Alexander Hamilton” has become the latest “super star” of the Broadway stage. The musical has been widely and almost uniformly praised for its presentation of one of the United States’ Founding Fathers – albeit to a hip hop, rap beat.
Hamilton’s has connections to the New York State’s Hudson River Valley elite through his marriage to Elizabeth Schuyler – daughter of General Philip Schuyler, granddaughter of Hendrick Van Rensselaer. Hamilton married into the New York Dutch aristocracy. Marrying Elizabeth Schuyler opened the door to power, privilege and prestige, to say nothing about wealth, for this illegitimate young man from the Caribbean.
The Knickerbocker society of New York was based on the inter-marriage of the most powerful families, much like the dynastic families of Europe. When Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler were joined in wedlock, they began their own dynasty – generations of Hamilton/Schuylers, whose lives reflect all the variations of human-kind, both good and bad.
The negative view of the Hamilton family’s legacy was the subject of an article in the Montgomery Alabama Advertiser. The article, of Sunday, October 4, 1903, was entitled “Hamilton Fate Throughout The Ages.” Generation after generation of Hamiltons were portrayed as hardly deserving the high standing they occupied in society.
This same theme of lackluster Hamilton familial achievements was brought forth in an Atlanta Journal. In the Journal’s article, entitled “Evil Fate –Pursues The Hamilton Family”, a listing of the less than stellar descendants of Alexander Hamilton is examined. “Legends of the middle ages relate how an evil spirit of disaster was wont to pursue certain ancient noble families. . . such a nemesis seems to have followed the house of Hamilton in the United States.”
According to this newspaper article, “In all the tragic chapters of the Hamiltons there has been a baleful enchantress. . . some beautiful woman had in each instance been largely responsible for the undoing of these men’s lives.”
It is well known that Alexander Hamilton had an eye for the ladies and had been “led astray” on more than one occasion. Hamilton’s son, John Church Hamilton, was known, it was said, to have been involved in a number of breach of promise lawsuits.
John Church Hamilton’s son, General Alexander Hamilton, was “. . .said to have been expelled from the Second Reformed Church in Tarrytown, and to have threatened on more than one occasion to kill his wife.”
Another of John Church Hamilton's sons was General Schuyler Hamilton. Schuyler Hamilton had a son named Robert Ray Hamilton, who was an attorney and an Assemblyman in the New York State Legislature. According to the New York Historical Society, Museum and Library, “In the mid-1880’s, Hamilton began an unfortunate relationship with Eva Mann, which resulted in a scandal. . . . Hamilton secretly married her in June of 1889 after she convinced him that he had fathered a baby, Beatrice, who she had reportedly purchased from a midwife”. Later that year, Robert Ray Hamilton discovered that not only had he been lied to about Beatrice’s paternity but that Eva was still married to her first husband. “Eva attempted to attack Hamilton with a knife; however, failing to hit him, she turned her attack on a maid, Mary Donnelly, who she suspected of telling Hamilton the truth.”
The scandal and ensuing divorce and criminal trials drove Robert Ray west for a fishing and hunting trip at Yellowstone in Wyoming. He stayed in a remote cabin with John D. Sargent, a relative of the famous artist, John Singer Sargent. John D. Sargent was known as a strange, reclusive man.
In late August 1890, Hamilton went out on a hunting excursion by himself. When he failed to return home, a search party was organized. His horse, with its saddle overturned, was found. Days later Robert Ray Hamilton was found floating, face-down, in the Snake River. It was determined by the authorities to have been an accidental drowning. Rumors began to spread that the body found was not Hamilton’s. It was reported in The Rockford Daily Register Gazette of February 10, 1891, that “. . .he (Hamilton) was plunged into the very depths of shame by his infatuation for a notorious woman and was now absconded to Australia." His family said they believed him to be dead and denied he was still alive and using a false identity. Sightings of Robert Ray Hamilton were reported in Europe, Australia, and other places around the world.
There had even been rumors that Robert Ray Hamilton had been murdered by John D. Sargent, a man with mental problems. This was not the first murder that Sargent was believed to have committed- he was thought to have killed his first wife. In August 1913, Sargent killed himself in his isolated cabin in the Rockies.