Inter Ocean, November 23, 1905
Marshall Field, Jr., son of the Chicago merchant and capitalist, shot and perhaps fatally wounded himself at his residence, 1919 Prairie avenue, shortly before 6 o’clock last night. Within half an hour he had been taken to the Mercy hospital, where an operation was performed. The attending surgeons said the patient had a slight chance for recovery.
Mr. Field was alone in his dressing room when the shot was fired. Statements authorized by the Field family last night were to the effect that the shooting was accidental, but the physicians refused to discuss the question.
The wound was caused by a bullet from a new automatic revolver which Mr. Field has been examining and cleaning, preparatory, it was said, to going into the Wisconsin woods on a hunting trip.
Henry Dibblee, who was summoned to the Field residence, made the only statement for the family. Marshall Field, the father, and his wife, formerly Mrs. Arthur Caton, are in New York. Mr. Field was informed on the tragedy by long distance telephone, and he made plans to start for Chicago at once, either by special train or one of the regular New York-Chicago fast trains.
The ball entered the body on the left side, tore its way through to the back, and lodged just under the skin. Dr. Bevan, who performed the operation at the hospital, found it necessary only to make a slight incision to extract the ball.
A bulletin, given out at the home of Mr. Driblee, the wounded man’s uncle, late last night was to the effect that the ball did not touch the intestines or the stomach, but had apparently passed through the liver, as the patient suffered a severe hemorrhage of that organ after he was taken to the hospital.
Mrs. Field was not at home when her husband shot himself. She had been making calls with her son Henry, and returned to find an ambulance at the door. The only persons in the house before Mr. Dibblee was called from his residence at 1920 Calumet avenue were the servants and MArshall Field III and Miss Penfield, a nurse, who was caring for the boy.
The butler and Miss Penfield were the first persons to reach Mr. Field’s side after the shooting. They heard the sound of a muffled shot at 6:10 o’clock. A moment later Mr. Field called for help and the nurse and the butler ran to the room, which is on the second floor in the front of the house.
Enormous Queen Anne mansion of Marshall Field, Jr from 1890 till 1905. designed in 1884 by architect Solon S. Beman at 1919 S. Prairie Avenue. The home contains fifteen bedrooms, nine bathrooms, fourteen fireplaces and over 21,000 sq. ft. of living space, plus a coach house.
Found Lying on Couch.
They found Mr. Field lying on a couch fully dressed and pressing his hands to his left side. The pistol was lying on the rug at the injured man’s feet. The police were not informed of the shooting, but a telephone message to Mr. Dibblee brought him to the Field residence within a few minutes.
Dr. R. H. Harvey, 2100 Calumet avenue, was the first physician summoned. Dr. Arthur Bevan, 2917 Michigan avenue, was sent for and he accompanied the patient to Mercy hospital, where he was placed in a private room on the second floor of the west wing.
The operation was performed at 6:30 o’clock. It was then discovered that the bullet had perforated the liver, but that it had missed the intestines by aq narrow margin. The bullet was removed from the right side, where it had lodged a short distance beneath the skin.
Operation Stops Hemorrhage.
Dr. Bevan, the operating surgeon, said after the operation:
“We operated upon Mr. Field at the hospital at 6:30. We found a good deal of hemorrhage and a perforation of the liver. We controlled the hemorrhage and removed the bullet. The wound is a very serious one, but I think he has a chance of recovery.”
The doctor was asked, “Do you mean, doctor that he his chances of recovery are slight?”
“I prefer to express myself in this way:
He has some chance of recovery.”
Dr. Frank Billings, family physician of Mr. Field, Sr., for years, was not at home when first summoned, but he arrived at the hospital later in the evening and explained the wound. He said:
“I have seen Mr. Field and I think he has a chance to recover.”
Dr. Harvey also expressed the hope that the wound might not prove fatal.
Insist Shot Was Accidental.
None of the physicians would enter into a discussion of the wound from the circumstances surrounding the shooting. When approached on that subject they referred the questioner to Mr. Dibblee, who, they said, had sole authority to talk about the case.
