Mr. Wetter to Mr. Uhl.
Tamatave, April 21, 1895. (Received May 31.)
Sir: I have the honor to request that you forward me such information and instructions as will enable me as ex officio guardian of the Crockett child, John, and as ex officio administrator on the estate of W. F. Crockett, deceased, to recover, if possible, from John L. Waller’s estate in the United States, if he has any property, or from his bondsmen, if liable, the amount of balance due on this consular court’s judgment of October last, as per annexed statement of account.
I regret to say that I can find no property here whereon to levy, unless it be upon the Waller land grant near Fort Dauphin. This I have been loath to do, as there was until recently a doubt in my mind as to the [Page 394] original assets of the Crockett estate having been actually embezzled by Waller, and I was, owing to his race, previous position, and political enmity to myself and all Democrats, more than willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.
By certain representations made on November 16 by Waller, accompanied by a letter to himself from Mrs. Waller, I was induced, with the concurrence of the majority of the associate judges, to whom I personally presented the status of the same, to allow Waller the extension of time asked for wherein to pay the Crockett judgment. A complete report has already been made on this matter. When the occupation of Tamatave occurred, the thirty days’ extension had not expired. Waller has ever since December 12 used this “occupation,” one way or the other, as an excuse for the money not being forthcoming, exhibiting letters from Mrs. Waller stating that she had same collected, but could not transmit, etc.
Among the Ratsimanana letters to Waller, seized by the French military authorities, was one which gave a long and succinct account of how he and his father had tried to secure a loan of the money Waller required, or part of it, from some Hovas on Mrs. Waller’s or Waller’s notes of hand, but failed, because in some instances too much interest was asked, or someone interfered and questioned both the drawer’s and indorser’s stability. The phrasing of this same letter showed conclusively that no one in Antananarivo owed Waller any money; that even the men whose names he had secured to the note he essayed to turn over to me as the entire assets of the Crockett estate were not in any way interested in raising any money for him, and that he had in reality no claim upon them.
And now comes a letter from Mrs. Waller to this consulate, whereof I send copy, inclosing a petition and a letter, whereof I send the originals; the signer of the letter, Bonar, is an English adventurer of very shady reputation in Antananarivo. A perusal of these will show that Mrs. Waller has been in reality trying to raise this money on the strength of Waller’s concessionary title and not of or from any persons owing him money in any capacity whatsoever.
To enable you to understand how Waller ever got into such financial straits as to resort to the use of this trust money would necessitate a complete summary of all the gossips and scandal of this scandal-mongering town; from which I must beg to be excused.
Suffice it to say, that at the time Waller received the Crockett money from Mr. Whitney he was in debt at every shop in town besides owing Mr. Whitney some $120 borrowed money (this Whitney deducted from the amount paid over to Waller, I understand). He and part of his family made a trip to Antananarivo, which must have cost him $500 or $600, to say nothing in the trip of January, 1894, when the whole party, six grown people and two children, went up there. How much of this money went for bribes to secure his concession it is impossible to say. I understand that when Waller turned over the Whitney estate from Geldart he was short and had to give advance salary drafts to cover, and Geldart admitted this when I questioned him thereabout. This would indicate that the Crockett money had been exhausted as far back as July, 1893.
One thing is certain, Waller and family in Madagascar are penniless. They have borrowed wherever they could borrow. In other instances they have begged and received in charity what prudence would not lend them. I know of one instance, a Creole widow, where Mrs. Waller—Waller guaranteeing the venture—was intrusted with $300 worth of [Page 395] goods which went to the capital in January a year ago. Up to date the creole widow has received, I hear, but $11 on account; and Vice-Consul Porter at Antananarivo is threatening a suit against her for obtaining money under false pretenses, because of the $50 she obtained from him and sent here to be paid into the consulate on account of the Crockett judgment.
To levy on and sell the Waller land grant would realize, I fear, under present circumstances, but small returns; and yet it seems an outrage on these two little half-breed orphans, down at Antalaka, to have their inheritance thus frittered away on other people’s vices and extravagances.
Regretting that a feeling of duty towards these two children, whom I hold the law places under my especial charge, causes me to thus again bring up this most unpleasant matter to your attention, and sincerely hoping that you will give me such instructions re this matter as will cause its final adjustment, I am, etc.,