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Today is about the Haughs of Indianapolis.
I promise this started as a Quick Research Dive. That might seem hard to believe, given the length of this report (the initial draft was eight pages long), but I swear it did—I was looking into historic Indianapolis hotels (something I fully intend to do further research into) but I got dragged so far off-topic by this rabbit hole. This intriguing, fantastical, who-needs-HBO-when-you’ve-got-the-Haughs rabbit hole.
This hole’s got everything—a nasty divorce; alleged assault; hearsay; attempted murder; kidnapping; jewel theft…well, sorta—look, it’s a long story.
So let’s talk about the Haughs: J. Guy and Marguerite.
I came into this case through the events of May 1919, and was beyond confused by the headlines I saw. I’ll just go back a few months and see what led to this, I thought. It’ll be quick, I thought. Little did I know I had a year or more in each direction to go before I could get the full details—that is, the full details as reported in the sensationalist news coverage.
And, boy, was it sensationalized.
Reporters, and presumably readers, lapped this up like so much dirty laundry aired on the city gossip pages.
I guess the best place to start is how they met.
Marguerite, née Mademoiselle Marguerite Castaign of La-Rochelle, France, was the daughter of a French army colonel and, following his death, filled her time ping-ponging across the Atlantic Ocean. It was on one of these trips that she met fellow steamer passenger J. Guy Haugh.
At that time, around 1911, Haugh was reportedly a mildly wealthy man. He owned a reputable men’s clothier in Indianapolis; had stake in several hotels and apartment buildings; and would go on to own property across the state of Indiana.
Now, reports vary, but I’ll try and sum up their whirlwind romance with the details I know.
Let’s see: They had a wild, romantic period of courtship that lasted…two days. He soon after proposed to her in the most romantic way: by…wire. Twice. Because she didn’t answer the first time. Peak romance.
They married in 1911, and lived together in Indianapolis for several years. In that time, they had two sons—J. Guy, Jr., and Ronald. Or Roland, depending on what article you read. At the time of the divroce filing, they were around 5 and 2, respectively.
I wouldn’t say the Haughs were especially…happy during this time, given the later facts of their divorce.
Haugh’s empire grew until his name was on hotels, like the Haugh Hotel (later Hotel Michigan); his store was reputed around the city; he was hailed for his patriotic efforts to sell war bonds during World War I. He was also active in the local branches of the Kiwanis Club and the Christian Scientists…so…extracurricular activities. I guess what I’m trying to say is his name got around town.
So it’s no surprise his drawn-out divorce, initially filed in mid-1918, made front page news.
And, oh my god, every time you think you’ve got a handle on this case, something else happens that gives you veritable neck-snapping whiplash.
We start in June 1918.
A relatively small item lists that one Marguerite Haugh is seeking a divorce of her husband, J. Guy. She’s requesting custody of their two children and—whoa, $250,000 alimony.
She says she’s filing on account of cruel and inhumane treatment on the part of Guy. Remember that, it’ll come back later.
Here’s where the coverage began to go from that usually afforded a divorce notice—a small item hidden on the inside pages—to a larger, front page affair.
For context, that $250,000 is a whopping $4.2 million today, so we’re talking big money.
Another article soon after lists Haugh’s property assets as worth around $500,000—property downtown, in influential neighborhoods around Indianapolis, an apartment building, a hotel, a successful clothing store.
Then, weeks later—a reported burglary at the Haugh home.
Valuables stolen—furs, rugs, jewels! The police are summoned, but find no trace of the intruder.
Except, it turns out it wasn’t a burglar—it was a few police constables acting on a writ of replevin. Taking property and valuables that the court ruled should go to Mr. Haugh. From the house Guy and Marguerite once shared, in which Marguerite now lives alone.
Fast forward to 1919:
“The case is attracting a great deal of attention–mostly out of curiosity on account of the prominence of the parties.”“A Noted Divorce Case,” Feb 13, 1919, Hancock Democrat (Greenfield, IN)
Then Guy files a surprise change of venue request for the divorce trial, and the proceedings are moved from Marion County to Hancock County.
