Eccentric, combative William Earl Dodge Stokes, better known by his first three initials, proved so interesting that I had to keep digging into his past. I discovered his obsession with lawsuits may have been some weird family trait. Cases labeled Stokes vs. Stokes were common in the late 1800s. Often the combatants were W. E. D. and his cousin Edward Stiles Stokes, who also thrived on endless litigation.

While W. E. D. gained a lot of unpleasant attention in the early 1900s, he was a small-timer compared with Edward, who was (as it says up above) the most notorious Stokes of them all, the man guilty of an infamous New York City murder. Perhaps he was the role model for W. E. D. (who clearly lacked his cousin's charisma).

Coming up is what I consider an amazing piece of journalism from The Sun, a New York City newspaper that hung around until 1950 or so and is not to be confused with the New York Sun, which flickered briefly in print form a few years ago before becoming strictly an on-line publication. The long story I transcribed from The Sun (November 3, 1901) is an example of the ideal obituary. When it became known that death was imminent for Edward S. Stokes, an infamous figure in New York City in the last half of the 19th century, The Sun quickly put together a quick, surprisingly complete biography in which a reporter also covered the whereabouts of two women who figured prominently in the biggest event in Stokes' life (an event around which a movie would be made many years later).

As is the case with most of these old newspaper articles, the reporter (or reporters) received no credit. I wish I could name the person or persons responsible. The story shows a lot of enterprise and is instant history at its best.

Oh, yes, the movie. It was 1937's "The Toast of New York," but it was fictionalized almost beyond recognition, though some real names were used. Edward Arnold starred as Jim Fisk and Frances Farmer as Josie Mansfield. Edward Stokes was the basis for a character named Nick Boyd, played by Cary Grant.

As you'll see from the photo of the real Josie Mansfield near the end of the story, below, she looked nothing like Frances Farmer. If Hollywood were to remake the film today, Mansfield would better be played by Melissa McCarthy.

The photographs below did not appear with the New York Sun story in 1901. Newspapers at the time used illustrations sparingly.

Edward S. Stokes, who shot Jim Fisk, died at 3 o'clock yesterday afternoon at the home of his sister, Mrs. Howard McNutt, at 731 St. Nicholas avenue, after an illness of two months. Bright's disease was the cause of death; Mr. Stokes was taken ill at his home, 200 West Seventy-ninth street, and six weeks ago was removed to the house where he died.

He seemed to improve after the change, but a few days ago Mr. Stokes began to sink and his physician. Dr. John S. Billings, of 53 East Fifty-third street, said that death was a question of only a few days at most. On Thursday Mr. Stokes grew worse, and early yesterday morning Dr. Billings was hastily summoned to the bedside. The sufferer became unconscious early in the day and died without recovering consciousness. There were present when he died Mr. Stokes’s sister, Dr. Billings and the servants of the household.

Alleged Wife Appears
It was not generally known until after Mr. Stokes went to the home of his sister that he had been living with a woman who says she is Rosamond Langdon Barclay and that she is his wife. She said she married Mr. Stokes in Canada more than a year ago, and in a statement to the newspaper reporters she accused Mrs. McNutt and her husband of calling at the Seventy-ninth street house and “spiriting” him away. She said they came to the house in an automobile and told her it would do Mr. Stokes good to get the fresh air. Instead of taking him for a drive, and then bringing him back, he was taken to the St. Nicholas avenue house, where the alleged wife was not permitted to see or have any communication with him.

It is said that Miss Barclay is an octoroon and that she met Stokes more than two years ago. Mr. and Mrs. McNutt say they have no knowledge of a marriage between Mr. Stokes and the woman and they do not know anything about the woman except that she called at their home several times in her efforts to see Mr. Stokes.

