Of a Clarksburg Young Lady While a Passenger on a Monongahela River Boat.
The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, May 21, 1898
Special Dispatch to the Intelligencer.
MORGANTOWN, W. Va., May 20.–Captain Hudson, of the steamboat Nellie Hudson, plying between here and Pittsburgh, reported upon his arrival here this morning, the strange disappearance of Miss Minnie Holmes, one of his passengers whose home is in Clarksburg. She had been visiting at Braddock and took the boat in Pittsburgh yesterday morning. A few hours out of Pittsburgh she was missed. Every place of concealment about the boat was searched, but only her baggage was found.
Several passengers report queer actions on her part, which lead the boat crew to believe that she committed suicide. She was twenty-five years of age, and was the daughter of M. G. Holmes, one of the best known men of West Virginia.
Miss Holmes’ Disappearance
The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer., May 24, 1898, pg. 2
Special Dispatch to the Intelligencer.
MORGANTOWN, W. Va., May 23.–Workmen have been engaged since Saturday dragging the Monongahela River in the hope of recovering the body of Miss Minnie Holmes, of Clarksburg, who so mysteriously disappeared from the steamboat Nellie Hudson, on its up trip Friday, but late this evening had found no trace of the body. The family still refuse to believe that she committed suicide, but have found no probable reason for her disappearance, although they have several detectives at work on the case.
Still Unsolved is the Deep Mystery
Surrounding the Disappearance of Minnie Holmes, of this City, From a Monongahela River Steamboat.
Started for Home from Pittsburgh on the Steamer Nellie Hudson and Cannot be Found.
Hat, Gloves and Parcels Left on Board. Relatives Still Searching for Clues.
The Clarksburg Telegram., May 27, 1898
Last Friday morning Mr. M. G. Holmes, of this city, received a message from Pittsburgh stating that his daughter, Miss Minnie Holmes, who had started from that city to Morgantown on the steamboat Nellie Hudson, was missing and that it was feared that she had fallen overboard. Mr. Hornor Davis left immediately for Pittsburgh, and spent several days in that vicinity trying to trace her movements, but up to the time of going to press no definite information as to her strange disappearance had been obtained.
On Thursday, May 5, Miss Holmes left her home in this city to pay a visit to her uncle, Ewing McCleary, of Jefferson, Green County Pa. She went by rail to Morgantown and took the boat to Rices Landing, where she was met by her uncle and taken to his home, about four miles back from the river.
She remained with him until Monday, when she went to Pittsburgh on the Nellie Hudson to visit her cousin, May Swearingen, daughter of George Swearingen, a prominent merchant of Dunbar, Pa., who is attending the Pennsylvania College for women in that city.
The Pittsburgh Times says that when the boat arrived in Pittsburgh Monday she sent the porter to the Central hotel to inquire for a telegram. The telegram had been delivered there, but was refused by the clerk, as he had no notification of Miss Holme’s coming. The boat porter went back to the boat, got an order for the telegram and got it from the office of the Postal Company.
After reading the message, Miss Holmes applied to the clerk of the boat for a room, and remained there all night.
She left the boat early Tuesday morning and got breakfast at the Central hotel. Nothing is known of her whereabouts from Tuesday morning until Thursday morning, when she boarded the Nellie Hudson and took passage for Rices Landing. About a half hour before the boat left Miss Holmes went away and brought a number of small articles for her little nieces at Clarksburg. She was seen on the boat about the time it arrived at Homestead, and and was missing before it got to Duquesne. Her hat, gloves, umbrella, purse, and other parcels were all found on the boat and delivered to her uncle, Mr. Mcleary, at Rices Landing.
Some of the boat people say that Miss Holmes appeared in low spirits after the boat left Pittsburgh, and was seen sitting on the forward deck crying bitterly.
The presents for the little girls were all carefully marked with their names.
The missing woman is about 30 years old. She is tall and fair, with black hair and dark eyes. She is well educated and was employed for about four years in the Census Bureau at Washington, D. C.
Her friends say that there was no known cause for suicide. The employees of the boat say that it was almost impossible for her to have fallen overboard without being noticed.
Workmen have been engaged since last Saturday dragging the Monongahela River in the hope of recovering the body, but up to late last evening had found no trace of the missing woman. The family still refuse to believe that she committed suicide, but have found no probable reason for her disappearance, although they have several detectives at work on the case.
The news of her strange disappearance was a great shock to her many friends about town, and the sympathy of the entire community goes out to the bereaved family.
THE SAD ENDING
(left edge of article source image hard to read due to curved scan. The best effort has been made to transcribe as close an approximation as possible. — (dashes) have been used as needed to indicate missing information)
The Minnie Holmes Mystery–Rev. Chas. White Implicated.
