A wife and mother of two from Tipton county, in 1892 she ran off with another man and presumably got pregnant by him. The man she took up with was quickly arrested in Noblesville on an unknown charge, and she later gave birth to their child alone in her room at a boarding house, having hidden her pregnancy, and then tried to kill the baby by throwing it into an outhouse pit in an alley a half block off the downtown square in Noblesville.That’s quiet a scandal, including divorce, extramarital sex, out of wedlock childbirth, and attempted murder.

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This footbridge appears in a number of photos I have from a single, large collection, taken by the same photographer in Noblesville, Indiana in the 1890s.

Other photos include Noblesville residents I can identify, so, being that the whole of the collection appears to have been taken near the heart of Noblesville, this is likely along Cicero Creek, or between the bank and an island on White River.

And my guess is that most women in this situation did simply remain silent, making the false-promise lawsuit the tip of the premarital sex iceberg.

Let’s be honest with ourselves, physical attraction and sexual urges weren’t invented in the 20 century.

The first sociological study of an American small town was conducted in Muncie, Indiana in the 1920s. Tucker had 3 sons, but in my novel I removed the middle son and replaced him with a daughter named Mary.

Called “Middletown,” the study used research about life there in the 1890s as a benchmark to measure change over 3 decades. The actual middle son, Frank, divorced his young wife in 1893, during the very summer fictionalized in the book.

The report shows that in 1889, Muncie’s divorce rate was 9% and in 1895 had doubled to 18%. In the mid-1890s this young couple lived at 1164 Cherry Street in Noblesville, Indiana, shown here with a hammock tied between their home and 1148 Cherry.

While small compared to modern America’s divorce rate, it’s far from “unheard of in those days,” as I was often assured while growing up 8 decades later. My anecdotal observations are that a majority of divorces in the 1890s were among the newly married.

So while these types of couples didn’t divorce, they certainly weren’t married in a truly meaningful definition of the word.

If we could toss these couples into the mix, what might the “divorced or living separate” rate actually be?

We somehow want to believe that our time is depraved, and those folks in the “good ‘ol days” were made of higher moral fiber.