Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Attractive Young Miss Wahab and the Mystery of the Missing Piece Goods

I came across an interesting letter in the files of B.B. Winborne.

It was written almost exactly a hundred years ago, and I thought you might enjoy reading it:

Small, MacLean & McMullan
Attorneys at Law
Washington North

March 9, 1909

Hon. B.B. Winborne,
Murfreesboro NC

Dear Sir ---

We are in receipt of your favor of the 7th, in which you state that you will be glad to represent Miss Hattie Wahab in the event she is arrested upon the warrant sworn out against her by the Pittman's. Since we wrote you our last letter, we have heard nothing further as to an arrest being made, but do not think that the warrant has yet been sent to Hyde County or if this has been done, we have heard nothing of it, although we instructed our client to advise us by telephone as soon as he ascertained that the warrant had in fact been issued. For this reason, it is possible that the prosecution will not be started, and that there will be nothing for us to do in the
matter in such an event. However, we desire to give you a somewhat detailed statement of the matter so that you may be fully informed beforehand, and as you suggest, use your influence towards having the matter ended before the prosecution is begun.

During last fall Mrs. Pittman employed Miss Wahab to work with her as a milliner. At the time of making the contact of employment, Miss Wahab was working for a firm in Baltimore, who make it their business to train young ladies for positions as milliners and get them a job after they have been instructed. The contract of employment was made by Miss Wahab, Mrs. Pittman and the Manager of this institution. Miss Wahab went to Aulander and worked with Mrs. Pittman for two or three months, or until a few weeks before the time she contracted to work would expire. About this time the relation between Mrs. Pittman and Miss Wahab became unpleasant on account of some accusations made by Mrs. Pittman against Miss Wahab in connection with some young men of the town. Thereafter she accused Miss Wahab of taking from her store certain pieces of goods or remnants, about five or six pieces. Miss Wahab states that Miss Pittman locked her in her house and held her there for some time after this accusation was made, and demanded that she pack her trunk and leave town without letting the people of the town know what had become of her. This Miss Wahab refused to do and was held in confinement in Mrs. Pittman's house until she was taken away through the efforts of Dr. Harrell and Mr. Dunning . These two gentlemen were very kind to Miss Wahab and interested themselves in her protection. They seem to think that she was unjustly accused and that the accusations were made against her for some sinister purpose. Miss Wahab went to Dr. Harrell's house and stayed there for a few days, having in the meanwhile wired to her father in Hyde County to come to her rescue. The writer went with Mr. Wahab to Aulander in response to this telegram and when we arrived there, found that Miss Wahab was staying at Dr. Harrell's and that her trunk was held by Mrs. Pittman, who refused to give the same up after being demanded by right.

After Mr. Wahab had brought his daughter back, suit was instituted in the Superior Court of Hyde County by Mr. Wahab and his daughter against Mr. and Mrs. Pittman for false imprisonment, slander, etc. and in this suit arrest and bail proceedings were issued and served on the male defendant. Bond was given by him and the proceedings now stand in that shape. After that time, claim and delivery was taken out in this action pending in Hyde County for the recovery of the trunk. After considerable correspondence with the Sheriff of Bertie County, and some confusion in regard thereto, the trunk finally turned up here in Washington, being sent by express in care of us. When the trunk was opened in Hyde County, it appeared that the goods claimed by defendants had been taken out, and that the trunk had been inspected by someone unknown to us.

Miss Wahab states that the goods claimed by Mrs. Pittman were given to her by certain friends who worked with her in the store in Baltimore, whose names she gives and states that she can prove this fact by them. She is about twenty years old and quite an attractive young lady.

We did not know her personally before this occurrence but her people are of the highest standing and regarded in their County as having the highest sense of honor. Mr. Wahab was at one time Clerk of the Superior Court of Hyde County and a very good old man. However, they are people of very moderate means. The purpose of the suit brought in Hyde County was merely to vindicate Miss Wahab from the accusations made against her. At any time Mr. Wahab would have been willing to settle this suit upon a full and fair retraction being made by the defendant and his actual loss compensated. Messrs. Mann & Jones, of Swan Quarter, appear with us, representing the plaintiffs in this case. When the writer was at Aulander, he found that the sympathies of the people generally were altogether with Miss Wahab and most people seems unwilling to place any credit in the charges made by Mrs. Pittman and freely stated that they regarded her as unworthy of belief. We sincerely hope that the prosecution will not be undertaken, but in the event it is, we are glad that you will co--operate with us, as we are particularly desirous of doing all in our power to vindicate Miss Wahab. We will advise you as soon as we hear anything further about the warrant. In the meanwhile, we will be glad to hear from you.

Yours very truly,
Small, MacLean
& McMullan

I wonder what happened to the "attractive and young" Miss Wahab? Or Mrs. Pittman ?

Tune in next time and I'll try to have some of the answers for you.