Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A Troubled Life: Mina Mae Mitchell (1868-1910)

Mina was the first wife of Edgar Otho Hartley, my great grandfather George Henry Hartley's first cousin.

My great grandfather George H Hartley's pedigree.  He and Edgar Otho were grandsons of George W Hartley, Solomon Hartley's son.

My introduction to Mina was a very spare outline in one of May Jarvis's Hartley Family books mentioning Edgar Otho Hartley's first wife, Mina and their two children, Floyd and Claude.  It wasn't until I began looking through the newspaper databases that I realized how complicated Mina was.  It reads like an Edwardian-era Jerry Springer episode.

Mina's story unfolded innocuously enough, with a Cedar Rapids marriage announcement in 1887:

Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
3 Jan 1887
page 3
Married, at the residence of the bride's parents in Cedar Rapids, Jan. 1, 1887, by the Rev. J. B. Ossebeer(?), Edgar O. Hartley and Minnie M. Mitchell, all of Cedar Rapids.

Record shows that they had two sons, Floyd Earl Hartley (1891) and Claude Gearald Hartley (1894).
Mina and Edgar Otho divorced 2 years later, as evidenced by this short notice in the paper:

The Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette
6 Nov 1896
page 2
M. M. Hartley vs. E. O. Hartley plaintiff, granted divorce. 

Mina then apparently kept herself busy with an affair with a married man, A. T. Jones:

The Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
9 Aug 1897
page 8

Are Nabbed
A. F. Jones and Mrs. Minnie Hartley Arrested Saturday
Wife of the Former Files an Information Charging the Pair with Adultery--Jones Furnishes Bonds, but the Woman Languishes in the Station over Sunday.

A little black-eyed lady stepped from a Northwestern train Saturday noon, accompanied by two little girls. They proceeded almost directly to the office of Justice J. F. Rall, where the lady, Mrs. Fannie Jones, of Marshalltown, filed an information, charging A. T. Jones, her husband, and Mrs. Minnie Hartley, of this city, with the crime of adultery.  Warrants were issued for the arrest of the pair and placed in the hands of the police.  Deputy Marshal Stepanek and Officer McGuire went to the room occupied by the couple, over Sinclair's market, corner First street and Third avenue, arresting Jones as he emerged from the room, "growler" in hand, en route to the nearest saloon.  The Hartley woman was arrested in her room.
The couple were taken to the police station to await the coming of the complaining witness.  Jones smiled and smirked, and tried to look serious when he remarked to his paramour that they were going to lose their beer.  "That's all right," said the woman, "we'll get it later," and they conversed confidentially until Officers McKernan and Stiltson took them to Rall's court.
When arraigned the pair concluded to waive preliminary examination and give bonds for their appearance before the October term of district court.  Just as Jones decided upon this line of action his wife and children entered the room, accompanied by Officer McGuire.
The little flaxen haired baby ran across the room and threw her arms around the neck of her father, the older one remaining with her mother, who sat down opposite the pair. With his baby prattling upon his knee Jones signed the waiver and took the blank bond which Justice Rall had prepared for signature. As the woman moved her chair up to the table to sign her name Mrs Jones came across the room and stood immediately behind her husband, looking at the object of her husband's infatuation with an expression which only an artist might depict. Nothing was said: the couple were escorted back to the police station by the officers and Mrs. Jones remained to confer with the prosecuting attorney. To a Gazette reporter she briefly told the story of her unhappiness:
"This woman has been annoying us for three years," said Mrs. Jones, 'and has succeeded in breaking up one of the happiest homes in the world. No couple ever lived happier than my husband and myself until this woman began to exert her in-fluence over him, and since then Ilave not seen a moment's happiness. Up to the last year my husband had provided for me, all that I might ask; but since then his money has gone to support this Hartley woman and the children and I have had very little.
"My husband is a contractor and he has made good money. He has two or three jobs under way now and the contracts for other work. Our children worship the ground he walks on, and nothing has ever come between us--except this woman. Not only has my husband left his home at many times to visit her here, but she has come to Marshalltown, tempting him to leave his home, and they have been seen together there great many times. She has even gone so far as to write me letters, telling me that she is going to influence my husband away from me, whom he did not love, and that she was going to have him all to herself. She called me all sorts of vile names because I presumed to claim the affections of my husband.
"I have a good case against them and propose to push it to the end. One who has not suffered as I have cannot appreciate the pain and sorrow it causes me to be compelled to appear publicly in a matter like this,but I have stood all I can and am going to have the matter ended now and for all time."
Mrs. Jones also stated that her attorney at Marshalltown will assist in the prosecution of the case against Jones and Mrs. Hartley. She left for home late Saturday evening, but will return in time to appear against the couple. In the meantime, she says, she is going to secure all the evidence she can, Jones was fortunate enough to secure bonds Saturday evening, but the Hartley woman, who was recently the defendant in an action for a divorce, was unable to secure bonds and remained in care of the police matron over Sunday. She hopes that friends at Marion will come to her assistance today.

