Mr. Hall Lippincott
My very dear friend!
Two dear letters of yours are before me—one dated May 5th, the other April 23rd. The letter of May 5th enclosed again 15$ for which I must say thanks—a 1000 times thanks—allow me to kiss your benevolent hand! The letter encloses also the few lines the clerk wrote you of the Surrogate Court of April 26th, New York. I hesitated answering, because you told me not to be impatient and await the answer of the judge of the Probate Court in Newark, New Jersey, to whom you were kind enough to write. I do not think that Aunty’s will can be filed there, as my aunt lived since about 20 years at the Arlington House, New York. and always kept her room there, even when she was on the road.
But people are bad. I am sending you a copy of Mrs. Smith’s last letter in which she says I have no claim whatever and am no relation. In one of the letters she says that she has in hand several money orders, a proof she my aunt helped me but that my aunt was under no obligation to me! I have to explain this much to you, dear Mr. Lippincott, that my aunt always sent me for Xmas, and for my birth day 5$ or 10$, and she did this through cheque through the Bank. Once I received a money order for 50 marks. Do you think Mrs. Herrmann would have done that were I not a relation? and were she not under obligation to me? It is really impertinent of Mrs. Smith to say I am no relation whatever. The fact is that Addie Scarcey married my father’s youngest brother, by the name of Alexander, and that she owes it to me, only to me, that he married her.
Of course, my hands are chained here. I am unable to do a thing, I cannot take a lawyer and fight the case. Even if my aunt left no will, I have a claim, but she did have a will. Mrs. Smith says so in her letter. And why? if she is sole heiress and can triumph, why does she hesitate to let me have a certified copy!! I know there is a saying in America: possession is nine points of the law and so it is in this case! Of course I grieve and pine over it—Aunt Herrmann liked me so much, was so proud of me, proud of the position and name I made myself in Berlin. You are right to say “It is difficult to believe that Mrs. Herrmann did not provide for me in her will.” The court could not possibly notify me, as they surely could not locate me, and perhaps my aunt called me in the will Mrs. Dora Herrmann, as Blanche Corelli is only my professional name. However it has upset my heart—the loss of my darling aunt—now this end! and tormenting you! You, you dear good young soul. You goodhearted being!
Now, I really meant to live to be able to show you my gratitude. There is a little souvenir coming to you, dear friend, a souvenir from your very old and grateful Corelli. You shall have it as soon as I can get hold of it. You see how frank and openhearted I am to you! It is my father’s watch chain, really the only thing I inherited from him. It is a dainty, wonderful thing. One link is platin[um], the next gold and between are black pearls and little diamonds. The middle pearl has been removed; as father wore the chain the middle has to be slipped through the buttonhole of the vest, and each end of the chain in the right and left waistcoat pocket.
Compars Herrmann's watch chain
When my father died it was the same story as now with my aunt. I happened to be in Vienna and of course wrote to the court that I was the only daughter and considered myself heiress. The court of course accepted my claim, I had to sign every page of the inventory. It took several months to settle affairs. I returned to the States to earn money but relatives notified me that my father died as multi millionaire, but that everything belonged to his 2nd wife Mrs. Rosalie Herrmann. It is too long a story to tell. All I received then from Mrs. Herrmann was 10,000 guilders—everything was in her name! as she kept the correspondence and bank accounts. It is a sad disgraceful story which the whole of Vienna knows. I am alas a poor poor defeated and cheated woman, who had to work hard all her life, to live an honest life.
Times are so hard now. My pupil has left and I dismiss my servant on the 1st of next month. I cannot keep her, it is too great a luxury. By letting her go, I save 130 marks a month. There are only 3 rooms to attend to now, and although I am nearly 80 years old, fancy dear friend, 80, I must do it. I am determined to do it.
I must go back to the little watch chain. About 6 months after my father’s death, Mrs. Herrmann, father’s 2nd wife, sent it to me with a little picture of father in an etudis and then a life sized bust of father—the original bronze bust made by Levi in Paris is in the Museum of Art in Vienna—furthermore she sent me marble pedestal for the bust—it is so heavy I cannot lift it. These 3 things are my inheritance from my millionair[e] father. I know of no one in the world more worthy to possess that chain that my dear good friend Mr. Hall Lippincott. I would not for the world have my son in law get it. No, indeed. At the present moment, I am sorry to say, the little chain is in pledge. I shall try and get it out and then I shall send it to your home address through Adams Express Co. registered and insured, to 1132 Ashland Avenue Wilmette – Evansville – Illinois. Please advise your dear folks at home should you be in the road or away from house, to be sure and accept the little parcel, and when you receive it dear friend, please wear it, and sometimes think of poor me! May it bring you the very best of luck. God bless you!
