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Don’t be ALL wife or a Gloomy Gus, Dorothy Dix Advised

dorothydix

You think the contemporary generation gets truckloads of advice? Before social media, women of my grandmother’s era had advice coming at them from all sides — family, busybodies and the newspaper. The Yakima Daily Republic was among hundreds of papers that printed syndicated columns by Dorothy Dix, the forerunner of “Dear Abby,” beginning in 1923. Under the Dix pseudonym, Elizabeth Meriwether Gilmer also published How to Win and Hold a Husband in 1939.

Here are a few choice bits, excerpted from two columns, that might have caught my grandmother’s eye in the 1930s. And please, keep those orgies of woe to yourself:

“Every time a woman talks over her grievances against her husband they grow in size and become more unforgiveable. Every time she poses as a domestic martyr she presses the crown of thorns a little deeper into her forehead.

________

Silence is the mother of forgetfulness, and memory dulls the pain of the heartaches of which we never speak. And what dignity and strength they have who bear their burdens alone without shunting them onto other shoulders.

________

Naturally those who get a kick out of shutting their souls up in the dark places and refusing to come out into the light, have a perfect right to take their pleasure as they find it. Let them salt themselves down in brine if they so desire. Let them weep and lament and beat upon their breasts as much as they please, but in common fairness to the balance of us, let them conduct their orgies of woe in private.

________

Let them be segregated from the balance of us just as they would if they had any other communicable disease. For depression is as catching as the measles and none of us is immune to it. …

________

Let’s stop it. Let’s quit being trouble-lenders. Let’s make a rock-bottom resolve not to pass on another hard-luck story or talk about our own private worries, and my word for it, you will see things begin to brighten and the Gloomy Gusses taking cover.”

 

Being a successful wife was a matter for strategy. Dix imagined a wise mother giving her soon-to-be-married daughter this advice:

“Now being a good wife and one who gives satisfaction and keeps her husband blessing the day he married her is the most chancy job on earth, but the secret of turning the trick is moderation.

…(H)ere are a few signposts that I want to erect along the pathway of matrimony that will enable you to keep to the middle of the road, which is safe and easy-going, and will prevent you from falling into the ditch on either side.

________

Don’t love your husband too much. Or, at any rate, don’t let him find out if you do. Don’t let him get the idea that you will go on worshiping him, no matter how he neglects you or treats you. Make him feel that he has to be on his tiptoes all the time to hold your affections. No man values the thing that he doesn’t have to take care of and that he knows he couldn’t lose if he tried.

________

Don’t be stingy about burning incense before him, but on the other hand, demand a few punk sticks for yourself, and be careful never to climb down off the pedestal on which he placed you before marriage.

________

Don’t overdo the wife business. Don’t always be asserting your ownership, and for Heaven’s sake, have too good taste to parade your authority in public. How a wife manages her husband is her own secret affair that she should never reveal to anyone.

________

But don’t make a doormat of yourself for your husband to walk on or he will kick you around if you do after the manner in which we all treat doormats. Don’t let him enslave you, for he will have no respect for you if you do. Don’t be one of the women who are ALL wife, because, if you are, your husband will get fed up on you and turn from you to some woman who is a Lady Love, and whom he has to try to please and who is a more peppy companion than one who will put up with anything he does and think it all right.

________

Don’t ask too much of your husband. Don’t expect him to give up all of his old friends and acquaintances and amusements for you and to have no interest outside of you.

________

But don’t ask too little of your husband, either. A woman can sacrifice herself to her husband until he comes to the place where he takes it for granted that she enjoys being a martyr and has no natural human desires.

________

Be a pal. Be your husband’s best girl friend. Enter into all of his interests and amusements. Encourage him to talk about his hopes and plans and ambitions. For every man has to have some woman confidante to whom he can tell the things that he would be ashamed to tell any other man.

________

But don’t tag him. Don’t be one of those wives whose husbands can never shake them. Don’t make your husband drag you along when he goes off on fishing or hunting trips.

