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January 13, 1910


Benjamin Franklin Hughes
Must Support Family and
Avoid Primrose Path.

Benjamin Franklin Hughes, 51 years old, formerly a real estate agent of this city, pleaded guilty yesterday afternoon in the criminal court to a charge of bigamy and was sentenced to six months in the county jail. Hughes was paroled on condition that he would support his wife and family and follow the straight and narrow path. He is to report April 4 to Judge Ralph S. Latshaw of the criminal court.

With bowed head and trembling voice, Hughes stood before the bar of justice and told of his mishaps. He admitted that he had acted a "silly, old fool," but promised, with tears in his eyes, to reform and devote his years to his wife and children. Mr. Hughes has secured a position as a real estate salesman in Illinois. He stood alone in court, deserted by his friends and disowned by his wife and family.

"It is not for your sake, because under ordinary circumstances I would have sent you to jail, but for the sake of your wife and family that I parole you," said Judge Latshaw. "They have suffered as much as you; they are disgraced because of your foolhardiness. It was not so much for the crime of bigamy that you deserve punishment, but a far worse crime -- infidelity to your wife, and family."

Hughes's defense was that he was forced into an unfortunate alliance with Miss Vairie Wilder, aged 17 years, who lived with her mother, Mrs. Cora Westover, 1622 Madison street. The real estate agent married the girl in Kansas City, Kas., early last month when he had a wife and family living in this city.


Hughes charged that Mrs. Westover compelled him to marry her daughter. he said she thought he was a wealthy widower. Hughes and the girl met last April, and immediately Hughes became enamored of her. Then he furnished rooms in a flat on Troost avenue and lived with her there.

"I spent hundreds of dollars," he said, buying her clothes and presents. "I was forced to pay this girl's board at home, and all her expenses. Now I am broke and have exhausted my credit.

"When I asked to take the girl to Excelsior Springs for her health, Mrs. Westovermade me deposit $15 with her. Besides that I was forced to pay all the expenses while in Excelsior Springs. We stopped at a $4 a day hotel.

"After the girl got in trouble, Mrs. Westover demanded that I marry her, thinking all the time that I was a wealthy widower. I thought Miss Wilder an innocent young girl and that I alone was responsible. I wanted to do the right thing so I decided to marry her. I thought I would be able to keep it a secret from my family. But the farther I went the more trouble I found. Then the girl faced me and my wife with her charges. I was a fool. Who knows this better than I? A silly old fool."

"Yes, you were a silly old fool," interrupted Judge Latshaw. "Your conduct is inexplainable. How could you expect to gain the love of this young girl? You, with deadened passions, shoulders bending under the weight of years, and with deep-wrinkled brow. Every furrow in your brow was an unfathomable chasm, dividing you from her. The law of nature ordained ages ago that a man of your age could not win the love of a fresh young girl, as is Miss Wilder. It would have been like the union of January and May, as impossible as the laws of nature themselves to overcome. But the fool that you are, you followed your fancies.

" 'Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive,' said the poet.


"The farther you went the deeper your feet sank into the mire. Did you hope to win this girl's love? Do you think that she ever cared for you? It is natural for the young to love the young, and for both to despise the old -- the doting, old fool. With one hand she caressed you and with the other hand she was seeking to take the money from your pockets. It was not you but what your money could buy that she wanted.

"But the crime you committed against this girl and later your becoming a bigamist were the least of your offenses. You violated the trust of your wife. What could be more disgusting or inhuman than a man with a good, pure woman at home, totally forgetting his obligations and duties that marriage has brought upon him.

"When the exposure comes they must suffer the same as you. when the name of Hughes is held up for ridicule, made the subject of ribald just, not you alone suffer, but your wife and family also. No wonder the woman whom you swore to cherish and love, despises and hates you. No wonder you are a disgusting sight to her eyes.

