Friday, March 15, 2019

Bigamists Given 10 Years in Penitentiary, 1919

From The Independent, Elizabeth City, N.C., March 14, 1919 and March 21, 1919

Two Bigamists Face Jury Here Next Week

Henry Lefferts Eischter, a young soldier who was married here in November, was committed to the county jail this week in default of $1,000 bond on a charge of bigamy. This gives the Superior Courty two bigamy cases to try when it convenes here next Monday, March 17. Romaine Brace, a comely young naval officer, has been in jail here for several months awaiting trial on a similar charge.

Both of these young men, having been taken away from civil life and home environments to serve the colors, found it rather convenient to take on new wives. North Carolina’s lax marriage laws and the proximity of Elizabeth City to the Norfolk naval base gave them the opportunity to get into trouble.

March 21, 1919

Hard Line for Two Bigamists. . . It Was Easy to Illegally Wed in Elizabeth City But Price Comes High

Two bigamists, one a sailor, the other a soldier, were given penitentiary sentences in the Supreme Court of Pasquotank County this week. Romaine Harper Brace, age 24, and Henry Lefferts Eichler, aged 29, were the defendants. They got 10 years each.

Brace was stationed at the Norfolk Navy Yard. Eichler was stationed at Newport News. Boith were 
married but they had left their wives behind and both sought new loves. Elizabeth City was nearby and they were told that it was easy to get a license to keep a woman in Elizabeth City. They could come to Elizabeth City on a night train, find the Register of Deeds sitting up for them, get a license any hour of the night, and be married by the same man who issued the license. It was all too easy.
Young Brace came here with Miss Margaret Shafer Culpepper, age 22, of Portsmouth, Va., on January 23, 1918. They were licensed and married by Register of Deeds Munden.

Eichler came here on November 12, 1918 with Miss Goldie Partridge Lilliston, age 18, of Virginia Beach. They were licensed and married by Register of Deeds Munden.

Both men had wives living in other parts of the country. These first wives found out about the new marriages when they sought to get the allotments due them upon the enlistment of their husbands.
Brace was arrested and given a preliminary hearing here last October and has been in jail ever since. His second wife has given birth to a child since his incarceration.

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