All posts for the month February, 2015


East Capitol Street from the U.S. Capitol, Washington 1870

Looking East from the United States Capitol

On January 4, Lillian rebutted the charges and the nature of the letters she wrote to Giro by stating in the press by stating that she rebuffed Giro’s advances and that Giro had pleaded with her consummate his feelings. (NYT 1/5/1881) The proceedings were halted on January 17, because of Isaac failure to pay the support he had been ordered to by the court to his wife. (NYT 1/18/1881) The defense brought forward Miss Lillie Meloy who testified concerning the meeting of Giro and Lillian on December 24, 1878. To summarize Giro asked to meet Lillian at the Washington depot as he was arriving from New York. She was present during the entire conversation between the couple and she accompanied Lillian home from the train station. On Christmas Day Lillie stated that Lillian was ill and remained on the sofa in the dining room until Giro’s visit in the evening when Lillian met with him supervised by her parents. (NYT 4/13/1881) The trial resumed with a delay, Edward Chase Ingersoll, Isaac consul sought to cross examine both Lillian’s mother and Miss Meloy who both plead illness and declined to testify. (NYT 5/27/1881) The accusations made by both Isaac and Lillian about the other reached absurd proportions. At one point Ambrose Folliott testified that Isaac approached him to treat his wife for the aftereffects on an abortion that Isaac performed on his wife in July of 1876. Under cross examination he admitted to having performed on in the past but the charge was dropped. (NYT 8/20/1881, NYT 8/25/1881 and NYT 10/5/1881)

Upon his return from Peru in September of 1881, Isaac booked a room at the National Hotel in New York. After leaving his room for the evening he returned to find it burglarized and $6,000 in jewelry entrusted to his care stolen.[1] When he returned from a meeting with his counsel he was handed a letter by the clerk at the National Hotel from Dr. French Lugenbeel, Lillian’s brother challenging him to a duel, Isaac polite declined. (NYT 9/17/1881)

On October 8, 1881 Lillian took the stand and testified about the long standing abuse Isaac had inflicted upon her over the entire length of their marriage. Her testimony continued on October 10 regarding her time with the Christiancy family in Lansing, where she said they all the Christiancy children except the youngest were addicted to drink and that their actions so revolted her that she requested a separate residence. Under cross examination Lillian denied that she was the author of two letters written to Giro on December 21, 1879 and June 26, 1880 even though they appeared to be in her handwriting. Dr. Victor Christiancy of Leavenworth, Kansas testified that he was familiar with Lillian’s handwriting and the letters from purportedly written from Lillian to Giro were in her hand and genuine. Mrs. Mary F. Lugenbeel, Lillian’s mother testified on November 28, that when she visited her daughter in Lansing in 1877 she witnessed abuse on Isaac part and drunkenness as a regular occasion in the home and that Isaac and one of his consul were regularly drunk, Edward Chase Ingersoll, Isaac’s consul objected to this statement and the Lillian had prompted her mother during her testimony. (NYT 10/9/1881, NYT 10/11/1881, NYT 10/30/1881, NYT 11/13/1881, and NYT 11/29/1881)

As the case came to its conclusion the United States Postal Service was brought in to testify that Lillian frequently visited the Post Office to pick up letters for a Mrs. K.K. Wharton a last name that Giro registered Lillian as in New York City upon her return from Peru. Lillian denied the accusation. (NYT 4/21/1882)

May 25, 1882 Isaac testified that he tried to convince Lillian before the wedding that the age difference between them was to great and that he was at the end of his life and she was at the beginning of hers. Isaac also testified that he loved her and if she felt the same then the marriage would take place. Lillian assured him that the age was no problem and that they should marry. Immediately after the wedding a James Legenbeel who had once been engaged to Lillian but broke off the relationship, appeared and Lillian expressed to Isaac that she still loved James and asked for a divorced in order to pursue the liaison. When the couple retuned home Lillian was committed to the marriage until she met Frank Anderson at a gallery, at the point her old feelings for James came back and her feeling alternated between a love for James and for Frank. Isaac also testified that Lillian also grew fond of Sam Register of Baltimore and a Mr. Meyer. Isaac supported his testimony with a letter he sent to Lillian’s father on August 18, 1878 when he related these events to him. Isaac also brought supporting letters from Frank Anderson to Lillian. (NYT 5/26/1882) This was no easy case, Mr. Harper the stenographer in the Christiancy case filed with the clerk 4000 folios concerning the case; so many that they had to be brought to the clerk’s office in a market basket. (NYT 7/25/1882)

On September 20, 1882 Judge Hagner granted Isaac Christiancy a divorce from Lillian on the grounds of desertion and not adultery. (NYT 9/21/1882) The original suit filed by Isaac was for adultery, Lillian counter sued for cruelty. Both suits were withdrawn and Isaac resubmitted a suit for desertion and adultery. After reviewing the testimony Judge Hagner ruled on the desertion suit and granted the divorce. Judge Hagner decided not to enlarge the suit to contain adultery no alimony payments would be required. The estimated cost of the suit paid by Isaac was $10,000. (NYT 9/24/1882)

