Haven History: Man embarassed in local murder trial

By Lou Bernard
Columnist

March 14, 2013

I hope, one day, my family is as well-remembered as the Kress family.

The Kresses were early citizens of Lock Haven, descendants of an old lumbering family in Clinton County. Captain Wilson C. Kress married Elizabeth Chapman, and together they had two children, Wilson Junior and Eleanor.

Eleanor was prominent in the twentieth century in Lock Haven. She was a schoolteacher who attended Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church, and served as the first secretary of the Children’s Aid Society. One December, she had put off her Christmas shopping until very late in the year because of bad weather.

Finally, she was unable to avoid it any longer. She came down to do her shopping in what is now Triangle Park.

In an icy spot, she slipped and fell. Many other shoppers ran to her aid.

People asked if she was alright. She said,”Yes, I’m alright, but I wish that Jesus had been born in the twenty-fifth of July!”

Her father, Wilson Kress, had fought in the Civil War before becoming an active attorney. He served as a delegate to the Republican National Convention, and was often seen in the Clinton County courthouse.

During one murder trial, Captain Kress was defending a man accused of a murder. The murder had happened in a local business—I’m hesitant to tell you what type of business in a college newspaper, but it relies on females and rhymes with “Bosstitution.” (A hundred years ago, Lock Haven was well-known for its houses of bosstitution.)

The victim, a bosstitute herself, had been thrown down some stairs inside the house. Captain Kress was questioning a local bosstitute on the stand, asking her about the location of the stairs, the length of the hallway leading to them, and so on. Back in those days, the TV show “Law and Order” hadn’t yet been invented, so the witness didn’t fully understand why all these architecture questions.

Finally, impatient, the young bosstitute burst out,”Why, Captain Kress, you know where those stairs are as well as I do!”

The Kress family is buried in Highland Cemetery. They were important local citizens, and I’d like my family to be remembered as fondly. Though maybe without all the injuries, sacrilege, and fewer bosstitutes.

Lou Bernard is the Adult Services Coordinator for Ross Library and can be contacted at ross13@rosslibrary.org

 
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