Mr. Dibblee was found at the Field residence and he protested that the shooting was entirely accidental. He had obtained no statement from Mr. Field himself, as the wounded man had been unconscious soon after he was shot.
“From all I can learn,” said Mr. Dibblee, “Mr. Field must have been cleaning the revolver. He had been talking about going hunting for a day or so. He was in his room and the butler and the nurse were the only persons within the sound of the shot. They sent for me at once.
“I do not know the caliber of the revolver. It was a new make of some sort, and worked automatically. That is about all I can tell you of the affair. I have sent word to Mr. Field in New York, and he told me over the long distance telephone that he would start for Chicago at once.”
The butler, when sought for a statement as to the circumstances under which he found Mr. Field in the dressing room, was said to have left the Field house. The nurse would not say anything at all concerning the shooting.
Los Angeles Times, November 23, 1913
Jail has made a purported historian of Mrs. Vera Scott, arousing her to tell with all the tainted wisdom of the night the two great events of her life. Each was a killing. She murdered her former husband, Reese Prosser, she tells the police and reporters. But that is not all.
Before that, she declared she had murdered Marshall Field, Jr., the heir to the merchant prince of Chicago. This latter assertion of hers is not credited in Chicago, in fact it is denied with emphasis.
Which was the more exciting, she doesn’t know. With a laugh at the awe she arouses the woman goes busily into the alleged details of that night when the word was flashed forth that the male heir of Marshall Field, the great merchant, was seriously injured by the bullet from a weapon which he held in his own hand. It was accidental, the world was told and that this is still maintained. Nothing to the contrary was ever shown.
Vera Scott says it was not. With undaunted jest she will go into the minutest detail, tell it with the callousness that comes from an experience as wide and deep as black sin itself, and apparently enjoy it the more because she is recounting one more man who, she asserts, became a servant to her presence.
Around these two great events, she garlands the minor excitements and “romances” of her life, such as becoming the the fiancee of a Russian count while she was an exile because of the Chicago murder, she says, and of looting the treasure from a thousand purses, where the treasurer had become her slave for the time.
She is in the City Jail because she pleaded guilty several days ago to a charge of vagrancy. Under indecent conditions she was found several days ago in the company of a ribald companion in her prestigious bungalow on West Ninth street. Police Judge White gave her a six months’ sentence.
Yesterday Mrs. Scott wrapped her bathrobe—the only outer garment she wears—about her and proceeded to review the past, musing gayly over the two greatest exploits as she views them.
Her whole life has been criminal by her own confessions. Many laws she has not transgressed, but all the license that the wisdom of the night carries she became adept in. Three times she has been married, three times divorced. Two murders she have committed she says. Innumerable men she has been engaged to. To her it is merely life.
Her view of life came from her work as a chorus girl. In the ranks she played in “Hoity-Toity” and “Hanky-Panky.”
As Viola Gilmore she was known to her associates. There she chose her lot with the people of darkness. There was nothing, she says, that she did not learn.
The early evening at the theater, and the late evening of the cafe, she recalls, and Viola Gilmore went dancing into the eddies of hysteric gayety that have made police court names for many young women.
There she resolved her theory of life, her motto for the future. It was simply: “Get the money.” She says:
Mother and father were born in Paris, but came to America before I was born. I am a daughter of Chicago. My parents’ names were Leroy and Evelyn La Gardineer. My father was a well-to-do merchant and stock broker,
I never had much patience to do as other girls do. I wanted some action. Believe me, it has always been my boast that I wanted people to call me clever instead of pretty and nice. Give me brains and let virtue look elsewhere for friendship.
I went to New York, and got into the chorus. I was getting to kn ow the ropes pretty wel;l. Why shouldn’t I? It doesn’t take many late dinners to get you acquainted with the lobster path.
SHE GRANS ONE.
So, when Louis Clarkson came along, I grabbed him. He was a broker in Wall street at the time, making lots of money, and spending it. That’s the emphasis you always get from me—spending it. I like spenders. That’s the difference between life and existence—spenders.