"But I think this one experience has cured you. If you fall again you must end with a suicide's grave or the felon's cell. Go out into the world and start anew. you cannot forget the past, because with your sensitive nature and cultivated tastes, the consciousness of your wrong-doing must remain with you forever. You must retrieve your past black record. The rest of your days should be spent in working for your wife and family, the ones who have suffered so greatly because of your misdeeds. If when you come back here, I find you are not supporting your family, you will be sent to the county jail to serve the sentence just imposed on you. Go and make good."

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December 16, 1909


Arraigned Before Justice Remley,
and Trial on charge of Bigamy
Set for January 11.

Benjamin Franklin Hughes, admitted bigamist and real estate agent, was arraigned yesterday morning in Justice Theodore Remley's court on the charge of bigamy. He pleaded not guilty, and was released on $1,000 bond. His trial was set for January 1.

In a statement made to Norman Woodson, assistant prosecuting attorney, Mr. Hughes admitted that he had two wives living.

"I confess I have two wives," said Mr. Hughes. "The first one I married in Osborne, Mo. Rev. James E. Hughes, my uncle, a pastor in the Baptist church, married us. I have never been divorced from this wife.

"Seven days ago, December 7, I married Miss Valerie Wiler of Kansas City. Judge Prather of the Wyandotte, Kas., probate court married us."

Why did Mr. Hughes marry Miss Wiler and expect to escape prosecution? This question cannot be answered by the prosecuting attorney's office. It is said that he was advised not to, before it was known that he had a wife living. Mrs. Clay, matron of the industrial school for girls at Chillicothe, is quoted as saying she advised him not to, and so did other persons connected with the case. When Mrs. Clay brought the girl here from Chillicothe December 3, to meet Hughes and plan the marriage, the girl was kept at the detention home. It was after an investigation of the case that the advice against marrying was given.

The report was brought to Mrs. Clay that Miss Wiler was in love with another man. Hughes was told that if he married her that she would probably leave him soon and marry the young man who kept company with her, after she and Hughes became acquainted.

Hughes, so it appears from the statement made by Miss Wiler, had a second affinity after he became enamored with her. He rented a flat at 807 Troost avenue, early in August, and he and Miss Wiler lived there together three days and two nights. It was at this juncture Mrs. Cora Westover, the girl's mother, heard of her daughter's wrongdoing and had her sent to the industrial school in Chillicothe.

"After I was taken away," says Miss Wiler in her statement to the prosecuting attorney, "Mr. Hughes got another woman to live with him. They occupied the flat together for some days following."

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December 15, 1909


DEC. 7, 1909, THE CHARGE.

Prosecutor and Police Say Benjamin
Franklin Hughes, Held for In-
vestigation, Admits It --
Wife No. 2's Story.
Benjamin F. Hughes, Alleged Bigamist.
(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."

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November 27, 1909


Vagrant a Menace at Workhouse,
Board Member Says, Teaching the
Boys How to Work "Safe" Games.

The police of several cities are anxious to get possession of E. Burgess, now serving a year's sentence here on a technical charge of vagrancy, according to L. A. Halbert, secretary of the board of pardons and paroles.

Burgess was accused originally of inducing the matron of the Nettleton home to marry him, it being alleged that he had a wife in another city. He is said to have posed as a wealthy man. While awaiting "a large remittance," his new wife was supporting him, having paid for the marriage license and ceremony.

Mrs. Burgess heard that her husband proposed to other women after the marriage, and previously had proposed to a dozen or more. She caused his arrest. The first wife did not appear so he was arraigned in the municipal court as a vagrant and fined $500.

A letter from the chief of police at Hudson, Wis., told of a man supposed to be Burgess, who had a wife there. She supported him for a long time after marriage while he gambled and was engaged in a general confidence business.

The chief of police of Ottumwa, Ia., said Burgess is wanted there on a charge of passing worthless checks and "beating" hotels. He said the Cedar Rapids, Ia., police want Burgess on the same charge.