The woman says she can prove her rights, and it is half expected by Mr. Stokes’s friends that she will fight for a share of his property. A rumor was spread yesterday that she was taken before Mr. Stokes a few days ago and in the presence of Mr. and Mrs. McNutt said she had no claim upon him. When Mr. McNutt was asked about this last night he said to a Sun reporter:

“I have no desire to discuss that. You may say for me that I deny any statement made about this woman appearing in this house.”

Private Funeral
Mr. McNutt also said the funeral would be private, that the arrangements for it had been made and that the interment would be at Greenwood. He declined to say anything as to the extent of Mr. Stokes’s property.

It is believed that Mr. and Mrs. McNutt have come to some kind of understanding with the alleged widow because a few days ago she and her mother who were residing at the Stokes house in West Seventy-ninth street, suddenly picked up all their furniture and left. They didn’t say where they were going. It was said that they went to Yonkers.

The Woman’s Story
Soon after Mr. Stokes was taken to the house in which he died the woman with whom he had been living said she had first met Mr. Stokes when she was a little girl. Her father, she said, was Charles Barclay, an Englishman, and a friend of Mr. Stokes. She said she was educated at Farmington, Conn., and that twelve years ago she renewed her acquaintance with Stokes. She continued:

“Mr. Stokes and I were married on Oct. 18, 1900, at Shipmen’s Point, Canada, by an Episcopal minister whose name I don’t remember. He was stopping at the hotel where we were. At the time Mr. Stokes was not in good health, and he wished to provide for me and arrange matters so that should he become seriously ill I would have the right to visit him, even though our marriage was not made public.”

Stokes’s Early Life
Edward Stiles Stokes was born in Philadelphia in 1841. His father [Edward H. Stokes], a brother of James Stokes of this city, was a man of comfortable fortune and young Stokes had a good education.

He came to New York when he was about 20 years old and began business as a produce dealer. Then he went into the petroleum business with his father and they built a refining plant at Hunter’ Point. It was known as the Brooklyn Refining Company.

It was the height of the Tweed ring days then and James Fisk Jr., senior partner of the great Wall Street firm of Fisk, Gould & Martin, was in all the glory of his half-Falstaffian, half-Hindoo-nabob career. With one of his partners, Jay Gould, he controlled the Erie Railroad, and on his own account he owned the Fall River and Bristol lines of steamers. He was colonel of the Ninth Regiment and in the full effulgence of his florid taste for diamonds and the blue and gold of military and naval uniforms.

Fisk’s house was an Aladdin’s palace in those days, peopled with legions of ballet houris and given over to rollicking suppers and general riotous living. This house was at 350 West Twenty-third street.

The head of Fisk’s household was his mistress, Helen Josephine Lawlor-Mansfield. Fisk’s wife, Mrs. Lucy D. Fisk, lived at the old New York Hotel when she was in town, but spent most of the time at Fisk’s country home in Vermont.

It was at this stage of Fisk’s career that he met Stokes. The young oil manufacturer was already a conspicuous figure in the Delmonico district. He was a notably handsome man of 25, with regular features, keen gray eyes and a fine head of curly black hair, that then had in it just one splotch of that white which by the time he was 35 had spread over his entire poll, giving him that curious look of a young old man that made him always observed in the streets of New York even by those who didn’t know who he was.

It is curious to note that Fisk and Stokes first met in January, 1864. January seems to have been the fated month in all the relations between these two.

On Jan. 4, 1864, they had their first conference; at nine minutes to 11 o’clock on Jan, 6, 1872, Fisk breathed his last from the effects of Stokes’s pistol shot; and nine minutes before 11 o’clock on the night of Jan. 6, 1873, the jury in Stokes’s first trial found him guilty of murder in the first degree.

At this first January meeting in 1864 there was no shadow of the impending tragedy. Their relations became of the most cordial character, and the handsome young Philadelphian began to make money fast. It was Fisk’s habit to invite his boon companions to feasts of fabulous splendor in the Mansfield Twenty-third street house. He got to inviting there his newly-made friend and protege, the dangerously handsome Stokes.

