What's New in Old News?
Welcome to the inaugural edition of What’s New In Old News, my monthly newsletter. Here I will keep you updated with the best of old, quirky news stories, free links to new stories, and an insider’s peek at what I am working on. If that’s not enough, we also have a forum for questions, so don’t hesitate to ask anything on your mind.
Hope you enjoy the newsletter,
This Month's Old News
Nude Selfies In the Garden of Eden
In 1920, an unusual motion for divorce was heard in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The complainant, Mrs. Esther Hart asked the court to end her marriage of twenty years with the Reverend Frederick W. Hart. The defendant, a Methodist Episcopal minister, who had once overseen a parish in Bellaire, Ohio, was evidently involved with a church deaconess.
Mrs. Hart stumbled across evidence of the alleged affair while searching her husband’s papers. Buried in his desk was a sequence of photographs that featured her husband and the deaconess, apparently recreating the Genesis story of Adam and Eve. The amateur models were, in the words of the Detroit Free Press, “clothed only in an air of innocence.” The photos had been staged in the pastor’s study; after arranging the tableau, Pastor Hart tripped the camera’s shutter with a long piece of string.
Despite protestations of innocence, this may not have been Reverend Hart’s first dalliance with biblical re-enactments. The plaintiff presented the court with photos and a collection of letters, written by former models. Not only did the reverend have difficulty keeping his clothes on, but at one point he appears to have threatened to kill his wife, a fact that disturbed one of his paramours, who wrote: “Don’t shoot anyone, for you will be arrested. Please don’t shoot anyone for my sake—please don’t.”
Upon learning of this scandal, denominational leaders reassigned Rev. Hart to a church in Akron, Ohio. Although he had vowed to defend his good name in Pittsburgh, he was not present when the case was called. After listening to the uncontested evidence against the minister, Judge Francis Harbison declared himself convinced and granted a divorce to the plaintiff. “The pictures,” noted Harbison, were “of a character rarely permitted to be created, much less to be preserved.” They substantiated “the grossly immoral course of conduct in which the respondent became involved.”
The moral of the story? There was a reason that Adam and Eve didn’t have cellphones in Eden.
Source: Detroit Free Press, August 28, 1920.
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Ask the Author
Mrs. G. from Coupeville, WA asks: “What is your spirit animal?”
Although many readers would guess that I would be drawn to one of the marine mammals, in fact I have a deep affinity for the raven. He is a crafty bird, assertive, loud, and a little tricky–qualities I would like to possess.
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