Source: Lafayette Morning Journal, Monday, August 4, 1890
The Journal yesterday announced the clandestine marriage of Mary Susan Chappell, the 14-year-old daughter of John Chappell, and Henry Ross, and intimated that Mr. Chappell, who objected to the marriage on account of his daughter's age, would have something to say about the matter. The intimation was verified sooner than the writer anticipated. Mr. Chappell has had his say and Thomas Whitecotton now occupies a cell in jail, charged with perjury. The Journal will have to retrace the steps of time a few days in order to give a succinct account of what promises to be a very interesting case. On last Wednesday evening Mary and Henry met at Linden to take the night train for this city. They were accompanied by Thomas Whitecotton, a section hand on the Monon. They reached this city early Thursday morning and applied for a marriage license as soon as the clerk's office was opened. Whitecotton acted as their witness and swore to Mary's age but he did it under the alias of John Sullivan. He said he could not write and was permitted to make his mark. The license secure and their fond hopes almost realized, Henry and Mary returned home and Thomas resumed his usual avocation of counting ties. Saturday night Mary left home, met Henry by appointment and they drove to New Richmond to get married. They approached a justice of the peace but he declined on the ground that he had no jurisdiction. They then proceeded to Romney and were married by Rev. Mr. Smith. After the ceremony they went to the residence of Stephen Ross, the groom's uncle, and have remained there since.
Mr. Chappell, the bride's father, is a well-to-do farmer and determined to prosecute the man whose testimony made the marriage of his daughter possible. He came to the city Sunday and had a warrant issued for Sullivan's arrest. Tom McKee, deputy sheriff, was given the warrant and started out to serve it. He reached the neighborhood in good time but no one knew Mr. Sullivan. It dawned on him then that the witness had used an assumed name. Little by little this suspicion was strengthened and he soon had information that led him to suspect Whitecotton. He found that gentleman and placed him under arrest. Whitecotton admitted the act but said he would not have done it for a thousand dollars if he had been sober. Whitecotton claims he was duped. He was induced to drink by a man at Romney, who he thinks was in the conspiracy, and thinks the liquor was drugged. The offense with which Whitecotton is charged is a grave one and has a severe penalty attached. Mr. Chappell is determined in his prosecution and the prisoner can hardly escape punishment. Whitecotton will be given a preliminary hearing some time to-day and it promises to be quite an interesting case. Mrs. Ross, the lady interested, is well matured for her age and looks to be about 17. - transcribed by kbz
Source: Indianapolis Journal Dec 13, 1890
Lafayette, Dec 12 – Judge Langdon of the Circuit Court has just delivered an opinion that is likely to attract much attention throughout Indiana, and it may be that it will call to mind other cases of similar conduct. A man named Whitecotton, several months ago, was arrested, charged with perjury in swearing to an affidavit, under another name that Rose Chapell was old enough to legally marry. She was under age and the grand jury took the matter up. After his indictment the attorney for Whitecotton argued the case before Judge Langdon, and demanded a discharge of his client, upon the ground that Whitecotton was sworn to the affidavit by a deputy clerk, who was not of lawful age, and therefore not competent to act in that capacity; and that if he did so act, his acts were void by reason of his being a minor. The law, it was claimed, required the principal to be of lawful age and the principal could not delegate to a minor to perform duties of this character, Judge Langdon has had the matter under consideration for several weeks, and has reached the conclusion that the action of Kleinhans, the deputy clerk, was clearly void by reason of his youth, and he has released Whitecotton and turned him free. There is said to be no precedent in the books by which to go in cases of this kid, though there is a case or two where the acts of a minor as deputy sheriff were legalized by the fact that the duties performed by him were purely ministerial, he acting under the command of a superior. If the acts of Kleinhans, who has been in the clerk’s office for several years, are all subject to revision or are liable to be declared void there will be a mess of it , sure enough, as he has been the office deputy and attended to a large amount of the business of the office. - thanks to Scott Manson for finding what happened to Whitecotton but oh, my what about the poor girl :( kbz