In his own jovial confidence in this man whom he made his boon companion, Fisk remained long unsuspicious of treachery on the part of his mistress and his friend. But suspicion at last came, and with the suspicion action. For action followed very quickly upon the heels of a fixed purpose in Fisk’s mind.

Fisk Had Stokes Watched
To confirm his own distrust he employed detectives. He quickly had all and more than all the evidence he wanted. Then he started in on a campaign of revenge. He threw Mansfield overboard. He attacked young Stokes in the court, and Stokes was arrested on a charge of embezzlement in connection with the oil business.

Miss Mansfield retaliated by turning over to Stokes letters said to compromise Fisk badly with the Tweed gang. An indictment was found against Stokes. There were other troubles, and finally Stokes decided to kill Fisk.

On the day that Fisk was shot, Stokes drove from the City Hall to the Hoffman House, where he then made his home. From the Hoffman House he drove to the Mansfield’s in Twenty-third street; from there to Seventh avenue, thence down Seventh avenue to Fourteenth street; along Fourteenth street to Fifth avenue; down Fifth avenue to Fourth street, and so across to Broadway, where he was in the vicinity of the Grand Central Hotel.

In his defense he positively swore that he didn’t know Fisk was at the Grand Central Hotel, or likely to be there. The jury on his first trial evidently didn’t believe this story, for they found him guilty of murder in the first degree. It was affirmed by the prosecution that Stokes did know Fisk was there, or would be there to see a Mrs. Morse, whose husband many years before had befriended Fisk when he was a boy just starting in life – a favor Fisk did not forget, for in his will he left Mrs. Morse an annuity of $3,000.

Stokes in Wait for His Victim
At all events, when Fisk reached the ladies' entrance of the Grand Central, Stokes was already in the house and, as the prosecution asserted, waiting at the head of the stairs of the ladies’ entrance for Fisk to appear.

When Fisk did appear and was partway up the stairs, Stokes, resting his arm on the post at the end of the balustrade, deliberately fired a shot, which struck Fisk in the breast and resulted in his death about six hours later.

Stokes, after his first shot fired another, which made a flesh wound in Fisk's arm. Then he fled through the ladies' parlor, throwing his pistol under a sofa as he ran. He was headed off and captured in the rear of the office on the floor below, as he was making his way toward the Mercer street entrance of the hotel.

His plea at the time was self-defense, he alleging that the meeting was accidental; that when he saw Fisk first Fisk had a pistol in his hand, which he was aiming at Stokes, and that seeing this, Stokes fired and got in the first shot. The only pistol found near Fisk was under a sofa in the parlor—the sofa on which he was first laid after being shot. There were witnesses who testified that they saw Stokes himself throw the pistol there.

Stokes was convicted and sentenced to be hanged on Feb. 23, 1873. He obtained a new trial and was again convicted: a third trial was granted, and he was found guilty of murder in the second degree. He served four years at Sing Sing.

Stokes’s Remarkable Charm
When the Prince of Erie, as Fisk was known in those days, took up Stokes he recognized in him a peer in craft. But Edward Stokes had in addition to his shrewdness a charming person. Even in his later years, the most virulent of his thousands of enemies called him a handsome man. He possessed a grace of body and manner and an actual beauty of face that his acquaintances of later years could not imagine.

Stokes conquered women with ease, at least the women with whom his associates then flocked. The hot rum epoch had ended, and the champagne era of Wall Street was just beginning. When the winners each day left care behind in their offices and sought relaxation in lighter scenes, if Stokes was of the party the others found themselves nonentities. The women were drawn to him as to a young god. One said at the time that his heart must be a magnet. It was not a bad phrase, for his heart was like steel.

His fascination extended to one-half the men as well as all the women in his society. The intense manliness of Stokes in those days aroused admiration for him. His whole bearing attracted Fisk. Fisk was pompous, and he had the bearing of a braggart; he was intensely vain. His waxed mustache, his love of display, his passion for jewelry, are still remembered.

