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There are no extant Lucas County newspaper files for the long hot summer of 1876 when all hell broke loose within the extended Prather and Lind families in the neighborhood of LaGrange --- on the Lucas-Monroe county line just north of what now is U.S. Highway 34.
So I'm relying on the following report from The Fairfield Ledger of Aug. 24 for the basic outline of the situation:
"Dr. Lind, sixty years old, went to board with his brother-in-law, Dr. Prather, of Lucas county, Iowa, whose wife was young and not unhandsome, and now Dr. Lind and Mrs. Prather are dodging around the country as Mr. Anybody and wife, and Dr. Prather sues for a divorce from his wife and ten thousand dollars damages from Dr. L. Dr. P. don't care about getting Mrs. P. back, but he wants the ten thousand dollars badly.
"These parties stopped in our city a day or two several weeks ago, and then hied them away to other but not fairer fields of bliss. Dr. Prather is a sensible man in trying to get $10,000 instead of the frail Mrs. P."
The Muscatine Weekly Journal of Oct. 12, 1877, reported upon the situation as follows under the headline, "Seduction Suit:"
"Basil R. Prather, of Lucas county, has sued Dr. W.H.H. Lind for $10,000 for the seduction of his wife. Lind eloped with Mrs. Prather nearly a year ago. She is said to be a buxom woman of about 40 and Lind is a tall, scraggy looking individual of about 60 years of age, and is about the last man in the world we should expect a woman to fall in love with."
I can't say if Dr. Lind mounted a defense against the suit, only that a report in The Chariton Patriot of Nov. 14, 1877, stated that a jury had awarded damages totaling $1,000 in the case of B.R. Prather vs. W.H.H. Lind "for seduction of wife," a substantial amount but far short of the $10,000 asked.
The November 1877 term of Lucas County District Court had been a busy one and several other cases give indication of what our forbears were up to in the good old days.
In the case of State vs. John Osenbaugh for mayhem in biting off the lower lip of Benj. Young, for example, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty.
The case of the State vs. James Van Sickle for seduction was continued but the case of State vs. J.A. Stanley, also for seduction, was dismissed at the defendant's cost.
In the case of the State vs. George Draper, bastardy, on a change of venue from Wayne County, the defendant was order to pay $150 down and $100 annually to the girl involved.
Dr. Basil R. Prather was a son of Iowa pioneers David J. and Matilda (Noon) Prather, who settled near the Monroe-Lucas county line in Iowa about 1850 and who are buried in Prather Pioneer Cemetery, along U.S. Highway 34 between the Lucas county line and the Melrose corner.
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