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.

 

Windham Life and Times – January 5, 2018

Edward Searles and Angelo

Anglo’s last trip with Mr. Searles to the Canadian Rockies.

Travels and Mr. Searles Passing

“Mr. Searles loved to travel and had been planning a trip to Europe; to go after the war was finished.  But I was released too late, in 1919, so we went across Canada to Vancouver, instead that year. We went to Lake Louise, in Alberta, and we didn’t stay in the big hotel, but in one of the cottages on the lake. While we were there the manager found out who he was, and that he owned a railroad. Those big hotels in Canada were owned by the Canadian Pacific Railroad, so they treated him like the owner of a railroad would be treated! I wanted to hire a couple of horses and go riding with him, up the mountain. He laughed, and told me to go and enjoy myself. So I went alone; all the way up! You reach a point where you would put your horses, and then you would walk up the rest of the way; five hundred feet further up. There was a tea house up there and, and if you wanted they would let you carve your name in the wood. There were names there from all over the world, and I carved my name there…After we left Lake Louise we went to Vancouver, then to Seattle and then to San Francisco, where we stayed in a big hotel on Nob Hill. After that we went to Chicago, then to Buffalo, where we had to spend a few days because I was sick. He arranged for me to see a specialist there. We went all over. When we returned to Methuen, Pine Lodge wasn’t ready, so we stayed at the Red Tavern. We used to stay there, or stopped in for lunch a few times myself, when I was working for Mr. Searles. I knew the manager, Mrs. Barnes, very well! When we were back at Pine Lodge I was talking, one day, to Arthur Brown’s daughter. He was a kind of butler there, and helped Miss Littlefield run the place. His daughter was a nice girl; pretty, but kind of pudgy. We were just walking on the grounds, shooting the breeze, and the old gentleman must have seen us because he spoke to me about it the same day. He said, ‘Don’t get serious with her, I want you to marry a princess, not just any girl!’ He thought I was something special. I was special to him; he thought of me as his own son. Well, later, during the will trial, Art Brown, and others testified that they didn’t know that the old gentleman thought of me as special; I was surprised! Well, when we took that trip Mr. Searles was feeling all right, and he was in good spirits because he was travelling again. A few weeks later we were back in New York, at the Murray Hill apartment. And one night he called for me because he couldn’t pass urine and was in pain; he had a prostate gland condition and had been treated for that before. I was scared so I went down to the desk and asked them to call his doctor; Dr. McCarthy. He came in and after he spoke with Mr. Searles the doctor started to bleed him. In those days they thought that would relieve the pressure, so that he could pass urine. I saw the blood and I fainted, and when I fell I hit the radiator! When I came to Mr. Searles helped the doctor to get me up, and was telling the doctor to forget about himself, for the moment, and take care of me first! That’s how he was; but I told them I was all right. He was treated for that, while we were in New York, and afterwards he felt all right again.”

“Later that year I received news that my mother had died and that my family there could use my help. Mr. Searles had his New York office book passage for me on a steamer, so that I could return to Greece. The trip took twenty-three days! I was away for about five months because I was arranging to bring my whole family over; Mr. Searles gave me enough money to do that, and when I was there he sent me another Thousand dollars! He was very good to me and I wasn’t able to thank him enough for what he did for me and my family.”

“During the time I was gone he took sick again, in New York, and I never knew about it; he didn’t want me to worry about it. When I returned to New York he was at the Murray Hill apartment, and that was when I found out he had been sick, and Walter Glidden, from Pine Lodge, was taking care of him. He hugged me, and cried; he was so happy to see me again! After that, when we were back in Methuen, Mr. Searles was talking to me and said that since he was going to rest at Pine Lodge until he felt well enough to travel again, that I should get an education and that he would ask Arthur Walker to find a good school for me. I went to school in New York, but the course was too difficult for me to understand; it was a language problem. At the same time I was nervous about the old gentleman because I wasn’t in contact with him. I went to see Walker, I always called him ‘Arthur’, and he said I should get away and unwind. He persuaded me that Mr. Searles wasn’t that bad and that I should take a vacation. So I went to the Catskills because I knew someone up there. While I was there the old gentleman was dying in Methuen, but I didn’t know it.  Seavey’s step-daughter, Emma, back in New Hampshire, was writing to me at the Murray Hill Hotel in New York, That’s where she though I was. She was saying that Mr. Searles was dangerously ill and that I should get back to Methuen because he would want to see me. Well, I received a telegram from Arthur Walker, at where I was staying in the Catskills, because he knew where I was. He informed me that the old gentleman had died, and to come back to Methuen for the services. I went back to New York and while I was waiting for the next train to Boston I walked to the hotel to get some things from my room, and that’s when I found two or three letters from Emma Richter saying ‘Angy, where are you? Why don’t you answer me? Mr. Searles is very sick, and you should come back right away!’ That was my mistake, going on that vacation. If I had been in New Hampshire, at the castle, or in New York, I would have heard about it, and would have gone back to Methuen in time to see him again.”