He fell for me and I married him. Poor fellow, he’s dead now. It’s just as well, though. Well, I divorced him after a few months. You know I was born in 1885. Kid the camera along if you can, so it won’t tell any exaggerated accuracies about my age.
After Clarkson, came Reese Prosser. He was the son of Thomas Prosser of Cleveland, a coal king worth many millions. I had quite a lot of money at the time. My parents left me a comfortable amount when they died, and Reese had some. He spent lots of money and we got along well until he became savage. Besides, I wanted liberties. So I took them. I always have had to take liberties, anyway.
I came to California and then went back. We lived in Cleveland, and we had a little boy. He is still living. Don’t let him know about this.
Then one day I decided I wanted to have a little merrier time. Reese and I hadn’t been getting along well, anyway. So I went to Chicago. I had money, and stopped at the Annex hotel. One day, while I was sitting in the grill, George Ebret, the rich New York brewer, came up to my table and told me he wanted me to meet some friends. I had known him in New York City.
He introduced me to David Warfield, and Marshall Field, Jr. Well, Marshall Field, Jr., took a fancy to me. I told him that I was a married woman, had a baby, and that I was going by the name of Vera LeRoy. That’s the mysterious and beautiful Vera, the French girl, that was mentioned later in connection with his death.
As Ver LeRoy I went with him on the numerous parties that he arranged for my benefit.
After I had been out with him half a dozen times, perhaps, and he was getting familiar, he said he was going to a real party for me. I laughed and said ‘hurry.’
We started out in a group, but the rest suddenly drifted off. We went down the line. You know that line in Chicago, down Armour avenue and Dearborn street that he said was the Everleigh Club. I didn’t know exactly what kind of place it was. We went in, and the appointments were so magnificent that I thought it was a regular club. Men and women were there, the lights were subdued, and everyone was drinking. I thought I had gotten into the gayest party I ever saw.
THE ALLEGED KILLING.
Field seemed to be know. Everybody called him by name, and the woman in charge, Emma Everleigh, gave him the courtesy of a private room. We went there. Then came horrible things. We were in the room with a girl named Alice—just the three of us. He injured me. I jumped up and I remembered he had a gun in his trousers..
I was inflamed with drink and crazy mad. I told him that I would teach him never to do that kind of trick again.
Then Alice told me that he was particularly brutal, and not to notice what had occurred. She evidently mistook me, for I was there under a misunderstanding. I aimed the gun at Field and told him to stand aside. He was without clothes. The trigger must have been very finely set, for it pulled before I intended.
Field fell, mortally hurt, November 23, 1905.
Emma Everleigh, Alice, Field and I were the only ones in the room. All of us saw the shooting.
Field said to me, ‘Don’t get excited, I won’t tell. Call me a cab, quick, and get me out of this, and don’t say anything.’
I fainted. Things were reeling so fast that I couldn’t stand, and the next I knew I was going away in a cab, alone. Field was in another cab. He went to his home and I went to a small family hotel on the North Side. The next day Field’s father came to me. He told me to get out of the city, to go to New York, and he gave me $10,000 to use. I didn’t leave for several days. Each day I went to another hotel, at the request of a Field representative.
Then I went to New York. I stayed there until more money could come from the Field agent, and then West, against their wishes. I wanted to see a man in Portland and then go to the Orient. They insisted that I go abroad.
I got about $26,000 out of the Fields for leaving the country.
Then I went to the Orient. In Shanghai I met a gay crowd. Among them was Count George Padowski, who had much money. I promised to marry him and he gave me a beautiful set of pearls and other jewels. Then I left when I got tired of the country.
I came back quietly and went to Cleveland where Reese Prosser, my husband, who knew nothing about the Field affair, was glad to have me back.
In 1910 I met LeRoy Scott, fell in love with him, and told my husband that we must get a divorce. I got one against his wish. That was in Seattle. Then he followed when I was going to meet Scott, and I had to shoot him on the train in Montana. I had a trial in Libby, Mont. You wouldn’t believe it, but four of those jurors went crazy about me and I had a terrible time later in getting rid of them. They wrote me letters and wanted to come and meet me. But that’s no fun.