Fisk put chances in Stokes’s way – gave him opportunities for making money that he could not have compassed unaided. The help was given from genuine liking. Everybody in Wall Street saw that, and it was agreed that Stokes had cause to be grateful. Stokes caressed his drooping black mustache, accepted everything, and said little.

It was not to be expected that a man like Fisk using all weapons to shape his own ends, and with absolute unscrupulousness of handling, should give perfect trust to even an intimate friend, and despite the fascination that Stokes exercised upon Fisk there were times when the protuberant bosom of Fisk was filled with doubts of his friend's good faith. Then he would regard Stokes out of the corners of his eyes like a suspicious bulldog.

“Ned’s a nice fellow," he said in one of these moments of uncertainty, "a nice fellow; but I wouldn't trust him further than that," with a snap of his fingers to mark the utmost boundary of confidence.

When Fisk discovered that Stokes was foremost in the affections of Josie Mansfield, he stopped Josie's allowance, started to ruin Stokes in his Wall Street speculations and discriminated against Stokes in the shipments of oil from the Pennsylvania regions.

Stokes understood all that was going on, yet the sturdy gambler’s nerve never failed him. Not one of his fellow boarders at the Hoffman House saw him otherwise than calm and perfectly composed.

Cassius M. Reed was the proprietor of the Hoffman House at the time. Stokes exercised his fascination in the hotel on men and women, save Mrs. Reed, the landlord's wife. She, a fresh-hearted Irish girl, felt an instinctive aversion for this fine fellow with the smooth way. She warned her husband against him. But Mr. Reed always said: "Nonsense, Ned Stokes is all right."

Mansfield Held Up To Ridicule
Fisk’s counsel, David Dudley Field, in the lawsuit brought against Josie Mansfield and Stokes to restrain them from publishing Fisk’s letters, held Josie up to public contempt and ridicule in the court proceedings. He made her a creature of ignominy.

Stokes was in court at the time, and he often said afterward that he felt as if he could have killed Fisk’s counsel on the spot. After Stokes shot Fisk, the public looked upon it as a cowardly murder, and clamored that Stokes should be hanged. He was held up for universal execration.

Yet the outcry didn’t disturb him as he sat in his cell in the Tombs. He felt that he was all right, and was certain that he would never feel the rope, and with the calmness of the gambler who draws a fifth card while a revolver shines across the table, he continued his stock deals in Wall Street.

His commissioner for these speculations was Cassius M. Reed, who pitied and admired him. Stokes’s father had bankrupted himself in defense of his son. When the second trial came on, Stokes was penniless. It was Cassius M. Reed who put up the money for the second trial, and relatives spent $60,000 on the third trial.

It was W. E. D. Stokes, a cousin of Edward S. Stokes, it is said, who induced his father to spend this $60,000 in defense of Edward. For many years there was a bitter fight between the cousins, W. E. D. and Edward Stokes, which was made up at the deathbed of Stokes.

While in Sing Sing, Stokes had a clerical place, and he had far more liberty than the poor working man. Stokes had a comfortable cell with a great many books and pictures and bric-a-brac. Admittance was denied to no friend of his, and, although visitors were few, these faithful ones always brought things of comfort with them, good whiskey and cigars and sometimes a case of champagne, and many delicacies in the shape of food. Cassius M. Reed often sent up baskets of wine, always accompanied by game birds.

Stokes a Model Prisoner
Stokes’s behavior in Sing Sing was exemplary, and he received the usual commutation of sentence, so that in 1876 he stepped from the gate of Sing Sing free. Cassius M. Reed was waiting for him, and they returned to New York together. Stokes found himself a pariah. His old friends shunned him. But one man clung to him, Reed, who took him to live at the Hoffman, and advanced him money to buy clothes. Stokes was profuse in his words of gratitude.

“Reed,” he said once, “I would cut off my right hand for you.”