On the surface, not outwardly strange.
But it’s important to note the details:
Marion County courts ruled Guy must pay $75 a week to support Marguerite and their two children. He said he wouldn’t pay, and was held in contempt…and when the proceedings picked back up in Hancock County, his requested venue, the decision was reversed. And the weekly amount was lowered, on Guy’s request, to $40.
And, knowing this, one can’t help but…make assumptions.
But, as if to balance things out, the court seems to side with Marguerite, and orders Guy to pay her $100, reportedly to cover witness costs.
Picking sides yet?
Well, don’t move too fast, because here’s where the twists begin:
Following two continuances and another surprise change of venue, this time by Marguerite, testimony finally begins in May 1919.
And it’s…not pleasant.
Remember the “cruel and inhumane treatment” alleged in Marguerite’s filing? Guy’s filing alleges the same, but on Marguerite’s part.
He claims Marguerite abused him. Witnesses who worked with Haugh testified that they’d seen him on multiple occasions arrive at work with scratches and bruises on his face. Others testified Marguerite had destroyed some of Guy’s clothing, and on several occasions voiced her wish to kill him. A detective, employed by a local agency, took the stand and claimed Marguerite had tried to hire her to get a gun and do the job.
Marguerite counters by claiming Guy was a neglectful father and never visited their children. It’s unclear if she refuted the claim of abuse, though reporters record her as repeatedly interrupting the witnesses with threats and “ugly names.” I didn’t find any mention of testimony about her allegations of cruel treatment from Guy, in accordance with her filing.
The second day of testimony centered on finances.
Guy alleges Marguerite stole thousands of dollars of property (remember that burglary report from the previous July?). His wife reportedly interrupts the testimony by calling Guy “scoundrel” and “beast.”
The day’s proceedings wrap up with the ending unclear. How much more did the judge need to hear? Would the divorce be granted in Guy’s favor, decreasing child payments and giving Marguerite nothing? Or would it go to Marguerite, granting her a portion of the estate and custody of their children?
We won’t ever know how the trial would have turned out based on that evidence alone.
What happened following the day of testimony on Friday, May 9, would permanently and instantaneously change the case. Details vary by report, from the people involved to the events themselves.
Here’s the closest to true narrative I could find, from articles published in papers across Indiana following the incident.
The day’s proceedings conclude in Rushville. Both parties travel separately to Indianapolis. Guy and an attorney, reported to be a Mr. Inglehart, sup at the Columbia Club on Monument Circle. The two men go to retrieve the attorney’s car at the nearby Horace Wood garage, at 216 North Meridian Street.
The weather is reported to be mild, and the two gentlemen take their time strolling from the club to the garage, enjoying the evening air.
They had just turned the ticket in, and were likely watching the attendant retrieving the car. They’re reportedly facing away from the street when the shot sounds and a bullet flies past the attorney’s cheek.
The two men turn to see Marguerite wielding a revolver.
Haugh wrestles her to the ground, while the attorney seizes the gun. A nearby garage attendant may also have been involved in restraining her. Another attendant arrives on the scene and believes the men are attacking Marguerite, and makes to help her.
He later testifies that Marguerite pointed to Guy and shouted, “This man put the revolver in my hand.”
Marguerite then leapt into a taxicab and fled before police arrived. It is unclear if Haugh and his attorney retained the gun, or if Marguerite had it in her possession when she later turned herself in to police.
A cliffhanger?? I know, but this was getting far too long for a single post. Make sure to follow Jotted Jad, so you get a notification when the next part is posted.
Title Card Credit: Background: Monument Circle, 1907, Detroit Photographic Company / Public domain; Left: J. Guy Haugh, from “Hotel Monthly” vol. 30, issues 346-357 (1922), pg. 42; Right: Marguerite Haugh, from the Indianapolis Star, May 25, 1919