Mrs. Eva Sleven Depierris, the daughter of Moses A. Sleven, who made millions out of the Panama Canal in dredging contracts. is practically destitute and was dispossessed from her home. in West Forty seventh Street, on Monday. Her husband, Victor B. Depierris, the son of Mrs. B. D. Depierris, the owner of the Hotel Bayard, Fifty-fourth Street and Broadway, abandoned her two months ago, and through her counsel, Thomas B. Rush, she has be gun suit against him for separation on the grounds of abandonment and non-support. Mr. Depierris, as far as could be learned yesterday from his mother and relatives, has disappeared. and the mother-in-law, as well as Henry B. Sleven. her uncle, who is said to be many times a millionaire, refuse to aid the young woman and her child. Moses A. Sleven, the father of the young woman, died Sept. 14, 1886, leaving a fortune of several millions to his second wife, the stepmother of Mrs. Depierris. The daughter was then a young girl in a con vent in Canada, and her uncle, Henry B. Sleven, was appointed her guardian. Henry B. Sleven married his brother's widow. In the will of Moses A. Sleven no provision was made for the daughter, his only issue. When the daughter finished her education in Canada she came to New York and went to live with her uncle and stepmother. On April 5, 1893, she married Victor Depierris. The marriage took place at the home of the Slevens, 119 West Seventy-second Street. Mrs. Depierris then went to live at the home of her husband's family, at the Hotel Bayard. A little girl was born in that place and she lived there until two years ago, when she separated from her husband.
According to the statement of young Mrs. Depierris, her husband agreed to give her $75 a month for the support of herself and her child, and continued to pay this sum until the first of last month, when she lost all trace of him, and could learn nothing of his whereabouts from his mother. She asserts that his mother knows where be is and is keeping him out of the way so that be will not have to provide for the support of her and her child.
After she failed to receive the monthly allowance from her husband, as she had no other means of support, she says she appealed to her uncle, Henry B. Sleven, who still lives at 119 West Seventy-second Street, for assistance. She says that he paid no attention to her appeals. She then went to work in a large department store in this city. She lost that position, however. and was left practically destitute. She made several appeals to her mother-in-law, which she says were also unheeded.
The young woman says that her husband's father, Bertrand Depierris, died on April 16 last, leaving a will filed in this county on April 25, in which he disposed of $700,000 worth of real and personal property. This property he left absolutely to his wife. Mary Etta Depierris, and appoint ed her the sole executrix. Bertrand Depierris left four children, three sons and one daughter. According to the young woman's lawyer, Victor B. Depierris and an other brother contested the father's will, and the mother settled the matter out of court, agreeing to give her children what ever share of the father's property they would each have had if no will had been left.
The young woman and her child, according to her lawyer's statement, were dispossessed from their home on Monday. A few days before the young woman was turned out she sent the following letter to her mother-in-law:
Mrs. B. D. Depierris:
Dear Madam: Having appealed to you repeatedly during the past few weeks, only for the actual support of myself and my child, without avail, I am compelled, through sheer desperation, to send to you my child and to ask you to give her and myself food and shelter in your hotel, entirely because I cannot earn sufficient money to support us.
My husband, your son Victor, wrote to Mr. Rush immediately after my letter to you of the 18th inst.; it is only fair for me to assume, therefore, that you can communicate with him when you want to, especially since his letter contains the very language used in my letter to you. Your attorney, Mr. Bullowa, told Mr. Bush on Sept. 5 last, that you had arranged a settlement of the contest Over the will of your husband, Bertrand D. Depierris, with your children, so that your sons and daughter would receive an equal share of the principal of the estate over and above your dower right, after the property was sold, except that the share that Victor, my husband, was entitled to, would be invested for him, and that only the income thereof paid to him.
Mr. Bullowa also told Mr. Sweetser, the attorney who acted for Victor in the contest, that you would give Victor the same share that your other sons and daughter would receive, and that he would he restored by you to his position as steward in the hotel. Mr. Sweetser communicated your offer to Victor, who accepted the same, as you know, and withdrew his objections to the will for that reason only. Isn't it natural, therefore, for me to suppose that you are responsible for Victor's disappearance or pretended disappearance, and his attitude toward me and my baby?
Besides, Victor told me, and also Mr. Rush and Mr. Sweetser, that he owned the furniture of the hotel, valued at $20,000, and that you had executed a bill of sale to him of the same. This, in itself, ought to impel you to be, at least reasonably considerate to us.
When your son arranged our separation he drew an agreement in which he volunteered to pay me $75 a month for the support of my child and myself, and he never absolutely evaded that agreement until Sept. 1 last, which Was about the time when you engendered the feeling he evidently now has against us. Since that time he has not contributed one cent to our support, and you ought, in all sincerity, to offer to us a place to live in your hotel, as we are literally destitute and at this moment are awaiting the enforcement of a dispossess proceeding already instituted.
As Elise is the only grandchild in your family the justice Of our claim must surely appeal to you. Very truly yours, EVA SLAVIN DEPIERRIS.
On Monday of this week, after the letter had been sent to the older Mrs. Depierris, the daughter-in-law sent her seven-year-old little girl to the Hotel Bayard but the grandmother refused to receive her, and sent the following letter to her daughter-in-law in answer to her appeal:
Dear Madam: I am much astonished at the contents of your letter. I emphatically deny what is therein stated. I will not consent that you or the child come to my house. Yours truly.
MARY ETTA DEPIERRIS.
October 28th, 1901.
When Mrs. Depierris, the mother-in-law, was seen at the Hotel Bayard last night she admitted that she got the letter of appeal from her daughter-in-law, and said that she had refused to receive her granddaughter at the hotel.
Mrs. Depierris said that she would have nothing to do with her daughter-in-law. She said that the statement that she knew of the whereabouts of her son Victor was not true and that she had not seen or heard of him since he disappeared. She said that she had never agreed with her children as to the disposition of the property left by her husband.
Mrs. Depierris said that her daughter-in-law's character was beyond reproach, but that she was unfortunate in not being able to make herself congenial to her relatives. She said that she had heard that the young woman had been dispossessed, but did not know where she had gone to and did not concern herself in the matter. Young Mrs. Depierris's counsel said yesterday that his client was living on the charity of her friends, but refused to tell where.
Henry B. Sleven was not in town yesterday, and Mrs. Sleven, the stepmother of the young woman, refused to answer any questions or talk about the matter last night.
Shortly after her marriage to Victor B. Depierris in 1893, Mrs. Eva Sleven Depierris brought suit against her uncle and her step-mother to impress a trust upon her father's estate. She alleged at that time that when her father had become ill in Panama he had agreed verbally with his brother that his property was to be equally divided between his wife and his daughter. She alleged that she had signed her consent to the probate of her father's will at her uncle's request, he then promising that she would be well provided for out of the estate. She lost her suit against her uncle and stepmother, the court ruling that there was not sufficient evidence of the alleged verbal agreement to support a trust.
Moses A. Sleven and Henry B. Sleven were in Paris at the time when the contracts for work on the Panama Canal were given out by De Lesseps and his friends, and they obtained the refusal on a large share of the dredging work and, coming to this country, organized the American Contracting and Dredging Company to carry out the contracts. Out of 20,000 shares of this company the Slevens retained 11,000 shares. The dividends paid on their stock from 1885 to 1888 amounted to over $3,000,000.
New York (New York) Times, October 30, 1901.