The Frank-Goldstone Wedding: One wife too many?

It sounds like the plot to a novel: a young, popular bride-to-be, her up-and-coming groom, a mystery woman, accusations of a hidden marriage, and a (briefly) cancelled wedding. For one Davenport bride, this was reality in January of 1910.

The bride-to-be was Rachel Goldstone. The 24-year-old lived with her parents in Davenport and by newspaper accounts was a well-known and popular young lady who worked as a clerk at the Fair Store in downtown Davenport.

Her groom was named Barney Kline Frank, aged 25 years. Mr. Frank originally lived in South Bend, Indiana where his father owned several successful pawn shops. Barney lived in Des Moines in January of 1910. He worked for Moses Levich who ran a pawn shop dealing in diamond jewelry, musical instruments, hats, and clothing. (Des Moines City Directory, 1910).

It is not known to us how the two met, but we do know they obtained a license on December 31, 1909 to be married in Scott County.

The wedding was set for Sunday, January 2, 1910. It was to be held at the Goldstone home at 605 Myrtle Street in Davenport. All seemed set for a lovely event until the Davenport Police Department received a call on Saturday, January 1, 1910 from a woman in Des Moines.

The woman identified herself to officers as Mrs. Kline. She inquired if a Barney Kline or Barney Kline Frank had obtained a marriage license. If he had, the marriage had to be stopped as Mrs. Kline was his legal wife.

The police officer informed her that if Mrs. Kline was in fact married to Mr. Barney Kline Frank, she needed to appear with her marriage license to stop the wedding. Mrs. Kline  appeared at the Davenport Police Station at midnight that night, having arrived in town by train from Des Moines.

She stated that Mr. Frank went by the name of Mr. Kline in Des Moines and that was the surname he used when they married.

One can only imagine the emotions that arose when Mr. Frank was summoned to the police station and informed of the woman’s accusation. Mrs. Kline did not have a license in hand, stating it had been lost in a trunk that her husband had stored after their marriage. (The Davenport Daily Times, January 3, 1910. Pg. 4)

The accusation was enough, though, for the wedding to be cancelled as the police tried to solve the mystery of the first Mrs. Kline.

Mrs. Kline was identified by Mr. Frank as an acquaintance named Ethel Palmer. Mr. Frank stated that while he knew the woman and had spent time with her, he had never married her or proposed marriage. He believed she was in love with him and this was her attempt to stop his marriage to Miss Goldstone. (The Daily Democrat, January 3, 1910. Pg. 3)

Mrs. Kline/Miss Palmer soon took a train back to Des Moines promising to return with evidence of her marriage. She claimed that she and Mr. Frank were married by a rabbi in Kansas City, Missouri in September, 1908. They had lived together for one year before he deserted her. (Davenport Daily Times, January 3, 1910. Pg. 6)

With no formal proof of a marriage, the Davenport Police did not press charges against Mr. Frank and the wedding was rescheduled for Tuesday, January 4th.

We are sure the wedding day was met with some apprehension by the bride-to-be with the worry that Miss Palmer might once again come to town. The papers stated that Miss Goldstone and her parents supported the story told to them by Mr. Frank.

At 8:00 p.m. that night, the wedding of Miss Goldstone and Mr. Frank took place at the bride’s house. The Davenport Daily Times ran a long story on the nuptials on January 5, 1910.

The bride wore a dress of pink silk moire trimmed in pearls with a long tulle veil. Miss Goldstone carried brides roses during the ceremony. The couple was attended by Rabbi Goldman of Rock Island and Rabbi Scuder of Davenport. They stood under a canopy of pink and white roses with greenery in a room filled with pink and white roses.

After the wedding, which took place in front of about 50 guests, there was a large wedding supper. The couple left the next day for a wedding trip to South Bend, Indiana to visit the groom’s family. Then they started a home together in Des Moines.

But Miss Palmer was not yet finished with Mr. Kline/Frank. She soon announced to the papers that either her wedding was real and he was now a bigamist, or he had taken advantage of her by holding a sham wedding.

Newspapers all across the country picked up the story. The last update we find locally is from January 8, 1910 when The Daily Times ran a picture of Miss Palmer stating she would pursue formal charges against Mr. Frank in Polk County, Iowa where they had both resided.

As no further information could be found on charges or a court case, we assume that Miss Palmer either decided not to proceed or the court would not hear the case. We are currently unable to trace what happened to Miss Palmer after January 1910. The little we did find out through Ancestry.com indicates Miss Palmer was born Ethel Cromwell. Her mother married Andrew R. Palmer in 1897. Mr. Palmer owned a successful butcher shop in Des Moines in January of 1910.

As for Barney and Rachel Frank, they soon moved from Des Moines and headed to Omaha, Nebraska. They eventually moved to South Bend, Indiana where Mr. Frank owned several businesses. They had one daughter in 1912 and remained married until Mr. Frank passed away in 1950. Mrs. Frank remained widowed until her death in 1981.

We certainly hope Miss Palmer found as long-lasting and devoted a marriage.

(posted by Amy D.)

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