Mina was bailed out 2 days later:

The Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
11 Aug 1897
page 6

She Gave Bonds
Mrs. Minnie Hartley Liberated From the County Jail
Mrs. Minnie Hartley, whose arrest has been noted, and an outline of whose alleged offenses has been given by The Gazette, was this morning successful in securing bond in the sum of $300.  She left the jail at Marion in company with Jones and a well known Cedar Rapids man.
F. E. Witousek(?) signed the bond. 

Almost a year later it appeared that Mina was no longer involved with A. T. Jones, and was appearing drunk in public in Cedar Rapids with a female friend Elsie Cress.

The Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
18 Jul 1898
Page 5
The Police Grind
Elsie Cress and Mina Hartley Faced the Court This Morning

In the absence of Judge Giberson, Justice Rall officiated in police court this morning.  He had one Tm Finegan, alias Carney, charged as a plain drunk, and Elsie Cress and Mrs. Mina Hartley before him.  Carney pleaded guilty and was fined $5 and costs.
Saturday evening Sergeant Mark and Officer Kvapil arrested Cress and the Hartley woman near Wilson's court.  Sergeant Mark had seen the couple at the lower end during the early evening and just before midnight he saw the woman come staggering across the Milwaukee bridge.  Cress was following along at some distance in the rear.  When the woman approached the west end of the bridge Mrs. Cress darted out of a dark place and the two came together.  Officer Kvapil took the Hartley woman in tow and started for the station, while Mark waited for Cress.
They pleaded guilty to drunk and disorderly conduct this morning, Cress being fined $25 or seven days in jail and the woman $10 and costs. Cress will sweat out his fine, while the woman's fine was suspended upon payment of costs.
Mrs. Hartley has a small child who is being cared for somewhere, but of late she has been on the incline and going down rapidly.

 What followed was a published statement from Mina herself (!), explaining what she was "really" doing:

The Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette
23 Jul 1898
Page 8

An Explanation
Mrs. Mina Hartley Desires to Correct an Erroneous Impression

The following communication is self explanatory:
Editor Gazette:  I wish to state the full particulars of my arrest on Saturday evening, July 16.
Mrs. Josie Clark and Frank Watkins called at my home that evening and when they left asked me to go as far as the corner with them.  I did so and when we got to the corner they asked me if I would not walk down to Eleventh avenue and have a glass of beer, which at first I refused, but on the information that they saw some friends of mine go down there I went.  While there Mrs. Clark introduced me to Mr. Cress, as follows:  "Mrs. Hartley, my former husband, Mr. Cress"  I barely recognized the introduction as I did not care to get mixed up with the Cress fellow.  When we drank our beer I told Mrs. Clark I must go home.  We started and Mr. Cress followed out.  He seemingly could not resist the temptation of talking to his former wife.  Again I told Mrs. Clark I must go home, and she came over to me and said: "Mina, if ever you done a favor for anyone in your life stay by me until I shake Elsie."  So instead of going home I walked up the street.  But still he followed along.  Then Mrs. Clark thought perhaps if we went on ninth avenue bridge we could get rid of him, but even then he was more persistent.  I felt sorry for Mrs. Clark and we walked to the farther end of Ninth avenue bridge, then seeing it was of no use for her to try any farther to shake him, I told her again that I was going home.  Then she and Mr. Watkins wanted me to go over Third avenue bridge, but I said no, I would go the nearest way, so I left them at the stairway, the three of them.  I got some distance and looked around and saw that Mr. Cress was coming very slow and also noticed the other two standing at the stairway.  When I started on I met the officers.  They asked me where i was going.  I said "home."  They made a remark that I was in nice company and I told them I would explain.  They would not listen to me:  said I had been drinking and was drunk and would not hear my appeal to go home, for which place I was bound as fast as I could go.  They took me to the station and then stated that I was out with Cress.  It was not my fault.  He was in the crowd and through my sympathy for Mrs. Clark, having her former husband following her around, I got into trouble.  I simply got into bad company and had to suffer for others, to my sorrow.
Mina Hartley

A few months later her ex-husband Edgar Otho married his first cousin, Mary Louise Wilkin (also a first cousin of my great grandfather George Henry Hartley).  He would remain in Cedar Rapids for a few years and then they moved to St Paul, Minnesota.