Stokes maintained an impassive front in the face of daily sneers. At the time of the Fisk tragedy, Stokes’s wife took their young child, a girl, abroad and remained there. There is no record of who this Mrs. Stokes was. So had he hardened himself that when the news came from Paris a number of years ago this his daughter was dead, he didn’t shed a tear.

A year passed, and Reed by persistence had swung Stokes back into partial recognition among men about town. Reed and Stokes began to embark on the sea of finance, and when Stokes proposed the foundation of the Asphalt Block Paving Company, the capital was forthcoming. Stokes had seen this paving process at Sing Sing, and was confident that he could make it a great success. The venture was a failure.

Stokes then proposed that they go into mining speculation. Mr. Reed agreed. Stokes drew regularly for expenses upon Reed. In the West, Stokes met John W. Mackay, and Mr. Mackay took a fancy to the speculator from the East. When Stokes first appeared in San Francisco he had several thoroughbred trotters behind which he was frequently seen on the Golden City’s boulevard.

On a certain one of these drives he was holding the reins over a very sleek little mare, which he prized highly. It so happened that John W. Mackay was taking a spin on that day, and the two met. Mackay at once fell in love with the animal that Stokes was driving, and the next day he sent a friend to see if he could not purchase it. Stokes refused to part with his beauty, and that information was conveyed to Mackay, who seemed disappointed.

The next day Mackay sent his friend again to Stokes with an offer of $20,000 for the mare. This also was declined.

Ten days later a messenger called at the Palace Hotel and asked to see Mackay, saying that he had a message from Mr. Stokes. Mackay, thinking the he had reconsidered his determination not to sell, came downstairs and took from the messenger’s hand a little envelope which contained the following note:

“Mr. Stokes begs that Mr. Mackay accept the mare Eva with his compliments and best wishes.”

Friendship With Mackay Begins
From that began the friendship between Mackay and Stokes. In conjunction with Cassius M. Reed, Stokes bought a mine from Mackay, which he placed in London and Paris at a profit of nearly $2,000,000. This mine was known as the Victorine silver mine.

Shortly after that, Reed and Stokes became partners in the Hoffman House. John W. Mackay was also a partner. The barroom was gorgeously fitted up with paintings and marble statues. Bouguereau’s “Satyr and Nymphs” and other paintings famous the world over were purchased. Fine tapestries, said to have been made especially for Napoleon I, were purchased.

The Hoffman House became the recognized headquarters, practically speaking, of Tammany Hall and up-State Democratic politicians.

Meanwhile, Stokes was acting as Mackay’s agent in buying up the stock of the Bankers and Merchants’ Telegraph Company, which the capitalist wanted to merge into another corporation. Stokes became a stockholder in the now defunct Madison Square Bank and chairman of its executive committee.

Stokes’s transactions with Mackay in the Bankers and Merchants’ Telegraph Company were not satisfactory to Mr. Mackay and he brought many suits against Mr. Stokes. Reed and Stokes began to quarrel, Reed saying that he could not get an accounting from the Hoffman House bookkeeper, who, it was said at the time, was partial to Stokes.

Finally a compromise was reached by the formation of the Hoffman House Company. Reed took $200,000 worth of stock and Stokes $100,000 worth.

Quarrels With Reed
The partners continued to quarrel and finally Reed found himself on the outside of the Hoffman House in a back room on the third floor of a Twenty-third street lodging house. Then he began to sue Stokes for an accounting, including money loaned in the days when Stokes was in the Tombs under sentence of death.

To this Stokes pleaded the statute of limitations.

Stokes started a Hoffman House branch at the corner of Exchange Place and New street, and another in Beaver street, opposite the Produce Exchange. As a hotel proprietor he was intensely jealous of the Delmonicos and it has often been related that the Delmonicos, after Stokes came out of Sing Sing, barred him out of their establishments.

Stokes didn’t seem to make a success as a hotel proprietor, and finally he sold out his interest to Grahams Polley, a descendant of one of the oldest families in Williamsburg.

