Portrait of an Art Investigation: Lilian II

The painting’s subject, Lilian dePeyster Post Pulsford would have been taught that a lady’s name appears in the newspaper twice:  her wedding announcement and her obituary. But she shattered the rule when details of her Reno divorce appeared on the front page of the New York Times. Two years later, on March 19, 1913,  she made the news again when her quiet marriage to Allen Walker at the Chicago courthouse created the headline, “Surprised at Own Wedding.”

Sequel to Reno Divorce Sudden,
Mrs. Walker Testifies


Further testimony was taken yesterday in the suit for divorce brought by J. Arthur Pulsford of Elizabeth, N. J., against Mrs. Lillian Pulsford Walker of Chicago in the Chancery Court in Newark.  Mrs. Walker, who married her present husband after she obtained a decree in Reno, Nev., continued her testimony to explain how it was she was married to Walker in less than a week after the decree was granted on March, 23, 1911.  On March 31 she was married to Walker, but the decree was not signed until April 6, 1911.

Mrs. Walker said she did not know when she left Reno that she was going to Chicago to be married, and that Mr. Walker had not proposed to her until the day after she arrived in that city.

Mr. Pulsford asserts that the Nevada decree is fraudulent because Mrs. Pulsford was not a bona fide resident of that state…

In the testimony it developed that Walker had lived at the Pulsford home in Elizabeth, previous to the separation, by Mrs. Pulsford’s invitation…

The case will be argued again tomorrow.((“Surprised by Own Wedding,” New York Times, Sunday, March 19, 1913, page 15, columns 5-6.))

Later arguments went unpublished.

Lilian and Allen Walker lived in Nassau County, Long Island.((The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York)  Fri, Nov 8, 1918 · Page 10; United States Census Bureau, “Household of Alan Walker,” Fourteenth Census of the United States, January 16, 1920, North Hempstead, Nassau, New York; Roll: T625_1128; Page: 10A; lines 25-27)) Walker, British born, but reared in Australia, worked as an investment banker in New York City. During the flu epidemic of 1918, Lilian volunteered at an Emergency Hospital in Barker’s Point, Long Island.

In 1919, Pulsford resigned from Liverpool & London & Globe.((“Changes in Fire Fields,” Weekly Underwriter, Volume 101, Part II, (The Underwriter Printing and Publishing Company, 1920)  826)) In 1921, he died in Massachusetts at the age of 52 after a short illness.((Department of Public Health, Registry of Vital Records and Statistics. Massachusetts Vital Records Index to Deaths [1916–1970]. Volume 24, page 479, and unsourced obituary emailed from distant relative contacted via Ancestry.com.)) Childless, he left his estate to his unmarried sister Josephine.((Last Will and Testament of J. Arthur Pulsford, unsourced, emailed by Lisa Taylor Brophy, Esq., Staff Attorney, Union County Surrogate, 2 Broad Street, Elizabeth, NJ  07207, October 28, 2014.))

Lilian and Allen Walker were childless, too, but long-lived and well-traveled. Walker’s banking career expanded to manager of the foreign department of Guaranty Trust Company.((“Asks Wider Export Field,” New York Times, April 22, 1920, page 21, column 4)) In Chile, after Walker negotiated a $21 million loan with the Chilean government, at the request of the nation’s president, Arbruro Alessandri (1868-1950), Lilian served as his hostess as he entertained Prince Ferdinand of Spain.((Allen Walker, “Adventures Abroad II: Beauty, Visiting Royalty are ‘Problems in Chili,” Warren Times Mirror (Warren, Pennsylvania), November 6. 1962, page 3, columns 3-5)) In Venice, Lilian shopped by gondola for hand-made tablecloths, bed spreads, and curtains.  In Rome, they attended Easter services at St. Peter’s.((Allen Walker, “Adventures Abroad III: Ancient City of Venice Still Holds Deep Appeal,” Warren Times Mirror (Warren, Pennsylvania), November 7, 1962, page 22, columns 5-7.)) They watched the sunrise in the harbors of Hong Kong, Sydney, and Rio de Janero, rode down the Alameda in Algiers in moonlight, and watched the snow on Kilmanjaro “as it takes on different colors from the early day’s sun.”((Allen Walker, “Adventures Abroad IV: Brazil, Land of Coffee, Full of Sharp Contrasts,” Warren Times Mirror (Warren, Pennsylvania), November 8, 1962, page 7, columns 1-3.))