I picked 350 four-leaf clovers while waiting for that trial. It was not so bad.
So this is the first time I ever was in jail, really, for in Montana they let me stay in the hotel. And I couldn’t stay in jail for six months. So I guess we’ll have to have a little delivery.
For her own vanity as indulgence, she had to tell many other stories, always of men.
“I’m clever,” she said several times, “and I don’t care what else I am.
“Well, that’s two men that I have shot. I wonder who the third will be. You know it’s funny about the clovers. I had one in my shoe when I killed Field.”
She fumbled in her bathrobe, a bunglesome affair, grotesque in midday.
“Oh, well,” she said. “I’ve done something in life, anyway. I’m not going to die obscure.”
She laughed, reached in her pocket again, and twirled a morsel in her fingers.
“I wonder,” she mused, “if I have got to kill a third man.”
And from her hand dropped a head of clover. It had four leaves!
Los Angeles Times, November 23, 1913
CHICAGO BUREAU OF THE TIMES, Nov. 22.—[Executive Dispatch.] There has always been more or less mystery as to the real cause, or, to be more explicit, the actual stage of the shooting which caused the death of Marshall Field, Jr., only son of the late merchabnt prince of Chicago. That Field died of a bullet wound has been fairly well established, although there occasionally creeps out a story that he was stabbed. It is strenuously denied here that Mrs. Scott or any other woman had any connection with his death.
The account accepted and published by the Chicago papers, and which probably is the correct version, is that he was accidentally shot while examining an automatic pistol, one of a collection he owned. This happened on November 23, 1905, and he died four days later. In the interim there were many sensational rumors and these did not subside for many months. One rumor that was industriously circulated by cabmen and habitues of the underworld was that he was shot in a disorderly house and secretly rushed in a cab to his own residence, several blocks distant.
The yellow press worked assiduously upon this rumor, but never could verify it to the point where it could be published. Another rumor was to the effect that Field had been shot during a quarrel in a fashionable club, also a few blocks from his home, and had been taken there when it was learned he could not survive.
Still another version was that Field was the victim of a discharged butler. All these stories, and many others of similar character, were run down by the newspapers, but nothing tangible could ever be found to warrant any of them. Servants in the house told of Field getting a pistol of the very latest automatic pattern on the afternoon he was shot.
His wife was absent from the house at the time and he unpacked the delivery case in the presence of one or two of the servants. After examining the weapon critically, he loaded it and then started to remove the cartridges, when it was discharged, the bullet penetrating his groin and stomach. He had at first intended loading the revolver and taking it with him on a hunting trip to Wisconsin, but afterward decided to draw the cartridges.
This was when the accidental discharge occurred.
INTRODUCTION: “THE DAY BOOK”
The Day Book was conceived by newspaper mogul Edward Willis Scripps as an experiment in advertisement-free newspaper publishing. The Chicago Day Book was published for a working-class readership Monday through Saturday from September 28, 1911 to July 6, 1917. Scripps chose Chicago, with its large working-class population, as the venue for the first of what he hoped would become a chain of ad-free newspapers. Free from commercial influence, the Day Book would report on issues of concern to what Scripps called the “95 percent” of the population. Priced at one cent, like the other Chicago dailies of the period, the Day Book was published in a small tabloid format of nine by six inches, with 32 pages per issue. The small format was one of many strategies Scripps used to hold down publishing costs, along with bulk purchase of newsprint for all of his newspapers and the use of features created by Scripps’s Newspaper Enterprise Association.
Circulation of the Day Book peaked at 22,839 in October 1916, and January 1917 was the only profitable month in the paper’s six-year run. Although the Day Book never achieved Scripps’s goal of 30,000 subscribers and 15 percent annual profit, scholars recognize its achievements in adopting both a new business model for newspaper publishing and a new style of advocacy journalism.
The Day Book’s most celebrated reporter was Carl Sandburg, who wrote for the paper from early 1913 until its cessation in the summer of 1917.
