Do you remember a TV game show called “To Tell the Truth?” Each night, contestants claimed to be a person whose profile was read at the start of the show. A panel of celebrities questioned the contestants to figure out who was really the profiled person and who was an imposter.
I found myself in a situation something like this as I read an entry in The Ellsworth American that said “Judge W G McAdoo & family, NY” had arrived in Blue Hill. I already knew that Emilie Loring rented her cottage across the road to the McAdoos one summer, and now, I’d learned when they came–July, 1929.
The timing was significant, because the cottage was only a year old, and Emilie’s brother Robert and his family were the expected occupants. But Robert died in May, and two months later, the McAdoos were staying in the cottage instead. Why them? What was their connection to the Lorings and/or Bakers?
Now, it’s time for our game of “To Tell the Truth:”
Both of these men are named William McAdoo. Both are attorneys from New York. See if they can stump our panel (that’s you).
Which is the real “Judge W G McAdoo” who rented Emilie Loring’s cottage?
William McAdoo #1:
Q: Is your middle initial “G?”
A: Yes, my full name is William Gibbs McAdoo.
Q: Are you a judge?
A: No, I am not.
William McAdoo #2:
Q: Is your middle initial “G?”
A: No, it is not.
Q: Are you a judge?
A: Yes, I am the City Magistrate of New York City.
Our able questioning uncovers these additional facts:
William McAdoo #1 was president of a New Jersey railroad and director general of United States railroads. Victor Loring was an attorney for the Boston & Maine Railroads. The Lorings’ good friends, the Hallets, were heirs to their family’s New Jersey railroad fortunes.
McAdoo served as Secretary of the Treasury for President Woodrow Wilson and married Wilson’s daughter Eleanor in a ceremony performed at the White House.
The McAdoos moved to Los Angeles, where McAdoo became general counsel for Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., Mary Pickford, Charles Chaplin, and director D. W. Griffiths as they formed United Artists. Their treasurer was “GB” Clifton, also a former railroad man. Emilie Loring’s brother Robert wrote multiple screen plays for Fairbanks and Griffiths. Her novel When Hearts Are Light Again has a character called “BC,” Benjamin Clifton. Robert’s son, the screenwriter Mel Baker, lived in Los Angeles and circulated among moving picture society.
Blue Hill friends, the Millikens and the Boardmans, and William McAdoo’s son Francis all stayed at the Willcox Hotel in South Carolina during the same week of March, 1929, just months before the summer rental. How natural it might have been to suggest the Lorings’ cottage, or perhaps the McAdoos were invited by Robert Baker and encouraged by the Lorings to keep their plans despite his death.
“Squire” and “Judge” were common forms of address for lawyers, whether or not they owned estates or sat on courts. Victor Loring was called, “Judge Loring,” and William G. McAdoo could have also been called “Judge W G McAdoo.”
William McAdoo #2 was born in Ireland and came to America as a child. He worked first as a newspaper reporter. Emilie’s grandfather was a founder of the Boston Herald.
McAdoo ran for Congress in New Jersey and was named Assistant Secretary of the Navy by President Cleveland–a role he relinquished, by his own nomination, to Theodore Roosevelt. Victor ran for Congress around the same time in Massachusetts. The Lorings supported Theodore Roosevelt for President.
McAdoo served as New York Police Commissioner and then City Magistrate. Gay Courage has an Irish police chief named Mac Donovan: “He’s made steadily good and now is in a position of authority.”
McAdoo risked his career to expose corruption in New York and earned a reputation for honesty and integrity. He wrote Guarding A Great City, in 1906.
One couldn’t live in a mighty, tumultuous city like this and retain a small-town viewpoint, but heaven help her to keep her belief in the virtues which her father had considered the unshakable foundation for a life: decency, integrity, reliability and a deep spiritual faith. – There Is Always Love (which took place in New York City)
In January, 1929, Mrs. Ethelbert Nevin of Blue Hill announced plans to establish a summer drama school in nearby Surry, Maine. The director was from Wellesley (where the Lorings still owned their home), and William McAdoo’s daughter, Eve, would teach its theatrical workshop.
Robert Baker had lent behind-the-scenes help to Blue Hill dramatics in the past, and although neither the Lorings nor Bakers are mentioned in connection with the drama school, their best friends were listed as patrons–Seth and Alida Milliken, Richard and Dorcas Boardman, Josephine Brooks, and the Owen sisters. How natural for the Lorings to support local theater by inviting the McAdoos to use their cottage for the summer.
William McAdoo was a judge and therefore entitled to be called “Judge William McAdoo.” He had no middle name.
It’s time now to cast your vote.
Who is the real “Judge W G McAdoo” who rented Emilie Loring’s cottage in 1929?
Is it William McAdoo #1, or is it William McAdoo #2?
Let’s see what happened next…
“Judge and Mrs. William McAdoo” were in the audience when Maine’s Governor drew the curtain at the Surry Playhouse for its maiden performance, “March Hares.” The theater at Hampur Farm was hailed as “one of the loveliest and most complete small theatres in America.”
The same week, William G. McAdoo of Los Angeles announced his new Hawaii Airways Company to connect the Hawaiian islands. The trip from Honolulu to Hilo that used to take fourteen hours (!) could now be completed in only three.
In August, he proposed new direct air mail routes from New York to St. Louis, Atlanta, and Dallas, as well as from Arizona to the Pacific Coast, via another new airline, Southern Sky Airlines. “I’ve always wanted to help people get somewhere,” he said, “always wanted to get somewhere myself.”
“Judge Victor Loring and Family, Boston and Judge W. G. McAdoo & Family, New York” left Blue Hill the second week of September.
It looks like it was William McAdoo #2 who stayed in Blue Hill for the summer to enjoy the Maine coast and the maiden efforts of the Surry Playhouse under their daughter Eve’s instruction. The Ellsworth American erred by adding the middle initial “G.” William G. McAdoo (#1) was busy in Los Angeles and New York, getting his airlines off the ground.
Confirmation comes from the New York Times four months later, January 8, 1930:
Magistrate McAdoo Dies Suddenly at 76
Chief of Lower Courts for 20 Years Succumbs at His Home After Illness of 4 Days.
“The death of Mr. McAdoo came as a surprise to his friends and associates as he was believed to be recovering from an illness which began with a severe cold. His wife, Mrs. Eva Lee McAdoo, and his daughter, Eva T. McAdoo, were with him when he died…
“He insisted that he did not need the nurse who had been called, and believed that he would recover speedily. He had expected to pass his vacation at Blue Hill, Me., and had leased a house there for the Summer.“
Happy Landings, everyone. I’m working hard here To Tell the Truth!