Colorful Life of Sidmon and Isabel McHie
Strange The strange tale of Isabel McHie, wealthy and eccentric wife of Times' founder Sidmon McHie, continued long after her death in 1939. All her adult life, the one-time Floradora Girl feared that someone would relieve her of her bard-earned fortune. She trusted no one, especially not her husband. Routinely she slept with a loaded revolver under her pillow, sometimes withdrawing and brandishing it to the bonification of McHie. She did not even trust hospitals. Once, when she required an operation, she insisted that McHie reproduce a hospital operating room in their New York Fifth Avenue home, which he did. Most of all, though. Isabel feared that she would be poisoned, possibly by a family member, and that the poisoner would somehow claim her vast wealth. For this reason she included some extraordinary provisions in her final will. First she reauired that an autoDSV be held. Second, she established a $25,000 fund to prosecute the person responsible for ner death. Third, she stiDulated that anyone claiming to be her father be declared an imposfer. Tale Lingers after C S By Archibald McKinlayl v LI J Naturally, reality fulfilled Isabel's long-harbored fears. In April, 1940, John J. Mulhall of San Antonio, Texas, appeared in a New York court claiming to be Isabel's father, the father Isabel and her mother believed dead for more than half a century. But when court onlookers tried to persuade Mrs. Mulhall to shake hands with the aged man, she scornfully turned away. John Mulhall's claim was also complicated by the fact that, at 89, be was a bit deaf. Because of his impaired hearing he had to have not one but two lawyers who took turns shouting at him. When he finally understood what they were saying, Mulhall shouted back the answers ana tne lawyers, despite their best efforts to avoid doing so, occasionally shouted their client's answers to the judge. The shouting match not withstanding, the trial proceeded and Mulhall, as evidence of his fatherhood, produced photographs of Isabel taken when she was a student in a Missouri convent. He also produced board bills he said he bad paid the convent. And to corroborate his testimony, Mulhall, believe it or not, produced a sister (his), Mrs. Mary Haskell of Denver. Finally the judge reached his decision and to avoid intermediaries he stood and shouted it to Mulhall who caught It with a hand cupped over one ear. Mulhall, the judge ruled, did indeed have the right to contest Isabel's will, which had left her entire estate, minus $6,000, to Seeing Eye, Inc. of Morristown, N.J., the organization that provides dogs for the blind. The piddling $6,000 was left to Mother Mulhall, who was already contesting Isabel's will. With his right to contest Isabel's will established, Mulhall joined with bis ex-wife to break the will, despite Mrs. Mulhall's intimation that John, Death while in fact her former husband, was not really Isabel's father. In any event, they succeeded. The court split Isabel's estate between Seeing Eye, Inc. and the Mulhalls. None of this sat too well with Sidmon McHie, however, who insisted that Isabel, because she had continued to harrass him, had violated a 1926 agreement in which McHie had waived his rights to Isabel's estate in exchange for peace of mind. So with his own estate, which once totaled more than $20 million; reduced (in part by Isabel) to just The Times and some real estate, McHie went to court. The federal District Court of Northern Indiana upheld his claim to the estate. Isabel's executors then appealed to the Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, which reversed the lower court. But with so much at stake, not only money but two decades of aggravation, McHie took the matter to the Supreme Court of the United States. Alas, the Supreme Court, In February 1943, refused to review Isabel's will. The lower court's finding stood up. And Isabel continued to bedevil her husband from the grave.