Aug. 25, 1909
MASSACHUSETTS TOWN WORRIES ABOUT PASTOR'S TALE OF HIS QUADRUPLETS: People in the Western Massachusetts town of Goshen suspect that a new clergyman in town is trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the flock.
Recently moved from Chicago, the Rev. Samuel H. Seccombe and his wife say they are the proud parents of quadruplets, who were born in Chicago on May 26. The babies are, in fact, right there in flesh and blood. However the multiple-birth aspect of the story puzzles some. As today's front-page story in the Globe says it, people wonder if they were "born at a quadruple birth, or whether they are babies adopted or otherwise procured for commercial purposes." The Rev. Seccombe had come to Goshen earlier in the spring to teach, being hired at a salary of $600 per year with housing provided. He told parishioners his wife would join him in a few weeks. Then he brought out the big news. The article says, "The last of May he announced that her coming would be delayed as she had just given birth to quadruplets in Chicago."
What better time for some investigative journalism?
The wife arrived -- with the four infants, and four other older children, which the pastor had never mentioned. Goshen residents who showed up at the house to help care for the newcomers "got to gossiping shortly to some effect that there seemed to be some variance in the ages of the children."
An "enterprising correspondent" decided to take the story a bit further. The writer contacted a Chicago newspaper. An investigation began. Robert Zempke, a neighbor of the Seccombes on Fulton Street in Chicago "said the Seccombes had lived in the house next door, separated from his house by not over five feet and he never had heard of Mrs. Seccombe having had quadruplet babies."
In addition to talking to a neighbor, reporters also checked birth records:
"The vital statistics of Chicago revealed no such encouragement as four births to any woman at any time, and none at all, certainly not in May, to Mrs. Seccombe."