"...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, February 5, 2014

Newspaper Clipping(s) of the Day

Some friendly words of advice from Aunt Undine: You can have cats, or you can have a spouse. Not both.

And if you think otherwise, guess who'll win in the end?

As an example, here is a story from the "Cairnes Post" for February 1, 1924:

Too many cats were the cause of a divorce action being filed in a district clerk's office in Texas. Ed. Carr brought a suit against his wife, alleging that she cared more for 15 tabbies than she did for him. Among other allegations, the plaintiff asserts that Mrs. Carr would sleep with her cats every night and leave her husband all by his lonesome in another bed.

The plaintiff claims that the 15 cat boarders were bad enough, but the climax came when his wife insisted that he be "housemaid" for the feline inmates of the one-time happy home. Carr also declares that it cost him £1 a week to provide food for his unwelcome "guests" and that as he is a working man of small means, the extra overhead cost of maintaining his establishment practically "broke" him.

And the "Charleville Times," December 24, 1947:

A Brighton husband has divorced his wife because she preferred her 25 cats to himself.

Thomas Winnan, an insurance clerk, told Mr. Justice Casels that his wife Edith kept 12 cats in their home at Waverley Avenue, Twickenham, London.

He kept counting the cats--there seemed more of them each week. One week he found 25, and then a disturbing thought began to haunt William.

Finally he asked his wife if she preferred the cats to himself. Mrs. Winnan said she did and Winnan, bowing to the inevitable, went to live at Brighton, Sussex.

Mr. Justice Casels gave Winnan a divorce on the grounds of his wife's cruelty.

Not to mention this story from the "Perth Mirror," June 12, 1937:

Mrs. Ada Tidbury, of Aldershot, applying at Caversham, Berkshire, for a separation order against her husband, Charles Tidbury, of the Tell Gate, Whitechurch, Oxfordshire, complained that he kept 20 cats and allowed them to sleep in his bed.

The husband replied that his wife adored the cats, and he had to take them out of the bed himself.

He added that he had to have the cats to keep down the rats.

The magistrates refused to make the order, which was sought on the ground of alleged cruelty, but advised the husband to get rid of the cats.

Take note of this item from the "Hobart Mercury," July 9, 1951:

Thomas Oxx (58) said in court on Friday he was shocked when he returned home from work one day to find his bride of two months caring for 35 cats.

He was annoyed when she removed the floor coverings so the cats could be on bare boards.

Oxx said the limit of his tolerance was reached when the cats grew to 70.

Oxx was granted a divorce on the grounds of extreme cruelty.

Contemplate this story from the "Canberra Times," January 10, 1948:

Cats are preventing a husband from returning to his wife, it was stated in the Divorce Court to-day.

Judith Elaine Priestley, of Potts Point, asked the Divorce Court to order her husband, Ronald Leonard Priestley, to return home.

Priestley said that he was allergic to cat fluff, and he could not return home because of the presence of cats.

The court ordered him home within 21 days.

Still not convinced? From the "Brisbane Mail," January 31, 1954:

In Hartford, Connecticut, Mrs. Joseph Gazik got a divorce after testifying that when her husband had collected 40 cats in their home, she asked him to choose between her and the cats, got a quick answer: "Get out."

A lawyer gave the following anecdote in the "Cairnes Post," March 12, 1949:

"Do you wonder I left home--thirty-six cats in a four-roomed house!" whispered Crundwell. "She drove me out of the place. When I asked her to cut down the number of feline boarders, she said, 'I would sooner have them than you." So I left. That was six years ago. Now I want a divorce. I say she deserted me in that she forced me to leave the place. I could never get a decent meal. She was for ever feeding her cats."

But wait, there's more! The "Adelaide Chronicle," May 17, 1951:

Harry Macdonald had 22 cats and one wife: now he has 22 cats. His wife Venetta was granted a divorce on Tuesday. She said that she was tired of competing with cats for her husband's affections.

The "Adelaide Mail," November 28, 1936:

Mr. J. Bellois suing for divorce at Trenton, New Jersey, after 14 years' marriage, said that his wife now kept 60 cats; that when he arrived home from work he had to wait for his dinner until the cats had finished theirs.

The "Barrier Miner," August 28, 1941:

On the ground that his wife keeps too many cats in the house, John Pettinger is suing for divorce after having been married 12 months.

He complained that he could not find a chair on which to sit because they were all occupied by his wife's countless cats, and he could not walk upstairs without tripping over one.

The "Canberra Times," March 14, 1964:

Wesley Novak has agreed to pay his wife $3,000 alimony as part of a divorce settlement, but he says she can keep her 50 cats, United Press International reported.

Novak told a district judge the cats had crawled over his bed and kept him from getting a good night's sleep for years.

Throw horses into the mix, and you're really in trouble. From the "Charleville Times," July 9, 1953:

In Los Angeles, Walter R. Sprinkel asking for a divorce charged that his wife Clara lost his money on the horses during the day, insisted on sharing her bed with three pet cats at night.