________

Be thrifty. Save your husband’s money and help him get a start in the world, for opportunity knocks only on the doors of the young men who have a little something laid up in the bank.

________

But don’t pinch the pennies so hard that you grow old and ugly before your time by working too hard to save the price of a servant. Don’t be so saving that you cut out the beauty shop and pretty clothes altogether and go about looking like a frump, for, if you do, by the time you get on Easy Street your husband will pass you up for a doll who looks like a daily hint from Paris.

________

And finally, my dear, be amiable and pleasant and agreeable and easy to live with, but don’t be a Pollyanna who keeps on smiling sweetly at a grouch and a tightwad and a philanderer and a wife-baiter. Demand decent treatment and let your husband know that you will quit if you don’t get it.

(Bravo for Elizabeth Meriwether Gilmer, who wrote under the pseudonym Dorothy Dix, and reportedly became the most widely read woman writer of the first half of the twentieth century. When she died in 1951, she left an estate of $2.5 million.)

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What Propriety Demanded of Mothers

Better Babies Medal, Yakima Morning Herald

My grandmother was raised to be a lady. Even in her 80s, one ankle was always neatly crossed behind the other. (A lady never crosses her legs, one over the other!) If the “Hostess Reference Book” of 1928 is any indication, she was expected to hew to the proper way to do everything — raise children; conduct oneself in public; call on others and receive callers; and, of course, ensure mannered meals.

The year my father was born, 1916, thousands of women competed for “Better Baby” medals in county and state contests sponsored by Woman’s Home Companion (predecessor to Good Housekeeping). Babies and children up to five years of age were evaluated and ranked by physicians according to physical and psychological measurements. Raising better babies and better children was a serious responsibility.

Here, for your edification and mine, is some guidance from the past. Have a little dignity, people.

“THINGS CHILDREN SHOULD KNOW

Obedience

…It is the hope of the writer that many children will read, remember, and follow the suggestions herein outlined as there is no other thing that will assist them more in becoming real, popular and respected young men and women.

Remember your best friends are your mother and father and you owe them all the respect possible; but to be known as a child who at all times is respectful, not only to Mother and Father but to others as well, is a reputation every child should cherish.

Never talk back to older people, especially to your mother and father.

Never hesitate in carrying out requests of your elders.

Never whine or frown when spoken to by your elders.

Never contradict any one under any circumstances. It is very impolite and you may be mistaken.

Never do anything when forbidden by your elders.

Never worry or nag your parents. It is unnecessary and is bad form.

Do as you are told in a pleasant and willing way.

Never argue with your elders. They know best.

Never ask your mother or father to do something for you that you can do yourself.

Never take advantage of your elders. Their faith in you should be respected.

Be polite and respectful to your teachers at school and church.

Never disobey your teachers or your elders or break the rules of the school.

Children’s Appearance

Keep yourself clean and neat looking at all times.

Keep your hair combed, your nails clean, and your shoes looking nice. It is just as easy to look nice as it is to be untidy.

Keep your clothes pressed nicely and well brushed.

Keep your teeth clean. Brush them not less than twice each day.

Remember you are judged by your appearance as much as your manners.

One may have an excuse for not having better clothes but there can be no excuse for not being clean. Soap and water are in the reach of all.

Children in the Home

Always greet the members of your family when you enter and always bid them goodbye when you leave.

Always rise to a standing position when visitors enter, and greet them after your elders.

Never address a visitor until he has started the conversation unless he is a person of your own age or younger.

Never interrupt a conversation. Wait until the party talking has finished.

Always rise when your visitor or your elders stand.

Never let your mother or your father bring you a chair or get one for themselves. Wait on them instead of being waited on.

If your leave or cross the room you should say ‘Excuse me.’

If a visitor should say ‘I am glad to have seen you,’ you should say ‘Thank you.’

Never run up and down the stairs or across the room.

Talk in a low, even voice. It denotes refinement.

Always give way to the younger child. It is your duty to look after them instead of fretting them.

