John Dryden Kuser
John Dryden Kuser (September 24, 1897 – March 3, 1964) was a New Jersey politician and a member of an influential New Jersey family. The son of Colonel Anthony R. Kuser and Susan Dryden. His father was the President of the South Jersey Gas and Electric Lighting Company and one of the original investors in Fox Movie Studios and his mother was the daughter of Senator and Prudential Insurance founder John Fairfield Dryden.
Life and career
Kuser had served on the staffs of three New Jersey governors in the late 19th century, and in 1923, donated his 10,500-acre (42 km2) estate to become High Point State Park, the largest public park in New Jersey.
John Dryden Kuser's grandfather, John Fairfield Dryden, was the founder of Prudential Insurance Company and a United States Senator from 1902 to 1907. In 1919, Kuser married 17-year-old Brooke Russell (later known as Brooke Astor), and they had a child, Anthony.
Kuser launched his political career in 1922, at age 25, winning election as a Bernardsville, New Jersey Councilman. He was elected to the New Jersey General Assembly two years later, and won a seat in the New Jersey Senate in 1929. His wife, Brooke, filed for divorce in 1930, after the Senate election; Kuser remarried that same year, on September 3, Vivia Fisher Banks.
During his six years as State Senator, Kuser's top accomplishment was the passage of legislation that designated the eastern goldfinch as New Jersey's state bird. In 1933 John Kuser was the victim of a kidnapping threat. A man named George Sabol was arrested and confessed.
Kuser's political career came to an end in 1935, when his second wife divorced him amid allegations of abuse and cruelty. Democratic Assemblyman James Bowers captured Kuser's State Senate seat that year. Three months later, Kuser remarried again and moved to Reno, Nevada, where he became a newspaper columnist. He returned to New Jersey in the late 1950s (after his later fourth marriage ended) and worked as a consultant to the New Jersey Department of Conservation and Economic Development until his death in 1964, aged 66.
- Miller, Judith. "Old Money, New Needs", The New York Times, November 17, 1991. Accessed November 4, 2007. "Her 10-year marriage to Dryden Kuser, a wealthy Princeton graduate who fell madly in love with her at a commencement prom, was a disaster from the start. A drunk and a womanizer, Kuser occasionally beat his young bride."
- New York Times article "Old Money, New Needs", op cit
- "A year after the kidnapping of the Lindbergh Baby, on the evening of April 24, 1933, a maid in the employ of Mr. and Mrs. J. Dryden Kuser handed her mistress a letter that had just been collected at the post office by Anthony Gallo, the Kuser’s chauffeur. The letter, dated April 19, 1933 and addressed to Mrs. Kuser, demanded $12,000 be paid or else her husband would be '...kidnapped and held for five times that amount or he will be delivered.... DEAD.' The note, which was mailed in Somerville, New Jersey, on April 23, instructed her to have the money ready by Wednesday, April 26. The money, which the author of the note claimed '...is a small amount for this kind of business', was to be in hundred and thousand dollar bills. Mrs. Kuser was then to wait for a Mr. Copeland to phone her on Wednesday at noon with instructions on how and when to deliver the money. The author requested in a postscript that the money be sealed in a large business envelope."