Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Liberté, égalité & adultère in Chariton, 1864-65

"Dear John" letters are one thing, but quite another when both the departing wife and her lover sit down to write the aggrieved husband --- in this case an unidentified soldier from Lucas County --- as happened during the summer of 1864 as the Civil War was nearing its end.

The Chariton Patriot published a report a year later, after the husband had returned home to Chariton and filed suit for divorce, and the editors of The Daveport Daily Gazette found it interesting enough to republish under "Iowa News" in its edition of Aug. 17, 1865.

Patriot editions from this period have vanished, and we'll most likely never know the particulars, but perhaps, today, somewhere in France ....


A suit for divorce has been commenced in the District Court for Lucas county by a soldier whose wife, during his absence in the field, eloped with a Frenchman and is now, as is supposed, in la belle France.

The Chariton Patriot publishes a letter from the absconding wife to her husband and also one from her new love, both written from New York, in August, 1864. The wife coolly tells the deserted husband that she could not love him, therefore does not repent, and is very happy with "Frank," a "noble man."

Frank as coolly writes: "I am not repented, for every day I see that she is a noble woman. I know I have done wrong in taking her away from her husband's home while he is in the field of braves, fighting for the great cause of liberty, but I can't help it. Every man has his weak points. If you ever take the notion to overtake us, it will be a very dangerous expedition because we may all three be buried at the same time; nothing but death can separate us."

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