 

Windham Life and Times – December 22, 2017

Edward Searles and Angelo

Cats and Dogs in Front of Fireplace at Pine Lodge

The Life and Kindness of Mr. Searles

“Well, Stanton Harcourt was a big place; about two thousand acres. Mr. Searles really loved that castle there; he built it to give himself something to do, but his real home was at Pine Lodge. Up at the castle he would take his stick and use it to show the men how he wanted things done. He always carried a cane. In those days all the gentlemen had walking sticks, and when he wanted something done he would make a plan with his cane, right on the ground, and draw just what he wanted. He would say, ‘You make it like this, here; and do it like that over there!’ He never made the whole design at one time. When the men were finished he would come back and look at it and say it was all right, and make another plan so they could continue. Sometimes it wasn’t the way he thought it would look, or he would think of something better, and he would tell them to take it down and rebuild it a different way. If he was having a wall built and there was a tree in the way he would have the wall built around the tree! He loved beautiful trees! I remember meeting his architect up there, Vaughan; he was a very nice man. He and the old gentleman got along well because both of them were designers, and understood each other. It was Mr. Searles, though, who planned the walls, and changes to other houses that he owned. We used to walk all around his properties in Methuen, and New Hampshire. He enjoyed looking at everything he made; he loved to do that. Mr. Searles never really finished anything he did; he was always changing or adding something. At the castle there was one part that was just a shell. He was going to put a big room there for the organ from Barrington. He was teaching me how to play on the organ at Pine Lodge, and I think that was why, because he told me that the castle would be mine someday. Pine Lodge was never finished either. When I was with him he was talking to an architect in New York, about something for Pine Lodge; that was later after his architect Vaughn had died. I met Vaughn a few times. He was an Englishman, and Mr. Searles loved everything English. The furniture for the castle in New Hampshire came from Barrington and Pine Lodge; they were moving it inside when I was living up there. The old gentleman bought a fireplace from France and had it put in the castle; another fireplace came from Europe and he had the whole thing rebuilt and put in Pine Lodge. Mr. Searles loved the castle, but he loved Pine Lodge most of all because he was born there; right there in the old house. It was really his home.”

“Pine Lodge was full of every kind of treasure you can think of; statues, paintings, and all kinds of beautiful things that came from Europe and Asia…Mr. Searles had his own bedroom in the house there, and Miss Littlefield had another; all the rest was for his art collection. After I started to work for him he arranged for me to have a room in the house also; everyone else, like Art Brown, the butler, lived in other houses on the property. When Arthr Walker, or other men from his businesses came, they stayed at the Red Tavern; that was his guest house. When Mr. Searles was in Methuen people were coming to see him on business. There was a little office there, at Pine Lodge, near the house, where he would meet those businessmen; Walker worked in there too, when he came to town. Mr. Searles and Miss Littlefield had an office in Pine Lodge, that he used for his personal business. Edith Littlefield was his cousin and she ran the house for him because he was always going away on business, or traveling; he loved to travel! She had a big checkbook and paid all the bills, and took care of his correspondence for him. Some people would write to say they knew of someone who needed help; lots of people asked for some kind of help. Miss Littlefield would always reply that they would receive an answer when Mr. Searles returned to town. That would give him time to check if a request was from someone really in need. He owned all kinds of property there, all kinds of houses. One day, when I was at Pine Lodge, a man came to tell him that someone could not pay their rent, and Mr. Searles said to forget about it! Many times he didn’t make any money on his properties. He told me, himself, that he didn’t make enough to pay the taxes on some of his property! He didn’t care; he did that to help out people. Mr. Searles was always doing things like that. He built all kinds of churches, all over. In New Hampshire a church burnt down and I was told that he built one to take its place. I remember him speaking to Miss Littlefield and telling her to make sure that everybody who worked for him was paid all year long. He made sure that they were paid every week, or every month. He had a crew of carpenters, and a crew of stonemasons, and kept them on the payroll even if the weather was bad and they couldn’t work for a few days, or  few weeks! He always had men building walls, or a new addition somewhere. He had lots of men out cutting trees, to clear land and have enough wood for all the fireplaces at Pine Lodge and Stillwater, and the castle in Windham. He would give the extra firewood away to people who couldn’t afford to heat their houses. Lots of poor people were helped out like that, and only he and Miss Littlefield knew of it! In those days you were either rich or poor; you didn’t have the big middle class like you have today.”

