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theodore M I R A L D I mpa ... editor, publisher, writer
Saturday, May 21, 2016
The mysterious Mary Trump
The full untold story of how a young Scotswoman escaped to New York and raised a US presidential candidate
Mary Anne Trump in her socialite heyday
SHE was the mother of a potential future president of the United States, yet Mary Trump’s early life and particularly how she came to America is shrouded in mystery.
It has long been maintained that Trump’s Scottish mother Mary Anne Macleod met the Republican candidate-elect’s father Fred on a holiday or trip to New York in 1930. She was apparently introduced to him at a party by her sister, Catherine.
It is a tale that has been told so often, apparently never corrected by the Trump family, that it is accepted as the truth by most of the media – the BBC recently sent a reporter to her native village on the Isle of Lewis to investigate Mrs Trump’s roots and he faithfully repeated that “holiday” version.
Another development of the story – repeated by at least one Trump biographer – is that she returned home and continued the romance by letter before marrying Fred Trump in 1936.
Today The National provides proof that far from being on holiday, Mary Anne Macleod Trump was a poor immigrant who arrived in New York with just $50 in her purse and worked as a domestic servant in the city for at least four years.
It may well be that the Trump family have been misled. Or perhaps they went along with the story because of shame that the lady who became a multi-millionaire philanthropist started life in America as a dirt-poor servant escaping the even worse poverty of her native land. But to our knowledge, none of them, including Donald Trump, has ever contradicted the story.
Her arrival in New York was also the direct result of a scandal that struck her family at home – the sister who hosted her in New York, Mrs Catherine Reid, gave birth out of wedlock in Scotland in 1920.
Mary Anne had two other sisters resident in the USA at the time, Mrs Christina Matheson and Mrs Mary Joan Pauley, but it was to Catherine’s home in Long Island that she made her way, not for a holiday but as a base to find work.
The “holiday” account has always been met with considerable scepticism in Mary Anne Trump’s home area of Tong near Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, where her departure at the age of 17 has long been held to be simple emigration.
Lewis in 1930 had a shortage of jobs and eligible men – per head of population, the Western Isles had more men killed in the First World War than anywhere else in Britain.The National today publishes the truth that MaryAnne (that is how she signed herself on at least one official form) Macleod immigrated legally and permanently to the USA on May 11, 1930, and that she had no intention of returning to Scotland anytime soon after that – she was most definitely not “on holiday”.
She also declared as soon as she set foot in the USA on that date, just one day after her 18th birthday, that she wanted to become an American citizen, and would be staying permanently in the USA.
Furthermore the National has discovered proof that, for whatever reason, Fred and Mary Anne Trump played fast and loose with the American authorities on their census return in 1940, stating that Mary Anne Trump was a naturalised citizen when records openly available to researchers show that she was not naturalised until 1942. The key documentary evidence is the passenger list for the SS Transylvania of the Anchor Line which transported Mary Anne Macleod to her new life in the USA.
The three-funneled twin-propeller liner set sail from Glasgow on May 2, 1930, and arrived in New York on May 11, the day after Mary Anne celebrated her 18th birthday on board – the document actually shows her age being altered from 17 to 18.
The National can reveal that Mary Anne had been issued with immigration visa no. 26698 at Glasgow on February 17, 1930.
On the passenger list for all aliens – anyone not a US citizen – Mary Anne Macleod makes three declarations.
They were that she was moving to the USA permanently, that it was her intention to seek American citizenship, and in the section asking “whether alien intends to return to country whence he (sic) came” the answer she gives is no.
On the same form, Mary Anne states she will be living with her sister Mrs Catherine Reid, 3520 6th Avenue, Astoria, Long Island.
Mary Anne’s beloved elder sister, known as Kate or Katie, emigrated to the USA after she gave birth to an illegitimate child called Annie in Lanarkshire on December 5, 1920.
It is difficult in this modern age to convey just how absolutely scandalous and shameful such a birth occurring to an adherent of the very strict Free Presbyterian Church in a tight-knit community would have been.
No name is given on the birth certificate for Annie’s father, and Kate went home to Tong before emigrating to New York in 1921, leaving her daughter to be brought up as part of the Macleod household. In New York Kate married a butler from Scotland, George A Reid, in Manhattan on March 26, 1926 – George would later give Mary Anne away at her wedding to Fred Trump. Four years later she was joined by her immigrant sister Mary Anne.
