How would you like that at the top of your obituary? You almost don't need to read the rest of the story - it's all there in the headline of this May 29, 1877 newspaper account of the life and death of Flagtown resident Joshua B. Gates.
In the middle of the 19th century, Joshua Gates was one of the most successful life insurance agents in the nation. When he retired from the United States Life Insurance Company to a farm near Flagtown, he had amassed a fortune of $250,000 - in 1871 dollars!
|18 November 1871, Brooklyn Daily Eagle|
At a public celebration in Somerville in July 1875, the seventy-year-old Gates met Anna Thomas - a teenage visitor from Illinois, young enough to be his granddaughter. In the words of The New York Times he "prosecuted an ardent courtship" - and this was way before Viagra! - and the pair were married exactly two weeks after meeting.
Domestic life on the farm began smoothly for the newlyweds. It was almost a month before Joshua Gates accused his young wife of having an affair with one of his farmhands. Quarrel - separation - and the new young Mrs. Gates was out of the picture, for a while.
|9 February 1877, New York Times|
In February of the next year, Joshua Gates' legal guardians initiated divorce proceedings against his estranged wife, who fought the action, denying the allegations of adultery.
At the time of Mr. Gates's death five months later, delays in the case meant that nothing had been resolved. At that time it was determined that Gates had indeed squandered nearly all of his fortune - with nothing left for his wife, except the memory of her four-week honeymoon with the 70-year-old insurance tycoon!