It turned out that Matilda Roome was renting the flat for Philadelphia Businessman and president of the Boston Gas Company, John Addicks. By the time Addicks took up residence at 1042, he was already steeped in scandal.
JOHN EDWARD ADDICKS
Born in 1841, Addicks began his career in the wholesale business of dry goods, later turning to real estate. By 1905, the year he moved to 1042 Bloomfield Street, he had married three times. His first wife had died, his second wife, Rosalie Butcher—the sister of his first wife—ended the marriage in divorce after his affair with their neighbor, Ida Carr Wilson, was revealed. Not being a total scoundrel, he planned to marry Wilson, but his marriage plans to her in 1894 came during a time when Addicks had great senatorial aspirations and the scandal did not bring much favor. Despite making his mistress honorable by marrying her, he subsequently disowned his daughter, Florence, from his first marriage, when she sided with her aunt (and evidently stepmother) during the divorce.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Union Republicans were expecting Addicks to succeed the seat of Anthony Higgins, Delaware senator. However, he was scathingly denounced by Senator Thurston of Nebraska at the National Committee hearing as a “traitor to republicanism,” and later in the debate referred to as “that creature” and a “moral idiot” because of his continuous attempts to buy his way into the senatorship. However scathing the accusations, Addicks continued to vie for the senatorial seat and invested a great amount of money on voters and legislators in an attempt to buy his position. Based on the great amount of money he had spent in the process he claimed he was “entitled to the senatorship.” But after thirteen years of "investing," Addicks’ financial wealth began to run thin and his third wife was filing for divorce. He never did obtain the office of senator and was not well liked by many.
In all his difficulties though, he had one loyal fan. Matilda Roome, his secretary who secured the flat at 1042. Roome had become quite instrumental and successful in securing properties for Addicks throughout his career. She was quite the speculator on his behalf and craftily obtained properties which were then sold for a great profit. Now, in 1905, she was attempting to secure another property—1042 Bloomfield Street. Her friendship to the owner, Henrietta Fischer, looked suspicious to Fischer’s son, Emil Schmidt, who claimed his mother was being hypnotized by Roome. He said Roome rented an apartment for Addicks’ use. From that point she began to make a fuss over his mother, brought her to meet President Roosevelt in Washington, and then eagerly encouraged Fischer to sell her property telling her that there was no profit in renting it out. But before the transaction could come to fruition Roome suddenly and inexplicably exited to Paris leaving Addicks to take care of the rent.
FLIGHT OF THE “MYSTERIOUS OLD MAN”
From the time Roome secured the flat at 1042 for Addicks in 1905, the wannabe senator spent a couple of days a week there incognito. Times were becoming difficult for him and he soon failed to pay for the flat for a couple of months Fischer later claimed. His financial woes became even more obvious when his identity as the tenant at 1042 was revealed. Hoboken police approached a man who had stationed himself outside of 1042 in the shadows. When it came to their attention, they approached him to discover he was waiting to serve the well-known John Edward Addicks with a subpoena for other unpaid bills. Until then, no one had known that Addicks was the “mysterious old man,” as the Seattle Daily Times dubbed him, living at 1042 Bloomfield Street. Since Addicks had not been seen for several days the police and Fischer became concerned that he might be dead in the apartment. The police broke into his room to find it in “great confusion, as though they had been a scene of a hasty flight.” A gas bill and several tradesmen’s bills were strewn on a table in the apartment. It is believed that Addicks, realizing that he had been found out, took the fire escape to avoid being seen and fled to Philadelphia.
The subpoena went undelivered and Fischer’s 1907 accusation of non-payment went unanswered. In 1919, Addicks passed away, and while there is no evidence to suggest that Fischer ever recovered the unpaid rent, she wisely took possession of her building at 1042 by 1920. There she lived with her son and his wife where they took in only two boarders and their spouses—a patent attorney and a designer of cloaks. The beautiful brownstone with a storied past is gorgeously restored, waiting for the next residents and new stories.
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