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James W. Paige and the Jilted Actress, or
"Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire?"

In 1892 a series of newspaper articles reported a scandalous affair between inventor James W. Paige and Mrs. Jessie Hall.
Special acknowledgment to Kevin Bochynski who researched and provided these articles.

Boston Daily Globe, June 10, 1892

Mrs. Jessie Hall Asks for $950,000.
Type-Setting Machine Inventor Promised Marriage.
But He Failed to Keep His Promise.
Defendant Said to be Worth $3,000,000.
Who the Parties Are and Where They Came From.

CHICAGO, June 9. - Mrs. Jessie Hall, a former actress, whose stage name was Dorothy Lewis, today brought suit to recover $950,000 for breach of promise to marry from James W. Paige, manufacturer of the "Paige" type-setting machine, and a citizen of Hartford, Conn., where he is reported to be worth $2,000,000 or $3,000,000.

Mr. Paige first met Mrs. Hall in Hartford, while she was completing an engagement with a theatrical company.

Several months later, it is alleged, under his promises of marriage, she left the stage and went to live with Paige as his wife, in an elegant residence in Hartford.

Putting off Mrs. Hall from month to month, under a promise of marriage, Paige, it is asserted, finally said he would giver her $800,000 from the royalties on the type setting machine as an evidence of his faith in the marriage contract.

One night he came home, she states, very much intoxicated, and beat her and her mother until their faces were badly discolored.

Later, the couple went to Milwaukee to get married .

While there, Paige accused her of flirting with a young clerk and left her, declaring he would never marry her.

Afterward, Paige, it is claimed by threats, induced Mrs. Hall to sign a contract releasing him from the engagement, in consideration for which he offered her a check for $1000.

She refused to take the check, and the couple returned to Hartford separately.

Mrs. Hall is of small stature, plump and well formed.

Has blonde hair and light blue eyes and is decidedly pretty.

She dresses richly, and is apparently a woman of culture and refinement.

She says Paige promised to give her $800,000 as dower, and her interest in the rest of his fortune would raise the sum to $950,000

Little to be Found Out About Suit in Hartford

HARTFORD, Conn., June 9. - All the parties interested in the big Hall-Paige divorce suit are in Chicago.

James W. Paige, the inventor of the Paige typesetting machine, removed to Chicago six weeks ago, and is erecting large factories for the manufacture of his machines.

A call at the home of Stephen Rogers found him at Chicago and his wife in ignorance of the suits.

It was learned, however, that Mrs. Jessie Hall, the plaintiff, and Edwin M. Grant, had boarded at the house, and both had left for Chicago two weeks ago,

The mother of Mrs. Hall was seen, but she refused to speak about the case.

From other sources it was ascertained that J.C. Lewis, who plays the title-role in "Sidlunkett," was formerly a bartender in this city, and when he entered the theatrical profession Jessie went with him and assumed a character. [ED. NOTE: The correct name of the play was "Si Plunkard"]

They had lived together as man and wife on Wells st. in this city.

Three years ago Jessie returned to this city and became acquainted with Paige, and they were very intimate.

Jessie had rooms at the home of Stephen Rogers for the past two years.

Lewis was recently married while starring in the far West.

Paige has been at work on his typesetter for a dozen years.

He was backed by a number of the wealthy men of the city.

Among those who put large sums in the work of perfecting the machine was Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain), but he withdrew after sinking $75,000.

The machine has now been perfected and a Chicago syndicate is to manufacture the setter in large quantities.

A number of skilled workmen removed to Chicago to work in the factory.

Stephen Rogers was formerly a contractor at Colt's, and later conducted a livery business.

Of late he has been out of business. He was a special friend to Paige.

Grant is a bookkeeper in a clothing house on Asylum st. All parties are well known.


The Hartford Courant, Friday, June 10, 1892

Jessie Hall, an Actress, Claims Big
Damages for Blighted Affections.