“I remember Miss Littlefield well. I would go into her office to talk with her; I would kid with her and make her laugh. She had a sense of humor, and Mr. Searles had a sense of humor too! People didn’t think so, but his friends who knew him well knew that! Dr. Bowker, from Lawrence, was a good friend of his, and he was always coming to Pine Lodge for visits. The old gentleman had lots of close friends; not like what was said in the newspapers; that he didn’t bother with anybody. If anybody said that they really didn’t know him at all. He wasn’t in ‘The Four Hundred’; he didn’t want to be part of ‘Society’. He just wanted his treasures around him and his friends…”

 

Windham Life and Times – December 8, 2017

Edward Searles and Angelo

Angelo Ellison in his elevator operators uniform.

THE CHANCE MEETING

Ray Fremmer says of Searles that, “with age came loneliness and even the frequent change of surroundings he effected by going to New York periodically became of little use to enliven his spirits. In 1914, when he was seventy-three, he was in the habit of busying himself as best he could around Methuen for several months by visiting his different property holdings, and then he would go to New York for a week or two. He had an office at 71 Broadway, in the firm of Thomas Hubbard who managed Searles millions. After a few hours at the office he would go to his hotel, the Biltmore, and begin to wonder what was going on in Methuen right about that time. It was obvious, even to the elevator operator at the Biltmore, that Searles was a very lonely man. His name was Angelo M. Ellison, and he remembers to this day that the white-mustached old gentleman never tipped as did some of his other passengers. The lad, Angy as he was called, was somewhat of a loner himself. He had just recently arrived from Greece and although it was easy to adopt a name more easy to pronounce than his real one, it was not so easy to master the English language. This difficulty, together with the necessity of earning a living, made it very hard for him to associate with boys his own age.”

“Usually, Searles greeted the elevator boy with a polite ‘good morning’ or ‘good evening’ each time he entered the elevator. Gradually, however, he began to take a kindly interest in the seventeen year-old boy’s home country, his parents, and his difficulties in mastering a new language. Shortly, in Angy’s own words, ‘He started to tell me a few things about himself’, and asked Angy if he would like to work as his personal companion. Naturally, tired of travelling up and down the Biltmore Hotel all day, every day, Angy accepted the new job at once. In the moths that followed, each time Searles came to New York, he and Angy would go for long walks along Fifth Avenue and occasionally go the Metropolitan Opera House. When Searles went on inspection trips of his holdings, such as the Pittsburg & Shawmut Railroad coal pits, he was always accompanied by Angy. In Philadelphia they stopped to visit Searles’ aunts, the Smith sisters. And back in New York on Sundays they usually went to the Cathedral of Saint John the Devine, the organ of which Searles was quite fond. By this time Searles legal address was the Murray Hill Hotel— rooms 646 and 647; his legal residence as a citizen of the state of New York. He made New York his legal residence to protest the heavy taxes imposed on him by Massachusetts.”

Murray Hill Hotel where Searles had two suites

Angy tells the story of his meeting with Searles this way, “My name was Angelo, and my family name was Eliopoulos. After I came to America I wanted to become part of this country, so I changed my name to Ellison, because I was told that that was the American version. ‘Eli’ comes from the Greek word for the sun god, ‘Helios’, and ‘opoulos’ means son of’; son of the sun! I changed my name to Andrew after the will trial because reporters were trying to take advantage of me, and I was so disappointed in the way it ended that I didn’t want to be bothered anymore. I just wanted to get on with my life.”

“Before I met Mr. Searles, I was working at the Biltmore Hotel. It was across the street from Grand Central Terminal. That hotel and the other one they built on the other side of Grand Central, the Commodore Hotel, all belonged to the New York Central Railroad. All that was built about the same time and was new when I worked there. It was like a city underneath the station; there were all kinds of shops there, and you could enter the hotel from the passenger station underneath. I started as a bellboy, and they advanced me to operate the elevators. The manager told me that I would have a good future there; working for the organization. He was going to give me a better job but I left to work for Mr. Searles; but it wasn’t like work at all. He got to know me and asked if I wanted to work for him as his assistant; to help him when he went on his business trips, or just around town. We would go walking all over town; he liked to look at buildings and talk about architecture. He would like to go to the opera, or the theater; never a movie! We would have dinners at one of the big restaurants, or at a big hotel; The Plaza, or the old Waldorf Astoria on Fifth Avenue or someplace else. He would stop at Tiffany’s, and that is where he bought me a gold watch and later a beautiful ring with a green stone in it!