Tuesday, September 20, 2011


April 6, 1906, Brooklyn Daily Standard Union,
John WILMER MARTINE, the Fifth avenue haberdasher's clerk, was arraigned to-day before the Justices of the Court of Special Sessions, Manhattan, for sentence under his plea of guilty to stealing a polo shirt valued at $5 from his employer, McLAUGHLIN, the haberdasher.

A probation officer reported to the court that he had discovered that MARTINE's real name is John RAUSCHENBACH and that he has a sister, Mrs. Bertha BROWN, living at 510 Otterbein street, Baltimore, and another sister, Mrs. Ida NODMAN, living at Cherry Hill, Md. The probation officer declared that he understood ex-Senator MASON, of Illinois, had been informed that MARTINE was engaged to the Senator's daughter, Ruth, for some time, but that the engagement had been broken.

At one time, it is said, he was secretary for James H. HYDE, former vice-president of the Equitable Life Assurance Society. He finally joined HARRIGAN'S circus, eventually developing his act known as the "human snake." After hearing this report the justices suspended sentence and he was paroled in the custody of the probation officer until May 25.

March 29, 1906, The San Francisco Call, Alleged Thief a Social Lion,
One-Time Suitor for the Hand of a Daughter of Former Senator Mason
Interest in the unique career of John Wilmer Martine, ex-actor, former circus contortionist, man about town and friend and entertainer of smart society, increased today when it developed that he had been a suitor for the hand of Miss Ruth Mason, daughter of former United States Senator W. E. Mason of Illinois, and had at one time known Miss Ruth Hanna, daughter of the late Senator Mark Hanna.
When Martine was arraigned in the West Side court today on the charge of grand larceny preferred by a Fifth avenue haberdasher, for whom he been had salesman, a number of his fashionable friends drove up to the building in automobiles and were present in the court-room during his appearance there......
Former Senator Mason was angry when shown the text of some of his daughter's letters, written to Martine.
"I shall go to New York," he said "and shoot the cur that prints the letters of my daughter. Martine met my daughter in Washington several years ago. It is true that they were sweethearts, but later my daughter learned several facts in regard to Martine's life which caused her to renounce him."
The love letters of Miss Ruth Mason to Martine were written shorty after his circus experience as the vaunted "Human Corkscrew" and "Anatomical Marvel". They are typical letters of a school girl.

Reports of cases heard and determined in the Appellate division ..., Volume 160
By New York (State). Supreme Court Vol. CLX, 1914
The People of the State of New York, Respondent, v. John Wilmer (or Martine), Appellant.
Judgment of conviction of the County Court of Westchester county affirmed. No opinion. Burr, Thomas, Carr and Rich, JJ., concurred; Jenks, P. J., dissented upon the ground that the evidence was not sufficient to justify a conviction.

April 6, 1906, New York Times,
MARTINE PAROLED.; Friends Intercede for Society Entertainer Who Stole.
On the recommendation of the attorney for the complaining witness, the Justices of Special Sessions paroled yesterday John Wilmer Martine, who had pleaded guilty to stealing a polo shirt from his employers, F.A. McLaughlin Co. of 304 Fifth Avenue. The case attracted attention because Martine has been well known in social circles as a clever contortionist, his ability procuring for him the nickname of "the human snake."

1906, The Naples [NY] News, MAN LEADS DOUBLE LIFE.
New Yorker Who Posed as a Wealthy Society Man Is Held for Larceny.
New York .—Through the arrest of John Wilmer Martine, head salesman in a Fifth avenue haberdashery, one of the most remarkable dual personalities in the police records of this city has come to light. Martine worked each week from eight a.m. to six p.m. for $2 a week. After business hours he was a welcome guest to the homes of some of the best known families in the city. He numbered among his friends several well-known society women.

Skillful and continuous larceny, it is alleged, enabled him to live at the rate of $15,000 a year for two years or more, it is charged, he has stolen systematically and without corning under suspicion. A trip to Europe proved his undoing,

Martine added to his income by work as "parlor entertainer." He got $25 a night for this, and so pleasing was his personality that her seldom failed to convert his patrons into admiring friends. He has appeared in the houses of John D. Rockefeller and Grant B. Schley. He stage managed the entertainments, at the We st side Y. M. C. A., where he was highly esteemed. Martine, whose right nameis said to be Martin, came to this city from Baltimore ten years ago. He is 28 years old, and is known as one of the "smartest dressers" in town.

In the West Side police court Martine was brought to answer a charge of grand larceny preferred by his employer, W. A. Laughlin. Edward H. Hobbs, counsel for the haberdasher, said the stealings of Mr. Martine in the five years he has worked for the concern are not known, but he was charged with the theft of $500.

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