Harriet’s Secret: A Progressive Marriage in the 1890s

Harriet’s Secret: A Progressive Marriage in the 1890s

Harriet, a beautiful and sophisticated girl from a serious Christian home, was traveling to college on a train when she met Percy, an Ivy league medical student, and an agnostic.

  • Harriet’s father opposed the marriage, but after six years of correspondence and Percy getting baptized a Christian, Harriet agreed to marry Percy in 1899. That same year her father died.

  • Percy became a doctor and abortionist in a small borough called Hollywood, just before the film industry began.

  • Within a few years, Percy and Harriet had fallen in with some of the most radical social figures of the early 20th century and were soon outspoken advocates for atheism, communism, and free sex.

  • Before long, Harriet grew extremely jealous of the other women, especially the young dancers who lived next door, and called for an end to the open marriage. Percy refused, and Harriet grew depressed and sickly.

  • Her sudden death the day after surgery as a middle-aged woman was accompanied by mystery and scandal, and questions linger to this day as to what actually happened between she and her doctor husband. Was it an accident, or was it something else?

Harriet met Percy on a Pullman Sleeping Car, invented by Percy’s Grandfather T. T. Woodruff, whom Andrew Carnegie, the richest man in the world, credits in his autobiography as the original source of his fortune. But Carnegie’s lies about how he met Woodruff, and he later defrauds the inventor, who is eventually killed in a strange train accident. Woodruff’s death is a strange one, and so is the connection between Carnegie and Harriet.