Abandoned Two Children 1897

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Lawrence Waters, night foreman at the Brooklyn Heights Company's repair shops, at Fifty-eighth street and Third avenue, was arrested at 11 o'clock last night by Captain Reynolds of the detective force, and Detective Sergeant Ryan of the Fourth avenue station, on a charge of having abandoned his two children in Haverstraw, N.Y.

The circumstances of the case are somewhat remarkable. Waters is about 35 years old and has been living with his family, on Eighty-fifth street, between Thirteenth and Fourteenth avenues. About six months ago his wife died suddenly. She was found dead in bed one morning. After her funeral it is alleged the father began to neglect his children. He formed other attachments, it is alleged, and the six little ones were in the way. He began, according to stories told in the neighborhood, to dispose of the children one by one. He employed a housekeeper, Mrs. Mary Hines, and it is alleged that the police are looking for her, charged with having aided in the abandonment of the children.

On Saturday last there were only three of the little ones remaining in the house. The others had been disposed of. One was in an institution and two others were farmed out. The three that were still left to him were Queenie, aged 8 years: Lawrence, aged 7 years, and Elsie, aged 4 years. The housekeeper gave Lawrence and Elsie a bath and dressed them up in their best clothing. Then the father took them over to Weehawken and took the 8 o'clock train for Haverstraw. On the way over there he gave them some instructions about their future conduct.

"Now," he said, "we're all going to change our names. Won't that be fun? You, Larry, will be Harry Clarke, mind now, Harry Clarke. Let's see if you remember it?"

"Yes, papa," answered the little fellow, obediently, "Harry Clarke."

"And you'll be Mary Clarke, Elsie: not Waters, any more, but Clarke. Never tell anybody else who may ask you that your name was ever Waters. If anybody speaks to you and asks you your name you must say Mary Clarke, and you, Larry, you must say you are Harry Clarke."

The father repeated this lesson to them over and over again while they were on their way up the Hudson on a West Shore train, it is charged. At the station at Haverstraw the father and the children got off. He bought them some cakes and told them to sit in the waiting room until he returned. As he parted with them he admonished them not to forget the new names he had given them and told them never, never to say that their names had been Waters. They promised to be good children and for awhile they amused themselves looking out at the passing trains. That became tiresome after a while and they romped about the room. They attracted the attention of Station Agent Boss, and he asked them after a while who they were waiting for. They answered that their papa had left them there and was coming back soon. He had not returned at noon and the shadows of the hills were lengthening across the Hudson when they next attracted the attention of the agent. They had eaten all their cakes and were crying. Mr. Boss asked them what was the matter and they said that they were tired of waiting for papa and that they were hungry. The agent asked them their names and they obediently said in chorus. "Clarke." They gave a very good description of their father and the agent remembered that a man fitting the picture left the station for New York soon after the 8 o'clock train had come in.

It was evident that the children had been deserted and late on Saturday night they were taken to the residence of Mrs. Pitts, kind hearted woman who had heard of their story. On Sunday information of the matter was carried to James Call, the Chief of Police of Haverstraw, and he took them to his home on Sunday night. For a time they continued to declare that their name was Clarke but the chief was not satisfied. He kept plying them with questions about their home and their father and in an outburst of childish confidence the little ones confessed that Clarke was only a play name that their father had told them they must use but that their "truly" name was Waters. The chief thereupon determined that he had a mystery on his hands and he did not rest until he had all the facts, including a full and particular account of the instructions they had received on the train. Mr. Call placed himself in communication with the police of this city and through his information the arrest was made last night. Queenie, the only one left, was found at home. It is likely that for the present officers of the Children's Society will take charge of the little girl.

Captain Reynolds asked Waters last night what he meant by abandoning his children; he answered that he must have been crazy. He could give no explanation of his misbehavior. This forenoon Chief Call and an officer arrived from Haverstraw and the prisoner was turned over to the custody of the officers by Justice Brenner. Captain Reynolds will make an additional complaint against him charging him with having abandoned the children here, and if he escapes punishment in Rockland County he will be brought back to answer the charge here.

A warrant, as has been stated, has also been issued for the arrest of the housekeeper. Lawrence, Jr., and Elsie are still wards of the chief of the Haverstraw police, and he says that he will give them shelter in his home until the authorities determine what to do with them.


Website: The History Box.com
Article Name: Abandoned Two Children 1897
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


Brooklyn Daily Eagle September 21, 1897
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