Born on July 20th, 1872 in New Hampton, Iowa, De Kay’s family had moved to the frontier in the late 1860s from the Netherlands. According to him he descended from French nobility that could trace its roots to the 10th century. After completing an apprenticeship as a printer, the entrepreneurial teenager moved to South Dakota where he ended owning several local newspapers and a sizable cattle ranch. In 1899, De Kay moved to Mexico. With the money he had made in his businesses he purchased a concession for operating meatpacking plants in Mexico. He married Anna May Walton in 1907 and had three children. In 1909, De Kay’s company, the Mexican National Packing Company “Popo" was one of the largest slaughtering and meat distribution operations in Mexico with a book value of over $22 Million (Half a billion in today’s value). By 1910 he was the “Sausage King” of Mexico. In the Mexican Revolution De Kay supported Usurper President Victoriano Huerta with a loan to save his sausage empire. These weapons landed in Veracruz in 1914 aboard the German steamer "Ypiranga" and caused the infamous American intervention. However, De Kay left another indelible mark on American history.
A self-made millionaire, indeed the American Dream come true for the son of a Dutch immigrant, De Kay decided in 1909 to become a playwright in New York. His first controversial play “Judas” performed in New York’s Globe Theater for only one night in December 1910 before it was banned there, as well as in Boston and Philadelphia. In New York’s art scene of 1910 the story line of the play was nothing short of scandalous. Mary Magdalene, who at first became a lover of Pontius Pilate, then of Judas, got involved with Jesus. Judas, after realizing that Mary Magdalene had given herself to Jesus, decided to betray his friend to the Romans. To top the provocation of New York’s theater lovers, De Kay had Judas played by the voluptuous French actress, Madame Sarah Bernhardt. The eccentric businessman turned playwright obviously had a special attraction to the lovely diva. He showered her with lavish gifts of jewelry, “…a large number of cigarette boxes made from gold nuggets, brooches, nugget buttons and studs, cigar boxes inlaid with ivory, and a large number of other rare articles.” The play, however, bombed. Read about a completely new twist on the American Intervention in Veracruz and the weapons of the "Ypiranga" in "In Plain Sight."