Last week Mr. James Tuttle and a Mrs. Chapman, living about seven miles north of Louisville, eloped. Mr. Tuttle was a married man and Mrs. Chapman a married woman, each having a family. They were close neighbors, and rumors of improper intimacy between the two have been going the rounds of the neighborhood for the last year or more. Mr. Tuttle leaves his wife and family entirely destitute of this world’s goods, he having turned all his earthly possessions into money, which he took with him. Mr. Tuttle’s wife is a lady of estimable character, highly respected by all who know her; and she has been a hardworking and economical wife, trying with all her power to help her husband make a home for themselves and little ones. He had a family of very interesting children, and there could have been no excuse for his inhuman act except his innate devilishness. He has always been a bad man, and considered by his neighbors as a man equal to almost any act of meanness. Why Mrs. Chapman became enamored of such a dwarfish specimen of incarnate humanity is more than any ordinate intellect can conceive of. Such, however, was the case, and she left an interesting family and an ever kind and indulgent husband, to spend the balance of her days with this fiend in human shape. Mrs. Chapman is said to have taken a hundred dollars of her husband’s money, all that he had about him. Mrs. Chapman went to Wamego and took the train, and Mr. Tuttle took a team and spring wagon and struck out across the country, telling his wife that he was going to deliver a sewing machine which he had sold a few days before, and the supposition is they met at Manhattan. Mrs. Chapman took her youngest child. No effort is being made to follow them, as people generally look upon their room as being much preferable to their company. Mr. Tuttle’s numerous creditors have been rushing around to see if anything was left, but find everything as barren as a fig tree at the north pole.
-Ness City Times (Kansas), June 23, 1881, transcribed by Lynn Mack. Used with permission.
According to my research, Tuttle and Chapman must have had second thoughts.
I checked the 1880 census, and found James Tuttle, age 35, living with his wife Laura and their three children. Living next door were Simeon J. and Hattie M. Chapman and their five children. One more house down the road lived Levi O. and Lottie A. Chapman and their five children. It cannot be determined which of the two Mrs. Chapmans ran off with James a year later, but we know that it was either Hattie, about 30, or Lottie, about 33.
Unfortunately, the 1890 census is unavailable for Kansas, having burned along with those of many other states, in a fire at the Commerce Building in Washington, DC. But in the 1900 census, the same James Tuttle is living with his same wife Laura and some of the same children, now adults, in Jackson, Missouri.
In the 1910 census, James is remarried, this time to Julia, and three of his children still live with him, again in Jackson, Missouri. Perhaps first wife Laura died, but there are no records to confirm it. Ten years later, James, now 73 years old, is a widower, living in Jackson with two of his children. I could locate no further records for him.
In the 1900 census, Hattie Chapman is still living with husband Simeon in Kansas, but I could find no further records for Lottie Chapman.
Whether it was Hattie or Lottie who had a fling with James, somewhere along the way, the couple changed their minds. How long they were together, we don’t know. Perhaps it was the sharp rebuke in the Ness City Times that brought them to their senses.