Encyclopedia Titanica

Col. Astor Weds Madeleine Force

Early Morning Ceremony at Beechwood, the Bridegroom's Newport Home

New York Times

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Rejects Clerical Carpenter

Dr. Joseph Lambert Officiates in Place of the Rev. Mr. Straight

Colonel for Remarriage Only Once

Col. John Jacob Astor, head of the Astor family in America, and one of this country's wealthiest men, was married at 9:55 o'clock this morning to Miss Madeleine Talmage Force, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William H. Force, of New York, at the Newport home of the bridegroom, Beechwood, on the Cliffs and Bellevue Avenue. The Rev. Joseph Lambert, pastor of the Elwood Temple Congregational Church of Providence, officiated. The ceremony was performed in the white and gold ballroom which the late Mrs. William Astor had built seven years ago.

The ceremony was very short. Mr. Force gave his daughter in marriage and Miss Katherine Emmons Force, sister of the bride, was maid of honor. Vincent Astor was his father's best man. Mrs. Force, mother of the bride, stood near her husband and the bridal couple while about them were Col. William P. Sheffield of this city, the attorney who arranged the details for Col. Astor; Mrs. Elder of New York, a friend of Mr. and Mrs. Force; William A. Dobbyn, Col. Astor's Secretary, and Thomas Hade, Superintendent of Beechwood, who served the bridegroom's parent for many years.

After the ceremony Col. Astor kissed the bride, as did her parents and sisters, and the other guests extended their congratulations. Col. Astor then led the party to the dining room, where a hasty wedding breakfast was served and the health of the bride and bridegroom was drunk. Less than a quarter of an hour after the ceremony had been concluded Col. Astor and his bride departed on the Astor steam yacht Noma.

Astor's Views on Remarriage

Before Col. and Mrs. Astor left Beechwood he gave out this statement:

Now that we are happily married I don't care how difficult divorce and remarriage laws are made. I sympathize heartily with the most straight-laced people in most of their ideas, but believe that remarriage should be possible once, as marriage is the happiest condition for the individual and the community.

Seldom has Newport witnessed a more unusual marriage. The event was shrouded with the utmost secrecy, and not until half an hour or so before the ceremony was it definitely known that the couple would be married to-day.

Several days had been spent in what, at times, seemed a fruitless quest for a clergyman to marry Miss Force and Col Astor, who had been divorced by his first wife, formerly Miss Ava Willing of Philadelphia. Only yesterday the Rev. Edwin S. Straight of Providence, at one time a Free Baptist minister, but now a carpenter, announced that he had been requested to perform the ceremony and had consented. What Col. Astor's arrangement with the clerical carpenter was is not known. The Rev. Mr. Straight was not, however, called upon to make the Colonel and Miss Force husband and wife.

It is reported here that Col. Astor's bride was insistent upon being married by a clergyman in good standing and who had charge of a parish.

The bride, accompanied by her father and sister, and Col. Astor arrived from New York early this morning aboard Col. Astor's steam yacht Noma, which anchored in Brenton's Cove. Vincent Astor joined the party at 8 o'clock for breakfast.

Sued for $30,000 Damages

A short time before Col. Astor left the yacht, Deputy Sheriff Frank P. King of Newport boarded the Noma. He was received by Capt. Roberts and escorted to the cabin,, where Col. Astor appeared. Sheriff King passed the Colonel a writ of summons in a suit for $30,000, brought by Bridget A. McCrohan and Mary B. McCrohan, sisters of Eugene P. McCrohan, who was killed at Beechwood in the Summer of 1910, while repairing telephone wires. McCrohan touched the electric light wires in the cellar and was killed instantly. Col. Astor asked if Capt. Roberts or Lewis Cass Ledyard, Col. Astor's attorney, could do as well. Sheriff King stated that no one could accept the service but Col. Astor, and he finally took the document, stating that he knew something of the case.

