Rev. Dr. E. C. Johnson, Newport Baptist, Refuses to Perform Ceremony with Miss Force
METHODIST ALSO DECLINES
Clergyman Told That Wedding Was, Planned for To-day---No Application Made for a License
Special to The New York Times
NEWPORT, R. I., Sept. 6---John Jacob Astor has made an offer of $1,000 to the Rev. Dr. Edward C. Johnson, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Newport, as a fee if the minister would marry him to Miss Madeleine T. Force. Dr. Johnson refused to officiate at the wedding. The offer was made through an attorney of Newport, William P. Sheffield, who told the clergyman that the ceremony was planned for some time between Monday and Thursday of this week.
Dr. Johnson was the first of the clergymen in this location to be asked to perform the ceremony, the request being made Aug. 29. The clergyman acknowledged being in the lawyer's office on that day, and was informed by Mr. Sheffield that Col. Astor was willing to pay $1,000 for the service and no more.
Mr. Sheffield and myself talked the subject over," said Dr. Johnson, "and before Col. Astor's name was mentioned, Mr. Sheffield stated he had a client who wanted to get married. I asked him if it was Col. Astor and he replied yes, stating Col. Astor wanted to be married between Monday and Thursday of this week, but he did not set any definite day.
"It was s lot of money to refuse and a big temptation, but I would not marry Col. Astor, no matter what might be offered me," added the clergyman.
Dr. Johnson is soon retiring, temporarily at least, from the ministry because of defective eyesight, and goes to his former home in Philadelphia at the close of the month. It is plain Col. Astor is unable to obtain a minister hereabout to marry him.
Under the recently enacted State law of Rhode Island, it is necessary for a non-resident to file notice of intention to wed five days before the marriage license can be issued. Miss Force is not a resident of Rhode Island, and up to the closing of the City Hall to-night no application for a license nor any statement of intention had been filed.
Beechwood, the Newport residence of Col. Astor, remained open, and Newport society expects that the ceremony will take place here. Any Justice of the Supreme [sic] could perform the ceremony, and one of the Justices, Darius Baker, lives here. He, however, has not been asked to marry Col. Astor and Miss Force.
Vincent Astor was at the Horse Show this afternoon.
The Rev. Frederick L. Brooks, pastor of the Methodist Church of Little Compton, R. I., has been asked to officiate at the marriage of Col. Astor and Miss Force and has declined, owing to the restrictions which his Church places on the marriage of divorced persons. According to the Rev. Mr. Brooks, the date of the wedding was set for to-morrow and was supposed to occur in Newport.
Friends of Col. John Jacob Astor said yesterday that he would probably go to his country place at Rhinebeck in the latter part of this week. They added that no date had positively been set for his marriage to Miss Madeleine Force. Col. Astor himself smilingly told a reporter that he wasn't going to be married for seventy-two hours anyway.
Col. Astor called on Miss Force yesterday morning, and they both went out in a taxicab. Later they returned to Miss Force's home at 18 East Thirty-seventh Street. They went to the St. Regis for luncheon. Last night they went to the theatre.
Positive assurance was given at Miss Force's home last night that the marriage would not take place to-day.
Related Biographies:John Jacob Astor
Madeleine Talmage Astor