by Cliff McCarthy, 2015
August William Machen was born in Toledo, Ohio on November 10, 1861 to William Henry and Mary Ann Machen. William Henry was an accomplished artist and was well-known in the Great Lakes region.
Anna Louisa Baumgartner was born on August 24, 1863, in Westminster, Maryland. Her parents were John Joseph and Margaret Ann Baumgartner. John J. Baumgartner was an attorney of note and Anna Louise’s mother was a Hayden — one of the early families in Westminster.
August and Anna Louisa, who was called “Nan,” applied for a marriage license in Westminster in 1888, however there was no record of the actual marriage. Family chronicler John Hampton Baumgartner writes that they were married in 1893, shortly before August moved to Washington, D.C.
August was a graduate of Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y.and was also a charter member of the Toledo Elks Lodge, and of the Washington Council of the Knights of Columbus. Between 1887 and 1889, August worked as a clerk and assistant postmaster in the Toledo Post Office for an annual salary of $2000.
This appointment was secured with the help of Patrick Short [see SHORT, Patrick & Mary Ann (Clark)], August’s grandfather and a personal friend of President Grover Cleveland. Cleveland was Mayor of Buffalo in 1882, before being elected Governor of New York State.
Like his grandfather, August Machen was a creature of politics. He campaigned for Cleveland during the presidential election of 1892 and when Cleveland won, Machen moved to Washington. The papers of Grover Cleveland contain many letters written directly to the President by Machen, usually informing him of political developments in Ohio.
The family moved to 1823 Corcoran Street, Washington, D.C. in 1893, when August was appointed Assistant Superintendent of Free Delivery, at the salary of $2000. He quickly advanced to Superintendent of Free Delivery and held that position from 1895-1903. His salary was $3000 annually until 1901 when it was increased to $3500. By then, Ohio-born William McKinley had succeeded Cleveland as President of the United States.
It was during Machen’s administration, and under his direction, that county-wide Rural Free Delivery System was begun. In 1896, Carroll County, Maryland, Anna Louisa’s home county, was chosen as one of 44 experimental locations for the new Rural Free Delivery service. It became, in 1899, the first area in the nation to have county-wide RFD service, with its brand-new, 12 foot-long, two-horse postal wagon. [For a short film showing the delivery of mail in Westminster, MD in 1903, follow this link: Rural Free Delivery in Westminster .]
The initiation of the Rural Free Delivery system was a political coup for Machen and he gained considerable influence by it. One chronicler of postal history wrote:
“So politically valuable were the new mail routes that congressmen indulged in a mad race after 1900 to get as many for their districts as possible. In the race, the Republicans had the inside track, of course, partly because their patty was in power during most of the years when the system was built and partly because August Machen, who was in charge of free delivery, was willing to play politics with the building of the service. Republican congressmen wrote freely to him, particularly at election time, of their pressing needs, confident that their requests would be honored…There was nothing really illegal in Machen’s giving rural mail routes to political favorites first, but this, along with payoffs he was known to have received on postal supplies and the corruption uncovered in the other bureaus of the Post Office, gave civil service reformers the opportunity they had been waiting for, and they made the most of it.”
In spite of, or perhaps because of, his political power, things began to sour for August Machen in 1901. President William McKinley, whom Machen had accompanied to Buffalo for the Pan American Exposition, was assassinated there. The more reform-minded Theodore Roosevelt came to power and, in 1903, there were indictments involving corruption in the U.S. Post Office Department. August Machen stood trial for “conspiracy to defraud the government” and other charges. Specifically, the charges involved the taking of kickbacks on contracts for various items of postal equipment and for double-charging certain items to the government. There were fourteen separate indictments involving Machen. On February 26, 1904, the jury went into deliberation, and after nine hours and five ballots, returned a verdict of “guilty as indicted.” The following day, August Machen’s “eyes filled and he trembled slightly” as he was sentenced to two years in the Moundsville, West Virginia, penitentiary and fined $10,000, the maximum sentence.
The defendants were released on $20,000 bond pending an appeal, which was denied on January 30, 1905. Machen was ordered to report to Moundsville. On February 2, the New York Times commented on Machen’s “cheerful philosophy, in spite of his prospects,” as he arranged his affairs for his absence.
“When he sees an old friend of his palmy days who will greet him he shakes hands heartily, and, without more than a passing word of his disgrace, exchanges the salutations of the day, and laughs and jests as if the shadow of the prison were not waiting for him. Often as he walks the streets, he is heard singing softly to himself old-fashioned hymns.”
He left on February 7, in the company of the Groff brothers (two of the other defendants in the case), and eleven Negro convicts. Before departing, he made this statement to the press:
“I have made a good fight and was courageous to the last; I am now facing the inevitable and will take the consequences with bravery, fortitude, and philosophy. I expect to be in Moundsville for twenty months, reducing the two years sentence to this time by good behavior. I have no intention at this time of asking for a pardon. I am innocent; my friends know that I am innocent, and time will show that the man who put me there will have to answer for what he has done.”
