The Fortune Teller That Stole A Wife

February 22, 1878
Clinton Public
Clinton, Illinois

But for the Other Fellow.

It is money wasted to send missionaries to heathen lands when there is such a field as DeWitt county to labor in. For awhile our courts were deluged with cases of lechery that would put to shame the most degraded savage tribe, but of late these disgusting and degrading scenes have either become fewer or are carefully covered from the public gaze. The neighborhood of Midland City has for some time been scandalized with an open violation of all of the rules of decency and propriety, and the matter finally culminated in bringing grief and shame to the home of Joe DAVIS, a well-to-do farmer in Tunbridge township. Last November Frank JACKSON, a stout, burly fellow applied for work at Mr. Davis's to gather corn, and he worked in the fields for some two or three weeks. He was a rare hand to work, for his robust nature was capable of great physical endurance, and this won upon the heart of Joseph. It seems that Mrs. DAVIS also fell in love with Frank's physique, for from the time he entered the house her lawful spouse was relegated to other sleeping apartments. After the corn gathering season was past, Jackson still remained in the Davis mansion. He professed to perform miraculous cures on the sick, and also claimed to be the embodiment of great magnetic power. It was this bird who set the whole Coppenbarger family wild with the intelligence that the spirits had told him that on the Coppenbarger farm was hidden vast stores of wealth. For days and weeks the deluded people dug till almost every inch of soil was turned over, but no gold was found. Yet they had confidence in him and still believed that he would yet have a revelation as to the exact spot where the wealth was buried. He also professed to be able to tell who it was that murdered the German who was found hung by the neck to the limb of a tree near Kenney some months ago. Jackson is a sharp rascal, and he evidently has succeeded in gulling a great many others besides the Davis family. Many sensible people have submitted to his manipulations in the expectation that he could cure them of disease.

His influence over Mrs. Davis was supreme. He made the family believe that he could perform any great miracle, and threw such a glamour over Mrs. Davis that he had complete control of her. Old Joe was banished from his own bedroom and Jackson occupied a lounge in Mrs. D.'s room. Well, to make a long story short, Joe Davis thought it about time that he was getting mad at the conditions of affairs in his household. He ordered Jackson to leave the house, but Jackson evidently had the inside track and he wouldn't budge. Joe found the pair in bed together, and because he objected to such familiarity Jackson told him he was the most jealous man he ever saw.

Joe hadn't the courage to bounce Jackson, so he appealed to State's Attorney KELLY to help him. A warrant was sworn out for the arrest of Mrs. Davis and Jackson and deputy sheriff McHENRY executed it. The guilty pair was brought before Judge RICHEY on Wednesday afternoon and waived an examination. Mrs. Davis was bound over to the circuit court, but Jackson had to go to jail for want of bail. Mrs. D. tried to induce several men to go on Jackson's bond, offering to secure them by giving a mortgage on some property she owns, but she did not succeed.

Joe Davis went on his wife's bond. The poor old fellow, notwithstanding her sin, could not see the mother of his children go to jail.

Jackson says he has the power to unbolt the doors of the jail and walk out a free man, but somehow he does not exercise it.


March 29, 1878
Clinton Public
Clinton, Illinois


The DAVIS - JACKSON trial in the court house last Monday afternoon brought to light a condition of affairs in this county that would even be discreditable in a nation of barbarians. Frank JACKSON is one of those sharp, shrewd fellows who lives by his wits, and superstitious and ignorant people are his game. Some time last October he hired to Joe DAVIS to gather corn, and after two weeks spent in the field and in the house, he succeeded in ingratiating himself so fully into the good graces of Joe and his wife that he became master of the situation. Frank represented himself as one having great supernatural power. He could tell fortunes, discover buried treasure, hold sweet converse with departed spirits; in fact there was nothing that his mind could not grasp and conquer. Such an accomplished charlatan found victims in the Davis household. Joe is somewhat in debt, and Jackson one day told him there was buried treasure on the farm which he could bring to light. There was a superstition in the family for years that the mother of Mrs. Davis had hidden a large amount of wealth somewhere, and the coming of Jackson awakened the hope that it was almost within grasp. Joe and his wife are very gullible, and it was but an easy matter to impose upon them. In order to aid in the incantations, Jackson had first to be filled with pure alcohol, which, he said, was to act upon a piece of steel in his stomach. When full of alcohol, Jackson would lay on a bed and paw the air and have Mrs. Davis deal out the cards from which he told fortunes. This state of affairs existed for weeks, and in the meantime a criminal intimacy sprang up between Jackson and Mrs. Davis. Poor Joe was so blinded by his desire to secure the hidden wealth that he did not take notice of what was going on under his own eyes. The fame of Jackson spread throughout the neighborhood as one who could heal the sick as well as tell fortunes, and plenty of fools were found to believe in him.

Joe Davis finally became convinced that something was wrong at his home, and one day he came to this city and swore out a warrant for the arrest of his wife and Jackson on the charge of adultery. Jackson was committed to jail in default of bail and Mrs. Davis was liberated on Joe going her bail. The case was tried last Monday. Part of the testimony was disgusting in the extreme. The main witness of the criminal intimacy of the parties was the little twelve-year-old daughter of Mrs. Davis. The poor child realized the terrible position in which she was placed, but told such a story, and apparently so truthful, that ought to cause that mother to bury her head in shame. Every one of Mrs. Davis's children were witnesses against her.

It appeared in evidence that Jackson drank in less than five weeks six gallons and three pints of pure alcohol.

The jury returned a verdict of guilty against the defendants, when their attorneys made a motion for a new trial, which is now pending.

It is to be hoped that the effects of this trial will be beneficial. Within a radius of a few miles from the Davis mansion there are some three or four well-to-do farmers living in open adultery with women, while their wives are totally neglected.

Submitted by Judy Simpson