"...we should pass over all biographies of 'the good and the great,' while we search carefully the slight records of wretches who died in prison, in Bedlam, or upon the gallows."
~Edgar Allan Poe

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Newspaper Clipping of the Day

Some months back, I related the story of a female spiritualist who was having an ardent adulterous love affair with a ghost. At the time, I thought it was a unique case.

Silly me.

From the "Boston Post," June 10, 1900:

St. Louis, June 9--For the first time in the history of the courts a ghost will appear as correspondent in a divorce suit next Tuesday.

The ghost is that of William J. Florence, who was one of the best actors who ever graced the boards. Mr. Florence, of course, in life was full of fun, a great practical joker. It may be that Mr. Florence's spirit has continued to play pranks. Charles L. Bates, an expert on diamonds in the largest jewelry store here, names the spiritual Mr. Florence as correspondent in his suit for divorce from his wife, Mrs. Lou E. Bates, who has herself brought a suit for divorce, in which she names as correspondent a "grass widow and Spiritualistic medium." But, it turns out, the grass widow is in the flesh. She is Miss Marion L. Wilson of El Paso, Tex., who once lived at the home of the Bateses here.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Bates are Spiritualists. To be authoritative one must quote from the sworn depositions in Mr. Bates's suit. Mrs. Mattie Brayelle swears:

"Mrs. Bates has often spoken to me of meeting the ghost of William J. Florence, the actor. She told me she made love to the spirit, and when I was dubious she informed me that though it was a spirit he was just as tangible as if he had been mortal and existed in the flesh.

"I am a Spiritualist myself and believe that a spirit can appear in human shape. Whenever it appears it can dominate the action of any person it dominates. Mrs. Bates also told me that her husband would die, that she had a premonition to that effect and named a date."

In her deposition Miss Marion Wilson states that she has gone to places of entertainment with Mr. Bates, but his wife was always with them, save on one occasion.

"Mr. Bates has often kissed me," swears Miss Wilson--"never at Spiritual manifestations. He always kissed me as he would his daughters. I was considered a member of the family. I went to their house at Mrs. Bates' request. I was so intimate with them that I called them 'Papa' and 'Mamma.' Our first meeting was at a Spiritual seance."

Mrs. Louise C. Patterson, a daughter of the Bateses, declares:

"Mamma never went to church. She spoke to me frequently of Mr. Florence's ghost, and told me that he would be her husband in the next world. Mother has frequently told me of visiting actors behind the scenes, and she was much taken up with all stage work.

"She secured me a position with the Effie Shannon company, which was playing at local theatres, and I also acted at her suggestion at other times, but always against father's will. I have seen father kiss Marion L. Wilson, but it was always done in the presence of mother and the rest of us. In fact, she was considered a member of the family."

Last December Mrs. Bates, with her son Charles, 11 years old, was at Mrs. Mary Gile's house, No. 694 Monroe street, Brooklyn. Mrs. Bates then exhibited a large revolver, saying she would shoot anyone who tried to kidnap her son. But no one tried.

Regrettably, the shade of Mr. Florence did not show up in the courtroom to testify on his own behalf. The Bateses did get their divorce, but I am in no position to say if Mrs. Bates did indeed remarry in the afterlife.

William J. Florence, ghostly adulterer

1 comment:

  1. I guess it was a case of a woman who was dying to marry an actor...


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