Saturday, October 09, 2021

She married in haste --- but repented immediately

Marcella Lyman, known always as "Sella," was the eldest of Gaylord and Marinda Lyman's five children, born about 1853-54 in Chariton although there is some dispute about the year.

She would have been about 17 when her father, then sheriff of Lucas County, was gunned down by suspected horse thief Hiram Wilson on July 6, 1870, just off the southeast corner of the square. Wilson was lynched that night, thrown out a courthouse window with a rope around his neck.

Sella seems to have been a strong-willed young lady, so there probably was no dissuading her when she decided to marry three years later, during September of 1873, a young man named George W. Kesler. Rather than repenting at leisure, however, she acknowledged her mistake two days later when she left the nuptial bed, checked into one of Chariton's hotels and then divorced him.

The whole affair was covered in great detail as follows in The Chariton Patriot of Oct. 15, 1873, under the headline, "Too much married."


A few week ago, as mentioned in the Patriot, G.W. Kesler and Miss Sella Lyman, of this place, were married at Knoxville. They returned to Chariton and lived together two days, when in the evening the bride started out for church, as she pretended, but not returning at the usual hour, George made search for her and found her at one of the hotels, when she informed him that she had concluded that she did not have the necessary amount of affection for him to continue as his wife, and she proposed to act accordingly. George took it very philosophically, and to avoid any greater pecuniary loss on her account, published the following notice in the Leader:

Take Notice: My wife, Mrs. G.W. Kesler (formerly Miss Sella Lyman), has left my bed and board without just provocation and I will not be responsible for debts of her contraction. (signed) G.W. Kesler.

By Sella was bound to have the last word, and very sharply responded in the next paper with the following:

Also Notice: that Mr. G.W. Kesler, in the first place, never had any bed and board for me to leave; and secondly, that he is not responsible for his own debts, to say nothing of mine. My own debts I always expect promptly to pay. (signed) Miss Sella Lyman.

Considerable conjecture has been indulged in to know the cause of the conjugal trouble, but the Knoxville Democrat thinks that they were "too much married" and gives the following account of the beginning of the brief, but eventful, matrimonial career of the fickle twain:

A few weeks since a dashing young man accompanied by a blooming damsel arrived in this city from a neighboring town, and soon sent for a 'Squire to wrap them together in the sacred bands of matrimony. The 'Squire arrived and taking the license in his hand, proceeded to perform the marriage ceremony.

On going to his office to make his return on the license, the 'Squire was horrified to find that the license was one granted in another county, and that he had married the cooing doves without lawful authority. Hastily rushing to the hotel, fear of damage done in his absence lending speed to his feet, his countenance beamed with satisfaction on discovering the happy couple in the parlor, preparing to retire for the night.

He made the mistake known, and advised that another license be procured. The young lady was considerably ruffled, and declared that for a cent she was "play quita" right then and there. On persuasion of her darling George, she consented to try it over again. The license was obtained and they were again married.

The Democrat, after referring to the notice above and attributing the trouble to the fact of being too much married, suggests that if they would try it again, things would stick better.


Sella and George did not try it again, however, despite The Democrat's advice. He seems to have married a second time some years later and removed to Kansas.

A year after her brief experience as Mrs. Kesler, Sella married for a second time --- to Frank Phillippi on Nov. 15, 1874, in Chariton. He was about 10 years older than she and this union proved to be permanent.

Frank leased the Depot Hotel during August of 1875 and they operated it for a time, then moved on to Burlington and, finally, to Los Angeles. Their only child, James, was born during 1877.

Unfortunately, Sella did not enjoy a long life. Her "sudden" death during April of 1896 in Los Angeles in her early 40s was reported very briefly in all three Chariton newspapers, but only The Patriot gave a cause, "muscular rheumatism," whatever that might have been.

Sella shares a nice tombstone in Angelus Rosedale Cemetery, Los Angeles, with her son James (1877-1914) and husband Frank (1842-1923), who outlived her by 17 years. (Find a Grave photos by Don Lynch.)

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