Book submission: Good-Better-Best: or, the Three Ways of Making a Happy World

Title: Good-Better-Best: or, the Three Ways of Making a Happy World
Author: American Sunday-School Union
Publication date: Philadelphia, American Sunday School Union, [1844]
Library: Columbia University (Butler Library)
Call number: 812Am35 R
Submitted by: Tara Key
Signed by H. M. Beare to W and W. B. Woolley – I can’t find any info on the Wooleys, but Reverend Henry Marvin Beare was at the heart of scandal in 1844.

Bishop Onderdonk (who attended Columbia University) was visiting he and his wife, Charlotte, in Queens. Beare’s parish, Zion Church, was in Douglaston, Long Island, so a carriage ride was required to and from the Beare’s home in Bayside, Queens. Apparently Onderdonk, who was eventually slapped on the wrist, was a serial sexual predator. Mrs. Beare, a new bride of two years, was accosted by him four times in one day!

She was riding several times next to him in the “backseat” of the carriage; after telling Beare of the first assault, he said, “If you can avoid it, do not let it alter your manner towards him while he is in our house.” Onderdonk continued to exhibit this behavior over the course of the day, culminating in this account : “On this ride, the bishop put his arm around my waist; then raised it, and put it across the back of my neck; he thrust his hand into the neck of my dress, down into my bosom.” In each case, her husband was sitting in the front seat. She was told to keep quiet again by her husband on arrival at home. She told no one for eighteen months and then told three aunts.

Ultimately, nine women came forth. Despite attempts to discredit the women, the bishops voted 11 to 6 that he was guilty, but he was not removed from the bishop’s office- only removed from duty. It was written about in newspapers and hotly discussed, with surprising sympathy for the bishop in many cases. One writer called Charlotte Beare “ardent and impulsive.”

As if this was not enough, in the “happy world,” the Zion Church website reports, “ An incident of embarrassment during his tenure was his discovery that the coachman, after driving the rector on his parish visits, had returned at night to these homes and robbed them of their silver and other valuables. The coachman hid the stolen goods in the belfry of the church, where the Reverend Beare discovered them quite by accident. The shock to him was very great, though naturally no one held the rector or the church responsible for the thefts.”

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