The Day Book publisher, N. D. Cochran, published the Los Angeles confession story in the November 24, 1913 edition. He followed the story up with this editorial four days later.
The Day Book, November 28, 1913
With an adless newspaper on sale in Chicago, the people can begin to understand the need for a free press in this country.
This has been illustrated frequently by the publication of real news in The Day Book that was suppressed by newspapers that are under obligation to their advertisers.
It was never better illustrated than within the past few days, when the big newspapers all over the country published the story of Vera Scott’s confession that she shot Marshall Field, Jr., in the notorious Everleigh Club in Chicago’s red-light district, and not a loop newspaper in Chicago printed a word of the story.
Vera Scott. formerly Prosser, made her confession to the Los Angeles police on Saturday. Both the United Press and the Associated Press carried the story in the Saturday night report for Sunday morning papers. And Chicago was the only city in the United States where the story aboutthe shooting of a Chicago milllonaire was not published.
It makes no difference whether Vera Scott’s confession was a true or not. The fact that she. confessed having shot Marshall Field, Jr. whose death has always been a mystery in Chicago, made it an important news story-and especially to Chicago people.
It requires no stretch of the imagination to understand why Chicago newspapers suppressed a big news story that other big newspapers all over the country published.
THE MARSHALL FIELD STORE IS LOCATED IN CHICAGO, AND SPENDS MANY THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS ANNUALLY WITH THE NEWSPAPERS THAT SUPPRESSED THE STORY.
It wasn’t because the newspapers feared Vera Scott’s story was not true, for a similar confession about the killing of an ordinary citizen of Chicago would have been published on the first page of every Chicago daily under big headlines.
But to Chicago papers there appears to be something out of the ordinary, if not sacred, about the name of Field. When the late Marshall Field, the merchant prince, was alive the Chicago newspapers slobbered over him every chance they got. He was made one of Chicago’s gods, through the influence of the newspapers that got monthly checks from the big store for newspaper advertising.
Marshall Field’s powerful influence in Chicago was the power of his vast fortune; and he was the greatest exploiter of labor Chicago ever knew. The men, women and children who worked in his big store were paid miserably small wages. Yet no newspaper dared make a fight for a living wage for them because the newspapers were getting part of the money he made out of cheap labor.
When his son died it was rumored all over town’ that he had been shot in the Everleigh Club by a woman. But there was no danger of newspaper publicity that would be disagreeable to the Field family. For the Fields were enormously rich, had the biggest store in town and spent hundreds of thousands a year for advertising.
But though both the father and son are dead and have gone to their reward, the magic influence of the Field name and the Field store is still felt wherever their advertisements are printed.
The power to give and to withhold newspaper advertising gives undue prominence and influence to the men who control it. It isn’t the influence of persqnality. It is the influence of MONEY.
Suppose one of the most prominent labor leaders in the country were shot in a Chicago resort—do YOU believe there would be enough influence in Chicago to prevent the big newspapers from printing the truth? .
Suppose a woman had confessed in Los Angeles that she had shot a prominent labor leader in a Chicago resort—do YOU believe the story would have been printed or suppressed?
Yet there isn’t an honest, sincere labor leader in this country who isn’t a better citizen in every true sense of the word than either of the Marshall Fields was. For a labor leader is forever trying to better the conditions of the workers, while the greedy Fields exploited men, women and children for their own inordinate profit.
Chicago newspapers are not alone in this subserviency to rich advertisers. Recently “Holy John” Wanamaker, the merchant prince of Philadelphia, was caught defrauding the United States government, and confessed his guilt by paying a fine of $100,000. Yet none ot the newspapers in Philadelphia that print his store advertisements published a word about the “holy” hypocrite’s fraud upon the government.
The newspapers that eat out of Wanamaker’s hand in Philadelphia have made a little tin god of that merchant prince, just as the Chicago newspapers made a little tin god of the lat~ Marshall Field.
Now if newspapers will suppress news to please advertisers in one instance, they will do it in another. If advertisers enjoy special privilege as to public1ty, how long will the people of this republic have faith in the truth of what they read in the newspapers?