The Clarksburg Telegram., June 10, 1898
MORGANTOWN, W. Va., June — The Minnie Holmes mystery -assing through the evolution –re there is little mystery left. — is the young woman from –rksburg who was drowned off — Monongahela river packet –e going from Pittsburg to –rgantown May 19. Rev. Mr. –rles White, pastor of the –sbyterian church at Clarksburg, is the man who was with –girl in Pittsburgh and who –stered at the Central and –chants hotels. He has said –imself, and has left Clarksburg suddenly and in disgrace.
-t the inquest over the re–ns of the girl evidence was –duced that showed there was a –ical looking man who registered at the hotel in Pittsburgh — Miss Holmes as “Charles –te and wife, city,” but it was — known then who this man — nor where he came from. –it has come to light, and to –rty of men who visitied him –is home in Clarksburg last –ht, Rev. Charles White acknowledged that he had been –h the girl at Pittsburgh and — he had registered at the –d as indicated in the published report.
–Clarksburg, when he was –fronted by a number of leading men of his congregation, — White at first denied that –ad been at Pittsburgh at all. — being pressed in the matter — acknowledged that he had met –girl there by appointment –that they were together at –hotel. He had telegraphed –he would be there.
–fter making the confession –te fled from Clarksburg and –e here, where his father resides. He was told that he would –not if he remained in Clarksburg, and he departed a ruined –, deserving all the censure –he will receive.
Charles White graduated from –University here a few years — He stood high in his class –had become a preacher of –t ability. His parents and –r live at Morgantown, and — are eminently respectable, –ed, Christian people.
There –four brothers in the family, –e of them Presbyterian –chers and the other a civil –heer, all of them graduates –e University. Charles was –l odds the brightest member –he family and was pushed hard more than the others. –s about thirty years old.
— Holmes was the organist in -hurch of which he was the –er, and in this way their acquaintance became intimate. –e was married some little –ago to Miss Ella Patton, of Clarksburg.–Cor. In Wheeling –ter.
–e above is but one of the — stories that have gone –d telling of the mysterious disappearance of Minnie Holmes. — there is some foundation –ch a weird romance is to be –red, but like many other –s that have gotten circulated through the desire of some –with a vivid imagination to — the variegated fields of –tionalism, much that has –published is a matter of –lation.
The story of the disappearance of Minnie Holmes — the boat on Monongahela –he fact that she was with — Chas. White in the city of Pittsburgh just before she left, — admitted to be true may –e facts that instead of tend– establish a mottled page –book of crime are only in –ts of a sad occurrence in -t there were no criminal in– or improper motives.
–d most of those who have –d into the affair are now in– to this latter theory. The — that the officers of the –h met last week and dismissed –v. White was not true. –was no meeting of the church officials until Wednesday night of this week and they merely referred the matter to a higher organization of the church for investigation.
Rev. White was visited by some of his friends before he left for Morgantown and his story while placing him in a very embarrassing situation certainly could not have been construed into a confession such as has been circulated. The fact that he was with the young lady in Pittsburgh, that he registered at a hotel as “Chas. White and wife,” that he did not officiate at the dead girl’s funeral and that he was assaulted on the street by her father and threatened with death together with his sudden departure are taken as foundation facts for sensational stories that will fill columns of the public press for some time to come.
Yet we are told that Rev. White persistently maintains that there never were any improper relations between himself and Miss Holmes. He defends her innocence and purity to the bitter end. He maintains that she was a devoted friend, that she did not hesitate to come to him for counsel and advice in matters that were to her of deep concern.
In fact she was a girl who had few intimate friends and in whose life there seemed to be a touch of pathos and disappointment about what, no one knows. Rev. White as her pastor was especially a favorite with her. Rev. White, as we are informed, says he was summoned to come to her assistance when she was in Pittsburgh.
He went, feeling that she was in some urgent need of assistance. When he found her, she was not in her right mind and there was nothing for him to do except to care for her as best as he could.
The registering at the hotel was done in the hurry and excitement attending his effort to find some place where he could protect her from doing violence to herself. That he wrote his proper name on the register and that there was nothing occurred that was in any way inconsistent with the honor of the unfortunate girl he sought to comfort and persuade to return home.
He thought when she started on the boat she was better and would return home without delay. The TELEGRAM reporter is also informed that the post mortem examination held by the authorities at Pittsburgh did not indicate that the girl’s life had been other than pure. The TELEGRAM sincerely hopes that there yet may appear a brighter lining to the somber cloud that this affair has thrown over our community and that the Great Searcher of human mysteries may reveal the fact as many are charitable enough now to believe, that there has been no intentional wrong doing in the actions of the parties concerned.
