A Revolting Tale of Parental Cruelty 1885


About three months since Arthur Chambers, a middle aged Englishman, a bookbinder by trade, and his wife Margaret came under the supervision of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. They were then living on State street and some of their neighbors complained to Officer Rendich, one of the officers of the society, that their two children, one an infant and the other, Mary Leona, 4 years old, were not only not receiving proper attention, but were being subjected to ill-treatment. Officer Rendich set himself to watch them with a view of obtaining evidence against them but a few days afterward they gave up their rooms, and no trace of their subsequent movements could be discovered.

It appears, however, that they removed to 140 Tillary street, where they have rendered themselves extremely obnoxious to the neighbors by their drunken and riotous behavior. About 8 o'clock last night their orgies assumed unusual proportions and they made so much noise that the attention of Louis G. Hoppe, who lives at 142, next door, was attracted. He from his own house  listened at the foot of the stairs leading to the apartments of the Chambers family and heard cries of "Murder!" and "Police!" and sounds which indicated that a wholesale breaking of furniture was going on. He ran upstairs and found Mr. and Mrs. Chambers both under the influence of liquor and indulging in a tirade of abuse against each other. He essayed to act the part of peacemaker, but his good intentions were frustrated by the spirit in which they were received by both the contestants. Mr. Chambers confined himself to telling Mr. Hoppe to mind his own business, but his spouse took more active measures to express her disapproval of his interference. She ordered him to leave the rooms at once, and as he did not do so quickly enough to suit her, she picked up her youngest child by the feet and whirling it round her head threatened to brain him with her improvised club. He beat a hasty retreat and went to the First Precinct Station House where he communicated the facts to the sergeant.

Roundsman Clayton and Officer Moylan were immediately dispatched to the house, and when they got there found the wordy altercation between the pair still in progress. The door leading to their apartments was not locked, but as Roundsman Clayton pushed it open he was confronted by Mrs. Chambers, who ordered him out and then threw herself against the door, and, as the officer expressed it, used her three months' old child as a battering ram to prevent his entrance. After a short struggle the officers got in and arrested both husband and wife. Mrs. Chambers seemed to be crazy from the effects of the drink she had taken, and suddenly seizing her eldest child, Mary Leona, by the hair, proceeded to drag her round the room. The policeman did not divine her intention, and before they could seize her she had pulled a large handful of hair from the girl's head. The pair were then marched to the station house and locked up. This morning they were arraigned before Judge Courtney in Judge Walsh's Court. They were both charged with intoxication, and pleaded not guilty, although the woman finally admitted that she had taken a little beer. On this charge they were sent down for ten days each. The husband begged piteously that the sentence might be modified, saying that if he were to spend that length of time in jail it would certainly kill him. Judge Courtney refused to change his decision, saying that he would have to suffer the consequences of his acts. An additional charge of cruelty to children was preferred against Mrs. Chambers, which will be heard on the 12th inst. The girl Mary was sent to the Home for Destitute Children, on Concord street, and the mother was allowed to take the infant with her to jail.


Website: The History Box.com
Article Name: A Revolting Tale of Parental Cruelty 1885
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


The Brooklyn Daily Eagle September 2, 1885
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