Thursday, February 16, 2012

Hearts on fire, sort of

Since this is a week to celebrate affection, what with Valentines and all, I decided to pluck a few reports of love (or lust) gone awry from 1873 issues of The Chariton Patriot. These are not for the most part the sort of reports you'll find in today's Herald-Patriot --- we're just too litigious a lot any more to allow it. In most instances, it seems unlikely that flowers, chocolates and a card would have helped. And if any of these folks were your relatives, I am sorry.

Here's a report of a marriage that did not endure from The Patriot of Oct. 13, 1873:

"A few weeks ago as mentioned in the Patriot, G.W. Kesler and Miss Stella 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 Sallie Lyman, has left my bed and board without just provocation and I will not be responsible for debts of her contraction. G.W. Kessler.'

"But Stella was bound to have the last word, and very sharply responded in the next paper with the following: 'Also Notice – That Mr. G.W. Kessler, in the first place, never had any bed and board for as to have; and secondly that he is not responsible for his own debts, to say nothing of mine. My own debts I have always expect promptly to pay. Miss Stella Lyman.' "

The following, from The Patriot of Dec. 24, 1873, seems unduly mean-spirited --- but then newspapers editors occasionally were and sometimes still are:

"Otter Creek township has shown itself a fruitful section in other respects than in the growth of grain. More work for the census taker is frequently reported, but the last case is from an unexpected source. Mr. John Lype gets the credit for the new arrival, notwithstanding his wife has been dead for about a year, his assistant being a widow by the name of Hozier, who has been living at his home since the decease of his wife."

The following report, from the Patriot of Dec. 31, 1873, was justified and proves, if nothing else, that inappropriate, illegal and/or abusive relationships are not exactly new. The Hatcher House was a two-story frame hotel located on the current site of the U.S. Bank drive-in on the southwest corner of the square. "Squire" was an honorary title afforded to justices of the peace.

"On Monday morning last, a man named Laughran appeared before Squire Brown and had a warrant issued for the arrest of a male biped bearing the name of Springer, who had run away with the informant’s daughter. Marshal Reed proceded to the Hatcher House where the runaways were stopping, having registered under the name of “Taler and Sister,” and occupied a double room together the preceeding night. A preliminary examination was held before Squire Brown, who ordered the prisoner, at the father’s request, to be taken to Albia. Springer is a married man and an employee at the Cedar Coal mines on the B.&N. road. The girl is about 15 years of age and quite childlike in appearance and size. She did not realize the rashness of the step taken, but says she will stay at home hereafter. They were bound for Leon, having purchased tickets in Albia for that place and had stopped at the Hatcher to await the morning train on the branch road. Mr. Dunn Springer will probably in time find his name recorded on the warden’s books at Fort Madison."

Even moving away from Chariton was not a way to escape the eagle eye of the Patriot editor, focused at times on exchange papers received by mail from other sections of the state. Here's a report published in The Patriot of April 23, 1873:

"We understand that the man Lockey, who lived on a farm a few miles east of our town a few years ago, and who will be remembered by our readers as living with two women in such intimacy as to be contrary to the statutes made and provided, and who was arrested for having carried an infant child of his own blood to our town, and leaving it exposed in one of our alleys in the southwest part of town, is now living in Cass County. He is also reported to have been before the Grand Jury of that county for the purpose of investigating his right to cohabit with the two women, who are sisters and one of whom at least is not his wife."

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