BIGAMIST PAROLED FOR FAMILY'S SAKE. ~ Benjamin Franklin Hughes Must Support Family and Avoid Primrose Path.

January 13, 1910

Benjamin Franklin Hughes
Must Support Family and
Avoid Primrose Path.

Benjamin Franklin Hughes, 51 years old, formerly a real estate agent of this city, pleaded guilty yesterday afternoon in the criminal court to a charge of bigamy and was sentenced to six months in the county jail. Hughes was paroled on condition that he would support his wife and family and follow the straight and narrow path. He is to report April 4 to Judge Ralph S. Latshaw of the criminal court.

With bowed head and trembling voice, Hughes stood before the bar of justice and told of his mishaps. He admitted that he had acted a "silly, old fool," but promised, with tears in his eyes, to reform and devote his years to his wife and children. Mr. Hughes has secured a position as a real estate salesman in Illinois. He stood alone in court, deserted by his friends and disowned by his wife and family.

"It is not for your sake, because under ordinary circumstances I would have sent you to jail, but for the sake of your wife and family that I parole you," said Judge Latshaw. "They have suffered as much as you; they are disgraced because of your foolhardiness. It was not so much for the crime of bigamy that you deserve punishment, but a far worse crime -- infidelity to your wife, and family."

Hughes's defense was that he was forced into an unfortunate alliance with Miss Vairie Wilder, aged 17 years, who lived with her mother, Mrs. Cora Westover, 1622 Madison street. The real estate agent married the girl in Kansas City, Kas., early last month when he had a wife and family living in this city.


Hughes charged that Mrs. Westover compelled him to marry her daughter. he said she thought he was a wealthy widower. Hughes and the girl met last April, and immediately Hughes became enamored of her. Then he furnished rooms in a flat on Troost avenue and lived with her there.

"I spent hundreds of dollars," he said, buying her clothes and presents. "I was forced to pay this girl's board at home, and all her expenses. Now I am broke and have exhausted my credit.

"When I asked to take the girl to Excelsior Springs for her health, Mrs. Westovermade me deposit $15 with her. Besides that I was forced to pay all the expenses while in Excelsior Springs. We stopped at a $4 a day hotel.

"After the girl got in trouble, Mrs. Westover demanded that I marry her, thinking all the time that I was a wealthy widower. I thought Miss Wilder an innocent young girl and that I alone was responsible. I wanted to do the right thing so I decided to marry her. I thought I would be able to keep it a secret from my family. But the farther I went the more trouble I found. Then the girl faced me and my wife with her charges. I was a fool. Who knows this better than I? A silly old fool."

"Yes, you were a silly old fool," interrupted Judge Latshaw. "Your conduct is inexplainable. How could you expect to gain the love of this young girl? You, with deadened passions, shoulders bending under the weight of years, and with deep-wrinkled brow. Every furrow in your brow was an unfathomable chasm, dividing you from her. The law of nature ordained ages ago that a man of your age could not win the love of a fresh young girl, as is Miss Wilder. It would have been like the union of January and May, as impossible as the laws of nature themselves to overcome. But the fool that you are, you followed your fancies.

" 'Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive,' said the poet.


"The farther you went the deeper your feet sank into the mire. Did you hope to win this girl's love? Do you think that she ever cared for you? It is natural for the young to love the young, and for both to despise the old -- the doting, old fool. With one hand she caressed you and with the other hand she was seeking to take the money from your pockets. It was not you but what your money could buy that she wanted.

"But the crime you committed against this girl and later your becoming a bigamist were the least of your offenses. You violated the trust of your wife. What could be more disgusting or inhuman than a man with a good, pure woman at home, totally forgetting his obligations and duties that marriage has brought upon him.

"When the exposure comes they must suffer the same as you. when the name of Hughes is held up for ridicule, made the subject of ribald just, not you alone suffer, but your wife and family also. No wonder the woman whom you swore to cherish and love, despises and hates you. No wonder you are a disgusting sight to her eyes.

"But I think this one experience has cured you. If you fall again you must end with a suicide's grave or the felon's cell. Go out into the world and start anew. you cannot forget the past, because with your sensitive nature and cultivated tastes, the consciousness of your wrong-doing must remain with you forever. You must retrieve your past black record. The rest of your days should be spent in working for your wife and family, the ones who have suffered so greatly because of your misdeeds. If when you come back here, I find you are not supporting your family, you will be sent to the county jail to serve the sentence just imposed on you. Go and make good."