The Divorce of J Frank Hepler and his 2nd Wife Beatrice V Hepler née Craft
The sordid tale of an acrimonious divorce as seen through newspaper articles from the summer of 1918 and the spring of 1919. Infidelity by J Frank Hepler, not only in his marriage to Beatrice Craft but with allusions to why his first marriage to Margaret Scorer ended in divorce as well. Unfortunately, there is no final opus for this story in the newspapers. The "Other Woman", Mrs. Buck. in this story seems to disappear and no conclusion in record form has been found. Though both J Frank and Beatrice Hepler are listed as Divorced in the 1920 US Census. Actually Beatrice lists herself as Widowed from 1920 on in all future Census records. I guess she was bit upset over the whole thing.
Business Man of Tarentum Is Arrested Here
8 Jul 1918
|Business Man of Tarentum |
Is Arrested Here - Page 1
|Business Man of Tarentum |
Is Arrested Here - Page 7
Tarentum Pair Held At New Castle On Complaint Of Wife
9 Jul 1918
|Tarentum Pair Held At New Castle |
On Complaint Of Wife
Sensational Trial of Pretty Divorcee and Wealthy Merchant of Tarentum
9 Jul 1918
|Sensational Trial - Page 1|
The continuation of this article on New Castle Herald (New Castle, Pennsylvania) 9 Jul 1918, Tue Page 5 is too large to reproduce here in a legible form so the transcript of the article is included here.
Sensational Trial (continued from page one) latest creation was set off by a pair of small black pumps and white silk stockings. She carried a large bag, with Indian decorations of beads. Large tortoise-rimmed spectacles gave her pinkish complexion a beautiful aspect. Mr. Hepler, husband of the co-defendant, the latter, who already had become known to the aldermanic-office-hangers-on as the "$100,000 Beauty" was cleanly groomed and wore a light grey checkered suit. blue tie, russet shoes and silk hose, Mrs. Hepler was plainly dressed. was not ornamented with jewelry and had the appearance of being lady who had earned wrinkles through studious attendance to business. After the hearing the defendants were held under bond for a court trial in September, and departed from the courtroom in company with Mr. and Mrs. Reneer of the Dufford block, with their attorney, while Mrs. Hepler accompanied her attorney and investigators to their offices. It was said previous to the preliminary hearing by an investigator that the acquaintanceship of Mrs Buck and Hepler began last spring, when the lady visited the furniture store, operated by the co-defendant, where household furniture and utensils were doled out to "newly-weds" and other loving couples, who wished a cozy flat to coo in.
The acquaintanceship soon resulted in friendship, which the investigator alleged, later ripened into clandestine meetings, the elderly and partially bald-headed Hepler leaving his domicile in Tarentum to spend week ends with Mrs. Buck upon the pretext that he was attending to business deals. Mrs. Hepler suspicioned that Hep ler was becoming other than a dutiful husband and their marital relations were discontinued in Aug., and after that time she grew monotonous of the fact that another was fast stealing from her the love and affection that none but a dutiful and respectable wife and mother yearns.
It was due to this that she determined to place investigators upon the trail of her elderly husband, securing the services of a Pittsburgh lady operative and a local investigator who soon learned that the suspicions of Mrs. Hepler were worth investigation, alleged developments afterward seeming to verify their contentions that there was a “woman in the case" somewhere.
The trial for evidence pointed to this city and after a week of faithful shadowing the duo were arrested after having alleged to have been together in the Dufford block on Croton avenue. The preliminary hearing opened with Mrs. Hepler taking the witness stand against the defendants, her husband, and the hypnotic-eyed Mrs. Buck.
She testified they had lived in Tarentum in the same house but had been living as man and wife since August in name only. She first visited New Castle about a week ago and had been here several times since. She said she knew Clara Buck, the defendant. as she had resided in Tarentum, until the latter part of February with her husband. George Buck, from whom she was divorced. She said she had known Mr. Buck, because he had visited her and inquired whether or not she knew of the relations existing between Mrs. Buck and her husband J. Frank Hepler.
Sturton Takes Stand
Investigator Arthur Sturton next was called and stated he had been employed by Mrs. Hepler. on Jane 29. to trail her husband and find out Just what he was doing. He had faithfully shadowed the husband two nights, he testified, but nothing had happened, until early on the morning of Sunday. July 7. He briefly related the various times he had seen the duo together from the time he had been employed and said the first time he had seen the erring husband was at ten minutes past two o'clock on the morning of Monday. July 1, when Hepler left the Dufford Apartment house on Croton avenue to go to a hotel. At 7:55 s m. on the same morning, Hepler and Mrs. Buck left her apartments and had gone to the offices of Attorney William E. Porter, thence to the Leslie Hotel and where the pair - Mrs. Buck and Hepler partook of an early breakfast. They later went to the Keystone garage where Hepler's auto mobile had been parked.