Machen was named as a defendant in another trial and again charged with “conspiracy to defraud the government.” On May 23, 1905, when one of his co-defendants was about to turn “state’s evidence,” Machen pled guilty. He was sentenced to an additional two years in prison.
Throughout his incarceration, Machen maintained he was innocent of any wrongdoing. He believed he was the victim of a politically motivated set-up. When faced with the offer of a reduced sentence for testifying against other defendants in the case, he proudly replied: “No! Never! I would rather go back to Moundsville for the remainder of my term, than to live the rest of my life a self-branded traitor, a coward and a cur!”
His family included four children, all young girls. The girls idolized August, who was a loving father who brought joy and happiness to his home. It was an artistic and musical household, with a Victrola that played Caruso and other classics. Mariana, in particular, was a talented pianist and singer.
With August gone, however, hard times were thrust upon the family. They were forced to give up their large house on Corcoran Street and they lost their servants and the high standard of living they were used to. The girls were allowed to continue their private education through the charity of the Catholic church.
August studied to be a Certified Public Accountant while in prison and, upon his release, he worked as an “expert accountant.” He received a full pardon from President Woodrow Wilson and was struggling to pay off his debts and restore his reputation when, around 1912, Anna Louisa succumbed to the pressure and suffered a nervous breakdown. She was admitted to Mount Hope hospital.
By 1919, things were beginning to look up, again. August was experiencing a good deal of success at his new career, Anna Louisa was out of the hospital, and daughter Margaret had received a law degree and was helping August in his accounting business. However, once again, the fates intervened. Anna Louisa had erysipelas, an acute bacterial inflammation of the skin, known as “St. Anthony’s Fire.” A sore on August’s leg, received while boarding a trolley car, became infected with the disease. He died of blood poisoning on July 5, 1919. His brother, Dr. Francis Machen, of Washington, D.C., was his attendant physician.
By this time, daughter Katharine had married Lawrence Murray and, shortly after August’s death, Margaret married Ray Heindl. With Lawrence Murray’s help, the other two daughters, Mariana and Augusta, found civil service jobs to support themselves and their mother, who was back in the hospital. Mariana eventually married Walter P. McCarthy and moved to Brooklyn, New York, in 1931. [see McCARTHY, Walter Pearson & Mariana (Machen)]
Anna Louisa was in and out of St. Elizabeth’s hospital for the remainder of her life. She lived with her daughter Augusta at 5116 Second Street, Washington, D.C. When she passed away in 1946, her obituary stated that she had been “a member of St. Patrick’s Parish for many years and later an active member of St. Gabriel’s church.” Both she and August are buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery, in the District of Columbia.
Augusta, who had quit high school to take care of her mother, worked for many years in the Department of Agriculture. She never married, but nearly every summer her nephews, Walter and August McCarthy, came for an extended visit. Several years after the death of her mother, Augusta, too, was hospitalized for awhile, suffering from a nervous breakdown.
I remember “Aunt Gussie” as a loving, elderly woman whose most remarkable characteristic was her unusual religion. She was a member of the I Am Movement, a religious sect, based in Los Angeles, that gained a considerable following in the 1930’s.
Aunt Gussie’s seventieth birthday party, hosted by her niece Lorena Shepston, was a major family event. After living the last years of her life in a nursing home in the District of Columbia, “Aunt Gussie” passed away on 17 December 1987.
Children of August William Constantine & Anna Louisa (Baumgartner) MACHEN
AUGUST WILLIAM CONSTANTINE MACHEN was born on 10 November 1861 in Toledo, Lucas Co., OH. He died on 5 July 1919 in at home, 1102 Euclid St., Washington, DC. He married ANNA LOUISA “NAN” BAUMGARTNER about 1888, daughter of John Joseph BAUMGARTNER and Margaret Ann HAYDEN. She was born on 10 August 1863 in Westminster, Carroll Co., MD. She died on 13 August 1946 in 5116 Second St., Washington, DC. August William Constantine MACHEN and Anna Louisa “Nan” BAUMGARTNER had the following children:
- MARY “KATHARINE” MACHEN was born on 14 January 1891 in Ohio. She died in November 1986 in Washington, DC. She married LAWRENCE ELMER MURRAY on 7 April 1912 in Baltimore, Maryland, son of James J. MURRAY and Mary A. E. McLEAN. He was born on 7 April 1887 in Monroe Street, Peoria, IL. He died in February 1966 in Prince Georges General Hospital, Hyattsville, MD.