Even a war veteran is no match for the cats. From the "Sausalito News," April 27, 1912:

Samuel O'Dell, aged seventy-four, a veteran of the Civil war, obtained a divorce because his wife kept 35 cats.

The "Los Angeles Herald," December 10, 1893.  I assume the wife knew this one was coming:

Cats and clairvoyance are the reasons given by Simon Fritz of 46 Goffe street, New Haven for separating from his wife The couple were married in Iowa about 40 years ago Ten years ago Mrs. Fritz developed a mania for cats. She gathered in and cared for every stray feline she could find Mr Fritz tried to escape from them by moving to this city but she brought a crate of cats with the furniture.

Mr. Fritz is a woodworker. He set up a repairing shop on Winter street and they lived in the building until the constantly increasing number of cats around the house caused the neighbors to complain and they moved to Goffe street. Mr. Fritz also has some inventions he is trying to perfect but the nightly uproar by the cats seldom allowed him to get a night's rest and he was unable to work effectively.

Then Mrs. Fritz became a trance medium and her husband says neglected her household work to delve into the mysteries of the past present and future. She attracted attention by asserting that Anna Orr, then missing from Bridgeport was dead in a well. The girl's body has since been found in a well in Fairfield.

Mr. Fritz could stand the fortune telling but he couldn't stand the cats, and he finally declared that his wife's pets must all go. Mrs. Fritz demurred but her husband was firm. The cats went, and so did the woman. Now Mr. Fritz declares he will apply for a divorce.

Another cautionary tale can be found in the "Sausalito News," February 5, 1921:

Twenty-seven cats, three dogs, a parrot, a pigeon, a mother-in-law and a stepdaughter are listed among the reasons why Charles B. Kinney left home. He filed suit in the Superior Court January 29 for divorce from Mrs. Anna M. Kinney, who, he charges, neglected their six-months-old baby to lavish attention upon the menagerie of pets she insisted on keeping. The husband says that although he gave his pay check to his wife every week, he was considered "last and least" of all the occupants of the house. When he protested against the pets because they harbored fleas and "cooties," he says, his wife attacked him and then had him arrested. The charge against him was dismissed, and she broke a broomstick on his head and chased him from home with a gun, he says.

Saying it with an ax is one thing; keeping cats quite another. From the "East Oregonian," March 4, 1912:

Frederick Voss, a foreman in charge of one of the Philadelphia & Reading shops, obtained a divorce in common pleas court because his wife was cruel and insisted upon keeping nine cats in the house.

Voss said that on Christmas a year ago he was attacked by his wife and her mother with an ax.

"I didn't mind that so much," said Voss, "but I couldn't stand those nine cats in the house. They slept in my bed and occupied my favorite chair all the time."

"Why didn't you put the cats out of the house or kill them?" asked Judge Audenreid, before whom the case was being tried.

"My wife is a member of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, judge," Voss replied, "and I was afraid she would have me arrested."

Mrs. Voss did not contest the suit.

From the "San Francisco Call," September 27, 1903:

A cat met him at every turn. An angry "psst" and a chorus of blood curdling "mews" greeted his every move. When he retired at night he needs must exercise great care lest he should disturb the slumbers of a feline snugly ensconced between the sheets of his bed. When he arose in the morning he had to exercise great precaution lest he should expose his bare feet to the claws of numerous pussies and provoke a melody that would ring in his ears for the rest of the day. In fact, every minute of Henry Wyman Page Colson's time at his home in Sommervllle. Mass., was spent in dodging cats. For five years he stood it and then fled to this city. Here he was free from the presence of cats of all kinds, whether they were costly Angoras, pedigreed Maltese or members of the Thomas and Maria family whose midnight stunts would drive a deacon to the use of profanity and the most dignified citizen to unseemly antics with bootjacks and other prized possessions.

Once here, Colson set about making his emancipation final. He betook himself to the office of a lawyer and told his tale of woe. The legal luminary was puzzled, for he had never brought an action against the feline tribe. He thought of injunction proceedings, mandamus and even habeas corpus. But there was no relief for Colson in any of these proceedings. "Who owns these cats?" said the lawyer, hoping for a response that would aid him.

"Mrs. Susan Loring Colson, my wife," said Colson.

"Then you must have a divorce," cried the lawyer. And the next day the suit was filed. It was heard yesterday by Judge Murasky, who promptly gave Colson a decree on the ground of cruelty. Numerous depositions of Boston people corroborative of Colson's tale were read in evidence. Colson's complaint is one of the most complete recitals of the troubles of married life ever filed here. It recites that he was married at Mattapolsett, Mass., in November 1878. For fourteen years he and his wife were happy. It was in 1892 that their troubles commenced. He was at that time a prosperous hotel-keeper at Sommerville. He did not live at his hotel, but maintained a handsome residence near by. His wish was that his wife should make her residence at the hotel, but she would not. This led to the first quarrel, and soon his wife was making his life miserable by accusing him of conduct unbecoming a good husband. She came to his hotel and insulted his guests and one night broke up a whist party. She said the game was immoral and insisted that he should leave. She compelled him to take her home and on the way thither abused him, winding up her tirade by kicking and scratching him and endeavored to stab him with a hatpin.