The ownership of the Hoffman House was vested under the new management in R. T. McDonald, James D. Leary, John P. Caddagan and Grahams Polley. For the last years or so there has been litigation on the part of Grahams Polley.

Stokes Ever at Law
Mr. Stokes was always in litigation. At one time he had Roscoe Conkling and Robert G. Ingersoll for his lawyers. He invariably quarreled with his counsel. He never seemed to be really happy unless he was in a legal contention. First he quarreled with Fisk, his original benefactor. Next he quarreled with Cassius M. Reed, and afterward with W. E. D. Stokes, a cousin, whose father advanced the money for one of Stokes’s trials. Then he quarreled with John W. Mackay, another benefactor, and so on through the list.

The Sun told the other day that Stokes, ever since he got out of prison, has gone to bed every night with the gas at full flame and a valet on a couch, beside him. He was always afraid of Fisk’s ghost.

Josie Mansfield
Helen Josephine Mansfield was a fat Cleopatra – proud, ambitious, false and revengeful. She had wit, tact and practical sense. She was vain, capricious, willful, generous and selfish.

Unwritten history declares that outside of the political rivalries between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, both were enamored of the same frail woman, who really loved Burr, but endured Hamilton only that she might beguile him of secrets with which to ingratiate herself with his rival.

The same state of affairs existed between Josie Mansfield, as she was known in those gaudy days, and James Fisk Jr. and Edward Stiles Stokes. Fisk spent a fortune on her and all the time she was surreptitiously the chum of Stokes.

The two women who played such significant roles in the famous Fisk-Stokes tragedy are living today.

The widow of Fisk lives in poverty in Boston. By the widow of Fisk, Stokes was always regarded as a desperate villain; by Josie Mansfield, Stokes has always been considered a hero.

Fisk left his widow well off, and she lived for several years after his death at the New York Hotel. Frank Risley, the proprietor of the hotel at that time, failed, and soon after it came out that he owed Mrs. Fisk in notes $250,000,

Josie Mansfield was a native of Boston. She was born there, an only child, in 1840, and is now, therefore, 61 years old. Her parents removed to Stockton, Cal., in 1852. Her father was shot dead in a duel by John Tabor. Her mother married again, and Josie, just budding into a remarkably buxom beauty, fell in love with Frank Lawlor, an actor in Maguire’s Opera House Company, and in less than ten days she eloped and married him.

She became a matinée flirt, and carried her flirtations to the verge of criminality. Among her admirers was D. W. Perley, an Englishman and the law partner of Judge David S. Terry, who killed Senator David C. Broderick in a duel. Perley was wealthy, and for him Helen Josephine showed a marked preference over all other admirers.

Very Like the “Badger Game”
About one month after this acquaintance had been formed, Perley was visiting at the house of Mrs. Warren. Some have said that Mrs. Warren was Josie’s mother. Perley was in the parlor with Helen Josephine at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. The door was locked.

Suddenly a loud knocking was heard at the door. Before the inmates of the room had time to respond, the door was burst open, and Lawlor and Mr. Warren rushed into the room. Each had a cocked revolver in his hand. Lawlor quickly advanced to Perley and placed the revolver to his head. Warren stood guard at the door, while Helen Josephine pretended to faint. Lawlor said to Perley:

“You infernal scoundrel, you have tampered with the affections of my wife. If you don’t instantly sign a check for $5,000 I will blow your brains out.”

Lawlor then produced a check already filled up for the amount on a local bank, only lacking the signature of Perley. Perley signed it. Lawlor then put his pistol to Perley’s head a second time, and ordered him out of the house, telling him if he ever spoke of the affair he would shoot him on sight.

When Perley escaped he hurried to the bank and stopped payment of the check. He then published the whole transaction in the San Francisco newspapers, describing it as a conspiracy by Warren, Mrs. Warren, Lawlor and his wife. He also sent a friend to Lawlor, warning him out of California within thirty days, on penalty of death. Lawlor sailed with his wife for New York.

