Source: Crawfordsville Weekly Journal Friday, 28 April 1899
Mrs. Julia Patten, of New Market, the daughter of the late Paschal Wilhite, made a bigger mistake than she knew when she married “Doctor” Patten, a “yarb healer of Terry Hut.” Not only did the fellow turn out to be a drunken scoundrel but now that she has applied for a divorce, he attempts to get even by charging that she attempted to poison him. The Terre Haute Express gives space to the following sensational article:
“Dr. B. E. Patten, the specialist, who has offices at 17 North Sixth Street, is lying in a dangerous condition at the home of the Rev. T. E. Foreman, 1445 Maple Avenue, suffering from the effects of alleged arsenic poisoning and chloroform, administered, he claims, with murderous intent by his wife, Julia Patten, who instituted divorce proceedings in the Vigo County court some three months ago.
Dr. Patten realizes his serious condition, and is aware of the fact that he has but a short time to live. His claims are sensational, and in order that authorities may take charge of the case in the event of his death, he has made official statements to Coroner Willis and Prosecutor Beal with the request that a post mortem examination be made on his remains after his death, in order to prove the truth of the charges against the woman who abandoned him and now has the suit pending for a separation.
Coroner Willis visited Dr. Patten several weeks ago and secured a statement from him regarding the alleged poisoning. A second visit was made to the bedside of the afflicted victim Sunday afternoon and a full account of how the poison was administered was secured from him by the coroner and did not differ from the first one. Prosecutor Beal also visited the doctor and secured an official statement which will be used in case Dr. Patten does not recover from the results of the alleged poisoning.
Dr. Patten is well known in Terre Haute, although he has only been a resident of the city for a little over two years. He came here from Indianapolis, where he had been located a short time. Prior to locating at Indianapolis he was in Mexico, where he spent some years in practicing medicine among the natives of that country and also making a study of the medicines used by Mexicans in the cure of many diseases subject to the people of that climate. On his return to the United States he introduced a number of these Mexican herbs and roots in the treatment of chronic diseases to which he gave special attention and study. Shortly after arriving in Terre Haute he opened offices at 17 North Sixth Street and took up the cure of cancer. He treated a large number of difficult cases successfully and built up a good practice in a short time.
A year ago he surprised his acquaintances by marrying a wealth widow of New Market, Ind. The couple, after a few days’ trip, came to Terre Haute, Ind., rented a house on North Sixth Street and began housekeeping. The business of Dr. Patten continued to increase and his patients became so numerous that he was compelled to open a hospital for their care on Walnut Street.
Everything apparently between Dr. Patten and his wife was harmonious until about three months ago when she created a sensation by filing suit for divorce on the grounds of drunkenness. The charges in the complaint were the surprising part of the case as it was a known fact that Dr. Patten had taken a deep interest in temperance work and delivered a number of temperance lectures at different churches in the city. He was also at the time a strong supporter of the United Brethren Church and contributed liberally toward the building fund of the Second United Brethren Church, Highland Place. When the suit was filed by Mrs. Patten the doctor claimed that he was not to blame, and a different state of affairs would be shown when the case came to trial. For days after the filing of the suit, and even for days before the suit was placed on the docket of the court, Dr. Patten was confined to his bed with illness, the manner of which was unknown. Immediately after filing the suit Mrs. Patten left the city and Dr. Patten did not improve in health. He continued to grow worse in fact until last week when he was taken to the home of the Rev. T. E. Foreman to be cared for and nursed.
In the three months of his illness, Dr. Stunkard has been the attending physician, but has been unable to check the complications of his case. Other physicians have been called in the case and have made examinations of Dr. Patten, which has developed the fact that he has enlargement of the heart, from which few recover. This was known to Dr. Stuckard, but Dr. Patten in order to satisfy himself requested the examination by the other physicians. When Dr. Stuckard was first called in the case Dr. Patten informed him that Mrs. Patten had made an attempt to poison him. He also made the same statement to others, but on account of the sensational part of the charge, he was not believed, and it was thought that the doctor had worried over the trouble with his wife to such an extent that he was delirious.
