On February 26, 1902, Paul Laurence Dunbar in New York City and Alice Moore Dunbar in Washington, D. C., were adjusting to new circumstances after permanently separating a month earlier. The Dunbars had been clients of Capital Savings Bank, the first bank operated by African Americans in the District of Columbia. The cashier, Douglass McCary, informed Alice that Paul was going to close the account.
I have been instructed by Mr. Dunbar to close his account here. Will you kindly let me know if you have out any checks against this account. You will find enclosed bills that you sent me some time ago, I return them thinking you might want to keep them yourself.
Douglass B. McCary to Alice Moore Dunbar, February 26, 1902. Paul Laurence Dunbar Papers, Ohio History Connection (Microfilm edition, Roll 6).
Although Paul and Alice had no direct contact after their separation, McCary played the role of intermediary as they sorted out their financial affairs. Paul paid some of the couple's outstanding bills from the grocery, pharmacy and landlord, and also made an unexpected deposit to Alice's account.
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 22nd. In reply I beg to say that I am entirely at a loss as to how the rumor referred to by you gained circulation. Mr. Dunbar, however, did send me $25 on March 5th, 1902, and requested me to place the amount to your credit. This was done. I was under the impression that you had been notified by him of his action.
Douglass B. McCary to Alice Moore Dunbar, March 24, 1902. Paul Laurence Dunbar Papers, Ohio History Connection (Microfilm edition, Roll 6).
Meanwhile, Paul didn't have a bank account in New York, so he utilized his literary agent Paul Reynolds as an informal banker. Paul gave him a check for $1000, and then over the next few months made many withdrawals from Reynolds' pocket of $25, $50 and $100.
Feb. 24th, Received from Mr. Dunbar to be given back to him as he wishes $1000
Paul R. Reynolds to Paul Laurence Dunbar, May 5, 1902. Paul Laurence Dunbar Papers, Ohio History Connection (Microfilm edition, Roll 1).
My dear Mr. Reynolds, I pity you. Another order, if you please, and this for $50.00 to me on account.
Paul Laurence Dunbar to Paul R. Reynolds, February 26, 1902. Paul Laurence Dunbar collection, New York Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (Microfilm edition, Roll 3).
Nail Bros. Billiard Hall, Ales, Wines, Liquors & Segars
450 Sixth Avenue New York
Broke. Please send me fifty dollars -- cash if possible as a check will be hard to cash. But if not cash, send the check please. Please send to Von Tilzer's 42 West 28th St.
Paul Laurence Dunbar to Paul R. Reynolds, no date [March 1902]. Paul Laurence Dunbar collection, New York Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (Microfilm edition, Roll 3).
On one occasion, Paul sent Reynolds a request for money written on notepaper from a saloon and pool hall on Sixth Avenue. He asked that the cash be delivered to the Harry Von Tilzer Music Publishing Company in Tin Pan Alley, a neighborhood of songwriting establishments that flourished on Twenty-Eighth Street near Broadway. The company published several popular songs that Paul wrote with composer Will Marion Cook, such as "On Emancipation Day," "Returned" and "Good Evenin'."