After the divorce Isaac and Lillian went there separate ways. Isaac retuned to Lansing where his heath deteriorated and he spent the majority of the time defending his name. (LRTW 1/12/1884) Isaac Peckham Christiancy died at his home on September 8, 1890 surrounded by his family and friends. (SR 9/9/1890 see also SR 8/21/1890 for a review of his life)

Lillian M. Lugenbeel life after her divorce was no so kind the New York Times described the she died a “raging lunatic”. In November of 1883 Lillian arrived in Brooklyn, New York to spend time with a school friend who lived at 35 Schermerhorn Street. Since there was no room suitable for Lillian she rented a room from a female physician, Dr. Dupre. Lillian was known to Dr. Dupre as Miss Lizzie Lugenbeel. Lillian had developed a Chloral addiction, it needs to be pointed out that Dr. Dupre did not treat or proscribe medications for Lillian.[2] Within a few days, Lillian became agitated and violent. Lillian’s friends became concerned and sought out medical help for Lillian. The doctor recognized Lillian as the former wife of Senator Christiancy and informed Dr. Dupre. Lillian confessed to Dr. Dupre who she was and claimed to be a ‘hunted woman’ and was afraid Dr. Dupre would turn her out. Dr. Dupre reassured her that this would not happen and Lillian became very calm, stating that she would like to write here parents. Lillian’s parents were summoned to New York, in the mean time Lillian left Dr. Dupre’s home and went to the city, when she retuned the next night she was incoherent and upset. Dr. Dupre sedated her with Chloral and left the room, when she retuned it was discovered that Lillian had drunk the entire bottle. Death followed soon afterward. The autopsy of Lillian’s body listed the cause of death as Bright ’s disease of the kidneys. Her parents arrived too late to see their daughter’s last hours. (NYT 12/14/1883 and NYT 12/15/1883)


Senator Isaac P. Christiancy

As a fitting commentary on the divorce suit brought by Isaac P. Christiancy, his main consul Edward Chase Ingersoll was committed to the St. Elizabeth’s Asylum for the Insane in June of 1882. Edward was the son of George W. and Henrietta (née Crosby) Ingersoll, George was the Attorney General of the State of Maine at the time of his death in 1860. Little of Edward’s early life is known; he attended Bowdoin College in Maine and practiced law in Washington D.C with the firm of Cuppy & Ingersoll who severed as legal counsel to Isaac P. Christiancy. Edward began to show mental instability during the Christiancy divorce proceedings. Edward essentially accepted Lillian’s proposal to dismiss the adult charge and accept the desertion charge contrary to Isaac’s instructions. Soon afterwards Edward entered St. Elizabeth’s and he never came out. Edward Chase Ingersoll died at St. Elizabeth’s on December 24, 1883.[3] (NYT 12/25/1883 and LRTW 1/12/1884)

[1] So who stole the jewelry? Well it was a conspiracy of local law enforcement and criminals. NYT 2/26/1883 and NYT 3/14/1883)

[2] Chloral was once used as sedative and hypnotic drug. The user who develops a habit becomes a physical, mental and moral wreck.

[3] It is interesting to note that in the Lansing Republican article Isaac kept referring to Judge Cuppy; in fact the justice who oversaw his case was Judge Hagner. Cuppy served on his defense team. It may have been a sign of Isaac’s mental deterioration.

© Lost Lansing 2014

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Isaac Peckham Christiancy 1812-1890

Isaac Peckham Christiancy was born in Johnstown, New York on March 12, 1812 the son of Thomas and Zelpha (née Peckham) Christiancy.[1] He attended the local schools and the Johnstown and Ovid Academies. Isaac began to study law in New York then moved to Monroe, Michigan in 1836 to complete his law studies. While in Monroe he obtained a position in the Federal Land Grants Office specializing in Spanish and French land grants in the southeastern area of Michigan. Between 1841-1846 Isaac served as the Prosecuting Attorney for Monroe County. Isaac interest in politics increased over the years and he served as state senator in 1850 and 1851 and served as leader of the Free Soil party in 1852 as a candidate for Governor where the party lost badly. After his defeat Isaac worked diligently to merge the Free Soil and old Whig Parties, which helped to form the basis of the Republican Party. In 1856 he was a delegate to the first Republican National Convention, which was held at the Musical Fund Hall in Philadelphia. In 1857 he was elected as an associate justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, reelected to the court for two more terms he served until 1875, and served at Chief Justice of the court in 1872-1874. The race U.S. Senator in 1874 was a hotly contested campaign that pitted Chief Justice Christiancy against sitting Senator Zachariah Chandler; Christiancy won and became a member of the 44th United States Congress. Isaac would serve until February 10, 1879 when he resigned due to poor health and Zachariah Chandler who passed away on October 31, 1879 filled his seat. Isaac returned briefly to Lansing to recover his health, he was appointed United States Minister to Peru 1879-1881; serving there throughout the Peruvian-Chilean War.

