Utahns were "shocked but not surprised" in December 1906 to learn that one of the state's first U.S. senators, Arthur Brown, had been shot to death by a long-time mistress in a Washington, D.C., hotel.
The murder was big news in Utah for weeks, and the bulk of local sentiment favored the killer, Anne Maddison Bradley, despite Brown's success as a lawyer and politician. Revelations about his sordid private life eventually tipped the scales of public favor against him, stories indicate.The shooting occurred Dec. 8, and Brown died Dec. 13 of kidney failure, the Deseret News reported. The story is repeated in a 1984 issue of the Utah Historical Quarterly.
Brown, a lawyer, had moved to the Utah Territory in 1879 hoping to be appointed U.S. district attorney for the territory. When the appointment went to someone else, he set up a private law practice and became involved in Republican Party politics. When Utah became a state in 1896, he and Frank J. Cannon were elected the state's first representatives to the U.S. Senate. Brown drew the short term, serving from January 1896 to March 1897.
The murder and Bradley's trial drew national attention. The Washington Star reported: "Out there (in Utah) the people are in full sympathy with Mrs. Bradley. At one time, it is true, sentiment was somewhat against Mrs. Bradley, but the people did not know the half. It was not until the will of Brown was published that the real knowledge of what Mrs. Bradley had suffered and the irreparable wrong that Brown had done her were known."
During the trial, Bradley told a sad tale of broken promises, dangerous abortions (three, one of which she said Brown himself performed) and Brown's refusal to acknowledge two sons born of the alliance.
In his will, Brown specifically denied being father to the boys, Arthur Brown Bradley and Martin Montgomery Brown, and directed that neither they nor their mother was to receive anything from his estate.
"I never married Anna M. Bradley and never intended to," the will said. Bradley's version was different, a story of repeated promises of marriage over a period of years. For Brown, it would have been a third marriage. His first wife, identified only as "Mrs. L.C. Brown," gave birth to a daughter, but was discarded when he became involved with Isabel Cameron, the daughter of a Michigan State senator. She followed him when he came to Salt Lake City. They eventually married and had a son.
The "close friendship" between the 53-year-old politician and 23-year-old Bradley apparently began during his political campaign. She already had two children by her husband, Clarence Bradley. During her trial, Bradley said she had essentially quit living with her husband by 1898, although they reconciled "off and on" until 1902.
During the trial, she testified that she told Brown "what he wanted would be only sorrow," but he persisted in his pursuit of a relationship. "Finally, he began coming to my house at very unseemly hours and I told him it must stop, but he answered `Darling, we will go through life together. I want you to have a son.' " In 1900, Arthur Brown Bradley was born.
In 1902, they took several trips together and Brown assured her he was in the process of getting a divorce. At the same time, Isabel Brown hired a private detective, Samuel Dowse, to follow her husband and his mistress. The wife was determined not to grant Brown a divorce because she planned to be presented at court in England the following year and divorced women were not acknowledged in the court.
On Sept. 28, 1902, Brown and Bradley were arrested on charges of adultery. Mrs. Brown claimed to have in her possession more than 300 letters and telegrams Bradley had sent to her husband. The adultery charge was repeated in January 1903 and Soren X. Christen- sen, a local lawyer, was asked by the Browns to keep an eye on Brown to help him stay away from Bradley, whom Brown had characterized as a beguiling seductress.
The former senator offered to give Bradley a home in California or Salt Lake City "not to exceed $5,000 in value" and $100 a month as long as she remained single. She refused the offer, saying that she wanted nothing but the senator.
On one occasion, Christensen stated in his deposition to the Washington court that Mrs. Brown and her rival met in a Pocatello, Idaho, hotel, where Brown supposedly had gone to "escape" his mistress. In a wild melee, the two women threatened to kill each other and Christensen then became an uneasy witness to a conversation that continued from 1 to 7:30 a.m.
Accusations and counter-accusations flew. Brown denied being the father of his wife's son but said he was the father of Bradley's, Christensen said. At the end of the session, Brown gave Bradley a revolver to protect herself against his wife. It was the gun she eventually used to kill him.
Bradley came away from the Pocatello confrontation with the impression that Brown really intended to divorce his wife and take her away to Poland to live. But when she came back from a stay at Brown's ranch, three months pregnant, she found the Browns happily reconciled and the senator again denying the paternity of her children.
When Isabel Brown died on Aug. 22, 1905, of cancer, Bradley thought all barriers to their marriage had finally been removed. Brown called her the night after his wife's death and told her to "go ahead and get your divorce and we will make this matter right." She did, but all that followed was a string of promises without action. Finally a day was set in June 1906. When it came, Brown called to tell her he was ill.
With the responsibility of four children (she was pregnant with a fifth and lost it only weeks before the shooting) Bradley was getting desperate. She began to press Brown at least to provide her start-up money to establish a business, possibly a stationery store in Goldfield, Nev.
Instead of providing the money he had promised, Brown left for Washington to plead a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. He had provided Bradley a train ticket for Los Angeles. Instead, she boarded a train for the national capital. She told her sister that maybe Brown would rather give her the money for a business than have her bothering him during an important legal case.
In Washington, she went directly to the Raleigh Hotel, where she took a separate room. But in Brown's room, she found letters written by Annie Adams Kiskad- den, an actress herself and mother of noted Utah actress Maude Adams. The letters intimated that Brown was planning to marry Kiskadden. The actress, 58 years old at the time, later acknowledged she was the cause of the shooting, and wanted to accompany Brown's body back to Utah, but his family would not allow it.
Distraught at discovering Kiskadden's love letters, Brown walked the streets of Washington. Returning to the hotel, she heard Brown's footsteps and went to his room to confront him.
The Washington Star subsequently reported that "she declared she could not remember any of the events following. She did not know Brown was shot until she seemed to be awakened as from a dreath (swoon) by the sound of a shot. Brown had rushed toward her and grabbed her . . . but she did not remember drawing the revolver, aiming it at Brown or pulling the trigger."
Utah's history of polygamy prior to statehood was alluded to during the trial. Asked if Brown were a polygamist, the defendant answered: "He is not a Mormon polygamist but a Gentile polygamist."
The case went to the jury Dec. 2, 1907, and a verdict of "not guilty" was returned the following day. Sympathizers in Washington started a fund to help the destitute Bradley get back to her family in Utah, but she refused it, saying she wanted to earn her own fare home.
Back in Utah, she filed suit to try to get a share of Brown's estate for her sons, but they never received anything. Over time, she lived in several Western communities. In 1915, Matthew Bradley died of stab wounds inflicted by his brother in an argument over who would cook and who would do the dishes. About 1921, Bradley returned to Salt Lake City, where she established an antique store called "My Shop."
She died Nov. 11, 1950, at the age of 77, of a heart ailment.