Never retire without bidding the members of your family good night.

Follow these suggestions and you will assist in making the members of your family happy as well as in benefiting them in many other ways.

Children at the Table

Always be on time so you will not delay the meal.

Enter the dining room after your elders.

Remain standing until your elders and the small children are seated.

Place your napkin across your lap and wait until all are served before you start eating.

Eat slowly and make as little noise as possible.

Use your knife and fork and not your fingers.

Sit up straight but comfortably, and keep your arms off the table.

If you finish before the others, remain seated and wait.

Do not ask for your dessert before the others are ready.

Do not leave the table before others have finished unless very urgent and then only after being excused.

Turn your head and place your napkin over your mouth if you should want to cough or sneeze.

Talk as little as possible at the table, especially if you have visitors.

Do not pick your teeth at the table in the presence of others.

Never find fault with the meal. Remember your mother always tries to please and you should not hurt her feelngs.

When you want something ask your elders and not the servant.

When the meal is finished fold your napkin and lay it by your plate.

Pass out of the dining room after your elders.

Children’s Conduct in Public

Always conduct yourself in a manner that will win admiration. Remember both bad and good conduct attract attention. Which would you prefer?

When you are on the street greet your friends in passing.

Make it a point to be nice to every one with whom you come in contact.

Do not call to friends at a distance. It is very undignified.

Do not carry on a vulgar conversation because some one you meet does.

Do not take up with strangers.

Do not be forward and overbearing.

Never call an older person by his or her first name.

Walk with an easy carriage but hold yourself erect.

Boys should always raise their hats when greeting older people on the street, whether it be man or woman.

Vile and smutty talk can do you no good but does you much harm.

Always take your turn in line when buying tickets to a show, and never push or shove.

A manly or lady-like young person is envied by all. If you do not have this reputation it is your own fault and you are to be pitied.”

Next: Marital Advice

(Source: The Hostess Reference Book, produced for Syringa Chapter No. 38, Order of the Eastern Star, North Yakima, @1928, accessed at Yakima Valley Geneological Society.)

 

 

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(Re)searching for Grandmother

grandmother

I never really knew my grandmother Jessie. I visited her house in Yakima, sat across the dinner table from her in Tacoma, occasionally tagged along with my Dad when he brought her dinner at the convalescent home where she spent her final years years. But I didn’t really know her.

I’m not sure any of us in the next generation did. We agree that she was subdued, beaten down, after years of bullying by her husband and perhaps her sister and her parents.

In a blog post last month I wondered why she didn’t divorce my grandfather sooner — the snake who kept a woman, Erma, on the side throughout their marriage. Married in 1911, Grandmother divorced him sometime in the 1950s, more than a decade after her last child left home. I know why he married her — she was his stepping stone to respectability — but I still don’t know why she married him. And why she stayed. I wrote, “Divorce wasn’t impossible even when she married; four were reported in the paper on her wedding day.” Her father, early in his career, represented women in divorce cases. Presumably, she could have had free counsel, if she had wanted it.

And then it dawned up me. Duh. She didn’t divorce him because it would make the paper. Because she would be publicly humiliated. More than she was already by the open secret of his other household.

Her older sister Janie wasn’t present when Grandmother married in their father’s home. Janie’s absence, I assume, was a message. But, afterwards, what was done was done. Janie, who considered herself a society matron, may have insisted Jessie stay lest a divorce besmirch the family reputation. Janie was notorious for her screeds to various family members; when in the presence of one, she usually criticized another.

This week I went back in time. At least it felt like it, combing through newspapers and the archives of the Yakima Valley Museum and the Yakima Valley Geneological Society. Among other things, I wanted to know:

  • Was it true that my Grandmother and Janie dropped out of high school? What were the consequences for my Grandmother’s self concept?
  • What were the expectations of women at the time she married and raised children? How much pressure did she feel to live up to those expectations?