A sensation was created in this city last night by the receipts of dispatches from Chicago stating that James W. Paige, a patentee connected with the Paige Compositor Company, who moved to Chicago about two months ago, has been sued by Mrs. Jessie Hall, an actress, for breach of promise of marriage, claiming about $1,000,000 damages.

One dispatch said Steven Rogers of this city had prosecuted Mrs. Hall for living illegally with one Edwin M. Grant. Paige, Grant, Jessie Hall and Rogers are now in Chicago, where the last named went about two weeks ago.

Paige is well known in this city where he had lived about ten years engaged in developing the machine which bears his name. Rogers has worked for him and Grant and Mrs. Hall and her mother boarded in Roger's family [home] on Hudson street. Paige is a widower with a son about 25 years of age.

Jessie Hall was at one time an actress and travelled in the Si Plunkett Company, in which J.C. Lewis who was formerly a bartender for Dwight Mitchell takes the leading part. [ED. NOTE: The correct name of the play was "Si Plunkard"] She and her mother formerly lived on Wells street until they moved to Steven Rogers's home on Hudson street. She is a tall, good looking blonde, about 35 years of age. It is known that Paige frequently visited her while he lived here and they have been often seen together. It is not believed that Paige has much property outside of his interest in the Paige Compositor Company, which is large.

Mrs. Rogers, the wife of Steven Rogers, and Jessie Hall's mother both said last night that they knew nothing of the suits.


Los Angeles Times, June 10, 1892

An ex-Actress Wants Heavy Damages from a Millionaire.

CHICAGO, June 9. -- [By the Associated Press.] A suit for breach of promise of marriage for $50,000 damages has been instituted in the Superior Court by Mrs. Jessie Hall, a former actress, whose stage name was Dorathea Lewis against James W. Paige of Hartford, Ct. Paige is a manufacturer of machinery. Mrs. Hall's attorney says that Paige is several times a millionaire. He made the acquaintance of Mrs. Hall in Hartford. Under promise of marriage he induced her to quit the stage and go to live with him two years ago. He was finally brought to fix the day for the marriage at Milwaukee April 22 last. He arrived there and declined to marry her, and forced her to sign a paper releasing him.

It transpires that an action was begun in Police Court here a few days ago by Stephen Rogers of Hartford, Ct., against Mrs. Hall and E. N. Grant, charging them with passing as man and wife, though not married.


The New York Times, June 10, 1892


CHICAGO. June 9. -- Suit for breach of promise of marriage and $950,000 has been instituted in the Superior Court by Mrs. Jessie Hall, a former actress, whose stage name was Dorothea Lewis, against James W. Paige of Hartford, Conn. Mr. Paige is manufacturer of the Paige type-setting machine.

Mrs. Hall's attorney says she made the acquaintance of Paige two years ago while playing in Hartford. He became infatuated with her and upon his solicitation she left the stage and went to live with him under promise of marriage. Paige delayed the ceremony, pending the completion of negotiations with New York capitalists under which his machine was to be put on the market with a capital of $8,000,000. Finally, he said the matter had been settled, and the date for the wedding was fixed for April 22 last at Milwaukee.

Paige came home one night and severely beat Mrs. Hall and mother, it is charged. A week later Mrs. Hall and Paige left Hartford for Milwaukee, where they arrived on April 21. Paige accused her of flirting with a good-looking clerk, and finally declared he would not marry her. She says that by threats he induced her to sign a contract releasing him. She returned to Hartford, but, by the advice of counsel, came to Chicago and began a suit for breach of promise. She says he promised to give her $800,000 out of the royalties from the sale of his machine.

It developed to-day that Mrs. Hall was in a Justice's court a few days ago on a charge of illegally living with Edwin M. Grant as his wife. Paige says he knows nothing about this case.


Chicago Daily Tribune, June 11, 1892

Joseph [sic] W. Paige, Who Has Been Sued for $950,000 for Breach of Promise.