The police of Oklahoma City, Ok., and El Paso, Tex., tell of similar accusations there. The Hudson, Wis., chief says Burgess "is an all round crook and confidence man."

"He has been a menace to the younger prisoners here in the workhouse," said Jacob Billikopf, a member of the board, at the weekly meeting yesterday. "He frequently relates his experiences and tells how easy it is to separate people from their spare change and how to work the game so as to keep out of prison."

"I would be willing to turn Burgess over the the authorities of any city where it plainly could be shown that they had a case against him which would send him over the road," said President William Volker. "If any of these places has a direct charge against Burgess, I will be glad to turn him over, but I don't want to take any chances of turning loose a dangerous man on the public again. Let him remain here for the balance of his sentence, nine months, and notify the places where he is wanted when he is to be released."

An effort is to be made, through the Hudson, Wis., police, to induce the alleged original Mrs. Burgess to come here and prosecute the man for bigamy.

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April 2, 1909


Now Wife No. 2 and Wife No. 1
Console Each Other While Hus-
band Is in Jail.

J. C. Kirk, a carpenter, was arrested Wednesday afternoon on a charge of bigamy preferred against him by Mrs. Emma Kirk, who says she is wife No. 1, after she was informed of her husband's second marriage by wife No. 2. While Kirk was sleeping on a steel cot in the city holdover, his two alleged wives were becoming friends in his cosy home at 2131 Summit street.

Nearly two years ago Kirk came to Kansas City and married Miss Maud Houser. When she began the spring housecleaning a month ago she removed a picture from a frame, and says a marriage certificate fell to the floor. After reading it she realized that her husband was a bigamist.

Wife No. 2 then prepared fro the downfall of Kirk by writing to wife No. 1 who was living with her parents at Burr Oak, Kas. She came to Kansas City and visited Mrs. Kirk No. 2. She said she was married to Kirk nine years ago at Siloam Springs, Ark., but that he had sent her home two years ago.

Although wife No. 2 does not intend to prosecute Kirk she will not aid him, and is befriending Mrs. Emma Kirk, wife No. 1. The two women are the best of friends and are living together at the Summit street house. Mrs. Emma Kirk is a daughter of G. O. Copeland, a Methodist minister of Burr Oak. She will prosecute her husband.

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March 23, 1909


John W. Roberts Held Under $2,000
Bond on a Charge of Bigamy.

John W. Roberts, a promoter, with offices in the Jenkins building, Thirteenth street and Grand avenue, was arraigned before Justice Richardson yesterday, charged with bigamy. The complaint was filed by Mrs. Maggie Roberts, 2305 Minnie avenue, who claims that Roberts, after deserting her nearly four years ago, married Teressa Helmer in Denver, Col., in June, 1906. Roberts was released on $2,000 bond for preliminary examination April 2.

"I was married twenty-two years ago, and lived with my wife until about four years ago," said Roberts yesterday. "We simply could not get along together, and I left her. Since that time I have sent an average of $75 a month to her. She came into my office last Monday, and demanded that I give her $100. This I refused to do, and told her that I would allow her $40, which she took.

"We had two children, Lillian, aged 19, and William T. aged 17. My daughter is living with her mother, and the boy just arrived in Kansas City today from Texas, where he has been working. He probably will make his home with me at 1122 Tracy avenue, if he remains in this city."

William T. Roberts met his father in the Jenkins building last night. He said that with a few exceptions Roberts had provided regulary for his first family.

The second Mrs. Roberts is living at 1122 Tracy avenue and is the mother of a 7-months-old baby girl.

When asked what his plans were, Roberts said:

"I have no plans. When the proper time comes I will make my statement. These charges have been brought against me and they will have to be proved. There is nothing farther to say."

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July 6, 1908





Young Man Thought He Was Di-
vorced When He Married Miss
O'Shea -- Thomaon Known
as Joseph Pain.