Mina married Thomas Joseph Duluhan (1867-1908), a clerk originally from Ireland, in Cedar Rapids on August 16, 1899, and by the 1900 Census was living with him and her 6-year-old son Claude Hartley in East St Louis, Illinois (the seedier part of St Louis across the Mississippi River).  Claude warrants his own blog post, as he literally ran away to join the circus (well, the "Flack North Western Carnival Show") by 1917.

Her 9-year-old son Floyd Earl was living with his Hartley grandparents in the area outside Cedar Rapids.  He would die there in 1913 from kidney disease.

Mina's relationship with this second husband is unknown, but she didn't waste any time living it up and finding another man, John W Tourville (1880-1910) within a month of her husband's death.  Her wild wedding celebration to Tourville made national headlines:

Galveston Daily News
Galveston, Texas
2 Apr 1909
page 4

Bride Sets Up Drinks at Bar
Ceremony Performed in Lame Goose Saloon -- Widow Only Four Weeks.

St. Louis, Mo.--There was a wedding celebration in East St. Louis like that given Tuesday night in token of the second marriage of Mrs. Mary Dulahan, whose first husband, Thomas Dulahan, died a month ago.

The widow of four weeks lavishly expended a considerable portion of her new-found wealth--$6,000--which she collected as insurance on the life of her former mate.
It was she who chose the Lame Goose saloon, at the northern limits of East St. Louis, as the scene of the festivities.

Flowers?  The bride bought $150 worth of roses and decorate the back of the bar with them.  There were water buckets full of carnations on every table in the Lame Goose saloon.
Mrs. Dalahan collected her insurance money only a few weeks ago, and a few hours later her engagement to John W. Tourville, a painter, was announced.

They were married Tuesday afternoon by Justice Collins.

The bride's wedding gift to her husband was a check for $2,000.
So that he would not have to break his "nest egg," she also gave him $250 to buy his wedding clothes.  When he appeared before her in his new outfit she was so greatly pleased that she handed him $200 more.
"Go and buy a nice, big diamond for your shirt front," she said.

Fifty guests were invited to the reception at the Lame Goose saloon.

The bride stood in the center of the barroom and pinned a rose on every one who came in.  Nobody was permitted to spend money for drinks.
"It's all on me," said the bride.  "Order what you like."

In the hall above the saloon the wedding supper was served, and besides the invited guests nearly 100 others crowded around the tables.

The merrymaking continued until daylight.

"What's the use of having money if you don't spend it?" said the happy bride.

"That's right," agreed the no less happy groom, feeling to see if his big diamond was still there.
--Spokane Spokeman-Review.

By a year and half, she and her new husband were dead:

Belleville News Democrat
Belleville, Illinois
23 Sep 1910
page 3

Once Rich; Dies in Want
Mrs. Nina Tourville, Who Spent $6,000 at Wedding, Dies in Poverty.

Mrs. Nina Tourville of East St. Louis, better known as the "Lame Goose Bride," or as the woman who spent a small fortune in a single night, was buried Thursday from her home, 818 Bowman avenue.  None of the pomp which distinguished her last wedding was attendant at her burial.  She died in poverty.

Her first husband, T. J. Delehan, died November 15, 1908, leaving her a $5,000 insurance policy.  The day following the payment of the money she announced that her marriage to J. W. Tourville would be celebrated in the Lame Goose saloon.  All of the city was invited and almost all of her little estate as spent in entertaining her guests.

Tourville died a short time ago, but he only left her $2,000 in insurance, and it was so involved in legal tangles that the widow had secured none of it.

 Though she had few mourners to attend her funeral, the newspapers had a field day with the story:

Hartford Herald
Hartford, Kentucky
28 Sep 1910
page 1

Few Mourners Follow the Body of Woman

Who Spent $6,000 for Wedding Feast to Her Last Resting Place.

St. Louis, Mo, Sept. 24.--Only four carriages followed the hearse which took Mrs. Nina Tourville to her grave in East St. Louis to-day, and among the mourners were none of the 2,000 men and women whom only two years ago she entertained at the feast of food and drink which she prepared when she married a second man a month after her first husband's death.

Mrs. Tourville will always be remembered in East St. Louis as the woman who spent $6,000 in one day.

To Tourville as a wedding gift she gave $300 worth of clothing and $6,500 worth of jewelry.  She hired the Lame Goose saloon outright, including a hall on the second floor, and issued a general invitation to "everybody in East St. Louis" to help her celebrate the marriage.  The bill for the celebration was $6,000.

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