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The New York Times. 18 June 1916

Four Years a Widow, She Gives up Income of Millions for Love of Girlhood Friend
Trust from Husband Goes to Vincent Astor, Whose Wife Will Be Social Head of Family
Mrs. Madeleine Force Astor, widow of John Jacob Astor, who was lost on the Titanic, is to marry again. Tomorrow, reports say, at her estate in Bar Harbor, Me., she will become the wife of William K. Dick, member of an old and very wealthy Brooklyn family and a friend of her girlhood days.

By her act Mrs. Astor relinquishes the provisions made for her under the will of her late husband, which include the income of a trust fund of $5,000,000 and the tenancy of the Astor home in Fifth Avenue, and at the same time renounces all title to a position of great prestige in New York society, which will now pass to Mrs. Vincent Astor, who will be mistress of the house in Fifth Avenue. The trust fund, the income of which Mrs. John Jacob Astor enjoyed, will now pass to Vincent Astor along with the title to the Astor mansion.

Mrs. Astor is 24 years old and her prospective husband is 29.

William K. Dick, the eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. J. Henry Dick of 20 East Fifty-third Street, is active in financial circles. He is the Vice President of the Manufacturers Trust Company of Brooklyn and Director in the Broadway Trust Company, the Cord Meyer Development Company, Citizen’s Water Supply Company, Lake Charles Rice Milling Company, Vice President of the McKee Refrigerator Company, and Secretary and Treasurer of Rigney & Co.

After their wedding Mr. and Mrs. Dick will go West for their honeymoon. They will be gone about a month, and then will return to spend the Summer in a cottage on the Dick Country estate, Allen Winden, at Islip, L. I.

Long in Seclusion

After her arrival here as a survivor of the Titanic disaster, in which her husband lost his life, Mrs. Astor went into seclusion in the Fifth Avenue house. It was there that her child was born. So quietly did she live and so little was she or her family seen in public that it was not until her boy was 18 months old that news photographers got an opportunity to take pictures of the newest Astor heir. It was not until about two years after her husband’s death that Mrs. Astor emerged from her seclusion.

A little less than a year ago Mrs. Astor gave a large dinner, the first entertainment she had given since her husband’s death, and Mr. Dick was one of the guests. Later he figured on the guest lists of her entertainments at Aitken, S. C., and also at Bar Harbor.

The friendship of their early days was renewed and it began to be noticed that he was rather often in her company. Still, so carefully was their secret guarded, that when this was commented upon the matter could be turned off lightly as the natural result of old friendship, and society has not suspected even since they have actually been engaged.

Mr. Dick is said to be very wealthy. The founder of the family fortune was his grandfather, William Dick, who made large sums out of sugar refining in association with such interests as the Havermeyers and the Mollenhauers.

The grandfather founded the Manufacturers Bank of Brooklyn, which has been transformed into the Manufacturers Trust Company, a flourishing institution which carried the large accounts of most of the manufacturers of the Williamsburg district.

Learned the Sugar Business

Mr. Dick’s mother was Julia Mollenhauer, a sister of J. Adolph Mollenhauer, identified with large sugar interests. His sister married one of the Havemeyers, identified with similar interests. Mr. Dick himself learned the sugar industry from the bottom up, entering the Williamsburg factory of the Mollenhauer company as a boy. Mr. Dick’s sisters married Horace Havemeyer and William Kingsland Macy respectively. He has a brother, Adolph Dick, who has just completed his junior year at Yale.

As Madeline Force, Mrs. Astor’s early years were spent in Brooklyn. Her father, William H. Force, was head of a large shipping and forwarding firm, with offices at 78 Front Street. His daughters were active in the younger set in Brooklyn and were friends of the younger members of the Dick family.

The announcement of the engagement of Miss Madeline Talmadge Force to John Jacob Astor was made by Mr. Force in August, 1911. Although society had known of Mr. Astor’s attention to his prospective bride, the announcement attracted much attention. Colonel Astor was then 47 years old and Miss Force was still in her teens, had [sic] in fact only left school the Spring before. Colonel Astor had already been married. His first wife, Mrs. Ava Willing Astor, obtained an interlocutory decree of divorce in 1909, which was later made absolute. The proceedings leading up to the decree were widely commented upon, for the trial set a new record for speed and secrecy in such matters.