On the night before the Fourth ot July, continued the Investigator, Hepler and two women, one of whom was Mrs. Buck, the divorcee, and the other, her sister. Mrs. Reneere, had taken an auto ride at 12:45 a. m. and returned about an hour later. Kepler[sic] soon left for his hotel. On July 4 Hepler and Mrs. Buck left In the morning and did not return until late at night. Mr. Sturton testified that on July 5. he had oily seen the couple together once, they having driven away in an automobile at 8:30 a. m. The climax in the investigator's testimony was reached when he told of the events Saturday night and earl Sunday morning of last week. He paid he attention to the fire-flashing eyes of the accused woman or of the storm-like darts of the accused husband, Hepler, who wet his lips with his tongue, and pounded the floor with his boots. He told of the alleged happenings and events which are said to have taken place in a room of one ol the Dufford apartments. while he watched from the top of the Paisley building on the opposite side of Croton avenue.
He stated that he first saw the pair in the room shortly after one o'clock Sunday morning, when after Hepler had parked his car in the garage, visited the charming hypnotic-eyed divorcee Mrs. Buck, who was reclining on a sort of a "table" or "settee." He had a package with him. Testified Sturton. which he opened to Mrs. Buck's view and which contained chinaware. With sparkling eyes she viewed the present and openly express ed her approval of the supposed expensive gift by throwing her arms about his neck and bestowing “love taps" in the form of osculatorical exercise.
The investigator continued his testimony amid sneers and dagger-eyes of the accused woman by declaring that Mrs. Buck had partly undressed and letting her black, long, curl-like hair down from her shoulders. Hepler. according to Sturton. then kneeled down beside the lady and she put her arm about his neck and both kissed several times or as Sturton's further testified - "had a loving time together.' The investigator's testimony here grew quite racy.
Attorney William E. Porter for the defense made a long drawn out cross examination and tried in every way to catch-up the investigator In some part of his narrative. He was unable to do so as the investigator rigorously adhered to his story. Sturton testified that the last time he had seen the two accused, until this morning when Hepler went to Mrs. Buck's apartment, when they both later were arrested.
A city police patrolman. Thomas Jones, was the next witness for commonwealth and verified the story f Sturton whom he said he had seen on the building and had gone to investigate what he was doing there, He tarried long enough. Jones testified, to see the things Sturton described and then left. G. E. Moorlin or Gardner. Pa., a traveling salesman, also was a witness.
Moorlin said he was on the roof and had watched the proceedings, because he had been requested by Mrs. Heplerto keep a “lookout for her husband in New Castle." He outlined the story in detail, verifying Sturton's testimony.
The defense did not offer any testimony at the hearing and after listening to the long drawn out testimony of the case between Hepler, the $100.000 "Beauty" and his co-defendant, the pretty divorcee, Mrs. Buck, Alderman Green held Mrs. Buck for court trial in September under $300 bail and Kepler under bail of $1000.
The $100,000 "Beauty" as he had been named so deliciously by the aldermanlc-hangers-on yesterday. is still in the city as is the fair divorcee. rather the brunette divorcee. They spent the greater part of this morning in the offices of their legal adviser.
Mr, Helper summoned a Herald representative to hear "their side ot the story" but he heard nothing of their side In the attorney's officer not because the Tarentum furniture, man did not wish to be quoted, but because his attorney would not permit him to talk. Previous to the Herald representative's arrival with ready pen and pad. Helper had received a warning, no doubt, that a "still tongue shows a wise head.”
However, the third party in the triangular affair of love, marriage and tears, was very anxious to impress upon the reporter that ail of the affair in which investigators had featured was not true, and- referred to it as "dirty work."
Thomas Jones, the city police officer, who watched the pair coo an love, as he stated on the witness stand yesterday, was visited by the divorcee last evening while he patrolled his police "beat." He demonstrated to the pretty young woman the manner in which the investigator secured the evidence which resulted in their arrest and consequent appearance before the alderman. The lack of surprise and gestures showed plainer than words their apparent astonishment of the investigating methods employed.
In the lobby of the alderman's court yesterday were many persons, women and men, young and old. The ladies moved from the room with the the recital of the investigators, but the the men. and especially one elderly chapped[sic], listened throughout the story as though it was the opportunity of a lifetime to near how a prominent man made love to a woman. much much younger than his wife, and whose eyes fairly played a reg-time with those of the investigators who were testifying against her.
