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100 years ago in Spokane: Thrice married, woman accused of bigamy

A woman was happily married in Spokane, until her second husband showed up. (SR)
A woman was happily married in Spokane, until her second husband showed up. (SR)

Grace Meredith, the 19-year-old wife of William Heitzel, was arrested by Spokane detectives on a charge of bigamy when it was revealed that she had three husbands.

The charge was brought by Husband No. 2, after he learned that she was also married to Husbands No. 1 and 3.

James Payea, No. 2, said Grace admitted to him that she married No. 1, a Canadian Mountie named Ronald McGregor, in Edmonton, Alberta, when she was 15. McGregor later deserted her, she said.

A year later she married Payea in Calgary, Alberta, because, she said, her money ran out and he paid off her pawnbroker. He mistreated her and she left.

Then two years later, she came to Spokane and married Heitzel, the captain of waiters at the Davenport Hotel. They had been happily married for three months.

She never obtained divorces, she told police, because she was “too young to realize that some day there would be trouble over it.”

And there might not have been, except that Payea ended up coming to Spokane and working as a cook in a cafe. She saw him on the street and he threatened her.

He did more than that. He filed a complaint with Spokane police.

“I did not think he would play such a trick on me, but now that he has, I’m going to tell it all,” she said.

She said Heitzel knew nothing about the other husbands. She said he was “the finest man in the world and I am more sorry for him than for myself.”

Police had been searching for her for two weeks. They finally found her at her brother’s house. He told officers she was not at home, but they found her hiding in a closet.

The Spokesman-Review could not resist pointing out that Grace “had large brown eyes, a mass of wavy brown hair and very pretty.”


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