Did Joseph Thomason, husband of two days, kill himself because his conscience reminded him of boyish indiscretions, or did he take his life for some other reason?

That is the problem confronting friends and acquaintances of the young man since he turned a pistol on himself because he thought himself unworthy to be the life companion of the young woman he had married. On the afternoon before the tragedy the young man told his wife that eight years before, when he was only 14 years old, he had slain another. One of these killings, he said, was justified by the unwritten law. He did not tell the cause for the other.

"I am not worthy of you," he told her.

His words troubled the bride but she did not think he meant them seriously. Only a few minutes later, when she entered the room they occupied, he shot himself. A note, on which only the word "mother" could be distinguished, was left on a table beside the bed on which he died.

A more probably reason for the suicide is advanced by the foreman at the American Sash and Door Company, under whom Thomason worked for the last year. "Thomason told me," said the foreman yesterday, "that he had been married before, when he lived down in Louisiana. He and his wife separated and he thought that she had gotten a divorce. Recently he discovered that no divorce had been granted, and that he was still a married man.But he was already pledged to Miss Pearl Alma O'Shea, now his widow, and he had not the heart to tell her. They went to Leavenworth and were married. The next day Thomason worked, but on the Fourth he had plenty of time to think it over.

"I think it was then that what he had done horrified him. He realized that he was a bigamist and, if discovered, it would be better for him and for his wife that he had never been born. He bought the pistol, told his bride a fictitious story about crimes committed many years ago, and blew out his brains."

At the sash and door factory Thomason went by the name of Joseph Pain. He was a member of the Stair Builders and Cabinet Makers' Union No. 1635, but his widow will receive no benefit because the insurance policy was allowed to lapse. Had he made a payment Friday night she would have received $200. He used the name of Pain on his union card. He made no secret about having two names, saying that Pain was his middle name.

Thomason earned $18 a week. He was in good health and so far as known had no bad habits. His wife was young and pretty. Everything seemed to point to a happy married life for the young couple.

To make the theory that Thomason committed suicide from remorse on account of alleged murders of his boyhood more improbably, his associates say he was not given to brooding. He was cheerful and liked to have a good time in an innocent way. On the night on which he killed himself a crowd had been invited for a merrymaking at the house at 3102 East Twentieth street.

Thomason's parents were notified by telegraph of their son's death. A reply was received yesterday afternoon saying that they would be unable to come to attend the funeral. They live in Hot Springs, Ark. The funeral arrangements have not been made. The body is still at home.

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May 20, 1908


Mrs. Smith Avers That T. W. Glynn
Falsely Accused Her of Bigamy.

Alleging that T. W. Glynn, to whom she formerly was married, has unlawfully charged her with bigamy and as a result she suffered the pain and humiliation of having to spend fourteen days in jail before her trial and release, Mrs. Margaret Smith has filed suit in the circuit court asking $20,000 damages against Glynn. She aleges that it was entirely due to the information filed by Glynn in the justice coucrt that she was served with a warrant charging bigamy because she had married Smith, and that the information was filed with a malicious motive.

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October 10, 1907


Mrs. Coppinger Declares the Man
She Married Is a Bigamist.

"I want a warrant for the arrest of my husband, Ambrose Coppinger. He is a bigamist. We were married last April and the following month he deserted me and since then I have learned he has another wife living in Oklahoma from whom he has never been divorced. I have communicated with her and we both want him arrested."

The above information was imparted to Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Higgins in Kansas City, Kas., yesterday by Mrs. Mary Coppinger of Rosedale. She stated that Coppinger is 52 years old and was married to his Oklahoma wife in 1875 and lived with her until a year ago.

"Where is Coppinger now?" inquired Prosecutor Higgins.

"I don't know. I only wish I did. I was only acquainted with him a short time before we were married, but our honeymoon was of even less duration."

Mrs. Coppinger was told that until information leading to his present whereabouts was obtained it would be useless to issue a warrant. She promised to try and locate Coppinger.

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