Bicycle Thief


Mrs. Mary DeBrito Objected To Local Man's Views on Mob Violence


Addresses Letter to State Officials Care of Governor Frazier on Subject

(By the Associated Press.)

Chicago, August 16. Authorities today ascribed the suicide last night of Mrs. Mary DeBrito to a letter alleged to have been received by her from a magazine editor. Miss DeBrito, advertising specialist and a beauty who had taken several prizes, was found immersed in a bath tub at her rooming house with the tube from an open gas jet in her mouth, according to Mr. and Mrs. Edward Weiler, with who she roomed. Mrs. DeBrito told them of reading an article in a magazine published in North Dakota supporting the practice of tar and feathering for certain groups. She is said to have taken exception to the article and to have written to Governor Frazier of North Dakota condemning it. This letter, it is said, was sent also to the magazine editor who replied with a letter denouncing her. She attributed the visit of a man to her home a few days ago to the letter she had written and asserted he had threatened her with injury, according to Mr. and Mrs. Weiler who assert that her fright increased until she decided to kill herself.

The article referred to appeared in Jim Jam Jems magazine.

Bismarck Tribune, 8/16/1921


Prize Winner, Who Died by Gas, Held Insane.

Mrs. Mary De Brito, once Chicago's "most beautiful Irish girl," who was found dying from gas in a bathtub in her home, committed suicide, according to a coroner's jury yesterday "while mentally deranged by failing health and despondency." A further investigation of the affair is to be made by police authorities.

S. J. Forhan and Mrs. Mary Forhan, 4622 North Ashland Avenue, her parents, testified at the inquest that their daughter was "moody and prone to act on the spur of the moment." It had been brought out previously that she had been brooding over a letter of criticism received from the managing editor of "Jim Jam Jems," a North Dakota publication. It is this incident which is to be investigated.

Stirred by Mob Attack

According to the girl's parents, she purchased a copy of the magazine while en route to Chicago from St. Paul recently. An article in the magazine entitled, "The Plumed Knight" and dealing with the recent tarring and feathering of a Beaumont, Tex., physician aroused her ire. The man in question, Dr. J. S. Paul, was kidnapped from his office in broad daylight, following charges he had performed illegal operations. The men who tarred and feathered him have been said to have been members of the Ku Klux Klan. The article in question goes on to say:

"Jim Jam Jems have waged war against abortioners, 'advertising doctors', medical tyranny, and all their attendant atrocities, and we'll never quit until they quit! Every abortioner is a murderer, a cold blooded, premeditated, deliberate murderer for dirty drachmas. And if the Ku Klux Klan—or any other Klan—will clean 'em up and pull 'em from their buzzard's roosts, we'll say Amen!"

Protest to Governor.

Immediately after reading the article, Mrs. De Brito wrote a letter to Gov. Frazier of North Dakota, denouncing the editor of the magazine.

"I refer to the paragraph {illeg} deliberately encouraging private citizens, or, rather, irresponsible individuals, to take up the law in their own hands by gloating over a most disgraceful and regrettable incident, the tarring and feathering of a man in the United States, a white doctor in Beaumont, Tex.," she wrote.

Continuing the letter read: "I understood or was laboring under the naiive impression that we had laws in this country applying to such cases, and that it was not necessary for us to decide what should or should not be done. When we reach the state where cowardly, contemptible, riotous mobs can, with impunity, render their own decisions and persecutions we have reached a critical state, indeed, for our country's welfare."

Letter Sent to Editor.

Nelson A. Mason, the governor's secretary, answered the letter, saying that he believed the girl was laboring under the misapprehensions regarding the article and that he did not believe the editor of the magazine intended to convey the idea that he was in favor of mob violence. Mr. Mason then sent the girl's letter and a copy of his reply to the editor of Jim Jam Jems.

Wallace Campbell, managing editor of the magazine, then wrote Mrs. De Brito the following letter:

"Madame: Your letter to Gov. Frazier and copy of the reply thereto lie before us. Looks to us as if you had inserted your snooping nose in the crack of the wrong door and got it squeezed a bit. Would recommend you to peruse Uncle Sam's constitution and particularly the clause relating to the freedom of the press. It might tend to illumine the cimmerian darkness of your mentality on the subject.

Start Reform at Home.

"This magazine is on its tenth year of unparalleled success. It numbers over 200,000 monthly readers, declines subscriptions and advertisements which other magazines beseech and does more real good than you or your like will do from now to the crack of doom. Why do you so object to an abortioner and advertising doctor, whose doings the law proves powerless to reach, receiving his just desert {sp} at the hands of an outraged community?

"Have you any special reasons for favoring such gentry? What do you pay judges and juries in your city? Is it to suppress race riots, which they haven't done? Is it to punish or to free just twenty-seven red handed murderers, which they have done? Is it to be powerless to arrest your governor under indictment for a confidence game? Is it to nurture and to fondle the most notorious gangs of criminals and cut throats in the world, who thrive and fatten in Chicago?"

Solves Her Problem.

"If you are undergoing a reform spasm your own city and state afford you boundless opportunities and speaking of reformers we never yet saw one who could endure the spotlight. And the very few misguided hands who have grabbed at Jim Jam Jems found they had grabbed live wire, which burned to the bone, ere they would drop it. We didn't start your intrusion into our affair, but we'll guarantee to finish it good and plenty.


Per Wallace Campbell."

Shortly after the receipt of the letter, according to the girl's parents, a badly dressed and domineering man called at the home and asked for Mrs. De Britto. When told she was at work he asked the address. It was given to him.

That night Mrs. De Brito came home, her mother says, "a nervous wreck." "O, they'll print such awful things—what shall I do?" she cried.

And Monday night she solved her problem.

Chicago Tribune, 8/17/1921

In A Well

Posted 08/06/2014