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Bula Benton Edmundson Croker

(PP055) Bula Benton Edmundson Croker (1884-1957), who was 1/16 blood Cherokee and a Cherokee princess and descendant of Sequoyah who championed the rights of women and minorities, attended a Boston oratory school, lived in Oklahoma, and was educated at a Cherokee college in Tahlequah; then she moved to New York. At 30, she married Hon. Richard Welsted Croker, the 73-year-old chief of Tammany Hall, the Democratic Party political machine that largely controlled New York City politics from the 1790s to the 1960s.

Defending his wife in 1920, Croker was quoted as saying, “Mrs. Croker, when I married her, did not even know that I had a home [Glencairn Castle] in [Sandyford, County Dublin] Ireland or that I had a house down here. I didn’t mention the Irish estate to her and I told her I had a little shack down here, a bathhouse I called it. She knew I had some funds. She did not look upon me as a rich man, which I was not at that time.” The couple named his “bathhouse” “The Wigwam,” a rambling wooden home on 10,000 feet of Palm Beach ocean frontage. In 1917 she entertained the Music Study Club in Palm Beach with Indian songs, legends, and folklore.

After her husband died in 1922 at his Irish castle, Bula Croker entered Trinity College in Dublin to study law. Although she had an uncle in the U.S. House of Representatives, she did not pursue a political career, but her studies likely helped in her 15-year legal battle to inherit her husband’s estate. In 1937 she sold off parcels of the Wigwam estate; the house was torn down years later.

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