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Posted on August 19, 2021 at 10:34 AM by Melissa Dalton
Last week, we told you the story of Wilson Culp, a Spring Valley minister, and his elopement with a teenager, Esther Hughes, from his congregation. Culp left his wife and children, but he and Esther were caught a month later and brought back to Greene County. Although Culp was sent to the workhouse, he was released on a technicality. Culp and his wife reconciled, and they moved the family back to Indiana. Unfortunately, Culp’s story doesn’t end there…
In 1923, Culp was back in Indiana, living near relatives, and working in a furniture factory. Things seemed to be going alright for the family, but in February 1925, Culp disappeared along with his 22-year-old sister-in-law, Dorothy (wife of his brother, Clio), both leaving behind spouses and children (Fig 1). He and Dorothy were gone for about a month, but Dorothy became homesick and they returned to their respective homes in April 1925. According to various articles, both were deeply ashamed and subsequently, welcomed back home by their spouses. Culp was not to be prosecuted for abandonment/non-support as long as he worked and continued to provide for his family (Fig 2). Culp publicly apologized and claimed he was home to stay, but that promise was soon broken.
Fig 1. Forgiven Pastor Now Elopes with Brother’s Spouse, Elyria Chronicle Telegram, 6 Apr 1925 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)
Fig 2. Rev. W. W. Culp Freed Will Not Prosecute, Washington Court House, 7 Apr 1925 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)
In July 1925, Culp went missing again and with none other than Dorothy Culp (Fig 3). Culp left his wife and children penniless and on the verge of losing their home. This time, their whereabouts were unknown, but many believed they were headed to Mexico. Mary finally had enough, and filed for divorce on grounds of desertion, cruelty, and non-support of their ten children (Fig 4). In November 1925, Mary was granted a divorce; however, the Judge denied alimony and ordered Mary not to remarry for at least two years. Considering Culp’s continued poor choices and behavior, it is hard to believe that the judge denied alimony and ordered her not to remarry. According to the Xenia Daily Gazette, though, Mary was quite satisfied with the judgment and even exclaimed, “Marry again? Not on your life!” (Fig 5)
Fig 3. Culp Is Again Missing, Hamilton Evening Journal, 16 Jul 1925 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)
Fig 4. ‘Nuff ‘s’ Nuff Says Mrs. Culp Suing Hubby for Divorce, Xenia Evening Gazette, 28 Jul 1925 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)
Fig 5. “Marry Again? Not On Your Life!” States Mrs. W. W. Culp When Granted Divorce, Xenia Daily Gazette, 13 Nov 1925 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)
Clio Culp also filed for divorce from Dorothy, which was granted. Just two years later in 1927, Wilson and Dorothy obtained a marriage license and wed in Chicago (Fig 6). By the 1930 Census, Wilson and Dorothy were still living in Chicago, and had started a family of their own, adding three girls to the large blended family (Fig 7). The family continued to grow, and by 1940, they had two more children (Fig 8).
Fig 6. Former Minister of Amorous Fame Weds, Indianapolis Times, 28 Dec 1927 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)
Fig 7. 1930 Census with Culp family outlined in red (Ancestry.com)
Fig 8. 1940 Census with Culp family outlined in red (Ancestry.com)
It appears Wilson and Dorothy had a relatively happy marriage. Looking through the newspapers, there wasn’t any further mention of Culp or Dorothy abandoning the family, or any other transgressions. The couple remained married until Wilson’s death in 1948.
And, that is where we end this story… and it is quite the story! It just goes to show that you never know where a record request might take you.
Until Next Time!
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