Now, however, when Dr. Patten realizes that there is little hope of his recovery, and has gone so far as to call the coroner and make the same charges it is believed that there may be foundation for his statement that an attempt was made to poison.
Dr. Patten was seen by an Express reporter and made the following statement: “I know that an attempt was made to poison me. I know that I am in a bad condition and have only a short time to live. I made my will last Monday and made all preparations for the end. Coroner Willis has a statement from me in which I request a post mortem examination of my body after death, when it will be found that I was poisoned. I do not know what kind of poison my wife gave me, but I have several witnesses who saw her give me several black pills and also heard her say a number of times while I was sick that she wished I would die. She also had me under chloroform for hours, and I am satisfied that she made an attempt to murder me. If I recover I intend to prosecute her, but if I die, I have made all necessary arrangements for the law to take hold of the case and prosecute her for giving me the poison which is causing my death.”
Dr. Stuckard, who has been attending Dr. Patten, was also seen by the Express reporter, and in speaking of the case, said: “The man is in a serious condition, and the chances are against his recovery. I do not know what to make of his charges. Dr. Patten has at all times appeared rational, and he has stuck to the statement that an attempt was made to poison him.
Coroner Willis said last night that he had visited Dr. Patten and found him in a bad shape, and, in his opinion, there is little chance for his recovery. “He made the same statement to me today that he made a few weeks ago”, said Coroner Willis, “and the charges, under the circumstances, call for an official investigation.”
Mrs. Julia Patten, the woman accused of the poisoning, ahs been married four times and is said to be worth at least $100,000. Her name at the present time is Julia Wilhite-Fletcher-Gaughan-Patten. Since removing from Terre Haute, after filing the suit for divorce, she has been living; it is understood, on one of her farms near New Market, Ind.”
Source: Crawfordsville Weekly Journal Friday, 28 April 1899
A special from Terre Haute Tuesday states that the charges of Dr. Patten that his wife gave him slow poison that is killing him, are now thoroughly discredited. Patten’s physicians say he is suffering from a gastric trouble and not from poison, and that his mind is disordered by the frequent use of chloroform and other narcotics. Mrs. Patten is very indignant as are also her friends in this county. A gentleman who is related to her and with whom she has visited since her marriage was a caller at The Journal office Tuesday and stated that Patten was trying to work a bluff game to get a large sum of money from his wife in consideration that he drop the case and allow her to procure a divorce. Mrs. Patten is now holding her residence in Terre Haute until her suit for divorce comes up in the Vigo court. She has frequently stated to friends that she believed Dr. Patten tried to chloroform her while they were yet living together and that upon several occasions she had awakened in the night almost overpowered by the fumes of the poisonous drug. Patten always claimed that he was using the narcotic himself and that he never thought of it affecting her. Mrs. Patten now has the bottle of chloroform which she had taken from the doctor while he was lying in a drunken stupor, and is keeping his former office girl in Terre Haute, who will be one of her witnesses. The girl was afraid of her life when around Patten, who frequently had drunken spells, when it was impossible for him to see his patients and when he threatened violence to everyone in sight. Friends of Mrs. Patten state that Patten always bore an unsavory reputation and that he had frequently been arrested for intoxication while traveling around with a lot of half breed Indians and alleging to cure all kinds of diseases by the use of Mexican herbs and Indian Sagwa. When he became acquainted with Mrs. Fletcher and learned of her wealth he spruced up and temporarily reformed until he could induce her to marry him, divorcing a former wife and marrying Mrs. Fletcher the next day. He soon showed his true colors and tried all kinds of schemes to get his wife to make over some of her property to him. He sent around an alleged real estate agent while they lived in Terre Haute to sell her real estate which he claimed would make her big money. She was not letting loose of her money in that way, however, and told him that she believed Montgomery County land was good enough for her. Finally Mrs. Patten left him, after he had attempted to chloroform her two or three times and his threats were of no avail to make her change her mind. To those acquainted with Mrs. Patten the tale of the doctor reads like a selection from the “Arabian Nights” and is calculated to disgust the devil and give a polecat the dyspepsia. The simple and confiding reporter who wrote the pipe dream should deodorize his intellect and then turn around and kick in the bust of the breeches of the impudent old tub of tallow who has so beautifully hornswoggled him.