Mr. Astor and Miss Force were married at the Astor estate, Beechwood, in Newport, on Sept. 9, 1911.

Marriage Made Difficult

The marriage was not effected without difficulties, for there was trouble in finding a clergyman who would solemnize it on account of the bridegroom having been divorced. The minister who did officiate, the Rev. Dr. Joseph Lambert of the Elmwood Temple Congregational Church of Providence, was late severely condemned by his congregation and other clergymen, and finally announced that he would leave the ministry and go into business.

Colonel Astor and his wife were on board the Titanic when that vessel went down. Colonel Astor died in a manner that effaced the memory of much of the criticism that had been directed against him. His wife, having only a confused recollection of what had happened, was rescued in one of the last lifeboats to put off.

When Colonel Astor’s will was published it was found that practically all of the huge estate had been left to Vincent Astor as residuary legatee. There was a bequest of $5,000,000 to Muriel Astor, Vincent's sister, and a trust fund of $3,000,000 was created for the use of any child other than Vincent who might survive. The will had been executed nine days after his marriage with Miss Madeleine Force.

To his wife he bequeathed the income from a trust fund of $5,000,000 which she was to receive so long as she remained his widow. On her death or at her remarriage the capital of this fund was to go to Vincent Astor. On precisely the same terms she received the town house and its furnishings. She received outright S100,000 and the horses, carriages, and automobiles belonging to her husband.

The will directed that until the trust fund be set up she was to receive an income at the rate of $200,000 a year, and it is said on the best authority that this was about the sum she received annually as the income from the trust fund after it was established, which income she now gives up automatically when she marries Mr. Dick.

No Dower in Estate.

It was recorded in the will that these provisions for Mrs. Astor were made in lieu of dower, and all other claims upon his estate. It was well known that, according to the custom of the Astor family, Colonel A4tor had by a prenuptial settlement given a large sum to his wife in lieu of her dower rights in the estate. There had been much speculation as to what this sum amounted to.

When the estate was appraised for the inheritance tax it was found that the appraiser set a value of $7,678,896 on the total inheritance of Mrs. Madeleine Force Astor. This was based on the actuarial probabilities of the number of years she would live to draw income from the fund created for her.

The appraisal also disclosed for the first time the amount of the much-discussed pre-nuptial settlement. It was found to comprise two trust funds, one of which the appraisers valued at $1,384,415.10, and the other at $311,336.63---a total of $1,695,751.7i3. Various accounts in the way of advance speculation had placed this figure all the way from $200,000 to $2,000,000, and one account even went as far as to say it was $5,000,000.

Of the two trust funds, the appraisal established the fact that the smaller had been given outright with the power of disposal even during Colonel Astor's lifetime. So it is clear that the Astor estate has no claim on this amount. It was not made so clear as to the larger sum, the indications being that it was an income for life whose principal reverted to Vincent Astor on her death, although the remarriage clause may also govern this sum.

Mrs. Madeleine Force Astor had one son by her marriage. He is John Jacob Astor also. He was born on Aug. 14, 1912, almost exactly four months after his father's death on the Titanic, in the Astor home on Fifth Avenue.

The total amount Mrs. Astor gives up by her contemplated marriage is $3,571,036. This figure is derived also from the calculations of the Inheritance Tax Appraiser. Based on the number of years she would be expected to enjoy the life interests bequeathed her, the appraiser found that her interest in the $5,000,000 trust fund would be $1,094, 199; the value of her estate in the Astor mansion was appraised at $1,974,627, and the interest in the furnishings and decorations of the house $502,210,which make the total given above as the amount she lost by remarriage.


Mark Baber, USA


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Encyclopedia Titanica (2004) MRS. JOHN J. ASTOR TO MARRY W. K. DICK (New York Times, Sunday 18th June 1916, ref: #3072, published 23 June 2004, generated 30th January 2023 03:41:45 PM); URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/mrs-john-j-astor-marry-w-k-dick.html