Contributed by Susan
Description: Grassie Bulkey and Miss Bessie Hillyer Secretly Wedded in Baltimore - Talk of Annulling the MarriageDate: December 22 1887
Newspaper published in: Washington, DC
Page/Column: Page 1
Very Tightly Married
The Sensation a Young Society Couple Caused
Grassie Bulkley and Miss Bessie Hillyer Secretly Wedded in Baltimore - Talk of Annulling the Marriage
Washington society received another social bombshell in its midst yesterday. It had scarcely recovered from the Carroll-Bancroft affair, when Mr. E. Berry Wall gave it a spasm by marrying Miss Melbourne out of hand and in his traveling clothes. Society's trembling hand was still pressed to its beating heart over that affair, when the runaway marriage of Mr. Grassie Bulkley and Miss Bessie Hillyer Tuesday afternoon fairly set it out on its head.
Both parties are well-known in social circles. Mr. Bulkley is the youngest son of Dr. J. W Bulkley and is a clerk in the Bank of Washington, while Miss Hillyer is the only daughter of Judge C. J. Hillyer, of the law firm of Hillyer and Ralston, and was one of the most promising debutantes of two winters ago.
The story of the marriage, while affording columns of gossip, can be briefly told. Young Bulkley met Miss Hillyer by appointment Tuesday morning; they took the train for Baltimore, where Mr. Bulkley procured the marriage license. He then escorted his intended bride to the house of Rev. Mr. Ferguson, of the Monument Methodist Episcopal Church. Leaving her there he went to the depot and met Mr. Tony Nogueiras, son of the Portuguese Minister. He had asked young Nogueiras to meet him in Baltimore, but without telling the purpose of the request. The faithful friend was on hand. Together they returned to the minister's and the ceremony was performed,
Nogueiras being the sole witness of the event, besides the minister and contracting parties. They immediately returned to Washington and rode directly to the Nogueiras mansion. Tony Nogueiras went in quest of Mr. Bulkley's brother, Barry Bulkley, who was sent to break the news to his family while the young bride returned to her home and announced her change of name to her astounded parents.
What makes the affair more remarkable is the fact that Miss Hillyer was engaged to Mr. W. L. Trenholm, son of the Controller of Currency, her trousseau being completed and the invitations ready to send out for the wedding, which was set for early in February. An intimate friend of the Bulkley family in conversation with a Post reporter last night made the following statement: "Grassie Bulkley has known Miss Hillyer since childhood, they have been intimate friends, and her parents interposed no objection at all to M. Bulkley's constant association with her. It is very reasonable to suppose that the young people were strongly attached, and that it was a love match. The engagement with Mr. Trenholm was never formally broken, but Miss Hillyer cared nothing for him, and it was impossible for her to marry him. The Trenholms have been in Washington only during this Administration, and young Trenholm made her acquaintance not longer ago than last winter. He has never lived here, but has resided in Philadelphia where he is an assistant bank examiner, coming to this city occasionally to visit his fiancee. There had been some quarrel, I think, between Miss Hillyer and Trenholm; at any rate, she would not marry him under any circumstances."
Mr. Barry Bulkley, brother of the groom, corroborated the above statement, and, speaking for his brother, said:
"My brother and his wife, while awaiting developments, have, nevertheless, decided views as to their future, should parental sanction not be forthcoming.
"Let me say one thing for my brother," continued he; "there was neither force, fraud, nor undue influence in this marriage. The young lady acted of her own free will and accord, and the marriage is as legal and binding as though it had received full parental sanction."
The father of the young Benedict, Dr. J. W. Bulkley, lives at 805 Twelfth Street, is one of the longest-established practicing physicians in Washington, is president of the District Medical Association, and stands high in his profession. The family is one of the oldest in America, being lineally descended from the Rev. Peter Bulkley, who came over in the Mayflower. Ex- Lieutenant Governor Bulkley, of Connecticut, is a connection. The doctor's sons are fine looking young men. Mr. Barry Bulkley is first assistant instructor at the Emerson Institute of this city. Mr. Robert Bulkley is with Crane & Parris, and the hero of the hour is, as stated, a clerk in the bank of Washington.
Judge Hillyer, the father of the bride, was seen at his home, 2121 Massachusetts Avenue, last night by a Post reporter.
"I consider," said he, "that undue influence was used to induce my daughter to take the rash step. There had been nothing between her and this young man but what you might call schoolmate friendship. He and some of his companions persuaded her to accompany him to Baltimore and go through the ceremony. She is of legal age, having just passed her 18th birthday. It is useless to deny that the ceremony took place but as soon as she returned home and thought of what she had done she repudiated her action, and says that she will have nothing to do with young Bulkley. Steps will be immediately taken to contest the legality of the ceremony, and have it set aside. They are no more to each other than though they had never met.
But the matter will keep society agog for weeks. This is the third elopement within a month, and the season is not fairly open. When the lightning will strike next cannot even be conjectured.
"Gad," said one of a group of swells in the lobby of Albaugh's last night, "where is this thing going to stop? Two or three couples in a month! Demme, if I don't think I know what's at the bottom of it all. It's economy, me boy. No big trousseaux, no expensive wardrobes, no heavy traveling expenses, no swell wedding; just a license and a five dollar note for the parson, and it's just as hard a knot as can be made. A couple of winters ago there was a young couple eloped here in this city. The girl was half-way down the ladder and got scared and commenced to whimper, when her mother stuck her head out of the window and whispered: ‘Don't be afraid, Dodie, I'll steady the ladder.' You see, the old man had been hard hit in the wheat market, and it saved a lot of expense to let the girl slide out of the second-story window."