Monday, February 14, 2011

The "Scandalous" Marriage of Kendrick H. Tribou and Grace Whittaker, 1904


In January, 1904, Kendrick Harrison Tribou (1881-1960) of Middleborough and Grace Whittaker (1883-1968) of New York scandalized some local residents when they married without notice while the bride’s mother and step-father were absent in Connecticut. The reason for the surprise was the perceived insuperable financial and social differences between the couple. Tribou was an employee at Moreland Acres, the Marion Road estate of millionaire Clifford Read Weld of Boston (now the Fairhavens Rest Home) where Tribou helped tend the property on which Weld pursued his passion for horticulture. Miss Whittaker, the daughter of Weld’s wife Clarissa Rundle Lyons and her first husband Edward Welles Whittaker, was accustomed to moving in New York society and was rumored locally as a likely heiress to the Weld fortune. (This despite the fact that Weld had two daughters of his own, Elizabeth and Katherine).

No doubt suspecting that Grace's parents would disapprove of her choice of a husband, the young couple kept the nature of their relationship hidden from the Welds (as well as the remainder of the estate staff) until their sudden marriage on January 25, 1904, while the Welds were visiting Connecticut. Tipped off by an estate employee, the Welds returned immediately to Middleborough. James H. Creedon recounts the tale:

The residents of the south part of the town are greatly surprised over the marriage of Kendrick Harrison Tribou of this town and Miss Grace Whittaker, who claims New York as her home, though she lives with her mother, Mrs. Weld, at their country home here.

Tribou is about 25, of good appearance and for the past four years has been helper on the country estate of Clifford Weld in the portion of the town known as “the Neck.”

Miss Whittaker is the 20-year-old daughter of Mrs. Weld by a former marriage, has mingled in good society in New York, is accomplished and the neighbors at “the Neck” say she was educated at Wellesley.

It is also rumored that she stood a good chance to come in for some of the Weld fortune, which is estimated at about $1,000,000.

The marriage took place while Mr. and Mrs. Weld were in Connecticut. They have since returned, and are said to be considerably put out over the affair. Mr. Weld was seen today by a reporter, but declined to say anything on the subject.

Although it was known at the place that the young woman and Tribou were friendly, there was nothing which would lead one to believe there was anything ardent in their acquaintance.

Last Monday their marriage intentions were entered at the office of the town clerk A. H. Eaton, and a license was issued. They went to the residence of Rev. E. E. Williams of this town, and were married. They then returned to the Weld house, remaining till the next day, when they left.

According to the story told they went to Boston, and later to Plymouth, where they have been for several days.

Marriage record of Kendrick H. Tribou and Grace Whittaker,
Annual Report of the Town Officers of Middleborough,
Mass., for the Year 1904 (Middleborough, MA: Town of
Middleborough, 1905), p. 88.
Tribou returned to town this noon, coming from Plymouth. He was seen at the station and at first declared he knew nothing about the matter, but he later stated they were married here last Monday by Rev. E. E. Williams. He said he and his wife were at Plymouth for some days past, and that she was still there. When asked if he intended to return to Plymouth to work, he said he thought he would.

It seems that the young woman had charge of the place, Mr. and Mrs. Weld were gone and when it was decided that the time for the marriage had arrived. It is said, she requested Myles Standish, the head farmer, to hitch up a horse for them. It is also said she told him that a marriage was to take place, and on learning this he refused to hitch up the horse.

Roland Tinkham, another employee, loaned them his team to get to Rock village, at which point they could connect with steam or electric cars.

Standish, having heard of their securing a team, immediately followed the pair, and it is said he telephoned to Mrs. Weld. She returned home next day.

The Weld estate is one of the finest in town, and is situated on the Marion road, about seven miles from here.

For several years following their marriage, the Tribous resided at Clark's Island in Plymouth where Tribou found work as a farmer. By 1930, the couple appears to have reconciled with the Welds and had returned to Middleborough where they lived on Marion Road.  At the time, Tribou was employed as an estate care taker, possibly on the Weld estate. Despite the indignation and initial disapproval of the Welds, the young couple never wavered.  Kendrick Tribou and Grace Whittaker were wed for the remainder of their lives.

Source:
Unidentified newspaper clipping, February 1, 1904, James H. Creedon scrapbook, Mddleborough Public Library.

5 comments:

Laura said...

How funny the times back then were. Very scandalous! Another great article. Thanks again.

Susan Bkakeman (Lavoie) said...

That was very interesting..My mom was a Tribou wonder if we were related ..hmmmmmmm

Anonymous said...

They went on the have a wonderful son who married a wonderful, caring woman. They had three children. There are now two great grandsons of Kendrick Harrison Tribou and two great-great grandsons.

Ed Tribou said...

This Loving couple were my Grand Parents. They Loved each other very much. I heard several versions of this but basically the article is quite accurate. My Grandmother was however disinherited and never once ever regretted her decision to marry. Sad yet very touching story to how high society looked down on the lower class. My grandparents were very loving to my Father and his family. I am so happy to have know them. I still miss them to this very day.

Anonymous said...

They were destined to be, they had a very accomplished son, Commander Kendrick H. Tribou U.S. Navy (Ret).

http://marinecorpsmars.net/USN-MC_House/USNSilent/sk_tribou_kendrick_hill.htm

Post a Comment