Mr. and Mrs. Mahlon N. Haines in the September 3, 1957, issue of the Rapid City Journal in Rapid City, South Dakota
Mahlon Haines’ steamship romance
A steamship romance of the summer of 1955 bloomed and became the 1957 marriage of Grace Churchill and Mahlon Haines. So began an article in the September 3, 1957, issue of the Rapid City Journal in Rapid City, South Dakota. The photo of Mr. and Mrs. Mahlon N. Haines is from that article.
Following my post of last week, I received several requests for follow-up posts. In this post, I address the requests wanting to learn more about the second Mrs. Mahlon Haines.
“The steamship romance” began when Grace and Mahlon first met on a westward transatlantic voyage in the summer of 1955. Two years later, in the spring of 1957, Mahlon asked Grace to marry him on another westward transatlantic voyage. Soon after arriving in the States, they obtained their marriage license in York, Pa, and were married days later, on June 5, 1957, at Bedford Fords Methodist Church in Hopewell, Pa.
Quoting the article in the September 3, 1957, issue of the Rapid City Journal: “The couple arrived in Rapid City Sunday [September 1, 1957], after a honeymoon journey to Florida, Mexico and other points in the sunny southlands. This visit is Mrs. Haines’ first acquaintance with her husband’s well-known Eagle Ranch, situated east of Rapid City, and of the Black Hills which he has vividly described to her.”
“Mr. and Mrs. Haines met on a westward voyage across the turbulent Atlantic, finding mutual enjoyment in the endlessly varied moods of the ocean. The then Miss Churchill was en route to visit Mr. and Mrs. Conrad Chapman of Boston, friends of long-standing in London, from the days when the ladies were co-workers in the offices of the British Institute of Builders.”
“On a subsequent Boston visit, Miss Churchill and Mrs. Chapman journeyed to Florida, and when they reached Lakeland, tossed a penny for the decision as to whether they should turn towards the east or west toward the Gulf of Mexico. The latter direction won out.”
“By the merest coincidence, Col. Haines’ home happened to be in St. Petersburg, he and Miss Churchill had been corresponding, and so the conversations of the shipboard were continued. Miss Churchill returned to England, and a year or two slid by, but not without a steady stream of letters and poems from Col. Haines. Eventually these gained their objective and the lady became a passenger on the SS Queen Elizabeth, to be met by her suitor.”
This was the second marriage for Mahlon Haines; his first wife, June, died in 1951. This was the first marriage for Miss Grace Marianne Churchill of London, England. When married in 1957, Mahlon was 82-years old and Grace was 52-years old.
The article notes that Grace Marianne Churchill worked in the offices of the British Institute of Builders. The objective of that organization is to promote excellence in the construction of buildings. That institute changed its name in 1965 to The Institute of Building.
Haines’ Flying Eagle Ranch in South Dakota
As for why Mr. and Mrs. Haines concluded their honeymoon at his ranch in South Dakota. It was one of Haines’ favorite ranches to visit; he wanted to show it off to his bride. The reason for Haines’ owning this ranch all goes back to the Scout Safaris at Wizard Ranch near Accomac; per an article in the May 26, 1955, issue of the Rapid City Journal:
“How did Mahlon Haines become interested in South Dakota? That’s a story that matches the $100 bills he passes out to friends and strangers who will stop smoking for one year. Just after the war the colonel staged a huge Boy Scout jamboree near York. He planned every detail to thrill the boys. He managed to get some buffalo, but to make the jamboree complete, he needed a genuine Indian chief.”
“So Haines wrote the Department of Interior. The government knew just the chief to fit Haines’ requirements—Chief Henry Standing Bear of the Pine Ridge reservation. Haines sent for Standing Bear, a stately and brilliant Sioux, eloquent both in English and his native tongue. Haines was as taken with Standing Bear as the most wide-eyed Boy Scouts.”
“Chief Standing Bear asked Haines if he’d like to become a Sioux chief. All that was necessary, said the chief, was for Haines to accompany him back to Pine Ridge. A long trip, three cattle and a celebration latter, Haines became Chief Flying Eagle Wizard Mahlon N. Haines. He hired a taxi, this new Sioux from York, and toured the Badlands and Black Hills.”
“Returning to Rapid City from Deadwood, Haines walked around town while waiting for the plane, which was to take him east. He was attracted by a sign in a realtor’s window which read: Ranch For Sale. Realtor Charles Donnelly explained the ranch is one of the most famous ranches in Western South Dakota—the old Corb Morse place.”
“So Chief Flying Eagle [Haines] and Donnelly drove out and looked over the place [over 4,000-acres]. Haines wrote out a check for the property on the spot … and dubbed the ranch The Flying Eagle.”
Mahlon Haines hired a foreman, Howard Pierce, to run the ranch. Following his marriage to Grace, they vacationed at the Flying Eagle Ranch several times, before ultimately selling it; with the proceeds added to the funds to build Mr. and Mrs. Haines’ new estate, Churchill Downs, near the Wizard Ranch.
Links to related Mahlon Haines posts include:
- Haines’ Wizard Ranch and Churchill Downs
- Mr. and Mrs. Mahlon N. Haines
- Mahlon Haines’ Hotel endures on North George Street
- Haines Building on North George Street
- 20 York Businesses that Built the Haines Shoe House
- Mahlon Haines built Haines Building at 101 E. Market St.
- Lincoln Highway Centennial Auto Tour at Haines Shoe House
- Bussing horses to 1955 Race Track built near the Shoe House
- The Shoe House is OPEN
- The Shoe Wizard celebrates 33 Years as a Yorker
- Mahlon Haines’ Yorkshire Ranch