My Grandmother and Jessie most likely attended Central School in the early years of North Yakima. A cousin heard that Janie insisted they drop out after a black girl enrolled in their class. Janie and Jessie were raised by their mother to think of themselves as descendants of “the Harrisons of Virginia,” and Janie worshipped the glories of their plantation past. Janie even had an expression for people she viewed as below her: “the low people.” In the 1900 US census, both Janie and Jessie were listed as “at school.” At the time, Janie was 17 1/2 and Jessie was 15. In 1905, the year Janie would probably have graduated, the Central School senior class picture does not include her. School census records were not kept until several years later, but it’s possible that Grandmother — whose mother completed college in Virginia — did drop out at Janie’s urging, and was isolated in part because of her incomplete education.

1905 Central School, Yakima, WA, senior class

1905 Senior Class, Central School, Yakima, WA

Next, Part II: What Propriety Demanded of My Grandmother

Photo source: “The Papoose,” Senior Class, Central School, Yakima, WA, 1905. (For those interested, the Yakima Valley Geneological Society has a self-published document in its stacks about the history of African Americans in the area. African Americans were present from the pioneer period of the late 1800s and made contributions to many fields, including education, farming, law and commerce.)

With appreciation: to Mike Siebol and John Baule of the Yakima Valley Museum, along with Josie at the front desk; and Frank at the Yakima Valley Geneological Society!

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Rights of the Yakamas

Yakama Nations Fisheries Project

Researching family history in 100 year old newspapers, I was moved by the singular voice — and logic — of Louis Mann of the Yakama Nation, 100 years ago, in his letter to the editor of the Yakima Republic (May 14, 1915). My great grandfather, Henry Joseph Snively, on at least one occasion pressed the legal defense of Yakama fishing rights around the turn of the century:

“I am giving you this, my poor writing, which I wish you to give place in your paper: In the treaty of 1855 with the Yakimas, article 3 as follows, ‘The exclusive right of taking fish in all the streams running through or bordering said reservation is further secured to said confederated tribes and bands of Indians, as also the right of taking fish at all accustomed places, in common with the citizens of the territory, and of erecting temporary buildings for curing them, together with the privilege of hunting, gathering roots and berries, and pasturing their horses and cattle upon open and unclaimed land.’

A few days ago I went to the Sunnyside dam to catch salmon, within my rights, for food for my family, and a man was there who ordered me from there, saying that I would be arrested; and he asked me to read the notice placed there by a game commissioner, threatening arrest for anybody fishing there within 400 feet of the dam. I told him that my fishing privileges did not interfere with the law and that our treaty permitted and guaranteed that the red man had the EXCLUSIVE right to take fish from all streams running through or bordering our reservation; and that no white man had a right to fish where I was fishing or anywhere along the Yakima river along our reservation. This white man is guarding our fish from us.

This reminds me that one time about 30 years ago Indians had a fish trap below Union Gap… and some white men were ordered to burst these traps of the Indians; and these men came there with guns and shot at the Indians without warning and Sam Wynaco, now an old man was was wounded with a bullet. He recovered and is still living and can testify to this truth I am writing, that the white man destroyed the fish trap of these poor Indians who were taking their own fish in their own river and were not bothering any white people. This stream belongs to the Indians to fish.

I remember one time in 1889 the Indians had a fish trap in Tieton river and the county sheriff came and destroyed this trap, which was being worked by Chief We-Yallup Way-cika now an old man, who was not allowed to take these fish according to the treaty. He will tell of this as I am writing this truth, which does not make the white man ashamed of these wrongs…

I know Indians who have been ordered out from the berry patches where the white man has sheep. The range rider stated that he would kill their horses if they did not tie them up and not let them run loose on the grass where the sheep wanted the grass. I ask the white man if this is right?

