Friday, June 20, 2008

Swindling Love Letters

New York, 1895

Minnie Nichols Fined and Imprisoned for Sending Them by Mail.

The trial of Mrs. Minnie E. Nichols of Centre Moriches, who advertised herself as a beautiful young widow with a heart filled with fountains of love and got involved with the government authorities through the alleged use of the mails for swindling purposes, was wound up Monday in the United States court in Brooklyn with a verdict of guilty. George A. Fullin of Ithaca, N. Y., and Edward A. York of Rhode Island, two of Mrs. Nichols' correspondents, joined in the prosecution, and some letters she sent to them were put in evidence. In one of them she addresses the Ithaca man as her "Dearest, Darling Hubbie that is soon to be." In another she says:

"I know that in your breast there beats a very kind, tender, loving heart. Send me money to have my picture taken. Since you have mentioned about another engagement, as proof of your sincerity I desire a stone ring, or small cluster of stones. I want something neat — prefer garnets and pearls, or pearls and sapphires. You ask me if I will love you a little. I will love you to your heart's content if you treat me nice. I have a very clinging nature, whose tendrils of affection would twine around any lovable object. Write soon and remember the ring and picture money, please; also $3 for moving."

Mrs. Nichols' defence was two-fold. In the first place it was contended that she never meant to defraud any one, and that she entered into the amatory correspondence by way of innocent recreation. The second point was that she was legally irresponsible, having once been violently insane, and ever since more or less erratic. Mrs. Nichols herself testified that she had once been drugged and assaulted, and that she afterwards could not control herself.

Judge Brown imposed a sentence of one day's imprisonment and a fine of $100 on the prisoner. The fine was paid and Mrs. Nichols was removed to the jail.

—The Long Island Farmer, Jamaica, NY, March 29, 1895, p. 1.

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