In 1932, their lives changed when they adopted Allen’s four-year-old grandnephew and namesake, Allen Garrett Cloyd (1927-1974). The boy was the son of one of Walker’s nieces, Elaine Rose Edwards, who had married an American oil driller in India in 1924.  Allen Garrett was born in Rangoon, Burma. His mother died in England in 1931. His father returned to America, left the child with Allen and Lilian and quickly re-married and started another family. Allen Garrett Cloyd became Allen Garrett Walker. According to his family, he always spoke fondly of Allen and “Leelee.”((Personal email correspondence with G. Edwards, wife of relative of Allen GarrettWalker, October 2015, U. S. Census Bureau, Sixteenth Census of the United States, “Household of Garrett H. Cloyd,” Carmi, White, Illinois; Roll: T627_904; Page: 15A, lines 34-36, show G. H. Cloyd, 44, as oil production supervisor, his wife as as Dorothy, 30, and their daughter as Betty Lu, 9;  U.S. Customs Service, Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1820-1897,  Microfilm Publication M237, Record Group 36. 6256867, Homeric, January 16,1929, page 1, lines 1-3; Record Group 46, Southampton, February 23, 1932, lines 25, 26 at National Archives,Washington, D.C. via Ancestry.com; U.S. Social Security Administration, “Allen Garrett Walker, 115185649,” U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, “Allen Garrett Walker,” Virginia, Death Records, 1912-2014, Certificate number, 74-012467, April 27, 1974; Virginia Divorce Records, “Allen Garrett Walker and Esther Hollis Newcomb,” Certificate number 73-003617, April 10, 1973.))

Walker described his wife:

My wife’s maiden name was Lilian de Peyster Post, a descendant on her mother’s side of General Arden, the military officer who is credited with having founded West Point.  On her father’s side, she claimed descent from the old Dutch family of de Peyster, one of the oldest settlers of Manhattan.

She was an ardent patriot, and being a strong believer in the slogan, “See America First,” she had travelled over the United States comprehensively.”((Allen Walker, “Adventures Abroad II,” op. cit.))

The artist had portrayed her in a tall green-upholstered seat of a train compartment.

Eventually, Lilian and Allen divorced. His obituary noted that survivors included “his estranged wife, Mrs. Peggy Flynn Walker of Washington.” Lilian  died September 19, 1955, at the age of 88. She was cremated and buried in a plot in the Charles Baber Cemetery in Pottsville, Pennsylvania with the cremains of her niece, Helen Blanchard Post (1904-1982) and Helen’s sister-in-law, Alexandrine Beeze Hill (Mrs. Arden Carey Post) (1902-1989).((“Lilian de Peyster Walker,” FindaGrave, Charles Baber Cemetery, Pottsville, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, USA, http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=60395570&ref=acom ; telephone conversation with staff at Charles Baber Cemetery, February, 2015; Ancestry.com.))

Walker died January 31, 1964, in Warren, Pennsylvania and was buried there at Oakland Cemetery.((“Allen Walker, FindaGrave, Oakland Cemetery, Warren, Warren County, Pennsylvania, http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=81433876&ref=acom, accessed September 2014; Warren Times Mirror, “Times Mirror Columnist Dies After Short Illness,” Warren Times Mirror (Warren, Pennsylvania), February 3, 1964, accessed September 2014; United States Social Security Death Index, 093-10-9885)) He was 84.

In the story of Lilian’s life were clues to provenance, but none as to the identity of the artist. For that, I needed more help.

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