HARTFORD, CONN., June 10. -- [Special.] The report of the breach of promise suit of Mrs. Jessie Hall against James W. Paige has created a sensation here where all the parties are well known. For ten years or more Paige has been working here getting his typesetting machine in marketable shape. He expended fully $100,000 of capital furnished by Hartford men who had confidence in his invention. He had a comfortable salary while prosecuting his work, lived well, and was well known around town. He is about 50 years old and is understood to be a widower. The record of the pretty blonde actress is only partly known. Her first stage experience is said to have been with J. C. Lewis, who was a Hartford bartender. When Paige recently negotiated with Chicago capitalists to form a company to manufacture his machine he took Jessie with him to Chicago. His refusal to marry her resulted in frequent quarrels and she wrote to Edwin M. Grant, in whose house she boarded here, to come to Chicago. He made a trip there about two weeks ago and returning resigned his place last Saturday and again left the city. It is understood here that Paige telegraphed him to come to Chicago and procure evidence which will defeat Jessie's attack on Paige's pocketbook.


Fitchburg (Massachusetts) Sentinel, June 25, 1892

Another Alleged Husband of Jessie Hall Turns Up.

HARTFORD, June 25. -- The $800,000 breach of promise suit of the blonde actress, Jessie Hall, against J. W. Paige, the Chicago inventor of typesetting machines, has involved a new and interesting phase. Jessie continues to have had remarkable matrimonial experiences, if latest reports are to be credited. Five men have at one time or another played the role of husband, and a new one turned up here Thursday, and started for Chicago yesterday to help Paige out of his scrape.

George H. Hamilton, who says he has been connected with the New York newspapers, claims to have been married to Jessie in New York in July 1891, and he produces a marriage certificate in proof of his union. He had not been in Hartford for months, and had lost track of his wandering spouse until Thursday, when he dropped off a New York train at the Hartford depot, and accidentally ran across Steve Rogers who has been for a month past flying back and forth between Hartford and Chicago in the interest of Mr. Paige.

Rogers told Hamilton of his discoveries in Chicago, where Jessie had been quartered at the same hotels with Ed Grant, a dashing Hartford clothing clerk. Hamilton hastened with Rogers over to her residence to talk over the matter with her. She shut the door in his face, as she has in that of everybody who has called to talk about her prosecution. He now has acceded to Rogers' suggestion to go to Chicago in Paige's interest, and left for that city yesterday noon with Rogers. Hamilton says that after he joined his fortunes with Jessie they organized a small theatrical company, but she soon left, as there was more glory than profit in the tour.

Edwin M. Grant was arrested in Chicago a few weeks ago at the instigation of Steven Rogers, who is his father-in-law, for unlawfully living with Miss Hall. Mrs. Grant, who, with her husband, is in this city, defends Jessie Hall, and claims that her marriage with Hamilton in New York was illegal, a former divorce being granted her from one Hall, on condition that she should never marry in New York state.

Mrs. Grant says she once overheard James W. Paige ask Jessie Hall to become his wife, while they were occupying the sitting room in her house.


The Washington Post, June 25, 1892

Jessie Hall's Alleged Husband.

HARTFORD, Conn., June 24 -- George H. Hamilton claims that we was married last July to Jessie Hall, the woman who is suing Millionaire Paige, of this city, for $950,000 damages for breach of promise. Hamilton hails from Malone, N.Y. He says Miss Hall lived with his adopted father before marrying him. He says her maiden name was Mullenhall, and that her father was a priest at Houston, Tex.

The lawsuit against James W. Paige was Case #S-140309 filed in the Superior Court of Cook County, Illinois. On February 17, 1893, both the attorneys for Paige and Hall signed a document dismissing the case without cost.

Related Twain - Paige items:
"Mark Twain, James W. Paige and the Paige Typesetter"
The New York Times, March 30, 1892
Chicago Daily Tribune, May 7, 1892
Scientific American, March 9, 1901 (includes rare photos)
The New York Times, November 13, 1927
The New York Times, October 1, 1940

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