Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Servant Gets $20 million

A former Czecho-Slovakian immigrant chambermaid, who was making the beds and sweeping the floors in the $6 million, seventy five room mansion of Frank W Savin, retired stockbroker at Port Chester, New York, three years ago, is mistress today of his $20 million fortune ($240M in todays terms), as a result of his death from an appendicitis operation on Tuesday. Mrs Savin who left the servants' quarters on Jan. 8, 1937 to become her employers fourth wife, has at her command eight Rolls Royces and two other expensive limousines, a team of twenty servants and the right to call the palatial home her own.

But how long she will remain at ease in this queenly state is problematical, for the legal pot has started to boil with the claims of former wives, cast-off children and others who the old broker left in the wake of his kaleidoscopic 79 years of his life. The present Mrs Savin, formerly Anna Mary Schieis, 47, who became a domestic in the mansion on the Sound 17 years ago and remained to become the bride of her boss has first claim. But before her proper heritage canbe determined, the courts probably will have to go back through the entire stormy history of Savin and weigh the claims of two disinherited natural children, two foster children and the near kin of three former wives.

Savin started from scratch, having been cut off with but $1 by his father a wealthy sea captain. But he quickly built this up through real estate and stock investments, and when he married the beautiful Arriba Wheat of New Haven in 1871 he was reputed to be on the highway to wealth.

His first wife obtained a legal separation in 1898, charging him with being "coarse, tyrannical, brutal and inhuman" after he had thrown out and disinherited their two children Frank W. Jr. and Josephine after they were taken to court for mistreating a servant.

Savin next married Mrs Sarah Hamilton West , who later was exposed as the Sadie West of the Lexow investigation of vice and gambling in New York. When she died in 1911, he buried her in an unmarked grave beneath the tennis court on his estate, but his third wife compelled him to exhume the body and bury it elsewhere.

The third Mrs. Savin was, like the fourth, a servant in his house. She was Mrs. Sarah M. Treadwell, the housekeeper. She died in 1925. During this union, the broker adopted Muriel Elizabeth Withnall, a 4 year old orphan. And he also adopted Charles Ely Monroe, the former Mrs. Treadwell's brother-in-law. Monroe, to whom Savin gave his own name and referred to as "my only son" and Muriel, who also took Savin's name, lived at Port Chester throughout his fourth marriage.

Source: Chicago Tribune 2 Jan 1930

1 comment:

Josh Rose said...

Thank you so much for the background to this intriguing man. His estranged daughter Josephine married the youngest brother of my partner's great grandfather, a man called Hugh Cecil Sargent, and in so far as we have established from reports in the New York Times they were both arrested and imprisoned in Paris circa 1912 for the abuse of four (adopted?) children in their care. It seems that Josephine had not lost her taste for the behvaiour that got her disinherited, although I understand that she and her brother Frank Savin Jnr. contested the will in 1935. She is recorded in the ship's passenger logs on numerous transatlantic crossings between the UK and New York from around 1916 until the 1930s. For most of these journeys she is accompanied by two children she generally refers to as her daughters although on one later crossing the older one is called her 'neice'.
I am trying to establish whether Hugh and Josephine stayed together after their release. I know that Hugh died in Eastbourne and can find no evidence of Josephine remarrying. Hugh did not travel with her to America and he is not listed in the marriage indexes in the UK either. I am curious to know what became of her and the the two girls she called her daughters, Arriba (named after her mother, though on later crossings she is listed as Emma) and Mary.
Thanks again.