Nov 30, 2010

Ken and the Fortune Teller

''There's one in every family''... In this case the ''one'' is an impulsive romantic, Kenneth Vine who was my 1st cousin 3x removed. It seems that Kenneth made headlines back in 1894 when as a young man of 21, he fell for a travelling clairvoyant/fortune teller named Madame Dunn. He made some impulsive decisions and when the family found out what he had done, the fireworks began. I can only imagine the turmoil and scandal that ensued... The following news items, chronicling the romance of Kenneth Vine and the Fortune Teller were published in the St. Catharines Standard in February, 1894.

(c) Carnivalia, 2004
'Ken and the Fortune Teller' ~ Feb 14, 1894
Rumors were rife this morning regarding Kenneth Vine, clerk in the express office of Ald. J.W. Grote. For some three weeks back, a Madame Dunn, claiming to be ''one of the greatest trance mediums in the world,'' has been in the city, and has made good money telling credulous women their fortunes and fooling many would be sports and men-about-town out of their cash, and having a good time at their expense. She put up first at the Grand Central, and there entertained the boys until Mr. Wardrobe thought it time for her to seek fresh quarters. Kenneth Vine went driving with her one afternoon, and since then it is alleged that he has been quite friendly to the medium, who is said to be a remarkably handsome woman with lots of go in her. After quitting the Grand Central she took up quarters in the Murray House, and her business continued to thrive, until last Saturday she left town, ostensibly for Niagara Falls. On Tuesday Mr. Vine went away and did not return to the office this morning at the usual hour. Almost the first thing heard on the streets was ''Ken Vine has married the fortune teller'' and it was said that an employee of the Murray House had witnessed the marriage. The greatest possible interest was taken in the matter and it was carried to the office of Ald. Grote. Suspecting that something might be wrong in the accounts, Ald. Grote went over them and found they were correct to a cent. Shortly before noon a Standard reporter met Mr. Vine on the streets on his ways to his office and asked him it were true that he had married Madame Dunn. He refused to say yes or no to the matter, and contented himself with insinuating that most people knew more than their prayers. Madame Dunn claimed to come from Denver, Col., and mentioned freely the names of many persons resident there, prominent in the business world. 
Madame Dunn Bound to Have Her Hubby' ~ Feb 16, 1894
The sensational elopement case of Mme Dunn, the handsome young clairvoyant, with young Kenneth Vine of St. Catharines, son of James Vine, a wealthy cattle and live stock broker has become quite an international affair. The couple were married here last Tuesday night by the Rev. John Crawford, pastor of the Presbyterian church. Soon after the couple left for St. Catharines. Now the bride is at the United States hotel, on the American side, and her husband, who is but a boy yet, has been coaxed back to St. Catharines by his relatives and family. Madame Dunn, the name the clairvoyant has been using is of course a nom de plume. Her marriage certificate bears the signature Baird, and her home is given as Rochester, NY. Mrs. Kenneth Vine, as her name appears on the hotel register, was interviewed today. She is a bright girl of the world, probably 22 or 23 years old. She said she was 22 years old the 19th of December last. Her family formerly lived on a farm east of Rochester. Her father is now dead, and her mother is keeping house for a brother named Lincoln, who is worth over $100,000. and the fair Berta claims to be heir to this fortune. Berta, when a girl of 7 years, developed the faculty of looking into the future through a trance medium and being of a nature delighting in excitement and adventure she started out several years ago as a travelling clairvoyant. After giving a brief history of her life, the young bride then went on to tell her troubles. ''It would look as if my husband has deserted me,'' said she. ''It's all on account of his family and relatives. They think, I suppose, that I do not come of a good family, and am a sort of an adventuress, but if they will take the trouble to enquire they will find out their mistake. Why when Kenneth went home to secure his belongings after we were married, his mother tried to shoot him, and turned the revolver on herself; his sister hung around his neck and implored him to leave me and his father said he would disown him if he went with me. His father found out that there was a law against clairvoyancy in Canada, with a year's imprisonment as a penalty, and I understand has officers watching for me to arrest me if I set foot in Canada again. So you see I am cut off from going after Kenneth. One of his uncles came over last night and succeeded in enticing him back to St. Catharines. He promised to return today but he has not arrived as yet. His uncle promised him $500 if he would leave me, and his father $500 more, so he told me. If he does not come back to me, I shall sue his father and relatives for alienating his affections. I am bound to have my Kenneth and there is a dispatch which will bring him.'' The tear-bedimmed eyes of the little fortune teller have snapped determined and the quivering lips settled into a hard determined expression. ''I wish you would correct some of the reports circulated about me. I haven't two other husbands living from whom I have never procured a divorce, and I am not even forty years old. I was never married before, and I do not want to be again, if it is going to bring me all this trouble. What am I going to do? Well, I can't tell. I shall wait here a few days, and if Kenneth does not come back I shall go home to Rochester to my uncle and take advice as to what course to pursue. 
'Kenneth Rejoins His Bride' ~ Feb 17, 1894
The sequel of the Kenneth Vine - Madame Dunn elopement is that young Vine has returned from St. Catharines and joined his bride on the American side. The couple are stopping at the United States hotel and enjoying themselves. Vine says he will never desert his wife again. He will wait for his parents' wrath to cool and contemplates going into business on the American side as an insurance broker. 
I don't know what happened next or what became of Madame Dunn but it didn't last. By 1900 Kenneth had married a young lady named Elizabeth Reynolds and went on to be a husband, father of (at least) five and a successful businessman in St. Catharines, Ontario!

This post was submitted for the 100th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy hosted by Jasia of Creative Gene... Congratulations on your 100th Edition!