Her Kind of Town
In New York Helen Josephine, or, rather, Josie, as she was known among the demimonde, found a field to her taste. She got a divorce from Lawlor in 1867, soon after her arrival here, and met James Fisk Jr. that same year. Fisk established her at 359 West Twenty-third street, close to the Grand Opera House, which, in those days, was the headquarters for all the magnates of the Erie Railroad Company, and where also invariably could be found William M. Tweed and his brother thieves then in control of Tammany Hall.

Helen Josephine was soon in high feather. Her extravagances became the talk of the town. Fisk gave her diamonds by the peck. The most costly raiment was hers and the finest equipages made in New York, London and Paris.

In September 1869, Fisk and his partner, Jay Gould, engineered the great gold panic culminated in “Black Friday.” On that night Fisk and Josie and their companions had a superb supper in the West Twenty-third street establishment.

In November, 1869, just two years after she met Fisk, Josie Mansfield was introduced to Stokes by Fisk. After Fisk discovered the infatuation of Josie Mansfield for Stokes, the latter soon became aware that the Erie Railroad ring, headed by Gould and Fisk, were playing all sorts of tricks with him and his father and their shipments of oil.

Stokes decided to retaliate. Josie Mansfield had told Stokes that she had in her possession a bunch of letters from Fisk, which would be very interesting reading for Fisk if they were published in the newspapers. Fisk went wild with rage and he brought suit against both Stokes and Josie Mansfield, asking that they be refrained from using these letters to his detriment.

Josie’s Scathing Letter
Josie Mansfield then took a hand in the trouble, and she wrote the following letter:

James Fisk Jr. – Sir: You and your minions of the Erie Railroad Company are endeavoring to circulate that I am attempting to extort money from you by threatened publication of your private letters to me.

You know how shamefully false this is, and yet you encourage and aid it. Had this been my intention, I had a whole trunkful of your interesting letters, some of which I would blush to say I had received.

If you were not devoid of all decency and shame, you would do differently, knowing, as you do, that when your own notes to my orders are brought into the courts, your letters acknowledging your indebtedness to me, you will appear all the more contemptible and cowardly.

You are no sooner apprised of my proceedings against you than I am served with an injunction order requiring me to surrender up all the letters you wrote to me and prohibiting me from talking about them. This, indeed, looks to me like a “Field” movement, worthy of the great and distinguished Erie lawyer.

Do you in your sane moments imagine that I will quietly submit to the deliberate and wicked perjury in swearing to those injunction papers? (And to the credit of New York I am glad to say you were obliged to get them in Brooklyn.) Unfortunately for yourself, I know too well the many crimes you have perpetrated.

Was it not only recently you bought over my servants, a negro boy, Richard E. King, also my cook, and bribed them to perjure themselves to aid you in your villainy? I have the sworn proof of what I tell you, and more.

Your surely recollect the awful Black Friday – the gold brokers you gave orders to buy gold and then repudiated the same, because, as you said, they had no witnesses to your transactions. There was one I recollect in particular, a son of Abraham, who had the courage to swear out an attachment against the Grand Opera House for what was justly due him, and how you ruined the poor victim by breaking up his business and having him arrested and imprisoned for perjury.

And at the time you premeditated this crime you well knew he held your written order to buy gold, and you were the perjurer.

It is only four years ago since you revealed to me your scheme for stealing the Erie books; how you fled with them to Jersey City, and I remained there with you for nine long weeks; how, when you were buying the Legislature, the many anxious nights I passed with you at the telegraph wire, when you told me it was either a Fisk palace in New York or a stone palace at Sing Sing and if the latter, would I take a cottage outside its walls?, that my presence would make your rusty iron garlands of roses and the very stones you would have to hammer and crack appear softer under my influence.

You secured your Erie palace, and now use your whole force of Erie officials to slander and injure me. It is indeed heroic and worthy of the hero of the memorable fuss* of July last.

