Thursday, September 17, 2009
‘Lucky’ Baldwin Impugns Perkins’ Morals, as Does Virgil Earp
BY DAVID PATTERSON HATCH
As transcribed by Roger M. Grace
(The writer died in 1912. He is said to have composed letters following his death, utilizing “automatic writing”—enough letters to form three books. Judge Hatch now resumes his writing activity, providing recitations of his life as a judge and a lawyer.)
I herewith resume my account of the trial, occurring before me in February of 1886, in which Miss Louise Perkins, a handsome woman of 19 years, was seeking an award of $500,000 against a prominent capitalist, Elias “Lucky” Baldwin, 40 years her senior.
Miss Perkins testified that she entered into a written contract of marriage with Mr. Baldwin on April 12, 1883, at his “Baldwin Hotel” in San Francisco. She was then of the age of 16 and, as such, was competent, under the law, to make a contract.
Her testimony was that “he told me he was worth $6,000,000, and asked me to marry him.” (Such quotations are derived not from my memory but are inserted by my scribe at places indicated by me, extracted by him from recitations in the Los Angeles Times of the “substance” of the testimony.)
The young lass recounted that thereafter, she and Mr. Baldwin “went to Sacramento alone and stopped at the Golden Eagle Hotel one night together,” continuing:
“He said that we were the same as married, and that it made no difference, as we would be married soon.”
Asked by one of her attorneys, William T. Williams, if she had been “perfectly chaste until after the contract with the defendant,” she responded: “Yes, sir.” That was crucial testimony inasmuch as an action for breach of promise to marry may only be maintained by a woman who, prior to the exchange of promises to marry, had been a virgin.
Not surprisingly, the thrust of the defense’s effort was to show a lack of chastity on Miss Perkins’ part prior to April 12, 1883.
Testimony of the parties was in agreement that Perkins had first met Baldwin when she was brought to his Santa Anita Ranch in December, 1882. According to Perkins, she accompanied both parents there on a visit; Baldwin recalled only the father’s presence; in any event, she was invited to remain at the ranch house as a guest, and accepted.
Mr. Baldwin took the stand on Feb. 12. Queried on cross examination as to when he had first engaged in sexual intercourse with Miss Perkins, Mr. Baldwin responded:
“About a week after I was first introduced to her. It was in her room at the ranch house.”
If jurors believed that testimony, they were obliged to find in favor of the defense inasmuch as this predated the promise to marry.
Too, an effort was made to show that subsequent to the formation of the contract of marriage, carnal knowledge was had of Miss Perkins by men other than the defendant, with her consent, Such would, under law, have justified Mr. Baldwin’s desertion of her.
Mr. Baldwin testified that one day he found a “Miss House” in his residence, apparently a guest of Miss Perkins; that he made inquiries among people who were apt to know of her and determined that she was “a woman from an Arizona saloon”; and that bade her quit his premises.
On or about the next day, according to his testimony, he encountered in his home one Lily King, introduced by Miss Perkins as a classmate. He said he “found she was a woman of the town.”
Mr. Baldwin’s testimony was that Miss Perkins “went out a great deal, I don’t know where” and that he heard “of her going to a masquerade and to a dinner party with Maurice Schmitt, a Jew broker.”
Other witnesses joined in the effort to portray Miss Perkins as promiscuous.
One witness was Virgil Earp—yes, the Virgil Earp who was an older brother of the legendary Wyatt Earp. (Actually, it was Virgil Earp who was marshal of Tombstone, Ariz., at the time of the shoot-out near the O.K. Corral on Oct. 26, 1881, and Wyatt Earp was his deputy.)
Now a resident of Colton, Calif., he testified that in the summer of 1883, he saw Miss Perkins several times at the Colton House which “had a bad reputation.” In June and July, Mr. Earp said, he saw Miss Perkins in the company of a Mrs. Shoub who “lived in a house of prostitution not over 140 feet from the hotel” and a Mrs. Laird, whose “reputation was bad.”
Of Mrs. Laird, he said: “I had a brother who used to sleep with her. He told me so.”
The Hon. Stephen M. White, representing Miss Perkins, made a hearsay objection which I sustained.
Testimony far more damaging to Miss Perkins was to come.
Copyright 2009, Metropolitan News Company