Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Regina Sawyer, Bigamous Military Bride Fraudster – Pennsylvania, 1919

FULL TEXT: Husbands are being called to rally round the courtroom next Friday morning when “Mrs. Regina Sawyer,” whose untimely arrest yesterday halted her fifth marriage to a United States military man within the year, comes up in Municipal Court for hearing.

A Russian sailor in the United States Navy at Newport News, a Yankee of the army in North Carolina, a Frenchman serving in the American navy at Norfolk, and another American soldier at Baltimore, successive husbands of the errant matron, will receive neatly typewritten notices on Municipal Court stationery ,notifying them that the spouse that the spouse each fondly imagined solely his own is in trouble over her fifth matrimonial venture.

Mrs. Sawyer, who coyly declines to reveal her maiden name, perhaps because it is forgotten in the dim distant past, is a Belgian refugee, an army nurse or an English war bride, according to her mood. She has posed as all three, it is said, although she speaks just “plain American,” except sometimes, when she thrillingly relates her refugee experiences, she suddenly acquires an accent.

Mrs. Sawyer’s matrimonial repertoire was brought to light after she had appeared with Private James K. King, an overseas soldier who walks on crutches with a leg shattered by shrapnel, in the Red Cross headquarters, at 1607 Walnut. Private King told Walnut street. Private King told his troubles to Mrs. Blanche Thatcher, a canteen worker. It seemed, according to his tale, that he had met the lady a week before on Market street and that she had approached him, told him she liked his honest face, proposed marriage to him. Somewhat dazed, he had consented; and had come to the Red Cross to borrow money to take him back to Camp Dix.

~Investigation Begun ~

After giving him the money, Mrs. Thatcher decided an investigation might be worth while. It was. First it was found that Private King did not hail from Galveston, Texas, where he said he was from, but from near-by Chester, and there was supposed to be in Rahway Hospital, awaiting amputation of his leg.

Inquiry from the landlady at 1619 Filbert street, which “Mrs. Sawyer” had given as her address, revealed that the young woman, who is twenty-two years old, had not been there since Thursday, having been “jumped” by the landlady for the non-payment of rent. Previous to Thursday, she had been in the house a week, coming from Norfolk with Miss Lois Farley, now employed in a 25-cent store in the city.

Miss Farley, inquiry revealed, had been induced to leave her home in Norfolk by the wandering bride, whom she fondly called “Beljum.” “Beljum,” it seems, told tales of having been a refugee, and displayed a German flag tattooed on her arm, which she said was the “brand of a Hun.” In court yesterday she suddenly admitted that the branding had been at a carnival at Norfolk.

The landlady soon grew dissatisfied with her lodger, when she found her staying out all night, and learned that numerous soldier and sailor friends were calling upon her.

~ Check Starts Inquiry ~

She finally paid her board when a registered letter came, enclosing a $30 allotment check from Reuben Sawyer. It was this check which started the investigators on the trail which unearthed the following career in court yesterday:

“Mrs. Sawyer,” whose more distant past is shrouded in the web of her own conflicting tales, last November married Harvey Spilsky, a Russian serving in the American navy, at Newport News Russian affairs, martial as well as political, seem ever unsettled, and the ussian alliance ended when her sailor spouse deserted her, she says.

Next she essayed entanglement with an American soldier, Reuben Sawyer, whose name she now uses, marrying him at Elizabeth City, N. C., in April. A short month ended this chapter of the romance and in May Mrs. Sawyer was essaying wedlock in Norfolk with a French volunteer in the American Army, Jules Tuskihana. Her past pursued her too closely, though, and she was arrested in Norfolk for bigamy, but released for reasons unknown at present.

Mystery surrounds the departing of the Frenchman, but he was gone by July, when Regina undertook and succeeded in marrying a man named Robert Taftin, who disappeared without regrets, and of whose history Regina seems to know little.

~ Marriage Certificates Destroyed ~

A little later on, Regina contracted a friendship with Lois Farley, in Virginia, and induced her to flee with her to Philadelphia by painting happy pictures of life on four different allotment checks. On the train coming up, Miss Farley says, “Beljun” severed connection with the past by tearing up three of her marriage certificates, though she kept on her dresser table pictures of all her erstwhile military consorts.

Despite her varied allotments, Regina lived by no means well, her landlady says, but dressed raggedly. She must appear before Judge MacNeille on Friday, and King, who was sent back to Dix after being haled before Magistrate Grelis, will be brought to testify against her.

[“Woman, Married 4 Times In Year, Would Wed Again – ‘Mrs. Regina Sawyer’s’ Husbands Called to Rally in Court – Red Cross Halts Latest Matrimonial Venture After Investigation,” The Philadelphia Inquirer (Pa.), Oct. 5, 1919, p. 1]



For more cases of this type see: “War-Marriage Vampires”& “Allotment Annies"


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