The Clarksburg Telegram., June 03, 1898, pg. 7
The body of Miss Minnie Holmes who disappeared from the steamer Nellie Hudson near Homestead, Pa., on May 19, was found Saturday afternoon near Morgantown. The remains were brought to this city Monday and buried at the Odd Fellows Cemetery.
Mr. J. W. Vandervort, of Parkersburg was here Monday attending the funeral of Miss Minnie Holmes.
Rev. Chas. White’s Case.
Sisterville Oil Review., July 06, 1898, pg. 2
Morgantown, W. Va., June 29.–At a called meeting of the Parkersburg Presbytery held in Fairmont last night, the relations of Rev. Charles White, who was connected with the Minnie Holmes suicide, with the Presbyterian church at Clarksburg, of which he was pastor, were dissolved. A large number of his friends in the presbytery were present, expecting he would be tried, but the presbytery postponed action until the fall meeting in Kingwood.
The Case of Rev. Charles White.
Shepherdstown Register., October 06, 1898
The Parkersburg Presbytery, in session at Kingwood, W. Va., last week, finally disposed of the case of Rev. Charles White, the deposed minister of Clarksburg, who was charged with unministerial conduct in his relations with Miss Minnie Holmes, the organist of his church, who committed suicide. Mr. White’s case was tried before the Presbytery, and he was by an almost unanimous vote indefinitely suspended from the Presbytery. Mr. White made a statement of the case, the substance of which was as follows:
Shortly after he assumed the pastorate of the church at Clarksburg he began paying Miss Holmes friendly attention, which she reciprocated, and on her part soon ripened into love. They met at first regularly only at the weekly choir practice, but soon she devised ways to meet him, and, after he removed his study to the church, she came daily to practice on the organ and sought other places to be with him.
He encouraged her feelings for him through, as he says, a spirit of vanity, but later married a young woman to whom he was engaged during these relations with Miss Holmes.
His marriage instead of checking the feelings of Miss Holmes only seemed to intensify them, and she demonstrated them to him on numerous occasions.
The matter progressed for a period of two years and culminated in her fatal visit to McKeesport, Pa. While there she telegraphed him to meet her in Pittsburgh. He did so, and confesses that they spent two days in a hotel there under the registration of man and wife, but he stoutly denies that at any time did he have criminal relations with her.
He says he spent a night in her room, he sleeping on a rug on the floor, and did this only after continuous importunities on her part and tearful entreaties, and then because he thought her mentally unbalanced and feared some bad consequences if she were left alone. He declares that at no time during their friendship did he ever have improper relations with her, but admits that he did many indiscreet things.
REV. CHARLES WHITE
Suspended From the Ministry. The Official Report.
The Clarksburg Telegram., October 07, 1898
The following is the finding of the Presbytery in the case of Rev. White;
The Rev. C. L. White, having before Presbytery accused himself of indiscretion and immorality, and he having been heard, Presbytery finds that he is guilty as so charged ;
1, of indiscreet conduct in that he permitted and encouraged intimacies with a female member of his congregation, which were wrong on the part of a married man.
2, Of immorality, (a) in that he registered at a hotel in Pittsburgh with an unmarried female as his wife, though denying all immoral conduct with her, and (b) In that on another occasion and with the same companion he registered under an assumed name.
It is therefore the judgement of the Presbytery that in view of the conduct above referred to, and in order that the honor of the church may be maintained and the interests of religion conserved, the said Rev. C. L. White be suspended from the ministry and he is hereby suspended.
The Weekly Register., October 12, 1898
Rev. Charles L. White, who was suspended from the ministry, is preparing a statement for publication, which will be ready in a day or two. He will give to the public his side of the affair which ended with the death of Miss Minnie Holmes, and his suspension from the ministry.
Sisterville Oil Review., October 12, 1898
REV. WHITE’S STORY.
In Regard to the Circumstances of His Suspension From the Ministry.
Morgantown, W. Va., Oct. 7.– Rev. Charles L. White, late of the Presbyterian church in Clarksburg, this State, comes out in a lengthy statement following his suspension from the ministry, by the Parkersburg Presbytery last week.
Of his meeting with Miss Holmes at a Pittsburgh hotel, he said: “I found her possessed with the idea of taking her own life. With her in such a state of mind, I pursued the only course that would prevent her doing so.
She threatened to end it if I left her or tried to inform any one about her. All my efforts to get her to return home or to take her to her relatives were of no avail.
