28 Dec

Maymah’s Three-Year-Old Son

Quizmaster Marilyn Hamill brought up an interesting question about the murders at Taliesen.  According to the article published in the New York Times August, 15, 1914 describing the murder of Maymah Borthwick Cheney, her children John and Martha, and four other people, Mrs. Borthwick’s three-year-old son was missing and presumed burned to death. Yet there is no further mention of him in other descriptions of the murders. He must have been her son with Frank Lloyd Wright as they had left for Europe in 1909 and the murders occurred in 1914. Does anyone have any information on this mysterious child?

7 Responses to “Maymah’s Three-Year-Old Son”

  1. 1
    Marilyn Hamill Says:

    I spent all weekend reading old newspaper accounts of the fire and not one of them besides the NY Times mentioned a 3-year-old child. Wonder if that reporter got fired!
    I did read lots of lurid descriptions–some of the “reporters” got the sequence of events wrong and embroidered quite a bit. There was a lynching party and Wright’s oldest son was at the scene taking charge. (Not of the lynching party.) Lots of back news about the couple’s escapades in Europe and Maymah’s views on life and love.
    One reporter made a list of the dead and injured and Martha Cheney was listed in both but with different ages.
    This event was the equivalent of the Britney Spears child endangerment story, or the Michael Jackson baby dangling of our age.

  2. 2
    Betty Chambers Says:

    I just finished a book about Maymah and Frank called “Loving Frank”. This was pretty well researched and no mention was made of a child they had together. It was possible of course, but hard to prove if the child was born in Europe and brought to the US. Frank later has a out of wedlock child,eventually marrying her mother when his wife finally gave him a divorce. It’s a well written book but I could never do what they did even now. Between them they had 9 children before they took off leaving all behind. Obviously she did get visitation rights and it was during a visit that the murders took place. It was a sad story.

  3. 3
    Administrator Says:

    Hi Betty,

    I just saw Loving Frank by Nancy Horan at Barnes and Noble recently. Looks interesting. Colleen

  4. 4
    Stephanie Says:

    I also just finished reading the book ‘Loving Frank’. It does not mention a 3 year old child. Mamah’s two children from her previous marriage with Edward Cheney, John and Martha, were with her during the fire/murders and became victims alongside Mamah and a few other’s. Frank had 6 children with Catherine, and Mamah had two, making 8 between the two of them.

  5. 5
    Nancy Says:

    Shortly after they married, Maymah and her husband, Edwin, took in and raised a daughter named “Jessie” after Jessie’s mother, Maymah’s sister Jessica, died in childbirth. When there are references to Maymah’s three children, Jessie is included. Maymah was nearly forty when she and Frank began their affair and they did not have any children together. It is believed that newspaper reference to a three-year-old son is a misprint about John, Maymah’s son with Edwin.

  6. 6
    cynthia Says:

    the book was great. i had NO idea of the terrible ending that was to ensue.

    a woman, FAR ahead of the times, that did something not many of today’s mothers would do as far as leaving their children behind.

  7. 7
    Percy Adams Says:


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