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True Crime in 1831, Part 6 - Mrs. Lucretia Esposimina

Updated: Jan 30, 2021

A few days after William's death, Lino became very attentive to the family. He went to Lucretia and said "Lino has one heart-Lino never forgets a favour-if you will marry me, I will take you to Mexico, and my mother will never forget what you have done - she has gold mine there, and you shall share a part of them." Lucretia was surprised, and said "Lino, would it not be more proper for you to marry my daughter Mary?" He said, "No, it is you, Mrs. Chapman, that I wish to possess-it was you that took me in your door, not knowing who I was." Lucretia mentioned the impropriety of marrying so shortly after her husband's death. Lino declared that William, on his death bed, took his hand and said he desired him to be a father to his children. Besides, he said, it would be thought nothing of in Mexico. After all, his eldest sister, when but 20 years of age, was married to a gentleman who was 60 years of age. He told her it was honor, it was gratitude he owed to William, as well as her, for kindnesses they had bestowed on him, that induced him to offer her his hand. Also, being married would make it easier to travel together.

So, nine days after William's funeral, Lucretia and Lino traveled to New York. On 5 July 1831, Lino Amalia Esposimina and Lucretia Chapman were married by Benjamin Onderdonk, a Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in State of New York. After the ceremony, Lucretia headed north to Syracuse to ask her sister Mercy Winslow Green to come back and help run the school while they were gone. Lino headed south to take care of the family and the home of which he was now the master. For, in 1831, a married woman had no real possessions. Everything she "owned" (property, wages, personal items) belonged to the husband.

While waiting for the stage at Albany at 10 o'clock in the evening, Lucretia wrote a quick letter to her new husband:

My Dear Lena,

Very pleasant are the sensations which vibrate through my soul, when thus addressing you ("My dear Leno,") for the first time to call you mine! and till death shall separate us! how pleasing, how delightful! and you, dearest Leno, so young, so fond, so noble, and so truly grateful to your Lucretia! my soul would gladly dwell upon you till the time for writing would pass away.... I remain yours truly, and for the first time have the pleasure to subscribe myself LUCRETIA ESPOSIMINA

During her absence, two gentleman, whom Lino styled the Minister and one of his Secretaries, came to the house. He desired to introduce them to Mary, but she excused herself, not being dressed. He then asked her to go to the store and get some refreshments. While she was gone, Lino took a trunk that had belonged to William, filled it full of books and gave it to the two men.

When Lucretia returned home with her sister, the children told her that their father's trunk was gone. She questioned Lino about it and he said he had given a few books as a memento of Mr. Chapman, and that the trunk would be returned again. She noticed that her silver spoons were gone also. Lino said a black woman had taken them and that he had followed her to Philadelphia a few days after, and accused the woman of it - she was much confused, acknowledged it, and paid him for them in part, promising to pay the rest.

On Monday, 18 July 1831, Lino went to Philadelphia and took little Lucretia with him. The plan was the two of them would then travel to Baltimore to visit Lino's elusive friend, Casanova, who was very sick. Lino left her at the LeBruns all day. Lino said he went the house of Colonel Cuesta and found a letter there informing him that Casanova had died and was entrusted with the administration of his will. Since he might have to stay longer in Baltimore than expected, due to this unforeseen accident, he sent little Lucretia home with a letter to Lucretia explaining the situation. He stated he had not sold the carriage and horse yet but had left them in the care of a friend until his return without incurring any expenses whatever. He included much flowery prose, ending it with "I remain your invariable and constant faithful Beloved Husband."

Before he had left for Philadelphia, Lino asked Lucretia for her watch. She told him he already had William's. Lino said he wished to have her watch as a memento of regard. He then took a chain and presented it to her, saying, "this is a chain that a friend of mine gave me. I give it to you in return for the watch-when I come back you shall have it." When he went, he took all the money in the house and even a little that Lucretia's sister Mercy had.

Lino sent a letter the next day from Baltimore, letting Lucretia know that he arrived safely. His intention was to proceed to arrange the affairs of his friend and on Saturday morning he would be back home. He was going to receive the money which his friend had left for him, amounting to about $45,000.

When Lucretia wrote a letter on 20 July, she expressed longing for her kind, sincerely beloved Lino and the despair she felt about being separated from him. She spoke about how much the children missed his as well, mourning his absence. "If I had money by me, I should be almost tempted to follow you to Baltimore immediately....My heart is most sincerely and affectionately devoted to you, my beloved Husband."

President Andrew Jackson

As it would turn out, Lino ran into issues in Baltimore, as he related in his next letter to Lucretia, written on 25 July. He had proceeded to transact the business of settling his friend's affairs. However, when he presented the letters and Casanova's will to the authorities, he found out that he could not, consistently with the law be allowed to take possession of the property. So he immediately set out for Washington to present himself to his excellency, President Andrew Jackson, for the purpose of asking assistance at his hands. Lino was happy to say that President Jackson personally gave him hopes of obtaining possession of his friend's goods. But he found it necessary to delay in Washington for some time since his health was bad. He then ended the letter with more words of love, telling Lucretia that "there is neither day nor night of pleasure for me when away from you." He also asked her to "Embrace my children for me with all the tenderness of a devoted father-give much love to our dear sister Mrs. Green. Embrace her for me with much affection."

His letter on 26 July was simply an outpouring of emotion from the beginning line of "It is impossible to resist the burning volcano which is enkindled in my breast, which encreases with miserable absence from you." Things may not have been going as badly as he wrote, for in the middle of the letter he told her "Trust me I shall soon be reunited to you, if heaven should permit me to recover from some little indisposition which I have at present from the waters I drank here. The lady of the house has been kind to me in alleviating my illness." One wonders if Lucretia was grateful that he was receiving such attention.

The next day, however, the letter Lino wrote "Who would believe my dear Lucretia, that one possessed of so much riches, should find himself surrounded by such miserable poverty? My misfortunes have no end, my disappointments at every step, persecute me...Picture to thyself, my love, thy companion in a strange city, without money and friends!...And the only consolation which I meet with here is that which is ministered to me by a young gentleman of this city (of nineteen years) and his amiable mother....But as soon as Heaven permits me, I will hasten to your tender caresses."

His misery continued in the letter he wrote the next day, 28 July. One concern he expressed was that he had not received a letter from her in many days. "If you do this to murder me, I suffer for you and I suffer willingly all the misery you can heap upon me." He proceeded to tell her that he had walked the third time to visit the President of the United States, in company with a Duke of England who Lino promised to present to him, his beloved Lucretia, as he had expressed a great desire to meet her. The friend of his and his mother were also anxious to be acquainted with her.

While Lino was busy in Washington, Lucretia was not idle either. After she received his letter of the 19th written upon his arrival in Baltimore, her anxiety was so great and, fearing he was sick, she took a seat in the mail coach at 3 o'clock in the morning. Without a cent in her house, her intention was to follow him to Baltimore if she did not find a letter from him in Philadelphia. She was not prepared for what she would find when she stepped off the coach.


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