Part seven:
As we come to the final name change of her life, Betsy Bigley is calling herself Cassie Hoover, widowed mother of a young boy. We are still in "The Twilight Zone," but headed for "The Odd Couple," "Who Do You Trust?" and, of course, "Break the Bank."

As usual in this story, the next obvious question has no definitive answer, that question being, how did Cassie Hoover meet Dr. Leroy Shippen Chadwick? And I tend to distrust the usual answer to another obvious question — How rich was Dr. Chadwick?

The con woman returned to Cleveland some time after her release from prison, and there's widespread agreement she operated a brothel, though she might not have been one of those madames you see in films and TV, the ones who greet customers and summon her girls to prace around in front of them.

No, the usual story is Cassie Hoover, by any name except the one she wanted to forget (Lydia Devere), was still a clairvoyant, but with a new sideline — masseuse. As such, she lived in the building that housed the brothel, but operated out of a separate apartment.

Explanations for her meeting with Dr. Chadwick include (A) bumping into him on the street, (B) making an appointment with him about a medical problem, or (C) awkwardly having her first conversation with him outside the building when he was on his way to see a prostitute.

And though I don't buy it, Milena Evtimova, in an article for The Oberlin Review (November 10, 2006) offers my favorite explanation:

"When the famously-rich doctor entered the brothel, Bigley introduced herself as a widow who had recently taken on the position of the manageress of 'this home for girls.' When Chadwick clarified that this was not a home for girls but a 'house of very ill repute,' Mrs. Hoover fainted and asked the dear doctor to take her away from that place."

When she moved into this building is uncertain. It's also possible that she owned the building. Several newspaper stories from 1904 claim she'd made a lot of money in Toledo before her arrest, and that she had her own house. If this is true, she must have had a nest egg waiting for her while she was at the Ohio Penitentiary.

* * *

An Oberlin theory
Released from prison in 1893, she apparently bounced back and forth between Cleveland and Woodstock until 1895, and when she was in Cleveland previously, she stayed with her sister, Alice York, with whom she seems to have had a stormy relationship. Curiously, it is seldom mentioned that she had two other sisters who had moved to Cleveland, Emily Bigley Pine and one — her name may have been Jessie — who married a man named Campbell. Mrs. Campbell soon returned to Canada.

I came across one story in a generally reliable newspaper that placed Alice York not in Cleveland in 1893, but in Oberlin, raising the intriguing possibility Lydia Devere, before she became Cassie Hoover, had met banker Charles T. Beckwith a lot earlier than either one of them admitted in 1904. The story misidentifies Mrs. York as Mrs. S. M. Yerke. (Alice Bigley's husband was Standish Milton York.):

Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, Tuesday, December 6, 1904
OBERLIN, Ohio, December 5 — C. T. Beckwith has lived in Oberlin more than fifty years. His reputation is that of a sort of rural Russel Sage. He was noted for his shrewdness in money matters. He was a money lender and made a big success at it. Handling money has been his lifetime vocation. No man had ever sold him a “gold brick.” He was penetrating,, suspicious and exhaustive in looking up credits. He was behind the gas company and the electric company.

When Albert Johnson, former president of the Citizens’ National Bank, was killed in a Colorado railroad accident, and Beckwith, then vice-president, succeeded to the presidency, everybody said he was the right man. That was five years ago.

Though President Beckwith asserts he became acquainted with Mrs. Chadwick only four years ago, it is believed that one Madame Devere knew all about Beckwith eleven years ago. Mrs. Chadwick’s sister, Mrs. S. M. Yerke, lived here at that time. Madame Devere visited Mrs. Yerke, and the stay extended beyond a year.

“She lived very quietly here,” said a neighbor. “Whether Madame Devere had any dealings with Mrs. Beckwith at that time, I cannot say. We heard, after she left here, that she was living in Cleveland. She did not pose here as a clairvoyant, but attracted a good deal of attention by her beauty and exclusiveness."

Now he believes Mme. Devere had just been released from the Columbus Penitentiary and was planning a conquest of banks. The Yerkes moved to Cleveland several years ago.

