Helen E. Comfort Sues Roland M. Comfort for Separation Decree - October 1928
Helen E. Comfort Sues Roland M. Comfort

The image shown on this page of an article in the October 29, 1928, edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reports on a suit in New York Supreme Court brought by Helen E. Comfort (Helen Edson McFadden) against her husband, Roland M. Comfort, who was a lieutenant commander in the United States Navy. Helen was asking for a separation decree "based on charges of cruel and inhuman treatment, abandonment and false swearing against her in an annulment suit" that her husband had attempted in 1924.

This article provides information about the outcome of the 1924 annulment proceedings and reveals one of the primary pieces of evidence presented by Helen Comfort in her own defense. In 1924, Roland Comfort accused his wife of, among other things, being disloyal to the government of the United States. As evidence of the alledged disloyalty, Roland had stated that Helen had torn up an American flag. According to this newspaper article, Helen "was victorious in the annulment action after producing the identical American flag that her husband had accused her of tearing to tatters. It was autographed by a famous aviator."

The crucial piece of evidence was a small American flag (11.5 inches by 15 inches) that had been presented by Katherine Wright to the then teenage Helen Edson McFadden in 1909 when she was living in Berlin, Germany, with her parents, Stephen Henry McFadden and Anne Laura (Acker) McFadden. Katherine Wright, who was the sister of Orville Wright and Wilbur Wright, was a good friend of Helen and the McFadden family. We know about the connection to the McFadden family from an October 1909 New York Times article that reported on a farewell luncheon that Helen's mother, Anne McFadden, had hosted in Berlin for Katherine Wright. The flag that played such an important role in the 1924 legal proceedings was inscribed in ink, "To Helen McFadden with my compliments - Berlin October 15, 1909 [signed] Orville Wright." The flag had been flown by Orville on one of his "Wright flyer" airplanes during a demonstration flight for military officers and government officials in Berlin, Germany.

Source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle,, Monday, October 29, 1928, p. 1.

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