I am wondering if the white people ever think of these wrongs, which they are heaping upon us poor people, who only want the rights given them in the treaty. Maybe they do not think of this, but we Indians are forced to believe that they, the white men, know that they are doing wrong. He is no fool. He only wants all the earth and everything on it. I read and I understand some things. I have two big books in my house written by the white man. One gives the Indian treaties and one gives the law. I read this treaty, made at Walla Walla in 1855, and I wish that the officers of the law would read this treaty, or if they cannot read, get some one to read it for them, and then they will be able to know what is right. Then they will know that the Indian is not trying to rob him of his rights, but is only wanting to be let alone in his rights to fish and hunt and pick berries as agreed in the treaty.

I read that in the country across the sea there is a terrible war where many people are killed and the country is being destroyed. I read that this war is fought because one big, strong nation would not regard as a treaty with a smaller nation, and they said that this treaty with the little nation was “only a scrap of paper,” and they disregarded this treaty. I see in the paper that the American white man says that this was not right for the strong German nation to trample on this treaty with the weak Belgian nation. But these same white Americans do not think that it is wrong for them, who are strong, to trample on the treaty which they made with the Yakimas, who were weak and depended on the promises made in this treaty. You say that you want us to become civilized and be good citizens like a white man. If the white man’s way is being good by disregarding his written promises in the treaty, then this Indian does not want to follow his ways. I prefer being a “bad Injun,” who tells the truth and does not tell a lie knowingly, than to be a “good white man,” who never keeps his word and promises made in writing and witnessed by the law. I wish that the Republic Paper, which has been friendly and lets us tell our wrongs in its pages, would print big bills giving the third article of our treaty which I have written about, and post them where these officials can see them and get a good honest white man to read and explain these posters to them so they will know not to bother and molest the Indians who are fishing within their rights. I am wondering what these officials, called game commissioners, would do if we shoot at them and destroy their property and keep them from getting food for their families? We would get in jail and have trouble, but this is what the white man does and he is protected. I wish that the state lawmakers would not let any white man be a game commissioner who cannot read. And if he can read make him be honest with the Indians in their treaty rights. This is all that I will say.

Louis Mann”

 

 

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Tracking My Father

Sighting across Cowiche Canyon, Yakima

This afternoon, as the sun started to dip behind the hills, I laid on my belly and pretended to sight a 22 across Cowiche Canyon. As my father had done. He described going up up the narrow canyon with his big brother and his “running mates” where they had devised a contest. One point for every rock marmot they killed on the far side. I know how politically incorrect that sounds now, but back in the day — the day being 1925 or so — it seemed like good fun. The sport, and the skill that derived from it, had a lot to do with my father surviving World War II. But that’s a story for another time.

This afternoon, I wanted to see the canyon for myself. So I climbed up a hill and laid on my belly — not soft, loose dirt as I’d imagined, but unforgiving black basalt poking up between the sage brush and tawny grass. My father must have been wary of rattle snakes as he settled down and took aim.

This is your country, I thought to myself, the landscape that shaped you.

He would have put the sun at his back, as I did. Across the canyon, a couple of hundred feet away, the sun would have shone a spotlight on his targets.

Maybe he would have glanced at his companions before taking aim. Smirked. He knew he wouldn’t miss.

Editor’s note: Part of Cowiche Canyon is now under a conservancy — no more marmot hunting, but a great resource for the people of Yakima County and beyond.

Cowiche Canyon, Yakima, WA

 

 

 

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In The Spring of Love and War

Henry Campbell and Eileen Driscoll, 1940

As he waited for Dr. Padelford’s class on Browning poetry to commence, my father liked to remember, “I saw this vision enter the room, dressed to the nines.” The vision was my mother. The University of Washington arboretum, nearing completion, was blossoming with co-eds who strolled in their “whooppee socks” (according to “The Daily”) and diaphanous skirts (according to my father). But love wasn’t all that was in the air.

Imagine falling in love knowing the world was about to explode.

Harold LaskiThat winter quarter, Harold J. Laski arrived on campus as the Walker-Ames lecturer. The internationally prominent political economist from the University of London immediately aroused a storm of controversy for his Marxist views. Besides class lectures, he presented a series of seven public lectures to capacity crowds of 3,000. At the last, U.W. students twice attempted to rush the doors after Meany Auditorium had filled. Almost 3,000 were turned away.

