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Archive for January 7th, 2007

I’m apparently getting relatively good at researching the history of this man.

This afternoon I managed to track his personal life back to Lynn, Massachusetts, as a young lawyer going by his first name, Albert W. Edgerly.   In 1881, he was embroiled in a rather infamous infidelity suit against his first wife, which apparently reached quite astonishing heights of town gossip, as the case received full write-ups in the Boston Globe.

In 1877 (apparently…my four articles seem to give conflicting years…and they’re blurry) he married an 18 year old girl named Ella F. Glines, and almost immediately accused her of infidelity.  He retracted his accusation relatively quickly as well, but by the end of 1880 had decided that she was indeed sleeping around quite freely and mounted a little sting operation against her.  He traced her to a hotel in Boston, and barged into the room with a detective, apparently catching her with another man (but only with her dress off; not in any flagrant activity).

This resulted in a libel suit in which Ella accused Albert of an elaborate conspiracy, insinuating that he even tried to pay the hotel owner $25 to skip town for a few days and not talk to the police.

I can’t find much on the case actually, as historical newspapers are hard to come by online in searchable forms (or at all…), and what is available is practically illegible.  I do know that he definitely divorced the woman, because he married a former student in either 1891 or 1892.  It also seems plausible that the notoriety from this case is what prompted his decision to use his middle name, Webster, and perhaps even the choice to publish his books under pseudonyms – Edmund Shaftesbury and Everett Ralston.

I’m so perversely interested in this man’s life I can’t even put it into words…

——-

Other interesting Edgerly facts:

– Apparently in a publicity stunt, Martyn College of Elocution and Oratory (where he was teaching) was ‘challenged’ to a performance competition, in 1892, by the almost surely fictional ‘Shaftesbury College’ of Baltimore.  Unsurprisingly, Martyn College crushed the competition…  523 points to 32.

– In 1887, Francis Martyn (president of Martyn College and husband of Edgerly’s sister Lizzie) had fake money, that he was using to teach business courses, seized by the government.  Despite the fact that they were simply white pieces of paper, blank on one side, with “Martyn Commercial College Bank,” an eagle, and a denomination printed on one side, someone was apparently duped into accepting it as actual currency, causing seizure and destruction of the $200 worth of fake bills.  Professor Martyn was “consequently somewhat indignant over the matter.”

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