The Case of Frances Winchell

by Laurel | July 1st, 2009

July 1, 1897, Page 8

A queer chapter of depravity was made known this week, when Frances Winchell or Frances Tiffany was sent to the Sherborn prison for Vagrancy, because she could give no good account of herself and the people that she told the police of have paid no attention to the notices that the police have sent out. Officer Healey found her late one night last week wandering about the streets and she was taken to the police station for examination. She is about 17 years old and not over bright mentally. She said that he was married May 30 at Canaan, Ct., to a man named William Tiffany by a Methodist preacher named Lane. Tiffany worked for Charles Sheldon, a farmer in that place. Soon after her marriage she became acquainted with a man names Smith, with whom she agreed to go on a journey to Pittsfield, accompanied by a young girl known as Nellie Smith, and claimed by Smith as his daughter. She at first refused to go, but was told that her husband had given his consent. The party of three took the train, but did not stop at Pittsfield. When they left the train they started on a tramp about the country, sleeping in outhouses and freight cars and living in the country. They were in Holyoke about two weeks ago and then went to Huntington, as is judged from a description that the girl gave of the place. She left Smith and the girl, whom she had found was not his daughter, at Huntington and sloe away from them early one morning , going directly to Holyoke. Officer Healey found her that night. After hearing the story of the girl the marshal wrote Sheldon at the address given by the girl and asked for an immediate reply, but as nothing was heard the girl was tried on a charge of vagrancy, as she had laid herself open to that complaint. The police have not heard from the letters of inquiry to Mr. Sheldon, and this gives the story a stranger appearance. The girl had in her valise a large assortment of clothing, although she said that she intended to stay away only a day with Smith.

Excerpted from the Springfield Republican.

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