- MARGARET H. MACHEN was born in 1893 in Westminster, MD. She died on 27 March 1969 in Sibley Memorial Hospital, Washington, DC. She married RAYMOND ALBERT HEINDL in 1919, son of Casper HEINDL and Mary E. SCHNEIDER. He was born about 1893 in Marinette, Wisconsin. He died on 28 March 1962 in Doctor’s Hospital, Washington, DC.
- MARIANA MACHEN was born on 7 October 1895 in Washington, DC. She died on 6 March 1939 in Brooklyn State Hospital, 681 Clarkson Ave., Brooklyn, NY. She married WALTER PEARSON “MAC” MCCARTHY on 7 April 1931 in Rye, Westchester Co., NY, son of Francis Wilbert “Frank” McCARTHY and Ida Virginia JACKSON. He was born in April 1897 in Albany, Dougherty Co., GA. He died on 17 February 1977 in Brooklyn, NY.
- AUGUSTA LOUISE “GUSSIE” MACHEN was born on 2 September 1897 in Maryland. She died on 17 December 1987 in Washington, DC.
- 1870 U.S. Census for John J. Bumgartner (Westminster, Carroll Co., MD).
- 1870 U.S. Census for William Machen (7th Ward, Toledo, OH).
- 1875 New York State Census for August Machen (E.D. #3, Ward #4, Buffalo, Erie Co., NY).
- 1880 U.S. Census for Margaret A. Baumgertner (Westminster, Carroll Co., MD).
- 1880 U.S. Census for William H. Machen (7th Ward, Precinct B, Toledo, Lucas Co., OH).
- 1910 U.S. Census for August W. Machen (E.D. #148, Washington, DC).
- 1920 U.S. Census for Anna L. Machen (Euclid Street, Washington, District of Columbia).
- 1930 U.S. Census for Anna L. Machen (Precinct 11, Washington, D.C.).
- 1940 U.S. Census for Anna L. Machen (E.D. #1-462, Washington, DC).
- “August W. Machen Dies” (Washington [DC] Evening Star, 6 July 1919).
- “Funeral of A. W. Machen” (Washington [D.C.] Evening Star, 7 July 1919).
- “John J. Baumgartner” [Jr.] (Baltimore American, 1918-09-08).
- “Local Real Estate” (Evening Star [Washington, DC], 7 October 1903).
- “Machen Denies All” (Washington Post, 6 March 1908).
- “Mrs. Anna L. Machen Dies at Her Home Here” (Evening Star [Washington, DC], 14 August 1946).
- “Real Estate Matters (Evening Star [Washington, DC], 22 September 1893).
- “The Mighty I AM’, Time, February 28, 1938, p. 32.
- Baumgartner, J. Hampton, “Let’s Meet the Old Folks” (unpublished manuscript, 1944), p. 6.
- Birth Certificate for Mariana Machen (District of Columbia, October 7, 1895).
- Boyd’s Directory of the District of Columbia.
- Carroll County, Maryland Deeds (Carroll County Courthouse Annex, Westminster, MD).
- Certificate of Death, August W. Machen, Washington, D.C., July 5, 1919.
- Correspondence of Henry Machen, of Basle, Switzerland to Mrs. Dr. Francis Machen, dated June 11, 1966, (copy provided by Charles Philipps of Greenbrae, CA.)
- Death Certificate for Mariana McCarthy, dated 9 March 1939, Brooklyn, NY.
- District of Columbia, Select Deaths and Burials, 1840-1964 (as reproduced at http://www.Ancestry.com).
- Elks Lodge card, in possession of author.
- Fuller, Wayne Edison, The American Mail, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, p.323.
- Machen, August W., Application for Pardon to Restore Civil Rights (dated January 8, 1918), National Archives Record Group #204, Record #32, Page #285, Box #805.
- Marriage License Application for McCarthy & Machen (Rye, NY, dated 7 April 1931), Town Clerk’s Office, Rye, Westchester Co., NY.
- Marriage license for Augustus W. Machen & Nannie L. Baumgartner, Carroll County, Maryland, April 16, 1888.
- New York Times, August 1, 1903 through June 1, 1905.
- Official Register of the United States, 1887-1901, Government Publications Office.
- Personal correspondences from A. W. Machen to Ferdinand Machen and family.
- Personnel Records for Mariana Machen (National Personnel Records Center, dated April 28, 2000).
- Recollections of Howard Murray, as told to the author.
- Recollections of J. Patrick Ham, as told to the author.
- Recollections of Lorena Shepston, as told to the author.
- Stenley, Virginia D., Chancery Books of Carroll County, Maryland, Vols. 21-40, 1873-1889 (Family Line Publications, Westminster, MD, 1996).
- Toledo Ohio Directories (as published online at http://www.Ancestry.com, dated 20 April 2000).
- Warner, Nancy M., Carroll County Maryland: A History 1837-1976, Carroll County Bicentennial Committee, 1976.
- White, William Allen, “Roosevelt and the Postal Frauds”, McClure’s Magazine, September 1904.