Col. Astor soon had his fast motor launch brought to the gangway and in it the bride, her sister and father, and Vincent Astor, with Col. Astor at the wheel, were quickly carried ashore. Miss Madeleine Force wore a semi-hobble skirt effect of blue cloth, with a peach basket hat to match. Miss Katherine Force wore a steel gray dress and a black picture hat, while Col. Astor wore a dark sack coat suit, straw hat, and carried a cane. As soon as the party landed automobiles took them to Beechwood, where they were met by Mrs. Force and the other witnesses of the ceremony.

Col. Sheffield, before arriving, had obtained the marriage license from City Clerk Frank N. Fullerton. It was dated Aug. 29, 1911, when application was made, but the license was not formally granted until a copy of the divorce proceedings of Col. Astor was filed at City Hall. It stated that he is the son of William Astor, his residence in New York, and his occupation as “gentleman.”

Miss Force gave her name as Madeleine Talmage Force, age 20, residence New York, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William H. Force. Her father’s occupation was recorded as “forwarding and commission.”

The magnificence of the great ballroom in which the ceremony was performed was heightened by a profusion of American Beauty roses, which constituted the floral decorations. This is a favorite flower of the bride, as it was of Col. Astor’s mother.

Bridal Couple Happy

The bride appeared radiant with happiness and Col. Astor, having recovered from the nervousness which he had exhibited earlier in the day, was calm and self-possessed.

As the bridal pair stood in the ballroom with their right hands clasped they could watch the gathering gray rain clouds which blew in from the ocean.

The bride wore the same dress for the ceremony in which she came from the yacht Noma. Mrs. Force wore a black Empire gown of crêpe de chine with a string of pearls around her neck. As Mrs. Astor left the dining hall she took an American Beauty rose for her corsage.

Col. Astor was very happy as he led the way through the hall to leave Beechwood on the wedding trip. The wedding guests stood about the doorway and bade them good-bye.

Col. Astor and his bride made the journey to the Wellington Avenue pier in a taxicab hired by one of the newspaper reporters. The Astor automobile was not on hand, the chauffeur evidently believing that his services would not be needed so soon. Later the correspondent whose taxicab was used as the bridal car was brought into Newport from the Astor residence in Col. Astor’s automobile.

The motor launch of the Noma was waiting at the pier. Col. Astor took the helm. When the newly married couple reached the yacht the vessel was looking spick and span from the efforts of officers and crew to have the craft in wedding dress. Capt. Roberts and his officers greeted the couple as they came aboard. The cabins were decorated with American Beauty roses sent from Beechwood’s greenhouses. The Noma weighed anchor at 10:29, heading westward and running at fast speed, supposed to be bound for Rhinebeck on the Hudson, where Col. Astor has another Summer home, or New York City.

Congratulations by Wireless

As the Noma sailed out of the harbor and down the bay her wireless operator was kept busy receiving and responding to numerous messages of congratulations flashed through the air by Col. Astor’s friends.

In addition to his statement concerning his views on remarriage, Col. Astor sent this formal marriage notice to the newspapers to-day:

Married on Sept. 9, at Newport, R. I., by the Rev. Joseph Lambert, Madeleine Talmage, daughter of William H. Force of New York, to John Jacob Astor of New York City.

Vincent Astor remains at Beechwood until he departs for Harvard. He was extremely happy during and after the ceremony. He gave his father and bride the heartiest congratulations after the ceremony and later again when bidding the couple good-bye. He took Mr. and Mrs. Force and Miss Force and Mrs. Elder to the Muenchinger-King for luncheon. They departed for New York at 1 o’clock.

This evening young Astor talked on the reports which have been printed of his engagements to at least three young ladies since the Summer opened.

“I do hope the party writing such stories will stop, as there is absolutely no truth in these reports,” he said. “Besides, every time the report is mentioned, the name of another young lady is heard. Just at present I am thinking very much of my entering Harvard.”


Mark Baber, USA


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Encyclopedia Titanica (2003) Col. Astor Weds Madeleine Force (New York Times, Sunday 10th September 1911, ref: #1771, published 4 November 2003, generated 18th March 2023 04:06:53 PM); URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/col-astor-weds-madeleine-force.html