Anyway, Cassie Hoover could have been in Cleveland, telling fortunes, rubbing backs and supervising prostitutes, by late 1895, a year after Dr. Chadwick became a widower and the single father of a daughter born in 1885. He lived in a larger-than-necessary house his father, Elihu Chadwick, had built on Euclid Avenue. Elihu died in 1882, the same year his son, Leroy, was married. In addition to his daughter, Dr. Chadwick lived with his 82-year-old mother and his disabled sister, Clara, 51 years old in 1896.

I find it interesting that Dr. Chadwick is often described as suffering from an orthopedic condition (cause undertain) that gave him discomfort in one of his shoulders. Brian Benoit, in his story, "Nerves of Steal: Cassie Chadwick, 'Patron Saint of Confidence Women'," on Readex Blog, says the future Mrs. Chadwick was able to provide comfort with a massage.

Karen Abbott writes much he same thing, though she says Dr. Chadwick was suffering from rheumatism in his back. Others say his discomfort was from an old arm injury. Overall, Dr. Chadwick was in rather poor health, prompting him to curtail his practice and seek relief in trips abroad, something that increased after he married Cassie Hoover. To me, traveling seems a poor remedy for Dr. Chadwick's previous physical ailments, though it may have been the best way to avoid the headache his second marriage would soon become.

Whatever, I've concluded the two of them met not by chance, but when Dr. Chadwick went to Cassie Hoover for a massage. And if he asked, "What's a nice woman like you doing in a building with a brothel?", I'm certain she came up with a clever response, one that expressed dismay and ignorance, perhaps a promise to seek a better residence. For sure she gave him the impression she could well afford a better place, and most likely she could.

She must have been one hell of a masseuse, or perhaps it was the effect of her hypnotic eyes, because it wasn't long before she became Mrs. Chadwick. Sort of.

* * *

Just how rich was Dr. Chadwick?
According to the Washington Evening Star (August 28, 1908), Dr. Chadwick's estate was worth about $50,000 when they married. There's no mention of his wife's wealth, though if stories out of Toledo from her days as Lydia Devere can be believed, she probably was richer than he was, but he had the status that she lacked.

I realize we're talking about the 1890s, but even then $50,000 wouldn't be enough to qualify as particularly wealthy, not for someone who lived on Euclid Avenue, about a mile east of John D. Rockefeller.

Karen Abbott describes Dr. Chadwick as "a wealthy widower and descendant of one of Cleveland's oldest families," but that's misleading, though other sources say much the same, including the first mention of the doctor in a long Chicago Tribune story (December 4, 1904).

It's what that article says next that puts Dr. Chadwick in better perspective:

"Dr. Chadwick's father located in Cleveland 35 years ago [1869], coming from Pennsylvania, where he owned land on which big oil wells were struck, which made him a man of considerable wealth. Soon after he reached Cleveland, he built the mansion at 1824 Euclid Avenue, which has figured so prominently in the tremendous exploits of Mrs. Chadwick."

This means Dr. Chadwick was not a native Clevelander, and his family could not have been one of the city's oldest. Also, Dr. Chadwick's father, Elihu Chadwick Jr., was relatively wealthy before he sold his land in Venango County, Pennsylvania, near Oil City. Elihu Chadwick Sr., a Revolutionary War officer, had much to do with developing settlements in western New York and northwest Pennsylvania, and Elihu Jr. was land rich as a result. His home in Pennsylvania was part of the Underground Railroad during the Civil War, with a special hiding place constructed in the basement.

Elihu Chadwick Jr. and his wife, Isabel, had nine children. Leroy was number eight, being born in 1853. The first born, James Dodderidge Chadwick (1836), served in the Civil War, and remained in Venango County when his parents moved to Ohio, probably to get away from all the oil wells being constructed on and near the land he had sold. His son, James, settled down in the small city of Franklin, where he became a successful lawyer.

Only six of the nine children of Elihu and Isabel Chadwick were alive when the Chadwick family settled in Cleveland in the house Elihu built on Euclid Avenue, but when he died in 1882, much of his wealth was distributed to four of Dr. Chadwick's siblings, though he remained at the house and cared for his mother and his impaired sister, Mary Emma.

