon the young woman was well enough to leave. As days passed, the Erie people tried to contact her in Cleveland about being repaid. Instead of money, they received a note saying Mazie had died. As an extra touch, the con woman enclosed a tribute she had composed to the deceased.

The Chicago Daily Tribune (December 2, 1904) printed the note that was sent to the good people of Erie:

“Dear Mazie passed away March 27 at 2:30 in the morning. She carefully placed her full trust in God. Poor Mazie’s remains were taken to her native home in Canada for interment and were followed to their last resting place by a large and sorrowing concourse of friends.”

* * *

Detour to Trumbull County
Next, according to that Daily Tribune article, the name "Mazie" gave way to "Madame La Rose", a clairvoyant, who briefly resided in Cleveland at 359 Superior Street, later moving to Prospect Street. Perhaps there she was visited by a Youngstown-area farmer named John. R. Scott.

In any event, there is agreement that, in 1884, Scott became her second husband. According to the Daily Tribune, "A separation followed soon after the marriage, and Scott was minus his farm."

This is just a thought — I have nothing to support it — but I did find articles that said Mme. Lydia DeVere, one of Betsy Bigley's best-known aliases, was a clairvoyant who'd gotten into trouble in Painesville, a small city about halfway between Cleveland and Erie. I was unable to find any story that explained what that trouble might have been, but I suppose it's possible she felt the best place to hide for awhile was on a farm in Trumbull County, where she was known as Mrs. Scott.

One thing that seems clear in every story about Betsy/Lydia/Cassie is she was never broke. Not for very long, anyway.

* * *

It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science
and superstition and it lies between the pit of man's fears
and the summit of his knowledge ...You guessed it ...

Welcome to The Twilight Zone
There are periods in this woman's life that remain a mystery, and the one between her divorce from Scott and her move to Toledo is the black hole in the life of Elizabeth Bigley. All that is known for sure is she came out of this period toting around a boy named Emil, who almost certainly was her son, and even her sister, Alice, seemed to believe the father — and her sister's husband — was C. L. Hoover, variously described as a doctor, a very rich doctor, or a newspaper man, who most likely would not have been rich at all. This Hoover fellow may have been the only man who died during his wife's childbirth. That is, if he ever existed.

However, the Chicago Daily Tribune (December 2, 1904) offered this explanation:

It can be stated positively that the present Mrs. Chadwick was never the wife of Dr. C. L. Hoover. There is a Mrs. Hoover now living in Buffalo. Mrs. Chadwick, prior to 1880 lived with Mrs. Hoover, whose husband had died. Mrs. Hoover kept a boarding house at 123 Euclid Avenue, and Mrs. Chadwick was then known as Mme. Rosa.

The boy now known as Emil Hoover was born in 1886, and was the son of a well known attorney and Democratic politician, who died in Cleveland in 1898.

Several Chadwick biographers, including Ms. Abbott, say Lydia Scott, as Betsy Bigley was known for awhile, did marry a man named C. L. Hoover, who died in 1888. Ms. Abbott says Hoover left his widow an estate worth $50,000. Alice York indicated the same thing in one of her interviews in 1904.

However, most of the con woman's biographers, including Condon, say Emil Hoover was an illegitimate baby, and that his mother took the last name of a former landlady, and began calling herself Mrs. C. L. Hoover, claiming the boy's father, like the fictitious niece of General Sherman, had passed away. I assume the initial C stood for Cassie, though I've seen no explanation. Perhaps it was the landlady's first name.

I lean toward the illegitimate baby story, which could explain why she moved to Toledo. Since the father of her baby was said to be a married — and prominent — Cleveland lawyer-politician, she may have agreed to get out of town. She also may have blackmailed the father, or he voluntarily gave her a bundle of cash, which would explain how she received $50,000.

Stories in old newspapers say she lived very well in Toledo, where she reverted to being Lydia Devere, a conniving clairvoyant whose name would soon become almost as famous in Ohio as her next persona, Cassie Chadwick. (The photo at the top of the page was taken while she was known as Madame Devere.)

According to Condon, Lydia Devere told various people she was the daughter of a British general, the widow of a wealthy earl who'd left her an annual income of $1,000, and the niece not of General Sherman, but of Ulysses S. Grant, the Civil War hero who'd recently been president. But her best lies were still to come.


1. A multiple choice biography
2. Have card, will swindle
3. My, what big eyes she has
4. Temporarily transgender
5. Kindness is costly
6. Lydia had a little lamb
7. She finds a perfect husband

8. Mansion makeover
9. Time for her big scene
10. Deep pocket fishing
11. He's never heard of her
12. A friend in Pittsburgh
13. Back behind bars
14. Her spirit lives on