A Wicked Affair: Part 2 – Escalation

Edward F. Clum and John Jay White served together in the 9th New York Heavy Artillery for about 18 months, from December 1863 to June 1865.  The 9th participated in the battles of Cold Harbor, Petersburg, Monocacy and others before ultimately ending up at Appomattox Court House in April of 1865.  Rivalry undoubtedly sprung up when Jay was promoted to Corporal on August 1, 1864.  He then mustered out on June 16, 1865.  Ed, however, transferred as a private to Co. I, 2nd New York Heavy Artillery at the end of June.  Records show his promotion to Corporal on September 1, 1865, just a few short weeks before he mustered out.

After the war, both men returned to Walworth, New York, in Wayne County.  The 1870 census lists Jay as a farmer, living in Walworth with his wife, Mary Augusta, and 6 year old son Warland.  By that time, Ed had been married to 18 year old Charlotte (“Lottie”) for about a year, and was working as a day laborer.

The years between 1870 and 1884 are unrecorded.  However, by the early 1880s, Clum and White were living just a few miles apart.  Tongues began to wag about the inappropriate behavior of Lottie Clum and Jay White, and about Ed Clum’s lack of interest in protecting his wife.  Several articles even insinuated that all three were living under the same roof.  This was the last straw for Jay’s long-suffering wife, Mary Augusta, who committed suicide on May 30, 1884.  She left behind three children – Warland, Ruth and little Lucy who was not yet four years old.  After Mary Augusta’s death, Jay became even more brazen.  He carried on with Lottie Clum, paying no heed to any conventions of decent behavior.

Jay and Ed had joined the G.A.R. E. A. Slocum Post #211 of Fairport, New York together in 1884.  On September 27, 1885, Edward F. Clum was dismissed from the post by court martial for conduct unbecoming a gentleman and a soldier.  He had arrived at a post-sponsored family campfire intoxicated, and had proceeded to use obscene language in front of the wives and children of his fellow veterans.  Jay White was dishonorably discharged from the post on the same date.  His crime?  Riding intoxicated through the streets of the village at a furious pace with Mrs. Edward Clum.

Shortly thereafter, John Jay White took off for the west – with Lottie Clum in tow.  They made their way to Cassville, Missouri, where they lived on a farm and Lottie was known as “Mrs. White”.  The fact that Jay White had once again bested him and made off with his wife apparently did not weigh too heavily on Ed Clum’s mind, for he did not follow them…until five months later.

Stay tuned for A Wicked Affair: Part 3 – A Vile Nest!

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