I wrote you this letter to forever contradict all the malicious wicked abuses you have caused to be circulated, and at the same time to fully state that I am willing to leave all matters in dispute and difference – and forever settle any further controversy – to our respective counsel, Samuel G. Courtney, Luther R. Marsh and William A. Beach. If they cannot agree, I am willing William M. Evarts shall decide between them. However, I only make this proposal to place myself in the proper light and spirit.

If you feel your power with the courts still supreme and Tammany, though shaken, still able to protect you, pursue your own inclinations. The reward will be yours. I am with what respect you are best able to judge.


* This was the only word in this article that did not reproduce well enough to read. It actually wasn't "fuss" but was a short word – a sarcastic one, I'm sure – referring to the infamous "Orange Riot" of 1871 when Fisk, an honorary colonel of the 9th New York National Guard Infantry Regiment, may have seen some action with his unit which was sent to keep peace during a parade by Irish protestants confronted by angry Irish Catholics. There is confusion over whether Fisk ever made it to the scene. One story has him retreating from the confrontation, complaining he was struck in the heel with a bullet; another has him running from the scene when confronted by a rioter.


Josie Mansfield in her letter to Fisk refers to the time when she was in Jersey City with him. The great Erie fight was on. James McHenry of London represented many English stock and bond-holders, and there were American financiers who wanted to get the Fisk-Gould crowd out.

David Dudley Field was one of the famous Fisk-Gould lawyers. At one time during the struggle the Grand Opera House at Eighth avenue and West Twenty-third street, in which were the offices of the Erie Company, were barricaded against the McHenry people. Finally, one night Fisk and Gould and their friends carted the Erie books over to Jersey City and stood siege there. They were finally ousted by the courts.

Fisk and Gould and Tweed and their fellow magnates of the Erie Railroad ran Tammany Hall and many of the Supreme Court Judges. The trouble over Stokes’s oil shipments became acute. Fisk was intensely bitter against Stokes and Josie Mansfield took delight in embittering Stokes against Fisk. The murder of Fisk was the result.

Fisk’s Widow
Mrs. Lucy D. Fisk, who was Lucy D. Moore, a stepsister of Col. George W. Hooker of Vermont, has been living in a little wooden house in a secluded quarter of South Boston.

Before moving to South Boston, Mrs. Fisk lived in North Hatfield, Mass., where the little home she had learned to love was burned over her head.

Ill-fortune seems to have pursued her, and the strangely significant statement has been made by a friend of some years’ standing that every home Mrs. Fisk has known for years has been burned.

She was never a beautiful woman, yet on at least one occasion, Wednesday, June 26, 1872, she was taken for no less a personage than Josie Mansfield and was grossly insulted by a crowd which gathered at the court house whither Mrs. Fisk had driven to transact business connected with her husband’s estate. The trial of Stokes for the murder of Fisk was then in progress and after someone started the rumor that Mrs. Fisk was Josephine Mansfield she was surrounded and followed by ruffians who used the vilest language to her.

Josie Mansfield Marries Again
Josie Mansfield in 1891, at the age of 50, in St. George’s Church, Hanover Square, London, married Robert Livingston Reade, a young man of wealth, who soon left her but always supported her. He is an American, brother of Viscountess Falkland.

Returning to this country she lived for a time in Boston, where in 1899 she was stricken with paralysis and removed to the home of a relative in Philadelphia, the wife of a wealthy merchant.

After Fisk’s death Josie Mansfield sued Col. Fisk’s widow for $200,000, which she claimed the dead man owed her. She didn’t win the suit. She went to Boston. The people hooted her as she passed through the streets, and she finally found a more congenial abode in Paris. She was often seen at Baden-Baden.

In 1888, a woman known as Josie Williams died in Delanco, N.J., and was buried in Monument Cemetery, Beverly, N.J. It was printed all over the country at the time that this woman was Josie Mansfield.

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