Contributed by Gigimo
Description: Kissee's Young Bride. She Prefers Happiness in a Hut to Misery in a Palace. She is 15 and He is 65. Woes of a Lonely Old Man and How He Wooed a Child and Lost Her.Date: October 28 1899
Newspaper published in: Carbondale, IL
Capt. Alexander C. Kissee, "King of Taney County, Mo.," has given in his own words the story of how he, at the age of sixty-five, married Rosa Dora Garrett, a mere strip of a girl half a century his junior, and after a honeymoon of two weeks she fled from Kissee Hall to return to the dolls and toys and picture-books she had left at the humble home of her parents.
Gen. Cassiuis M. Clay, of Kentucky, married his Dora and lost her.
Capt. Kissee married his Dora and lost her.
The child wife tells of a younger love - Charley McVey, a farmer boy of nineteen years - who plows among the rocks and hills of Taney County in summer and feeds live stock in winter and does other farm chores, for which he receives $15 a month and his board.
Rosa Garrett is now living at the home of her father, Alvin Garrett, seven miles from Kissee Hall, in Taney County. Mr. Garrett is a plain farmer.
Here is Capt. Kissee's story: "I am the father of twenty-three children, but all of them except nine are dead, and most of the survivors are married and moved away. So since the death of my second wife last November I have been lonely here in this big house.
"I decided a short while that I would marry again. I concluded that I didn't want any hen, but a pullet of fryin' size. I had heard Rosa Garrett spoken of as a rather smart and pretty girl, and as she is of fryin' size I determined to get acquainted with her. There was a big fish fry down on Beaver Creek, and the whole neighborhood for miles and miles was there. I knew the Garretts would be at the fry, so I went to get an introduction to Rosa. She smiled as I shook hands with her, and after we had talked a few minutes and I started to walk away she said: 'Capt. Kissee, we would like mighty well to have you come and see us some time.'
"That set me to thinking that the girl had a favorable opinion of me, so a day or two after the fish fry I drove over to the Garrett place. Mrs. Garrett met me at the door. I told her that I wanted to marry, that I was in a hurry and saw no need of fooling away time with a long preliminary courtship. I told Mrs. Garrett that I wanted a fryin' size pullet, so to speak - fryin' size is just my way of saying that no old maids or widows need apply to me - and that I reckoned her Rosa would do about as well as any in the country.
"I told Rosa that I had come to marry her, and that she might wear dresses befitting the mistress of Kissee Hall. She seemed to think it was all so sudden, but I reminded her that some of the best trades I had ever made in my life were made in a hurry. She said: 'Ask ma and pa.' I asked Mrs. Garrett if she cared if Rosa married me. Mrs. Garrett said: 'Go to the barn and ask pa.' She called Mr. Garrett pa, and I asked him. He said, 'Yep.' I went back to the house and told Rosa to put on her shoes and hat and go with me to Forsyth, the county seat, to get the license. An hour later we were at Forsyth getting married.
"I brought Rosa here to Kissee Hall and installed her as mistress. We had a fish fry, a barbecue and a dance in celebration of the marriage. We invited the people for miles around. I was proud of Rosa and wanted people to see her. I bought her china dishes and a silk dress and a music box.
"I used every possible effort to make her happy, and I showed her through the big house and told her she was the ruler of it all, but in spite of everything I could do the child would pucker up and cry half a dozen times a day. She would throw herself down on the floor in some of the way rooms and cry as if her heart would break. Finally I asked her what was the matter. She told me that she didn't love me, and that she was sorry she had married. I neglected business of every kind then and devoted my whole time trying to please her. That just made matters worse. And then she left me, as you know.
And here is Rosa Garrett's story: "I would rather live in a dirt-floor log cabin with the man I love than to be the mistress of Kissee Hall. I would rather wear calico bought by the man I love than to dress myself in silks bought by a rich man I do not love. I left Capt. Kissee because I do not love him and never can. There is another boy, a poor boy - and he may always be poor - but I love him, and when I get ready to marry again he may have me if he wants me.
"Yes, his name id Charley McVey. Everybody knows him, so I had just as well tell it.
"You ask how I happened to marry Uncle Alex? Well, that is easy to answer. He came here and took me so by surprise that I lacked the presence of mind to say no. We have always looked up to him here as the richest and the biggest man in Taney County, and his word is usually accepted as law. I agreed to marry him without really knowing what I was doing. I regretted it almost a moment after we had started to get the license, but I was too timid then to go back on my agreement.
"Charley McVey came to see me at the home of a relative soon after I was married to Uncle Alex. As Charley took hold of my hand I could not help but cry. Tears were also in his eyes. 'Why did you do it?' he asked. Then my heart seemed to be breaking. My head was in a whirl. I was dizzy. We were standing in the yard by the well. I clutched at the well-curb for support. Charley looked on in silence. It was the first time I had seen him since I had been installed as the mistress of Kissee Hall, as they called it. Just then my married sister came out of the house and told me to go in. She said it didn't look well for a married woman to be keeping company that way with young men. Charley went away.
"I hope I shall never see Kissee Hall again. I have had enough of it. I will marry again some time, but I am young yet and am in no hurry about it."