War was inevitable, Laski told the crowd, and democracies must fight to stop Fascism. By then, France and Great Britain had recognized Franco’s government in Spain. “It is no accident but inherent in the Fascist state that its practitioners are proficient in the practice of human cruelty,” The Seattle Post Intelligencer quoted him as saying. “Fascism and war are interchangeable terms. The necessity is inherent in the Fascist state. Dictatorships can not live in peace except in an expanding economy. That day has passed in Western Europe.”

A few weeks later, John Gunther, a prominent European correspondent and commentator declared before another near capacity crowd in Meany hall that Hitler, the “Napolean of Europe,” would not be appeased by British policy. “Feeding the tiger will only make him hungrier and stronger.”

Less than a month later, the Nazi’s occupied Czechoslovakia. A column by Gordon Pates in “The Daily” noted, “…Efficiently, swiftly, ruthlessly, (Hitler) has exercised (sic) Czechoslovakia from the body of Europe with all the skill of an accomplished surgeon… By so doing he established his sovereignty over Central Europe, gained economic control of the rich Danubian basin, reduced at least eight, at most ten, small nations to the status of vassals of the Third Reich.”

In three months, Hitler would order the gassing of mentally and physically disabled persons.

My father and mother remained in the U District after they graduated in June. My father remained active on campus, where he studied law. He may have heard or read the fall address of Dr. Lee Paul Sieg, President of the university, who told students, in part:

“What is this war? Why is this war? What can education do in these dark days?

As I see it, this conflict is focussed on a principle that 25 years ago was only in the outer fringe of our consciousness. Other wars have been chiefly wars of aggression or expansion. This war is a war to establish the dignity of man. It may not answer a question, but it sharply sets it forth. And this is the question. Does the individual exist for the state or does the state exist for the individual? But, one might ask, why should one country which places the individual first, go to war with another country which places the state first? … The first country probably disclaims any intention of interfering with the second one. But if it does not interfere, its own life may be in jeopardy. And then what of us in the United States of America, believing as we surely do in the rights of man? What is our stake in this appalling war? Our 3000 miles from the scene of conflict may lull us into a feeling of security, and complete freedom of strife….But our world truly has shrunk in both time and distance…. Neutrality may seem to unthinking minds easy of achievement. But our civilizations are so intricately woven, that genuine neutrality is most difficult, and the danger of our getting into war is by no means a trivial one.

There is a positive way to peace for our country, but it is a hard way, as we shall see….”

My father, “love in bloom,” as he called himself later, had to have been torn as 1939 turned to 1940, 40 to 41: cuddle with my mother, or defend the dignity of man?

From the Timeline of the National WWII Museum

1939

January: Nationalist troops seize Barcelona

February: France and Great Britain recognize the Franco government in Spain.

March 15: Nazis occupy all of Czechoslovakia

May 1: In Germany, gassings of the mentally and physically disabled begins.

May 22: Hitler signs Pact of Steel treaty with Mussolini.

August: Germany and the USSR sign a non-aggression pact.

September 1: German forces invade Poland and WWII begins.

September 3: Britain and France declare war on Germany.

September 5: The U.S. declares its neutrality

September 25: The Luftwaffe bomb Warsaw. 40,000 civilians killed.

November 30: Soviet Union invades Finland; the winter war begins.

1940

March 30: Japan establishes puppet Chinese government in Nanking.

May 9-10: Germany invades Norway and Denmark, then Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg.

June 10: Italy declares war on Britain and France.

June 14: German army enters Paris.

July: The Soviet Union absorbs Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

September 7: German Blitz begins against Great Britain.

September 13: Italian forces invade Egypt.

October: Germany enters Romania and Italy invades Greece.

In February 1941, my father joined the 5th Reserve Officers’ Commissioning Corps of the United States Marines.