Such fights followed in rapid order during the next few years and he was finally compelled to retire from business. Even then he was not free from attacks by his wife, for she wrote letters to his successor in business and to the guests of the hotel, in which she said her husband was guilty of all sorts of unseemly actions.

It was not until 1897 that the cats were brought in Colson's unhappy life. In that year Mrs. Colson developed a fondness for cats of every degree and fairly filled her house with them. Some were sick, and they were all dirty, but their condition only affected Colson. Every room in the house was soon filled with them and their numbers increased, despite Colson's frequent raids and attempts to kill every one of them. Mrs. Colson cared only for the cats, with the natural result that the Colson home soon became a wreck. The unlucky husband's friends for a time continued their visits, but for a very short time, and soon the visits ceased altogether. They preferred leaving him to the company of his wife and her cats to running the risk of being infested with vermin and having their clothes ruined and their olfactory nerves shocked by a call at the Colson home. It was early in March, 1902, that Colson, driven almost crazy by his wife and her cats, determined to end it all. In March of that year he left his home and came to this city and established a residence. When he was here a year he consulted a lawyer and the suit was filed, which yesterday resulted in the severance of his Irksome bonds.

The "Burra Record," October 23, 1907:

Professor Rosenberg, of Chicago, last month made a complaint to the police that his domestic happiness had been ruined by his wife's cats. Mrs. Rosenberg was very fond of cats and kept ten of them in the house. Her old love for him was completely alienated by these pets. The police advised the professor to poison the cats.

If the professor tried taking that advice, my guess is that it wasn't the cats who were murdered.

"Los Angeles Herald," July 3, 1910:

WORCESTER. Mass., July 1 Dr. Robert. A. Pierce of the Tuft's dental college declares that thirty-two cats which his wife possessed have broken up his home. For three days the divorce court has listened to the woes of the Pierces and the Judge now has the case under consideration, but has urged both parties to settle their differences out of court and reach a peaceable agreement if, possible. Mrs. Pierce is well known in New York and Boston as an exhibitor of blue ribbon Angoras. According to the story told in court by Mr. Pierce, they crawled mewing about the rooms and hulls. They slept in the bathtub during the day. They crept into coat pockets and took up quarters in hats and other wearing apparel. Numerous cat autopsies were held to discover the causes of deaths in the broods. One part of the house was turned into a laboratory and pharmacy, where cat medicine was kept. Litters of kittens turned up in the most unexpected places—in his hat, for instance—and yowls and fights enlivened the evening and sleeping hours. Dr. Pierce testified that the limit was reached when various members of the cat colony began to appear regularly at the table to dine with him and Mrs. Pierce. Therefore, last October, after much disagreement on the subject, the Pierces agreed to break up their home. Mrs. Pierce, with a half-dozen of her famous cats, is now living at 11 Queen street, Worcester.

In defense of her cats, Mrs. Pierce says: "Every one of the thirty-two cats that we had at one time had at least eight blue ribbons apiece to their credit. Any number of them had taken seconds and thirds in New York and Boston. They were not ordinary cats, as one might think from the way this case has been handled in court. They were worth thousands of dollars, and several of them I had refused to sell for any money. Both Dr. Pierce and I agreed on this, and now he turns all this against me. It is a shame, because our quarrels had nothing to do with cats at all."

And, finally, a judge wise enough to side with the cats. From the "San Francisco Call," September 3, 1909:

OAKLAND, Sept 2. — It is worse for a husband to chase his wife about the house with an ax, threaten to kill, her and call her vile names than it is for the wife to wear false hair and take a cat into bed with her. To this effect Judge Wells decided today in handing down a decision that gave Mrs. Ella Tillmany an interlocutory decree of divorce against her husband, Jacob. Mrs. Tiilmany brought suit originally, setting forth the ax wielding, the threats and the curses as instances of cruelty. Tillmany came back with countercharges that included the wearing of a wig by his wife and her introduction of the family cat into the bed. The former, he declared, constituted mental cruelty as it gave him much pain to see his wife wearing the locks of another woman, and the latter charge was physical cruelty, inasmuch as the cat scratched his legs. Judge Wells ordered Tillmany to pay his wife $200 as a settlement of their property rights.

Well, there you have it. I'm going to treasure these clippings and wave them around like flags every time I'm asked why I've never married.

Always remember this: the cats win. The cats always win.


  1. I found interesting Voss's comment about not minding being attacked by two women with an axe: it was the cats that were driving him crazy. And only nine? I'm two thirds the way there.

    1. Yup. I loved how attempted murder troubled him far less than having his favorite chair occupied.


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