It was assumed by people in Cleveland that Dr. Chadwick was rich, but that Chicago Tribune story says he was known for his work among the poorer people of Cleveland, and often treated them free of charge. It also was written that he made a specialty of the study of insanity and was considered an expert in this line. You'd think he would have noticed some disturbing signs in the second Mrs. Chadwick, who once had been judged not guilty in a criminal case by reason of insanity. It's doubtful she ever shared that information with him.

Because his own health was iffy, Dr. Chadwick practically abandoned his practice after he married Cassie, which is one reason I believe it was more than a good massage the prompted his proposal. I believe the woman's biographers have badly judged her attractiveness, and photos of her in 1897, the year she and Dr. Chadwick were married, show a good-looking woman who outwardly seemed a good catch for a 43-year-old widower who had some daunting obligations. He might well have thought he was getting a nice, well-to-do woman who'd lift much of the burden from his shoulders. I don't know why, but stories about the man had me thinking he was a bit of a hypochondriac who might have been tired of caring for his mother and sister while his siblings, who had scattered to the four winds, seemed to be doing so well.

For sure, the man was weary, too weary to rein in the second Mrs. Chadwick who took charge of the house as soon as she moved in, bringing her son, Emil, with her.

* * *

'I pronouce you Mr. and Mrs. Schadwick'
If Dr. Leroy Chadwick were weary, he also indicated wariness in the way he handled his first wedding ceremony with Cassie Hoover. That's right. This couple was married twice, the first time on February 5, 1897, in Pittsburgh, and it wasn't exactly legal, not if you consider the lies that were told when the marriage license was issued to Dr. Chadwick, who applied by himself. At the time, it was permitted for a prospective bride or groom to take out a license for both of them. Since then, the law has beenchanged, requiring both members of the couple to be present when a marriage license is requested.

New York Sun, December 2, 1904
PITTSBURGH, December 1 — The most interesting exhibit in the office of the marriage license clerk of Allegheny County today was No. 9647, series C, a license issued February 5, 1897, to Dr. Leroy L. Schadwick of 1824 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, and Mrs. Cassie L. Hoover of 166 Franklin Street, Cleveland. It is evident that at the time, Schadwick, as the Cleveland physician wanted himself known, did not care to have the fact of his marriage to Mrs. Hoover known.

Across the face of the outside of the license is written "Don't publish," which means that the one taking out the license asked that the facts in that particular case be kept away from the newspapers. Hundreds handled this marriage license today, and almost every one called attention to the fact the name was spelled "Schadwick" instead of "Chadwick."

It was made additionally strange by the plain evidence that Chadwick was the name of the Cleveland doctor who took out the license as Schadwick, for the Rev. Dr. Jolly. Chadwick's cousin, who performed the ceremony in the Hotel Anderson that very day, and who knew the real name, evidently declined to have anything to do with the Schadwick proposition, as his return slip, enfolded with the "Schadwick" license, speaks of the name as "Chadwick."

Nor did "Mrs. Hoover" evidently care to tell a great deal about herself. The questions were answered by Dr. "Schadwick" for her. They tell that she was born in New York State on March 28, 1863, and at the time of application was 33 years of age.

The license also said she had been married before and that her marriage relations had been severed by death.

Whether Dr. Chadwick did this to give himself an easy out from the marriage, who knows? If so, Cassie Chadwick passed the test and they had a second wedding on August 26, 1897, at Windsor Methodist Church, in Windsor, Ontario, just inside Canada, along the Detroit River. This time Dr. Chadwick gave hs correct name, but "Mrs. Hoover" again lied about her name, age, birthplace and parentage, listing her father and mother as Osborne Riddleman and Katherine E. Turner, which may indicate she was stealing the identity of her one-time Cleveland landlady. Cassie actually was 39 years old when she married Dr. Chadwick, and I suppose it's possible she told him her date and place of birth, and he believed her — but how to explain her wish to get married in Canada if she claimed to have been born in New York?

Years later both weddings would be declared invalid, but she eventually, by Ohio rules, became Dr. Chadwick's common law wife.


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