In 1911, a St Louis woman, Hannah Yowell, sued her husband for divorce, alleging cruelty. According to her testimony, Mr Yowell had risen from bed one night to give her a “good and hard spanking”. She also claimed he attempted to rile her by calling her “redhead”.
In the witness box, Mr Yowell confessed to administering the spanking, claiming “the woman needed it”. According to a press summary of the trial, Mrs Yowell:
“…started talking at 8pm and her tongue was still moving at 2am… [Mr Yowell asked her] to kindly close the gap in her face and go to sleep, or to at least give him a chance to sleep, as he had work to do the next day. The woman kept right on talking and finally the suffering hubby crawled out of bed, lifted his wife out also, dropped her over his knee and gave her an old fashioned spanking.”
The court sided with Mr Yowell and denied his wife’s petition for divorce:
“The provocation was great; no man cares to be kept awake until nearly morning listening to his wife’s learned discourses on the neighbourhood gossip.”
In November 1891, William Flower, a Swansea picture framer, appeared before a local magistrate charged with:
“…willfully exposing in his window, or other part of his shop, certain obscene pictures… suggestive of love-making on the part of the Roman Catholic priesthood”.
Flowers pleaded not guilty but was convicted and fined 40 shillings plus costs. A press report of the case described the drawings or cartoons displayed in Flower’s shop and later deemed obscene by the court:
“One represents a priest ear-holding a man, who has pushed aside a curtain and is rapturously gazing at a buxom servant tying her garter. In the companion picture… the same healthy-looking priest has his arm around the generous waist of the maid… All the figures are decently dressed and neither can anything be found of a suggestive character.”
Further investigations by the press revealed that a Catholic clergyman, Canon Richards, had noticed the cartoons on his daily walk. He immediately reported them to the police and pushed for charges to be laid. Flower said he intended to appeal the conviction and had received donations from locals to help meet his costs.
In October 1909, an Oklahoma newspaper reported an Ohio woman, Mrs Simpson, had been handed four months’ in the county jail after pleading guilty to a statutory offence. Also given jail time was Mrs Simpson’s nephew, Edward.
While the report did not name Mrs Simpson’s offence, the details case suggest it may have been kidnapping or marital desertion:
“Homer Simpson, a prosperous real estate man of Cleveland, Ohio, husband of Mrs Simpson, appeared against the pair. He has been tracking his wife since she deserted him last month, taking with her their eight-year-old son.”