Mrs. Hepler Wants Ten Thousand Dollars From Mrs. Buck For Lost Love
19 Jul 1918
|Mrs Hepler Wants Ten Thousand Dollars|
Asks Alimony From Hepler
27 Aug 1918
|Asks Alimony From Hepler|
Court Returns Indictments
4 Sep 1918
|Court Returns Indictments|
Not Guilty Is Verdict
11 Sep 1918
|Not Guilty Is Verdict|
Mrs. Buck Says Mrs. Hepler Is Not Legal Wife
21 Sep 1918
|Mrs. Buck Says Mrs. Hepler |
Is Not Legal Wife
Frank Hepler Sues For Divorce in Pittsburgh Courts
1 Feb 1919
|Frank Hepler Sues For Divorce |
in Pittsburgh Courts
Fight Is On Over Divorce
1 Feb 1919
|Fight Is On Over Divorce|
Hepler Kicks on Alimony
6 Feb 1919
|Hepler Kicks on Alimony|
The Wife And "Other Woman"
6 Feb 1919
|The Wife And "Other Woman"|
WIFE AND OTHER WOMAN AIR THEIR MINDS (continued from- Page 1) no respondent and co-respondent in a divorce case shall marry during the lifetime of the libellant, if the divorce between the libellant and respondent has been secured on statutory grounds. Mrs. Hepler countered with a suit asking for separate maintenance and the custody of their child, aged 9. In the meantime. Mrs. Hepler. last July entered suit against Mrs. Buck for alienation of her husband's affections, asking $10,0U0 damages. By means of detectives, Mrs. Hepler has secured evidence against her husband and Mrs. Buck, and In a hearing at New Castle, spicy details of Mr. Herder's visits to Mrs. Buck's apartments in that town were related.
Yesterday, in Common Pleas court, despite arguments of Mr. Hepler's attorneys, the court indicated Mrs. Hepler would be awarded a reasonable income and counsel fees, pending the trial of the case. "While the attorneys were arguing the case In court, I was learning from Mrs. Hepler and Mrs. Buck Just what each thought of the whole affair.
MRS. HEPLER SOCIAL LEADER. Mrs. Hepler I found to be a very charming woman of the distinct matronly type, just the sort of woman first wife," she continued who is a leader in ctut3 and affairs of that sort. She has been one of the prominent figures in Tarentum society for years; has been an organizer of many movements, has been engaged In suffrage work and other like activities. Mrs. Hepler's home is a very well furnished one on one of the prettiest streets in Tarentum. The books, pictures, chairs everything show the thoughtful taste which makes a real home. I asked her if she did much of her on work, for I thought surely the personal touch of the housewife must be necessary with so much comfort, but she shook her head. "I do not like housework" she said, "although I always oversee everything done by my maid. But I do not care to do it myself."
She has rented a portion of the house out to another family, partly because she does not want to live there alone, partly because she needs the money which comes from the rent. Mrs. Hepler is devoted to her son. J. Frank. Jr., and is hotly indignant at her husband's attempt to annul their marriage, "virtually trying to legitimatize our boy." she said.
NOT BROKEN-HEARTED. "I am not a broken-hearted woman." she said, speaking of the case, "nor am I crushed. I simply am bewildered that the man I love so much could do as he has done, although I cannot wonder when I realize how he treated his first wife. I know justice will be done me and the boy, and that is all I care for.
"They say I took him from his "That Is not true. "When 1 met Mr. Hepler in Chicago, where I was living with my sister, he represented himself as a single man. He corresponded with me when he returned to Pittsburg, and when I came to Pittsburg to visit my other sister, I met him and went out with him. It was not until after I was engaged that I knew he was married. By that time his wife had secured her divorce. - I did not know then that she had secured the divorce - I thought he had. He told me so; he glossed over his own defections, and I believed him as any woman in love with - a man will believe because I wanted to believe. I did not know until, at our wedding in New York, when he showed the divorce papers, that his wife had secured the divorce on the grounds of infidelity. That is the first time I knew my name had been used. I was horrified and chocked but what could I do then. I loved him and married him. [Note-The above refers to the breakup of the marriage between Mr. Hepler and Margaret Score, his first wife]
ENTER "THE OTHER WOMAN”. For 10 years we lived as happy as two children. We never had a word. He was a perfect husband and father. He idolized me and the boy. Then he met Mrs. Buck and everything was changed. He did not abuse me In any common way. but there is a refinement of cruelty of neglect and of words that hurt that is worse than blows. I could not believe that there was anything wrong between my husband and Mrs. Buck as I had perfect faith in him."
