Windham Life and Times – January 12, 2018

Edward Searles and Angelo

Tiffany& Company wine cooler, whose design was attributed to Charles Grossjean, from the Hopkins- Searles silver service, recently sold at Christies for $50,000.

After the Death of Mr. Searles

“When I arrived at Pine Lodge they had Mr. Searles’ casket in the big hall, and in the hallway, before you go into the hall, were the officers from the businesses he owned; the people from his railroads and coal mines in Pennsylvania. Those were the people I had met when the old gentleman took me on tours of his properties. They recognized me coming in and they all stood up! I believe that they though I was going to be his heir! I was at Pine Lodge for the funeral, and was there when they read the will. He was put in the tomb he built for himself, and for his wife and parents; he built four places there. That tomb is like a small church, and I was at Pine Lodge when they were building it…”

“When they started to read the will I found that I was to get $10,000. I spoke with Arthur Walker, and he said that Mr. Searles never told him that I was to get any more than that. He said he would give me money each month until I could find a job. I wasn’t getting any other information from him, and I was so disappointed that I left Pine Lodge and went to New York to stay with a friend. Before I left, Miss Littlefield gave me some pictures of myself that Mr. Searles had in his rooms in Methuen. She was a wonderful woman; she was good to me there. It was the picture I had taken while I was at camp at Allentown, Pennsylvania. I have another of it because I also took the one from his room at the Murray Hill apartment. There was another one in his room up in the castle in New Hampshire, but I left that one in his memory. Mr. Searles had that photograph of me enlarged from the small one that I sent him. I didn’t know that until he told me later. He kept my pictures in his room all the time, which proves what he thought of me. He always treated me like a son!”

“After I left Pine Lodge, and went back to New York, I moved out of the apartment at the Murray Hill Hotel and went to stay with a friend. I didn’t know it but a detective hired by Mr. Searles’ nephew was looking for me. That nephew was an alcoholic; he was not a good man. I only found that out later!  His lawyers wanted to find me. They must have been talking to the people at the Murray Hill because they knew that was where Mr. Searles was living. I told them that I didn’t think Walker was treating me very good; that I had letters from Mr. Searles, and that he wrote to me and treated me like a son. I was still speaking to Walker at the time. I would visit the office and Walker told me that after a certain date I would be on my own. When the nephew’s lawyers approached me they convinced me that they would have a strong case against Walker because they needed me to go against him; so I cooperated with them. They told me that they could use my information to help them win, and that I would get quite a lot out of it. I made a mistake there; I made a few mistakes now that I look back on it. Later I found out they were just using me! The nephew settled with Walker for four million dollars, and I didn’t get anything out of it once they got their money. That’s why I went against Walker on my own later. When I started that court action it was at the advice of other lawyers. They approached me and convinced me that Walker would settle with us; like with the case of Mr. Searles’ nephew. We had one of Mr. Searles’ best friends, Dr. Bowker, from Lawrence, to come testify in my favor. He knew that the old gentleman thought of me as his son. Walker said he never knew of that. Maybe Mr. Searles never told him. I believe now that he made a mistake not telling him. Miss Littlefield didn’t seem to know that either, because she testified that he liked me, and helped me out, but that I was his valet.”

“Dana Seavey, who ran the farm in Windham, testified for Walker’s side. Seavey inherited thousands of dollars by Mr. Searles’s will, and he didn’t tell the truth in court; the first thing he said wasn’t the truth! When his step-daughter, Emma Richter, heard about it she told him, ‘You lied!’ Walker’s lawyers tried to discredit Mr. Searles; imagine that! They wanted control of his money but didn’t care about his memory; and the old gentleman was the kindest man you could know. He did so many things for people, and he never asked for any publicity about it.”

“…The judge told the jury, before they came to their decision, that the letters Mr. Searles wrote to me were personal but did not prove that he considered me his son, but that I must prove that Walker influenced Mr. Searles against me when he made those wills. It was up to me to prove fraud, and I couldn’t prove it.”

“After the trial Arthur Walker came up to me to say that he didn’t want there to be any hard feelings between between us, but I was so upset that I didn’t want to bother with him. Maybe that was another mistake; maybe I should have had a talk with him. I was very upset that they bought in people to say that Mr. Searles was not in his right mind! That’s what they testified in court! But those lawyers contradicted themselves, because during the same time that they were saying Mr. Searles was not in his right mind, he made out those wills in Walker’s favor; and when he made out those wills they claimed he was in his right mind…I often wondered why he approached me like that; maybe his conscience was bothering him. He won his case but didn’t live to enjoy the money. Just five months after the trial he was up at the castle in New Hampshire and he died from a stroke; right in front of the big fireplace. That’s where I heard they found him.”

In 1927, after the will trial, Ellison was offered a job at a Studebaker dealership in Manhattan. He went on to work for a large movie theater chain and other car dealerships. He then worked for various car dealerships in Yonkers New York, eventually becoming a partner in an Oldsmobile dealership there. He owned various used car dealerships and then owned a Kaiser-Frazer franchise. In the 1950’s he worked as a sales manager for one of the largest Chevrolet dealerships in the country. By this time he had changed his name to help shield him from the controversy with Searles and his will.

On reflecting on the whole Searles saga, Andy Ellison had this say: “Mr. Searles told me that he wanted to adopt me as his son but his advisors in New York influenced him against it. They told him it would bring negative publicity if he adopted ‘an immigrant Greek;”

…I married in 1935, and my son Peter was born in 1942, and my daughter in 1944….Sometimes I think the Good Lord made all this happen, because it might of changed my personality if I had some of those millions of dollars; it might of turned my head, and I might of gone crazy of something. Just five months after Walker got his money he was in front of the fireplace in Windham and had a stroke…” As for Andy Ellison, he became a respected businessman in the New York area. He passed away January 6, 1988 at the age of Ninety-Three. Taken from: Andrew “Angy” Ellison – The Unheard Witness. 1979-1987.


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