Denver Post (Colorado)
2 February 1899, pg. 4
Digital image viewed online at GenealogyBank 8 April 2013.
Transcription by S. Lincecum.


The Death of a Banker Brings Out an Interesting Story.

The announcement of the death of Joseph E. Bivins at a private sanitarium in
Milledgeville, Ga., recalls one of the strangest combinations of romantic
incidents that has ever occurred in Georgia.

Bivins was president of the First National bank of the little town of
Cordele, in the southern part of the state, and was a shrewd and capable
business man. His health broke down from overwork, and he was sent to the
sanitarium for treatment, but succumbed to the disease and died a few days

To begin at the beginning, it will be necessary to go back to a period just
prior to the war, when John Pitts, a bachelor, who had acquired quite a
large amount of property, suddenly announced to his friends that he believed
he would get married. No sooner had he formed that resolution than he
dressed himself in his best clothes, put on his hat and walked down
Whitehall street to a millinery establishment conducted by a maiden lady in
moderate circumstances.

In a few words he explained his mission, proposed marriage and was accepted,
and in a few hours the two were made one. Pitts was a good business man,
and had accumulated quite a lot of property in real estate, which was
comparatively cheap at that time, and by the time the civil war broke out he
was considered a rich man. But he formed a sudden resolution to volunteer
in the Confederate service, and joining a company, he went to the front.
That was the last that was ever heard of him by his wife and his friends.
She watched and waited for some tidings of her husband, and finally, after
the war closed and there were still no tidings of the missing man, she gave
him up for dead and assumed control of the property, being the sole heir of
the missing man.

* * * * *

IN 1869 there appeared in Atlanta Dr. J. B. Marvin, of St. Louis, with his
wife and young son, and he opened an office on Whitehall street as a
"gynecologist," and he soon secured a lucrative practice in his profession,
which was then little known in this section. While practicing his
profession he formed the acquaintance of the wealthy widow, Mrs. Pitts, and
they became great friends, as Dr. Marvin possessed a large amount of
personal magnetism and was very attractive among the ladies.

Suddenly he closed his office, announced his intention of removing to
Cincinnatti, and, packing up his belongings, he took his wife and boy and
left the city. He remained away a year or two, and as suddenly appeared
again in Atlanta, but without his wife and son. After a time he renewed his
acquaintance with Mrs. Pitts, and the acquaintance soon ripened into a
warmer feeling more than mere friendship, and the two were married.

* * * * *

Dr. Marvin was a fine business man, and when he assumed control of Mrs.
Pitts' property it had increased in value, and by judicious investment, at a
time when Atlanta real estate was on a boom, he soon became a very wealthy

In 1888 the Georgia Southern and Florida railroad was built from Macon
southward, crossing the Savannah, Americus and Montgomery; also, a newly
built road at the little town of Cordele, in the southern part of the state.
Cordele was a boom town, and Dr. Marvin was quick to take advantage of the
opportunity offered to make profitable investments there. He placed his
money so judiciously and manipulated the property with such success that he
soon became a magnate in the little town. He established the First National
bank, of which Joseph E. Bivins, an active young business man of Americus,
was made cashier. Dr. Marvin engaged in local politics, which he controlled
through his wealth and influence, and became mayor of the town. He took the
side of prohibition and won, and was otherwise of great influence in shaping
the government of the town.

He continued to deal in real estate, and in two or three years was
recognized as the wealthiest man in all that section. But in 1891 he was
stricken with sudden illness and died. His widow was inconsolable. She
procured the services of a skilled embalmer and had the body carefully
treated. It was then placed in a handsome and costly casket and placed in a
conspicuous position in her parlor where she could gaze on the dead face of
her husband through the glass front of the coffin. This eccentric action on
her part created a great deal of comment, but the widow paid no heed to it,
and the grewsome reminder of connubial happiness remained there for about
three years, the widow occupying the lonely mansion with no other companion
during all those years.

* * * * *

Young Bivins, in the meantime, conducted the affairs of the bank with such
success and ability that he was elected president to succeed Dr. Marvin. He
was a young man about 30 years of age, active and vigorous, and he looked
after the affairs of Mrs. Marvin with the utmost diligence.

As she was well advanced in years, and, apparently, so devoted to the memory
of her late husband, nobody supposed that she would consider for a moment
any suggestion of another matrimonial venture, consequently, when the
marriage of President Bivins and Mrs. Marvin was announced, the community
was electrified by the news.

But they were married, and to add to the sensational features of the
wedding, when they started North on their bridal trip they took with them
the casket containing the body of Dr. Marvin, and at Macon turned it over to
an undertaker for burial, while they proceeded on their journey.

* * * * *

Bivins assumed control of the Atlanta property of his wife, as well as her
interests in Cordele, and for a time all went merry as a marriage bell, but
very unexpectedly there appeared another actor on the scene in the person of
a young man calling himself Harry Marvin, who claimed to be the son of Dr.
J. B. Marvin, by his first wife. He claimed that his mother was dead, and
that he was the sole and lawful heir to his father's estate. The appearance
of this young man created somewhat of a sensation, and for a while Bivins
and his wife resisted the claims of the heir-at-law. He appealed to the
courts, however, and succeeded in establishing his identity. Thereupon
Bivins and his wife decided upon a compromise to avoid costly litigation.

Young Marvin was given the titles to a generous share of the Atlanta
property, on the condition that he urge no further claim upon his father's
estate. In a year or so after this settlement, Mrs. Bivins died, leaving
her husband sole heir to her estate.

And now, while still a young man and in the prime and vigor of life, the
possessor of large and valuable properties, Joseph E. Bivins, the third
husband of a remarkable woman, has passed away, leaving young Marvin as the
only actor in this chain of romantic incidents. Bivins left no immediate
heirs, and it is supposed that his property will go to distant relatives.

Whether young Marvin will contend for an additional share in the complicated
estate or not, remains to be seen. The case is a most singular one in all
its bearings, and nothing like it has ever been chronicled in the history of
the state. -- St. Louis Globe-Democrat.

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