"The Scandal Simoom," National Police Gazette (June 1, 1878)

Transcribed from page 11 of the June 1, 1878 issue of the National Police Gazette.


This Time a Blast of its Miasma-Laden Breath Blows Strongly from the Sunny South


Moving Story of a Good Presbyterian Deacon who had an Eye for Female Beauty and a Hankering


Verbena, Ala, May 15.— The entire social and religious fabric of the city of Montgomery, Ala, has become recently convulsed over the exposure of a case of crim con. Involving a deacon of the Presbyterian church in high standing, religiously and socially. The facts developed in this case are rich, rare and racy, and are eminently worthy of a place in the current literature of scandal. About two years ago a colony of Swedish immigrants, consisting of men, women and children, arrived in Montgomery, Ala, seeking occupations and homes. Amongst the women of this colony were half-a-dozen blooming Swedish young maidens, who proposed to work as chambermaids, governesses or companions in wealthy and refined families. Deacon Bush of the Presbyterian church, and also secretary and treasurer of the South and North Alabama Railway Company, was among the first of the "respectable families" to employ one of these handsome Swedish maidens, and it was remarked at the time that the deacon was a man of splendid taste as he selected the handsomest of the number, and, it was said, promised her unusually tempting wages. It is proper to say here that the deacon has a cosy home and a worthy family, consisting of wife and daughter, the latter of quite tender age, although the deacon is about fifty. The wife did not approve of the policy of employing a handsome young girl in the household because she knew that it was attended with considerable risk, especially so far as the deacon was concerned. But not withstanding her protestations, the young maiden was engaged and installed in the family as maid and companion.

For a time all went along smoothly, and there was peace and quiet in the family of the deacon. By and by, however, the wife began to suspect that the deacon was just a little too polite and considerate to the Swedish beauty. When taxed with his fondness for the maid the deacon put on a dignified air and proclaimed aloud that the maiden must be treated with kindness and consideration; that she was a deserving young lady, and he was simply treating her with that gentlemanly politeness which was due her. As the deacon is a polite and urbane man, the wife concluded that her suspicions were unjust and she bade them be still. And they were still for a time.

At a period not many months ago the deacon purchased a summer residence near this summer resort, and last summer and fall, during the sickly season, and at a time when the wife was in ill health, she and her little daughter were removed to this place and installed in the pleasant summer residence of the deacon, but as the latter contemplated a short trip north, the young maiden was allowed to remain in charge of the home at Montgomery. Upon the deacon's return the maiden still remained in Montgomery with no one but the deacon at the home residence. Of course no loving wife could contemplate such a thing as that without thinking something. In this case the deacon was requested to send the Swedish girl here to keep the wife and daughter company, as he had to remain in Montgomery to look after his railroad duties. The deacon replied that if the maid was sent away he would be forced to employ another to keep house, and the times were "too hard" to do that, so the maiden must remain in Montgomery. This determination carried the wife back to the home residence much earlier than was anticipated, and she refused to return here unless the deacon or the Swedish beauty, one or the other, returned and remained here with her. Thus matters rested until a reception was given in the vicinity of the deacon's residence, and his family was invited to attend.

The Deacon plead railroad business, and it was thought best to leave the maiden to take care of the house. After the deacon had escorted his wife to the house where the reception was taking place, instead of going to the railroad office, he returned home, and he and the Swedish maiden locked themselves up in her room and retired for the night—at least the girl did.

Now it is astonishing what a little jealousy on the part of the wife will prompt her to do. The deacon's wife, after paying her respects to the host and hostess at the reception, complained of headache, and returned home, escorted by a friend. She had a night key, and let herself in the house with but making but little noise. Upon entering her bedroom, she found the deacon's boots, hat, coat, and vest, but no deacon was to be seen anywhere. Softly she went to the door of the room occupied by the maiden and listened and thought she heard whispering: then she knocked and called the girl, then she heard a window blind thrown open, and thought she heard something fall on the ground. By this time the door was opened, and trembling from head to foot, the girl stood before her, but she denied that anyone had been in the room, and stood by it. "Where is Mr. Bush?" asked the angry wife. "I haven't seen him," replied the girl. Now, in the meantime the deacon having hastily donned his pants, and having also a night key, had quietly slipped around to the front door, let himself in, and stealing to his room had got into his bed, and when his wife returned to their room he was snoring soundly. She woke him up and charged him with having been in the maiden's room, but he denied it so stoutly and strongly that the wife was non-plused and had to cave in.

"But where was you just now when I came into this room?" demanded the wife. "Right here in bed asleep, my darling," he responded. "Well," said she, "I looked in this bed, all over it, around it and under it, and I never saw you." "Well, darling. Your jealousy has made you blind."

This ended the matter, and the wife concluded to forget all about it, and the deacon was so cautious and circumspect that the wife failed to detect him in any amours with the maiden. But in due time a horrible revelation made itself apparent to the maiden, and she confided her condition to the deacon. It then became necessary for prompt action. The maiden made known that she had some friends in Philadelphia, and as she was tired of living in Montgomery, she had concluded to visit the former city and see her friends in the hope that she would find a more favorable home, the climate of the South being so warm and sickly, and she having been reared in a northern clime, it appeared to her that she would be better satisfied in Philadelphia. The deacon furnished the funds and the Swedish beauty bid adieu to Montgomery, and in the natural order of things was comfortably settled in Philadelphia, in a home selected by the deacon himself, the fact being that the girl knew no one in that city. The deacon regularly forwarded funds to the girl to pay her expenses. In due time a child was born to her. The remittances of the deacon not being enlarged, proved inadequate to the proper support of mother and child, and as he refused to increase the monthly stipend, the girl packed up and with her infant returned to Montgomery and notified the deacon that he must either support her and his child decently or she would seek satisfaction at the law. The deacon seeing that the storm above him was black and thick with destruction, determined to do his duty. He provided for the maintenance of the mother and child and at an official meeting of the officers of the Presbyterian church, two weeks ago, stepped up and confessed his sin in tears, and implored the forgiveness of the church. In extenuation of his fall, like Adam of old, he plead the "baby act," that is, that the woman did tempt him and he did eat. Then came an investigation of the matter and the facts above stated substantially were elicited, and the church was called upon to act in the matter.

When this was made known it created the most profound excitement, and becoming public, the entire city became infected. Such a scandal has never before been gossiped in all the history of Montgomery, and the infection even reached to this quiet summer resort, where it came like a lightening stroke from a clear and spotless sky. The church expelled Deacon Bush with all the dignity and solemnity that the occasion demanded, and deposed him of his church title, thus leaving him, as it were, in his old age, naked and friendless, without a hope for the hereafter. It is reported, also, that the railway directory intend examining into the case, and if the deacon makes the same confession before this board as he did unto the church, he will no doubt be discharged and admonished to go and sin no more.