01 March 2019

Who was Benjamin Franklin Sackett?

Over Christmas 1900 and into January 1901, newspaper readers in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and several States beyond were agog at the gossip surrounding a scandalous case of bigamy. The subject of the outrage was Benjamin Franklin Sackett, a “traveling man” who, despite his illustrious name, had apparently abandoned his wife of three years, Freda Goodwin, and married bigamously Minnie Copp, a boarder in the Sackett household. 
Sackett was arrested and jailed, pending further police enquiries and the mounting by prosecutors of a case against him, preparatory to a court hearing.
But all was not what it seemed. The accused had pleaded his innocence throughout, claiming that the first wedding was but a mock marriage ceremony. And this, indeed, turned out to be so. The authorities had no option but to release him, although one newspaper editorial had opined that if he could not be prosecuted under the bigamy laws, “at least there is the horse whip as a court of last resort.”
But who was Benjamin Franklin Sackett?
Research so far reveals that he died aged 64 in Chicago in 1925. His marriage record to Minnie Copp in Richmond, Indiana, in December 1900 has been found. And a Benjamin F Sackett, commercial traveler, is found in St Joseph, Missouri, in 1910, described as single, in which case, and assuming this is the right man, he had by then probably also abandoned Minnie. Research efforts beyond that have so far drawn a blank. Suggestions as to his parentage and any other information will be gratefully received.
Transcripts of the newspaper articles are at
Benjamin Franklin Sackett  (c1861-1925).

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