The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

September 2, 2008

The mystery of Lydie Marland’s whereabouts

She was both the adopted daughter and the widow of the late Oklahoma governor and oilman, E.W. Marland, but in the fall of 1958 she was about to be declared dead. None of her friends had seen Lydie, as she was called, since February 1953 when she drove out of Ponca City in her green Studebaker loaded with her belongings, some of her favorite paintings and $10,000 in cash.

The money was from the recent sale of a cottage given to her by Marland.

Was she dead? The popular consensus was she was still alive, but in December 1958 she had only 15 months to show she was alive or she would be declared legally dead.

Marland and his first wife, Virginia, had adopted Lydie and her brother George when Lydie was only 10 years old.

Virginia died, and two years later Marland had the adoption set aside, and married Lydie. At the time he was 54 and she was 28.

Why did she seem to vanish? Some said she was seeking anonymity. The national press picked up the story about how a wealthy Oklahoma oilman and governor of the state had married his daughter, and she must have felt disgraced by the notoriety.

There was evidence the following spring, after leaving Oklahoma, she spent 10 weeks at the Moonlight Motel near Independence, Mo., where clad in an Indian squaw’s dress designed for younger women, she helped make the beds and clean the rooms.

She reportedly left the motel early in June 1953 saying she was bound for New York, but a magazine writer, John Kobler, said she turned west instead of east when she left the motel.

She just seemed to vanish after that. In 1956, William F. Davidson, of New York’s Knoedler Galleries, said he received a call from a phone at a Midwest pay station. It was a woman who identified herself as Mrs. Marland. She asked if a particular painting, “The Buffalo Hunt,” had been sold. When she was told it had not been sold, she hung up.

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