Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Aunt Betsy's Improper House

I would be remiss in not mentioning a story from The Atchison Daily Globe, published in the late 1870s. According to the article, Marshall Cleveland's "supposed wife" or mistress was employed at Aunt Betsy's Improper House, which for many years was located in Northwest Atchison. The newspaper reported that Cleveland "had a mistress at 'Aunt Betsy's' improper house in Northwest Atchison, and spent his time there when not engaged in raids into Missouri. 'Aunt Betsy' Kingston died in Oklahoma City not long ago, after professing religion, and the local paper spoke quite touchingly of her many virtues." An 1880 United States Census listed Elizabeth Kingston's occupation as "keeping a boarding house." She was born in 1828, in South Carolina, and was married to the notorious John Kingston. The Census listed Dollie Williams, age 20, Hattie Arnold, age 22, Frankie Stevens, age 18, Belle Allen, age 19, Mary Stevens, age 21, Annie Thompson, age 18, Ellen Johnson, age 35, Cora Scott, age 23, Alice Hartiman, age 25, and May Parker, age 24, as boarders. The house was also known as "The Farm." A newspaper ad described "The Farm" as a house of 24 rooms with a summer house and stable. In the early 1860s Atchison was described as "a dirty hole" and a "hog pen." (see photograph).


  1. Man, what is it with these guys* and shady ladies?

    I've got info on Hoyt's wife if you need it (he was married about a month before his arrest with Jennison); but I've got to warn you, it's not nearly as salacious.

    * by which I mean Quantrill and Marshall.