The future Mrs Trump was following a well-trodden family path, for two other elder sisters had emigrated to the USA in the 1920s – Christina Matheson and Mary Joan Pauley, who had been in domestic service when she married an English footman, Victor Pauley, who was with her when Mary Joan acted as Matron of Honour to her sister at her marriage to Fred Trump.
In the 1930 documents – passenger lists are accepted as proof of entry to the USA – the future Mrs Trump is described as five feet eight inches tall with fair hair, fair complexion and blue eyes.
Perhaps crucially, she gives her occupation as a “domestic”, meaning either a servant or maid in domestic service, as her sister Mary Joan was.
On Lewis, it has been recalled that Mary Anne was one of a group of young people who had emigrated at that time.
There is documentary evidence that permanent emigration was their purpose. The Stornoway Gazette in May, 1930 reported: “There is quite an exodus of young people, male and female, from this parish for Canada and the United States. Our straths and glens will soon be peopled only with middle-aged and elderly people. Most of these young people take kindly to the life of those distant lands but they never forget the ‘old folk at home.’ They leave home with a determination to succeed and because of their courage, endurance and reliability they are generally successful.
"Several have left from here this week (our italics) and we wish them bon voyage.”
The evidence that Mary Anne then spent four years in domestic service comes from Mrs Trump herself.
At some point in mid-1934 she returned home to Scotland. There is a Mary Macleod from Tong, aged 22, named on the incoming passenger list of the SS Cameronia that arrived in Glasgow on June 11, 1934. She is listed as a nurse, however, and confusingly, passenger lists of that time show several Mary Macleods from Lewis crossing the Atlantic.
Without a doubt, however, the Mary Anne Macleod who travelled to New York on the SS Cameronia, arriving in the USA on September 12, 1934, is the woman who became Mrs Trump.
Clinching proof that she was already an American citizen in all but name was that she was travelling on a “re-entry permit” obtained from Washington on March 3, 1934 – such permits were only granted to immigrants intending to stay and become US citizens. As with her first voyage westward, the document states Mary Anny paid her own travel costs. Again she is listed as a “domestic” and states she will be going to live with her sister Catherine Reid at Glen Head, Long Island.
Mary Anne Trump's naturalisation paperwork
That arrangement did not last long. The 1940 census record states that in April 1935, Mary Anne was living at 175/24 Devonshire Road in New York, the Trump family residence. That 1940 census also erroneously records that Mary Ann was a naturalised American citizen, but records show her naturalisation did not take place until March 10, 1942.
The census return from the Trump household in 1940
The census took place on April 1, 1940, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt was President. It is a moot point as to whether the head of the household, Fred Trump, committed an offence by saying his wife was naturalised, but in a city of 7.5 million people at the time, mistakes were common.
Researchers may have missed this error because, quite bizarrely, in the digitisation process the family name was turned into Zrump.
Mary Anne and Fred were married in January, 1936, and Mary Anne Trump gave birth to her first child, now Judge Maryanne Barry, on April 5, 1937.
Four more children would follow, the penultimate child being Donald Trump, born on June 14, 1946, meaning he will be 70 next month when he apparently intends to travel to Scotland for the official opening of the Trump Turnberry resort.
Donald Trump's birth certificate
His own birth certificate, which he published when involved in one of his regular “birther” arguments with president Barack Obama and which was repeated recently with Senator Ted Cruz, clearly shows that Mary Anne Trump thought of herself as an American from the day she arrived in New York.
In the entry detailing the mother’s “length of residency or stay in New York immediately prior to birth of child” the period recorded is 15 years – taking her back to the time she emigrated.
On pages four and five The National tells more of Mary Anne Macleod’s story, and details Donald Trump’s fraught relationship with Scotland, but it is already clear that apart from the issue of her immigration to the USA being clouded in mystery – perhaps intentionally – hers was an almost classical tale of the American Dream.
Mary Anne left abject poverty in Scotland and within 20 years she was a dynamic partner to a wealthy builder and mother to five children, one of whom might just become president of the United States.
What a story – so why does Donald Trump not make more of it?