Monthly Archives: June 2011

Wife No. 3 Didn’t Give Up Without a Fight

Doris booked ship reservations and took her son Chester P. Norton Suchanski Jr. to Canada. She tracked her husband down finding him in Karrisdale (near Vancouver), British Columbia.  He was living with his 4th wife, Betty. She was 8 months pregnant, her baby being due in May of 1927.  

Flowers in Vancouver BC

Doris and her 4-year-old son moved in with Chester and Betty. They all lived together until Chester took off on one of his so-called spy trips. Doris got fed up and took her son to Calgary. Doris never married again and raised her son Ches alone.

Indian Culture in BC


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Ole Gramps left his latest wife in England



Ole gramps left England and his new bride Betty, returning to Vancouver alone. He had a very good excuse for not taking his wife with him – he was on a mission! Claims of working for security services were a well-known refuge for husbands who were playing away from home, or in CP’s case, just going from one woman to the next and never looking back. Mrs. Betty Norton and Pat Fuller came to Canada on the ship Montnairn landing at St. John, New Brunswick on February 13, 1927.


Betty found her husband and of course, she was already pregnant with their first child.


Roses from my garden. There are hundreds of varieties of gorgeous roses and flowers in Vancouver.

Wife No. 4 – He met on another Ship.

Did I tell you that old gramps never divorced any of his wives?

He met wife No. 4 on May 21, 1926 while aboard the SS Montcalm enroute to Montreal. Betty was on her way to Alberta to see an Uncle. Chester was returning to Montreal from a sales trip to England. They boarded the same ship in Liverpool and he had a week to brew up a romance at which he was very good, I must say.
SS Montcalm

He pretended to be a spy so that he could move about as he pleased. He even carried a gun with him. When he first met Betty Brazil, he told her that he was on a mission, supposedly serving as the King’s Captain for the British Secret Service. Chester returned to England on the same ship Montcalm arriving in Liverpool on October 1, 1926. He went directly to London and married 28-year-old Betty Brazil on October 12, 1926 as Chester P. Norton.  He had found another wealthy wife. He changed his name again so that wife No. 3 couldn’t find him.

He was the ultimate bigamist who never divorced any of his wives but just left them and moved to another country. He was the supreme storyteller, telling Betty that he was born in Montreal, Canada and that when he was 14, he became an orphan being an only child, losing both parents to death.
Chester P. Norton


Now, how did he pull that off?  He must have been very good at languages to make his new wife think that he was Canadian. 

Wife No 3 was from England

While researching at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.  I just happened to pop in Suchanski as I did often on computers just to see if any were out there because it is not a common Polish name.  Well, one popped up at me from Calgary, Canada.  I got so excited that I wrote down the person’s address and immediately sent him a letter.

I heard all about wife no. 3 from my cousin Al. He sent me his father’s birth record from England. Al’s father was a half brother to my father.


Doris Hammill met Mr. Polygamist himself in Montreal, Canada.  They had a whirlwind romance and got married in October of 1921. 

Doris Hammill



They booked passage from New York on the SS Scythia and arrived in Liverpool, England on February 4, 1922.  Their son Chester P. Norton Suchanski, Jr. was born on September 15, 1922 in England. CP was now going by CP Norton Suchanski.  He liked adding names and telling yarns.

SS Scythia

You’ve all heard of love em and leave em – well, ole grandpap personified it. He was a as slippery as an eel in the water.


He left wife no #3 in England with son #3.

Records from Poland

While living in Alaska, I found a Warsaw, Poland phonebook at the Anchorage Public Library.  I wrote to all seven Suchanski’s on a Polish form letter that I obtained from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.  I wrote to seven Suchanski’s and heard back from all of them with none of them saying that they were related. One lady was a widow and didn’t know if her husband was related but she did one of the kindest acts for me.  She wrote to two areas of Poland for me with an end result of an address of a living cousin in Sztabin and the real birth record of grandpaps.  His birth date was off by two years and I did not pay a penny for the certificate.


I sent for the marriage record of my great grandparents. This time I did not send a check but waited to hear from Poland. I heard nothing for over a month and then one day, I received a letter from the Chicago Consulate. Poland had sent the marriage record to Chicago and they forwarded it to me.  It didn’t cost a dime.  Did I mention how fortunate that I am.  If you will seek and look, you will eventually find that ancestor!

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Back in Chicago after the War

After the war my grandparents were reunited and became part owners in a dry goods and shoe store. Their son Pete was eight years old when old grandpappy showed up in June of 1919.  Their next son Richard was born in March of 1921. Ole gramps just couldn’t keep himself out of trouble.  He was gambling again and made some bad investments.  In August of 1921 when Rich was 5 months old and Pete Jr. was 10, the run-a-way father took off again for Canada.  He bought a steamer trunk and wrote up so many checks from their business that he left grandma in a very bad way financially.  He sent a letter from Canada saying that the mob was after him again and he was fleeing for his life to Australia. 

Grandma had a nervous breakdown and her family helped her out. Her brothers had a Chicago Detective searching for Mr. run and hide himself.  Tracks were found of him in Canada but the day before her brothers were to go find the results, the Detective had a heart attack and died.  They threw out his records and all was lost.

Chicago River

What Happened to Wife No. 2?

It just burns my gut that ole grandpappy sent his pay to wife No. 2 while he served in WWI in Canada, England and France.  His first wife had a son to support by herself while he was gone. 


What happened to wife #2? Before CP was released from active duty, he cancelled his pay that had been going to wife #2.  He wrote to his first wife to whom he was legally married and asked her to reply sending her his WWI photo of him and his buddies.

He wrote in Polish: 
Dear Stacha, Be so kind and write me back.  


Had he even written to her once from 1915 through 1919? Did he write to both wives to keep the doors open?


Being a good Catholic woman, grandma accepted him back. With his War Metals in tow, he was released from active duty on June 2. 1919 in Montreal, and made his way back to Chicago to be reunited with his first wife.

British War Metal and Victory Metal