And it was not until the second morning that I could induce her to promise to return to her relatives. She then said “I have come out of my spell of insanity and see clearly what I ought to be, and will take the best of care of myself.”
“She also expressed her gratitude to me, saying, “Mr. White, you have been so kind and good to me.”
The two nights I was with her, I watched her and cared for her like a brother, having the utmost confidence in her pure and virtuous character.
And had I not a clear conscience in this regard, I never could have gone through this terrible ordeal which has come upon me. Of course there is room to cavil for those who would like to doubt, but God knows this is the truth.”
Accompanying the statement is an explanatory note from the committee of Parkersburg Presbytery, explaining the charges confessed to by Mr. White, as follows:
“The immorality, with which the said Rev. C. L. White charged himself, consisted in registering one night at a hotel in Pittsburgh with an unmarried female as man and wife, and on the succeeding night at another hotel under an assumed name, though denying for both nights all immoral conduct.”
Rev. Chas. White
Makes a Statement Over His Own Signature.
The Clarksburg Telegram., October 14, 1898
I am well aware that the long suffering public has had enough of my affairs within the past four months. But I think it will also testify that I have never yet written a word in explanation of the sad affair with which I have been connected.
I was fully determined the first of last June to call my church people together and give them a full explanation of everything. But I was strongly advised against doing so, for fear it would make a division in the church.
I would still keep silent, were it nor for the fact that friends here and elsewhere most urgently demand that , after waiting so long, at least, for my statement before the Presbytery, be made known.
In my statement before that body I confessed to two things: (1) Indiscretions, (2) An act of immorality, which consisted solely in registering as I did. This compromised the whole of my statement at that time, whatever else may have been reported.
Under the head of indiscretions which extended only over a period of about five or six months it should be known that they consisted in six interviews which I had alone with Miss Holmes, and in a couple of notes written to her at times when she seemed greatly perplexed and troubled.
With reference to these interviews, three of them were at the residence of her parents, as she had sent me word each time, asking me to come there and help here in practicing some church music. The other three were in my study at the church, and were entirely without any appointment, or prearrangement by me.
Under the second head, the word “immorality” in my confession, applies to nothing more than the way I registered, and should be qualified so as to be clearly understood by all.
The act of so registering is generally understood to be done for an immoral purpose. The right or wrong, of such an act, however, depends on the motive with which it is done. I, myself, so acted with no other motive, or intention, than that of saving a life. I went to Pittsburgh on business for myself, and met her there as I had promised, at her own request. I found her possessed of the idea of taking her life which she had often before expressed a desire to do.
With her in such a state of mind, I pursued the only course which occurred to me at the time would prevent her doing so, as she threatened constantly to end it, if I left her, or tried to inform any one about her. All my efforts to get her to return to her home with me, or to take her to her relatives were of no avail.
And it was not until the second morning that I could induce her to promise to return to her relatives.
She then said “I have come out of my spell of insanity and see clearly what I ought to be, and will take the best of care of myself.” She also expressed her gratitude to me, saying : “Mr. White, you have been so kind and good to me.” The two nights I was with her, I watched her and cared for her like a brother, having the utmost confidence in her pure and virtuous character. And had I not a clear conscience in this regard, I never could have gone through this terrible ordeal which has come upon me.
In the record of Presbytery, the second registering is worded: “On an other occasion.” There was no other occasion, except the night following the first, and that is what the Presbytery meant.
On that night, all the conditions remaining unchanged, I registered as stated. Also, in that record, the denial of immoral conduct is not placed so as to include both nights, as it should have been. The committee of Presbytery, as in an explanatory note published here, sets forth its correction of these errors. In the absence of any other witness, I have thought best to refrain from any further explanation.
Of course there is room to cavil for those who would like to doubt. But God knows this is the truth of the matter. He also knows my sorrow and contrition for every wrong I have done although unintentionally. He always judges aright, and by Him actions are weighed.
CHAS. L. WHITE.
It having been made to appear that the action of the Presbytery of Parkersburg in the case of Rev. Charles L. White has been wrongly interpreted by some to whom the knowledge of it has come, the judicial committee, to which was referred, the task of formulating the finding and verdict of Presbytery, desire herewith to say to all concerned, that the meaning and purport of the report, brought in by them may be expressed thus–and this is the interpretation which they put upon it, and upon that part of it which is in question : “The immorality–with which said Rev. C. L. White accused himself–consisted in registering one night at a hotel in Pittsburgh with an unmarried female, as man and wife–and on the succeeding night registering in the same way at another hotel under an assumed name–though denying for both nights all immoral intercourse.”
JOSEPH R. MORIFORT,
L. W. BARR.