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100 years ago in Wallace: Immorality alleged in millionaire’s divorce case

 (Scott Maben / The Spokesman-Review)
(Scott Maben / The Spokesman-Review)

From our archives, 100 years ago

A sensational divorce case in Wallace, Idaho, was making front page news.

Mining millionaire James F. Callahan had earlier filed for divorce because his bride of a few months, Helen Elizabeth Callahan, had allegedly committed an act of immorality.

She denied the charge and said her husband had actually conspired to lead her into “the commission or apparent commission of an act of infidelity.”

She claimed her husband hired a chauffeur to spy on her and get her into a compromising position. She said that while Callahan pretended to be away on a business trip, the chauffeur persuaded her to take a room at a Spokane hotel. In the middle of the night, she became ill and asked the chauffeur, in a separate room, to bring her some medicine.

After the chauffeur came into her room, Callahan knocked on the door. While she responded to the knock, she claimed that the chauffeur “removed practically all of his clothes” and pretended to hide in the closet.

Callahan entered the room, charged her with being unfaithful, “tore her clothes from her and called other guests of the hotel to come and see her in her nude condition.” She claimed Callahan made no attempt to harm the chauffeur.

In recent weeks, however, Mr. and Mrs. Callahan appeared to reconcile. He agreed to admit her back into their “palatial” home.

However, when she arrived, he imposed new conditions on her: That she join the Catholic Church and admit the charge of immorality.

Mrs. Callahan refused to comply with either condition, left the home and filed her own divorce suit.

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