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As It Was: History Library’s “Romance” File Features Bad Affairs

One file of newspaper articles at the Southern Oregon Historical Society Research Library in Medford, Ore., is labeled “Romance,” an ironic misnomer as the folder contains stories of murder and suicide resulting from bad love affairs. 

One example, with a twist, was published in the Ashland Daily Tidings in 1882.  The article reported the New Year’s wedding at Foots Creek, Ore., of 63-year-old Abraham Dennis and 16-year-old Adelia Eades.  The youngster left Dennis after three days, leaving him feeling he could not live without her.

Dennis took a heavy dose from a vial labeled “strychnine,” hoping his death would touch Adela’s young heart.  He didn’t know his child bride was looking forward to widowhood and the subsequent possession of his estate.

Someone sent for a doctor, who determined the vial contained no strychnine, only relatively harmless Epsom salts, and Dennis was in no peril of dying.  The doctor reported the most dangerous part of the bottle was the label.

The article did not report how the teenage bride reacted when she realized her aging husband would live.

Their story ended rather sardonically, but others in the research library do not.

Source: "Love and Salts." Ashland (Ore.) Daily Tidings, 13 Jan. 1882.

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Alice Mullaly is a graduate of Oregon State and Stanford University, and taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York; Mill Valley, California; and Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. Alice has been an Southern Oregon Historical Society volunteer for nearly 30 years, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.