Once when I was going to Chicago I for a visit a very dear woman friend advised me not to go. I laughed at her and knew my husband could be trusted. I have learned I was wrong. Then Mr. Buck himself came to me and told me of the companionship between his wife and Mrs. Hepler, though he Said he did "not think it had progressed progressed beyond a mental attraction. I had them watched then and I learned what has made me bitter and has hurt me so that I do not care how much I hurt them In return.
Mrs. Hepler then told of the evidence gathered by the detectives In New Castle. She said the detectives had seen Mrs. Buck disrobe in the presence of Mr. Hepler. The detectives were watching from the roof of a building directly opposite Mrs. Buck's apartments In New Castle. "
After the first agony of uncertainty was over." continued Mrs. Hepler, "I ceased to suffer. I could not have suffered any longer and retained my reason. Now my only thought Is to keep my boy away from his father's influence and secure enough money to raise him as he should be raised. If there is a law which condemns our marriage as illegal, then I am an Innocent victim, for, as I said, I did not know I was named as co-respondent, and I certainly did not know of that law."
MRS. BUCK TELLS HER STORY. In Mrs. Buck's attractively furnished apartment In New Kensington I heard a different story. Mrs. Buck is a most attractive woman. neat and trim, with a fine figure and an expressive face. She was dressed exquisitely in a black panne velvet peplum waist, with long tight sleeve and high Collar, and black messaline skirt modishly draped. To my surprise, when talking of her clothes, she told me she made the waist out of an old scarf and the skirt from another dress.
She showed me another dress she said is 13 years old and, has been made over again and again. “I do all my own sewing and by changing my dresses around, make them do four and five years" she said. "Those people who speak of my expensive clothes do not know what they are talking about. At the time of the hearing in New Castle, they talked of my beautiful gown and my expensive hat. The gown was this 13-year-old dress and the hat was one I made myself at a cost of 85 cents. That explodes one falsehood they told about me."
Mrs. Buck admitted that she goes out with Mr. Hepler and enjoys his companionship.' "But that is all," she said. "When he comes here, that front door always is unlocked. I usually have sorne one else here so nothing can be said. "We have been as discreet as a man and woman could be, and there is nothing about us which cannot be told freely - if only the truth is told. We have been lied about grievously. In New Castle, for instance, we were acquitted of the charges brought against us. In that apartment which figured in the hearing, my sister lived with me, and my brother-in-law.
EXPLAINING “DISROBING” TALE. I purposely stayed with them so nothing could be said about me. Mr. Hepler did come up there every week, but be never was in my house that my sister was not there. The night they speak of. we had had a breakdown on our automobile trip and were late getting home. I had 'a splitting headache and, as soon a3 we came in the house, I took the hairpins out of my hair and let my hair down. I had on a pale pink waist and had the sleeves rolled up almost to my shoulders. I was sitting by the table and, in the dim light, probably it looked as though I had nothing on but I was dressed. I'll admit I took my hair down if that is an indiscretion, but It Is the only one of which I was guilty."
While we were talking, the telephone rang. When Mrs. Buck answered it, I found it was her daughter talking. She has a beautiful child, aged 12, who now is with her father in Tarentum. ' Affectionately, Mrs. Buck talked to the child, congratulating her on some felicitous happenings, repeating over and over, "Well, that's Just fine. Mother is glad to hear about it," and asking her to be sure and call soon again. "I never would have become acquainted with Mr. Hepler had it not been for his wife," Mrs. Buck told me. "Mrs. Hepler began calling me up and telling me to stay away from her husband, long before I ever had more than passed the time of day with Mr. Hepler. She called my husband up one evening when I was sitting in the same room with him, and told him that I was with Mr. Hepler. My husband swore over the phone, for I was there right beside him.
ADMITS SEEING HEPLER. From that. Mr. Hepler and I began to talk together, for he called me to apologize for the way his wife was acting. Gradually I came to like him and to value his companionship and I admit that I do see him, but I deny that there is anything wrong in our acquaintanceship." Both Mrs. Hepler and Mrs. Buck feel badly because of the children. In this, the mother instinct is triumphant, for each feels the affair as keenly for the other woman's child as for her own. "When I think of my boy, I think, too, of her girl, and of the terrible effect this all has on them." said Mrs. Hepler. "When I think of my daughter, I feel sorry for her son," said Mrs. Buck.
Both women say they will fight the affair to a finish, each to prove her own probity.
Mr. Hepler maintains a Judicious silence.
J Frank Hepler to Pay Wife Alimony
5 Mar 1919
|J Frank Hepler to Pay Wife Alimony|
Hepler Replies To Wifes Divorce Suit
8 Mar 1919
|Hepler Replies To Wifes Divorce Suit|
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