April 30, 1909


Like a chapter from a novel is the story of the complications Mrs. Bessie A. Reynolds wove when she set a snare for a suspicious husband. The Reynolds live at 925 McAlpin avenue, Kansas City, Kas. The husband is a foreman at the Proctor & Gamble plant. Mrs. Reynolds is the mother of five children, the oldest of whom is 19.

The dove of domestic peace has not been a continued guest in the Reynolds home for some time, due largely to the circumstance that the head of the family absented himself from home on Sundays, or of evenings and made no explanation to his wife as to where he had passed the time.

"One day," says Mrs. Reynolds, "my husband accused me of liking some other man better than I did him and I said, 'That's so; there is another man.' I only wanted to make him jealous -- there is no other man, but he was so persistent that I finally decided to fix up a name and leave it where he would see it."


Mrs. Reynolds wrote the name of Frank P. Courtney, La Junta, Col., in a small book in her handbag and her husband duly found it. Without saying anything to his wife of his discovery, Reynolds wrote to the postmaster at La Junta and asked him if Frank Courtney received his mail at that office. The answer came back that he did. Thereupon Reynolds wrote to Courtney asking him what he meant by meeting his wife. Courtney replied that he was not acquainted with Mrs. Reynolds; that he had not been in Kansas City for several years, and then had only passed through the town. Reynolds consulted with his wife's sister, who lives in St. Joseph. Without divulging her intentions, the sister wrote to Courtney, using Mrs. Reynold's name. The sister also doubted the existence of a man named Courtney, but when in due time she received a letter from him in which he stated that he was puzzled to know what all the fuss was bout, she no longer questioned his existence and immediately posted off to tell her sister, Mrs. Reynolds, what she had learned.


It became Mrs. Reynolds's turn to take a hand in the letter writing. She wrote to Courtney, explaining the circumstances of her husband's letters and expressing surprise over the coincidence that she had given her husband a supposedly fictitious name and address which proved to be that of a real personality. Several letters passed between Courtney and Mrs. Reynolds before the tangle was straightened out to their satisfaction.

In the meantime Courtney left La Junta for Sterling, Col. He claimed to be a chauffeur. In Sterling a puzzling diamond robbery occurred and the next heard of Courtney was in Denver, where he was arrested on suspicion of theft. He confessed to the Sterling robbery. When he was searched at the Denver police station the following letter from Mrs. Reynolds was in his pockets:


"Dear Sir: I feel as though I owe you an explanation of how I have so innocently drawn you into my affairs. I hope when you have read this you will forgive me. In the first place, I never saw you, or heard tell of you, but will trust to your honor as a gentleman to keep the contents of this letter a secret. You will see it is a very personal letter. I am Mrs. Bessie Reynolds, mother of two grown children, and have decided to take a hand in this letter writing. My husband is insanely jealous of me and has indeed made my life almost miserable.

"Two years ago I made the acquaintance of a man who proved to be a gentleman and who befriended me in a way I could not ignore and can never forget, and whom I grew to like very much.

"Now, understand me, I do not say love. My husband forbade me to speak to him. I, perhaps, saw more of this man than I should. As I told you before, he is a gentleman, and is the case always, someone had to tattle. My husband demanded the name of the man whom I cared more for than him.


"Thinking if he thought I did care for someone else, and hoping he would be kinder to me, I told him yes, there was someone. At last, in desperation, I, not knowing that you or any other man of that name existed, and to turn his mind from my friend, I simply made out in my mind the name of Frank P. Courtney. Then, of course, he demanded to know where he lived, and, as I wanted to put this imaginary man out of his reach as far as possible, and having told him that Mr. Courtney was a railroad man, knowing La Junta was a terminal, I told him that town. And I thought everything was O. K. until he marched in with the letter from this La Junta postmaster, saying that you did exist and received your mail there.

"Well, I will just leave it to your imagination as to my feelings when I found out you did exist. I just almost collapsed right there. In the meantime my sister in St. Joseph, knowing why I had told so many stories, or lies, if you choose to call them by their right name, wrote you in my name to prove to my husband that you did not exist.

"She almost died when she found out you were a sure-enough, very much alive man.


"I told my husband when that old idiot of a postmaster wrote him you were there that I had storied at first. I could not make him believe, and pleaded with him not to write to you for I was afraid that you might be married and it would bring trouble to you and your wife. I was also very much ashamed to have you know anything of this affair. I never can tell you how sorry I am to have caused you the annoyance I evidently have.

"I will ask this favor of you, if not too much trouble to you: Will you write me what my husband wrote you? Now, I don't want him to know I have written you, so I will post the postman as regards La Junta letters, and I will appreciate an early reply to this, as I wish very much to know where I stand in your estimation. It hardly seems possible that you are a sure-enough man and do exist when I just made you up out of my mind.

"Hoping if we ever meet it will be as friends. I remain confidentially yours, MRS. BESSIE A. REYNOLDS."

"I was never more surprised in my life than when I discovered that a man named Courtney really existed," said Mrs. Reynolds last night. "I am sorry I wrote the letter, but I was angry when I found my husband had written out there to see if the name he found in my pocketbook was that of the man whom I had foolishly told him I cared more for than I did for him. It has taught me a lesson about writing letters that I will never forget."

Mrs. Reynolds is a handsome woman of the Spanish blonde type. She is a member of a Kansas City, Kas., Baptist church and has lived here for fourteen years.