Isaac Merritt Singer: ScoundrelAt the beginning of 1860 (the American Civil War broke out in April, 1861), Isaac Merritt Singer maintained five separate households, including in each, a wife with assorted children–assorted because Singer had, by this time, sired in the neighbourhood of 18 offspring. No one’s sure of the exact number.
Although Singer remained legally married to Catherine Singer for over 30 years, the woman known to Isaac’s friends, business associates, and employees as Mrs. I.M. Singer was, in fact, (Mary) Ann Sponsler. His other three wives included Mary Walters Merritt, Mary McGonigal Mathews, and a Mrs. Judson, whose first name remains unknown to this day.
In January, 1860, much to the surprise of almost everyone who knew him, Isaac Singer divorced the r-e-a-l Mrs. Singer, who turned out to be the unknown Catherine Singer – and not Ann (Sponsler) Singer. But Ann’s surprise proved bigger. Isaac proposed to continue living with her, but flatly refused to marry her, which unsettled Ann enough that on August 7, 1860, she said some things Isaac took violent exception to. So violent, he beat her into unconsciousness. Then he pounded his daughter Voutetti Singer into unconsciousness when she interceded on behalf of her mother.