On November 16, 1839 Isaac married Miss Elizabeth E. McClosky; the couple would have eight children, Henry C., James I., Mary, William, Caroline, Victor H., John W., and George C. Christiancy. Isaac’s son James Isaac Christiancy was awarded the Medal of Honor for extraordinary heroism for his actions on May 28, 1864, while serving with 9th Michigan Cavalry, Company D in action at the Battle of Haw’s Shop, Virginia. First Lieutenant Christiancy voluntarily led a part of the line into the battle, and was wounded several times. Tragically Elizabeth would pass away on December 13, 1874. (SRW 12/18/1874)


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Lillian M. Christiancy 1854-1883

On February 8, 1876 Isaac married Miss Lillian M. Lugenbeel, a women 42 years his junior. Lillian worked at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and roomed at the same boarding house as Senator Christiancy. There are facts about there meeting that are unclear. It is known that both Isaac and Lillian boarded at a rooming house managed by Warren and Susan Choate at 310 Indiana Avenue, NW.[2] While the Lansing Republican states that “Her [Lillian’s] mother kept a boarding-house on Indiana avenue, where the senator had rooms” (LRTW 3/20/1880). The most credible source the District of Columbia Directories, just where the Lansing Republican assertion originated is unknown. The marriage was a disaster almost from the start. Isaac used his patronage to find positions for Lillian’s family within the Federal Government; however, Isaac’s older resented their new stepmother which was returned by Lillian. Isaac resignation from the senate was rumored to have occurred because of his desire to separate his children from their new stepmother as was his acceptance as the United States representative to Peru. (LRTW 3/20/1880)

Lillian did not travel with her husband to Peru, but followed on a later steamer and returned to Washington D.C. in the fall of 1879. Just who was Lillian M. Lugenbeel? Lillian was born on July 30, 1854 in Virginia to John W. and Marry F. (nee Simpson) Lugenbeel. Little of Lillian’s early life is unknown; when she met the Senator she was working as a clerk in the Treasury Department and was described in a letter to the Lansing Republican as “a beautiful blonde, with a round face, plump figure, and pleasant manners.” (LRTW 3/20/1880

In 1880 while Isaac was in Peru he filed for divorce from Lillian citing her unfaithfulness. Lillian cited acts of abuse by Isaac where he slapped and choked his wife a several occasions. Why did this abuse occur? Lillian relates a story told to her in 1874 by Victor Christiancy that his father met with Zachariah Chandler to make arrangements for Isaac to resign from the senate to be replaced by Chandler. With the bonus could have a diplomatic position in Peru or Central America and that President Hayes and that there would be a bonus for Isaac’s retirement from the senate. Lillian asserted that Isaac was made aware that Lillian knew of the deal between Chandler and Isaac at the time of her visit to Peru. At that point Isaac persecution of Lillian began full force with his wife accusing him of abuse and being an opium-eater. In May of 1880 Isaac filed for divorce from his wife citing infidelity. Edward Chase Ingersoll filed for Isaac and served as his legal consul, J.N. Oliver represented Lillian. Isaac accused Lillian of adultery at specific times with different persons and the she visited a house of ill-repute kept by Duschka White with a well known public official. Lillian contended the she visited the house with the public official to learn how his brother was ruined and died because of his visits to Mrs. White’s home. The whole account is fascinating material that today would be the focus of social media today. (NYT 5/15/1880)

In December of 1880 Michigan Representative Edwin Willits traveled to New York City as Isaac’s consul to interview Mr. Edil Giro who was cited in the divorce as being one of the men Lillian has relations with. A hotel clerk in Washington originally stated the Lillian occupied a room with Giro, but later withdrew his statement; however Isaac claimed he had letters that substantiated his claim. (NYT 12/27/1880) This gets better and better, has anything really changes in Washington?

On January 2, 1881 Edil Giro took the stand for Mr. Christiancy and testified that he was introduced to Lillian by Mr. Ruiz a Peruvian banker on the return voyage from Lima. When the party returned to the United States Giro, registered at the St. Nicholas Hotel in New York City as Mrs. H.H. Wharton at her request. Lillian he related visited him at the St. James Hotel, after having dined with Giro and another woman. The defense moved to strike this testimony citing the Giro was intimidated by a Commissioner. (NYT 1/3/1881)

Next the conclusion of the story.

[1] Christiancy birth date was also listed as May 12, 1912.

[2] The District of Columbia directory for 1876 listed that the Boarding House at 310 Indiana Avenue was managed by Susan G Choate, the widow of Warren Choate. Both Isaac and Lillian are listed as residents.

© Lost Lansing 2014