 

 

 

 

 

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“Crooked as Snively”

Visiting the University of Washington special collection on Friday, I was shocked to run across my great grandfather’s name in the old-fashioned card catalogue of regional newspapers:
UW Special Collection card for Snively scrapbook

According to my cousin Louise, Henry Joseph Snively was the inspiration for an old Yakima expression: “crooked as Snively.” H.J., a prominent criminal defense attorney in the early days of Yakima, and a Washington state gubernatorial candidate in 1892, used to pay my father 25 cents to rub his bald pate. There’s a visual I wish I didn’t have.

The yellowing scrapbook contains dozens of articles Great Grandfather carefully clipped and pasted onto pages with rubber cement. Some he must have saved for their legal possibilities — creative arguments and unusual precedents. Others spotlighted him in the era of yellow journalism. Like coverage of the Demerce divorce case, circa 1890:

Demerce divorce case Henry Joseph Snively 1890

“Well, that settles it; I’ll have nothing more to do with that woman,” said George Higgins Demerse, as Justice Rodman imposed a fine of $25 and costs on him for assaulting Belle Demerse, to whom he was married a few months ago. Mrs. Demerse claims to be the relict of David Seamon, whose tragic death occurred in the Caswell building in July-last. Seamon’s former wife who he abandoned some fourteen years ago in Missouri, to skip out with the present Mrs. Demerse, says there has been no divorce; but Mrs. Demerse claims that a divorce was granted in Pennsylvania in 1890, and that she and Seamon were legally married.”

Are you following this? This is reality TV before TV.

“At any rate her relations, marital or otherwise, do not seem to have been happy; for Attorneys Snively and [Fred] Miller are now preparing the papers to free her from her connection with Demerse… ”

The plot thickens:

“Demerse had been drinking steadily for the previous ten days, and on Saturday morning he struck his wife several times in the face and breast, threw the lamp from the center-table onto the stove, and in other ways demolished things. This was too much; and Mrs. Demerse went before Justice Clark and had him arrested on the charge of assault and battery…. [Demerse] asked for a change of venue, and said that he couldn’t get a fair trial in that court — which caused Justice Clark to grant the request for a change of venue, but to commit Demerse to jail for contempt. On Tuesday he was taken before Rodman, pleaded guilty to the charge, and was fined as before mentioned. …(He) is apparently content, for he says he would rather be there than living with his wife.”

Another article, about a horse thieving case, gave me an idea how Snively may have earned his reputation.

Fred Bickle was charged with stealing a horse owned by Dan Goodman. He posted $1,000 bond and was released from jail. Almost immediately, he was charged with stealing horses from William Buchholtz and was due to appear in court (busy guy); bail of $1,500 was set. Snively sued a writ of habeus corpus on the grounds that taking the horses to Oregon — no matter how many owners were involved — was still one offense, and thus should be one charge and not two (with two different bails). The court agreed. Bond was kept at $1,000.

But this was my favorite: “Last Saturday at North Yakima Judge Davidson released the bondsmen of J.K. Edmiston, the absconding Savings Bank swindler, on the ground that Edmiston was not in custody when the bond was executed. The reason given by the court for this outrageous decision is exceedingly weak and flimsy and bears the ear-mark of that shrewd manipulator H.J. Snively, the late attorney for Edmiston and at present the attorney for the bondsmen. That Snively himself had little faith in such a plea before the court is proven by his efforts to induce the commissioners of this county to compromise the case for $500. Failing in this after repeated efforts, Mr. Snively returned to North Yakima and by some hook or crook persuaded the court to make a decision that is lacking in common sense and wholly inconsistent with the facts of the case.”

Ah, the shrewd manipulator. His were the footsteps in which my father was supposed to follow. My father gave up on law school in 1941, when he joined the Marines, and never looked back.

(This bit of history is a byproduct of research I’m doing for my memoir project, The Henry Chronicles. Next stop: Yakima. Special thanks to Sandy at the U.W. Special Collections reference desk for her help in locating the Snively scrapbook.)

 

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