New Story: Epping Forest

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Epping Forest is the grandest historic estate in Jacksonville. Well known, the summits of world leaders here. Well known, its original owner’s personal manipulation of banking in the Great Depression. Why, however, did Alfred Dent believe his grandmother, Jessie Ball duPont, and her brother, Edward Ball, had murdered his grandfather, Alfred duPont? Also, what’s up with the pelicans and squirrels and vampire faces?

One response to “New Story: Epping Forest

  1. Sherry Magill

    What fun to speculate that local philanthropist Jessie Ball duPont conspired with her brother Ed Ball to poison her wealthy husband Alfred I. duPont in 1935. Americans love nothing more than the secrets of the rich.

    Fitzgerald may have been right in The Great Gatsby, when he has his narrator Nick Carraway claim that “the very rich . . . are different from you and me.” And while Jay Gatsby may have been murdered by the poolside, “Jess” as A.I. called his bride, did not poison her husband at the dinner table.
    This truth is not “stranger than fiction.”

    It’s mundane and boring and all too familiar.

    Alfred I. duPont died on the early morning of April 29,1935, with Mrs. duPont and his son Alfred Victor duPont II by his bedside. He suffered a final major heart attack the previous evening, having suffered previous heart attacks and significant decline over several months.

    What’s a mystery is why Forbes Magazine printed this malicious story in October 1985, fifty years after Alfred I. duPont died, especially since the source was A.I.’s grandson Alfred Dent who got it from Ed Ball’s ex-wife Ruth Ball Morrell. According to Alfred duPont’s biographer, who called the story more fitting of the National Enquirer than Forbes, Dent and Morrell despised Ed Ball and did not care much for Jessie. Clearly, “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”

    In a letter to her brother Tom after A.I.’s death, Jess wrote:
    “. . . to have been pal, sweetheart and wife to a man like A. I. for a little over fourteen years I realize is a blessing that is seldom given to woman. It is this very realization that makes the parting unbearable.
    Jess did not murder A.I. She loved him.”

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