December 15, 1909
BENJAMIN F. HUGHES.
(From a sketch at police headquarters last night.)
That he married one woman, with whom he makes his home, twenty-seven years ago, and another, who, until Sunday lived as his wife at the Hotel Kupper, on December 7, 1909, is said by Captain Walter Whitsett of the police department and Norman Woodson, an assistant prosecuting attorney, to have been admitted by Benjamin Franklin Hughes, 124 North Hardesty avenue, in a statement secured from him in the matron's room at police headquarters last night.
Hughes was arrested yesterday on complaint of Valerie W. Wiler, who lives with her mother, Mrs. Cora Westover, and her sister, Clarice Wiler, at 1622 Madison street. To Lieutenant Robert Smith at police headquarters Miss Wiler represented that she had been married to Hughes, who has a wife and family at the Hardesty avenue address, by Probate Judge Van B. Prather in Kansas City, Kas. The ceremony, she said, was performed Tuesday, December 7.
Miss Wiler was under the impression that Hughes had left the city when she notified the police. It was later determined that he was home with Mrs. Hughes. Officer Oliver A. Linsay made the arrest. The man was held in the matron's room last night and will remain there until an investigation is made of the charges against him at 9 o'clock this morning.
Benjamin Hughes is 52 years old, and has lived in Kansas City two years, coming here, Mrs. Hughes said last night, from Glasgow, Mo. He is said to come of an excellent family and has dabbled in politics.
The details of Hughes's statement were not given out last night. It was announced by the prosecutor and Captain Whitsett, however, that he broke down and admitted marrying the Wiler woman in Kansas City, Kas., Tuesday a week ago, giving as his reason that pressure had been brought to bear upon him to unite with the girl.
According to the statement he was married to Mrs. Hughes in Osborn, Mo., April 16, 1882. The ceremony was performed by the Rev. James E. Hughes, pastor of the Baptist church there. Three children, two boys and a girl, were born to them. The oldest son, aged 20, is a clerk in the First National bank. The other son is 16 years old, the girl 11. Few clouds, he declared, darkened his married life until he met the Wiler woman last April. Mrs. Hughes had been congenial, a good, Christian woman whom all respected.
Valerie Wiler last night said she had first met Hughes when she was in the inmate of a home ofr girls at Chillicothe, Mo., under the care of Mrs. E. Carter. She believed the man was a state officer inspecting such public institutions. he seemed to like her at first sight, and came to see her often. Finally he induced her to become his wife.
Leaving Chillicothe, she stated, they went directly to Kansas City, Kas., where she gave her age as 17 years, while Hughes gave his as 45. She produced a certificate on which both names were signed together with that of Judge Van Prather who officiated at the wedding.
After the marriage, she said, the went to the Hotel Kupper where her supposed husband registered ans Frank Hughes and wife. They stayed at the Kupper several days.
"I discovered my mistake last Sunday morning when I was visiting my mother," said Miss Wiler. "She was aware of the attentions paid me by Mr. Hughes and told me that he had a wife and family on Hardesty avenue. I decided to find out if he had deceived me at once.
"Mother, my sister Clarice and I went to the Hughes home about 6 o'clock Sunday evening. We were allowed to enter unannounced, and found the man whom I had supposed to be my husband there surrounded by his family. He was very much frightened, got up quickly, and asked if he could see me alone for a few minutes. I would not listen. It did not take me very long to tell him that what I had to say was to be to his wife as well as to him.
"I said to Mrs. Hughes: 'Madame, I have married this man and have the certificate to prove it. We were married last Tuesday.' Then I threw myself at her feet and begged her forgiveness, telling her it was not my fault, that i knew nothing of any former marriage when I allowed him to lead me into matrimony. She forgave me then and told her husband that he was worse than I was. Later she seemed to take it all back, and when I went again to the ho use with my mother and sister tonight she treated me coldly. She even ordered me out of the house. I guess she is a perfect Christian woman. Anyway I loved her at first sight, and feel deeply sorry for her.
When Hughes was courting me he offered me many inducements to become his wife. He said he had been a member of the legislature and owned property in town and a farm near Cameron, Mo., worth in all about$75,000. He admitted that he had been married once, but added that his wife died eight years ago. 'I never loved her as I love you and we will be a very happy couple if you will have me,' he said once.
"Sunday night when we confronted him before his wife in his own home, he asked to speak with me aside. I refused, and he seemed very much annoyed. Finally he managed to get close enough to my ear to whisper, 'If you will make up with me, honey, we will get out of this town and go to Mexico.' I do not remember replying. The way he treated his wife did not suit me, although he was kindness itself to me from the first."
At the Hughes home last night Mrs. Hughes would not be interviewed about her husband. She was nearly distracted over his arrest, she said. Occasionally as she spoke she hesitated, wrung her ands and repeated passages from the Bible.
"This woman he married is a very wicked woman," she cried out once. "She drew my husband way to her through her evil ways. Lord have mercy on them both and me. My poor children."