Storybook Romances

After combing the archives of local papers for weeks looking for an account of the wedding of Josephine Lovewell and Walt Poole, I’ve given up, temporarily.***  It’s probably lurking in the yellowed pages of the Courtland Express, which aren’t online yet, or the Hardy Herald, which continues to mark time in the queue at Chronicling America.  The wedding of the 18-year-old daughter of the region’s pioneer settler to a neighbor who at 29 was already a prominent cattleman, must have seemed a good excuse to whoop it up at White Rock on October 19, 1885, at a moment when the town, which was hemorrhaging population, could use some merriment.

It was a much simpler task to learn about the storybook nuptials of Kittie Clover Everest, the daughter of railroad tycoon and Kansas State Senator Aaron S. Everest, to William Tarr Fleming, “a wealthy citizen and capitalist of Philadelphia.”  According to the Atchison Daily Champion the occasion was not just a wedding but “a union of the East and West.”  Born a year after Josephine Lovewell, Kittie Clover’s big day occurred three years before Josephine’s, when the bride-elect and beloved princess of Atchison was 14 years old, and her Prince Charming was 25.

The Daily Champion admitted that in the past it had overused the phrase “the most brilliant wedding ever known in Atchison,” but announced it this time “with absolute certainty,” assuring readers that “it will be some time before a more interesting and brilliant event will occur within the walls of Trinity … than the wedding which occurred therein last night."

The audience also were agreeably employed … in noting the beauty of the wedding bell of carnations and roses, which hung suspended by a festoon of smilax over the spot where the pair were to pronounce their vows, and the tasteful decoration of the font.

The bride was beautiful in a dress of ivory satin, square neck, filled in with blonde lace and lilies of the valley; the skirt and train were trimmed with a flounce of magnificent Spanish lace, pond lilies and lilies of the valley, a bridal veil of lace as fine as gossamer, white satin slipper, and Bernhardt gives, diamond ear rings, bracelets and necklace completed the costume.

The wedding reporter did nothing so crass as to guess how much the bride’s wardrobe cost.  That detail had been taken care of in an earlier edition of the paper, when the rumor mill put the price tag on the gown alone at $1,500, not counting the multitude of diamonds and gossamer veil.  Among the many presents awaiting the couple at the reception held at the “brilliantly illuminated” Everest residence “was a check for $10,000 given the bride by the bridegroom’s father.”

The breathless report concluded with the paper’s benediction:  “May joy attend the wedded life so auspiciously begun.”

The marriage lasted two years, a few months longer than Aaron Everest's banks in Courtland and Jamestown remained solvent.  The Champion’s coverage of “the most brilliant wedding ever known in Atchison" was dwarfed by the column-inches devoted to the subsequent juicy divorce, replete with charges of phsyical and mental cruelty, lodged by the 16-year-old bride and new mother who claimed to have been dragged around the house by her hair at the hands of a scoundrel who turned out to be little more than a drunken lout, albeit a rich one.

Kittie Clover would have at least three more husbands.  In 1888 she married, apparently solely for love this time, a “Boston drummer,” a humble tea merchant named Edward B. Fairfield.  I’m not sure what happened to Fairfield, but in 1894, a year after her father’s death, she married the superintendent of the Wabash Railway, H. L. Magee.  This one was a quiet wedding with “only a few of their close friends” present.  After Magee died in 1918 there was still one more husband to go, a man named Brothers.

Josephine Lovewell and Walt Poole wed for life.  He died in March 1946; she followed him on Christmas Eve, a day before she would have turned 80.  The first twenty-two years of their time together were spent in Kansas, the next forty in Wharton County, Texas.  Judging from an entry in “The New Encyclopedia of Texas,”** which Dave Lovewell led me to, Josephine had found someone very much like her own father, a man she already knew how to manage. 

… Mr. Poole homesteaded in Kansas, and still later went to Colorado, Wyoming and Montana, where he was a cattleman and horse raiser.  He had a large horse ranch in Montana, around fourteen miles from the Custer Battle Ground, and at one time had more than fifteen thousand head of cattle on the Tongue River.  Mr. Poole was at the first round-up ever held on the Cheyenne and upper Missouri Rivers, and was also at the biggest round-up ever held on the Cheyenne and Upper Missouri Rivers, and was also at the biggest round-up ever held, that held by Bill Cody and Major North at Fork Platte, where there were one thousand riders and three hundred grub wagons.

Mr. Poole was married at White Rock, Kansas, in 1889*, to Miss Josephine L. Lovewell, the daughter of Thomas Lovewell, a prominent cattleman and farmer on an extensive scale.  Mr. Lovewell, who was a scout in the Union Army during the Civil War, is the typical western frontiersman, and at one time owned the entire frontier town of White Rock, Kansas.  Later he moved away, at the time the railroad came in, and built the town of Lovewell on his farm.

Someday, perhaps, we’ll know what she wore to the wedding.


*  According to her obituary, the wedding really did take place in 1885.  Jo and Walt’s first child was born in 1887.        Dave Lovewell further points out, "If their wedding date was  1889 instead of 1885 Thomas gave  his new son-in-law quite a wdding present- a railroad and stockyard to ship cattle on."


*** I did find it online a short while later - see A Hardy Honeymoon"

© Dale Switzer 2023