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Jim Kershner’s This day in history » On the Web:

Sat., April 23, 2011

From our archives, 100 years ago

A New Hampshire man wriggled out of his “engagement” to a young Spokane woman in the only way he knew how: He “died.”

Rather, he sent word to Spokane of his tragic death. His fiancée, Frances Stewart, went into mourning. However, reporters later discovered him walking the streets of New Hampshire.

When asked why he did it, he said he had “seven good reasons”: a wife and six children in New Hampshire.

He said he had a “harmless near-flirtation” of barely a half-hour with Miss Stewart while at a convention in Spokane for the Ancient Order of Hibernians. One of his fellow conventioneers said to her, “Look out for that chap, Miss Stewart, he’s got a wife and a houseful of children back home.”

But she only laughed and asked if it was true.

“Of course, I said I wasn’t, and that was the first mistake,” he said.

They later corresponded by mail and he was shocked to discover that she considered herself engaged to him and had booked a wedding date at St. Aloysius Church.

He said he concocted the death story because “I didn’t want the impression to prevail in her home town that the easterner had jilted her.”

Also on this date

(From the Associated Press)

1969: Sirhan Sirhan was sentenced to death for assassinating New York Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. (The sentence was later reduced to life imprisonment.)

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