I enclose a little snap picture. I had to have my picture taken for my passport. All foreigners have to have passports and papers in order. I don’t think they class me under strangers—I belong to Vienna—I am an Austrian. However, Monday I am going to the Austrian Consulate to get my passport in order. People here advise me to write to the Austrian Embassy in New York (I have the address) about this Smith affair, and in case of expenses, to enclose 3$. I think, though, I shall wait until I hear from you again, which I hope will be very soon. Once more, a world of thanks for your wonderful kindness. Believe me as always, your very grateful sincere
By the way, one pearl in the chain is a little damaged—it proves though – - – that, that the pearls are real and the little pearl can be polished again.
19 May 1932 enclosure—page 1
1st letter to me: Copy of Mrs. Smith’s letter dated March 13th arrived in Berlin March 24th 1932
My dear Mme. Corelli,
In going through my Aunt’s papers (Adelaide Herrmann), I found your letter of Jan. 24th. I have very sad news to write you, if you have not already read it in the papers abroad. Aunt Addie passed on, on Febuary 19th—it was quite sudden and has been such a shock that I cannot realize it yet—she broke a front tooth, a periodontist advised her to have the others out. They were as beautiful and I begged her not to do it, it was a crime at her age to suggest such a thing, but she wouldn’t listen—went alone on a rainy day, had six out, then walked around in the rain and caught cold which developed into pneumonia. She was taken to a hospital on Sunday the 14th, had 2 nurses and every care and attention. I stayed right with her to the end. Her passing was beautiful. She must have seen a glorious vision, for she almost sat up with her beautiful blue eyes wide open with such a happy contented expression, then a golden light passed over her face and she was gone. She looked beautiful in her casket, jut asleep. I dressed her in white chiffon and with her glorious white bobbed hair, she was a picture we will all remember. I am satisfied she had lived a full life, acting right up to the end and reserved every attention and honor at the close. The service and eulogies were wonderful at the same little chapel where uncle laid, and every wish of hers that I could recall, was gratified. You will remember I was with her in Berlin and spent most of my life with her. She was more like my mother as I feel her love very keenly. She was devoted to uncle. Even when they brought a strange doctor, her first words were “Did you know my husband?” I have destroyed your letter as there were personal remarks about your father and I knew auntie would wish me to do so. Trusting you and your daughter are well, with all good wishes, sincerely
(Mrs.) Adele Smith, March 14th, 1932
69 Lincoln Park, Newark, N.J.
19 May 1932 enclosure—page 2
2nd letter of Mrs. Smith dated Newark, April 1st
Dear Mme. Corelli,
Your letter of March 27th received. Auntie did leave a will, dividing between my cousin John and me, but it does not mean a thing as she had lost all in stock speculation. All she had left was an annuity which of course stopped at her death. It is amusing how interested how people are in a will. We have a number of cousins who never did a thing for Auntie, but as soon as they heard she was critically ill, came up like mushrooms, and on learning there was nothing, are all missing again. Auntie always loved to speculate, she lost heavily when we were in Berlin years ago and kept at it right to the end, but it was her money, she worked hard for it, and she had a right to do as she wished for it. As long as she had every comfort and care while she lived, I am satisfied. She knew I loved her and did everything for her, for herself, not for any personal gain. She always told every one, a daughter would never have made the sacrifices I did for her, so I haven’t one regret. As we sow, we reap. I know everything about the family and all auntie’s affairs, so please do not say Auntie made any promises or is under any obligation to you. I know it is not so. I have receipts for money, etc. she sent you from time to time. I sent you a magazine last Sunday giving beautiful tributes to her memory. I have had hundreds of letters, everyone knows how dear she was to me. With all good wishes, sincerely
Adele O. Smith, April 7th 1932 , 69 Lincoln Park, Newark, N.J.
19 May 1932 enclosure—page 3
A copy of Mrs. Smith’s letter, her 3rd letter to me
This letter arrived here May 12th 1932
Dear Mme. Corelli,
Please do not bother me with your foolish registered letters. You make me regret I was good enough to write you of Auntie’s passing. When I showed your letter to Auntie’s lawyer, it amused him very much. He said even if Auntie had left money, you would have no claim, you were not related to her. However, if you doubt my – - – and have money to throw away, it is your privilege to consult your lawyer. I am sending your letters to Johnie Nash. If he wishes you to have his address, he will write you. Any further letters to me will be returned unopened.
Yours very truly,
Adele O. Smith
April 30th 1932