How long are the people going to permit newspaper publishers to determine who are the “prominent,” “leading” and “best” citizens, when they become convinced that money influences the judgment of those publishers?
The really important thing in the Vera Scott confession is not whether or not her story is true. It really doesn’t make much difference whether Marshall Field, Jr., shot himself or was shot by somebody else. The big thing in the story is that the newspapers that get money from the Field store for advertising suppressed it. For that helps people to see that our boasted free press is not free at all, but is a slave to its advertising patrons.
There isn’t an honest reporter or editor on anyone of the big newspapers in the loop who doesn’t know that he is hampered in giving the people the truth by the powerful influence of advertisers through the business office.
It would take pages to enumerate the news stories in The Day Book during the past two years that were suppressed by every newspaper in the loop.
People have been killed in elevator accidents in State street department stores, and the news suppressed. Last winter The Day Book printed several stories of accidents in department stores that appeared in no other Chicago newspaper.
Recently the Field store grabbed valuable public rights beneath the streets; and none of the advertising newspapers protested. Later the big ore hogged a whole block of street while building operations were on; and the newspapers kept quiet.
The influence of the Field millions is so powerful that the Field store can do about what it pleases to do in Chicago.
When the O’Hara committee of the Illinois senate investigated low wages in department stores, the newspapers grudgingly printed parts of the evidence, and then had hypocritical reformers and uplifterS write dope to prove that there was no connection between vice and low wages.
Not one of them lifted its voice for a living wage for the clerks in the employ of the big advertisers. They licked the hand that fed them.
This kind of slavery can’t go on forever. The people won’t stand for it. They will insist on a free press that is free to print the truth, without fear of punishment by Big Business.
They will insist on having newspapers that will be on the square with their readers.
Newspapers like The Day Book will spring into existence, and the people will depend upon them for the truth. The Day Book is but the beginning of a revolution in journalism, the forerunner of a really FREE press.
Those who have been reading The Day Book and have got accustomed to its odd size and brief manner of handling the news have found that there is more real news in every issue of The Day Book than there is in any other daily newspaper in Chicago.
And, best of all, it is under no obligation to Big Business, because it does not and will not accept advertising at any price or under any consideration. It is the only real NEWSpaper in Chicago. And it can be made to pay as a business venture without a penny’s worth of advertising in it.
I haven’t published the news about the Vera Scott confession because I find any pleasure in printing that kind of news. I wanted to illustrate a point. This story illustrates it. I wanted to show how most newspapers are slaves to their advertisers, and how an adless newspaper alone can be free.
The Day Book, November 28, 1913
MRS. SCOTT PROSSER KNOWN AS “VERA, THE FRENCH GIRL”
Ver Scott Prosser, who confessed and later denied she killed Marshall Field , Jr., was an inmate of the Everleigh Club about the time of the Field shooting, according to several of the old-timers in the red-light district.
In those days she was known as “Vera, the French girl.” Mrs. Scott Prosser says she is French, her real name being eVra Le Gardineer.
When. Field was shot under such mysterious circumstances 8 years ago, eVra’s name was intimately connected with his death. A French waiter met her two days afterward and she showed him a large amount and explained she was going West. The next day she left for Kansas City. Mrs. Prosser’s second husband, Leroy Scott, is from Kansas City.
Vera, the French girl, was well known in the old days. She seemed to possess a veritable genius for entangling the gilded youth who insisted on sewing his wild oats on “The Line.” None of the other girls were more artful than she.
She is described by those who knew her as impulsive, neurotic , hot-tempered, jealous, winsome. coquettish and fanciful. Mrs. Prosser is described by the people of Cincinnati, where she lived with Reese Prosser, as possessing all these characteristics.
“Vera was a wonder at getting the money when she wanted to be,” said a man who knew her, “but she was
a little devil when she had been drinking. The Everleigh sisters used to have to threaten to throw her out. But she didn’t seem to care. She’d go right on fighting. And they wouldn’t throw her out because she had too many suckers come there to buy wine. After the Field affair she disappeared completely. I heard a lot of rumors concerning her. These rumors had her all over the world.”