My Ladies – Julia Beam Part III – The Groom

My Ladies – Julia Beam part 1  Introduced Julia Beam who was tarred and feathered on 17 October 1891 by a group of men in Glen Gardner, Hunterdon County. Newspapers throughout the country followed the trials with great interest.

My Ladies Julia Beam part 2 The early life of Julia Beam is examined

The Groom, Malachi or Melvin Walters of Glen Gardner
The first husband of Julia Beam was a man with the surname Walters.  It appears that his legal name was Malachi Walters, but frequently used the given name, Melvin.  He was the son of David Walters and Henrietta Space.  Following this series, I will post the analysis used to determine that Malachi, Melvin, and various names were one person.  For this post, I will use the name Melvin unless referencing a document with a specific given name as it seems to be that Melvin was the name used when he married Julia.

David and Henrietta Walters were married  24 August 1865, at the North Branch Reformed Church in Somerset County, New Jersey. (1)   The family appeared in the 1870 census in Tewksbury, Hunterdon County [Germantown], not far from the location where Melvin’s marriage to Julia occurred:

1870 Federal census

Although family relationships were not noted on the 1870 census; Malachi appeared to be the eldest of two children listed, putting his birth year at about 1866. (2)  On the 1880 census, David Walters was living in High Bridge. The family still had two children listed, and the relationships were defined. (3) By 1885, the family had moved to Lebanon Township, which at the time encompassed the modern-day Glen Gardner.  Melachi N. [Melvin] was still living at home with his parents. (4)
1880 Federal  census

1885 State census

Early Mischief
In Glen Gardner, Melvin Walters started getting into trouble with neighbors and the law.  He was about twenty years old when he made his first recorded court appearance. David Crampton raised a complaint of vice and immorality against Mell [Melvin] Walters; heard by Esquire Eyears at Humphrey’s Hotel on 27 August 1887. (5) He was fined for his transgressions, and the funds were to be taken out of his next paycheck. In September 1887 it was noted that Melvin Walters had not paid his fine; he had drawn his entire paycheck before the payment was collected from his employers.  He was bragging that he had outsmarted the courts.  The Law did catch up with him, and it was reported that he was threatened with time in jail. He paid what was due. (6)

Mrs. Almira Harrison Walters
Melvin Walters took a wife in January of 1888, a few months after this initial court case.  Almira Harrison and Melvin Walters were married in High Bridge, Hunterdon County, New Jersey. (7)

The relationship was short-lived; 4 June 1890 it was announced in the Hunterdon Republican that Melvin Walters had initiated divorce proceedings against his wife.  It should be noted that this was in the “Glen Gardner” section of the paper and not a court reporter.  A record of the divorce could not be located at the New Jersey State Archives. Couples split and remarried without following through with an official divorce; this is fairly typical for this period.   Though possible that he went out of state for a divorce it is unlikely. (8)

A Second Walk Down the Aisle
A few short months after announcing his divorce Melvin took a second wife, Julia Beam.  Julia was seventeen years old, and Melvin was about twenty-five at the time.  They were married at Lower Valley Presbyterian Church in Califon; it was noted on the marriage return that this was the groom’s second marriage.  After the attack on Julia, it was reported in some newspapers that Walters never divorced his first wife, thus claiming that he and Julia could not have been married. A ceremony was performed and registered by the church Pastor. The marriage may not have been valid, but it is likely the only person who knew that at the time was Melvin Walters.  It is doubtful that the Reverend would perform the marriage if he believed that Melvin was not free to wed.  It was even indicated in the record that this was Walter’s second marriage. (9)
Whether legally valid or not Julia Beam and Melvin Walters “married” on 20 December 1890, and they set up their home in Glen Gardner, New Jersey.  It’s interesting that he and the town would feel that it was okay to be a bigamist, discard the young woman, and yet she was viewed as the villain

Part 4 – The Marriage coming soon

1. New Jersey, County Marriages, 1682-1956,” database with images, FamilySearch ( 29 September 2018), 004541239  > image 275 of 356 p.253; New Jersey State Archives, Trenton.

2. 1870 U.S. census, Hunterdon County, New Jersey, population schedule, Tewksbury, sheet 396 (stamped), dwelling 442, family 460, David Walters; digital image,, ( : accessed 29 September 2019), citing National Archives microfilm publication M593.

3. 1880 U.S. census, Hunterdon County, New Jersey, population schedule, High Bridge, Enumeration District (ED) 84, sheet 32 (written), house number 286, family 345, David Walters; digital image,, ( accessed 8 April 2018), citing National Archives microfilm publication T9.

4. 1885 New Jersey census, Hunterdon County, New Jersey, Lebanon Township, page 11, dwelling 70, house 71, David Walters; digital image,, ( accessed 29 September 2019), citing State Census of New Jersey, 1885, New Jersey State Archives, microfilm 26.

5. “Glen Gardner,” Hunterdon Republican, 31 August 1887, page 3 column 4; microfilm 7, Hunterdon County Library, Raritan Township, New Jersey.

6. “Glen Gardner,” Hunterdon Republican, 28 September 1887, page 3 column 4; microfilm 7, Hunterdon County Library, Raritan Township, New Jersey.

7. “Married,” Hunterdon Republican, 18 January 1888, page 3, column 4; microfilm 7, Hunterdon County Library, Raritan Township, New Jersey.

8. “Glen Gardner,” Hunterdon Republican, 4 June 1890, page 3, column 3; microfilm 8, Hunterdon County Library, Raritan Township, New Jersey.

9. New Jersey, Department of Health Bureau of Vital Statistics, Marriage Certificate, W-39, (1890), Melvin N Walters and Julia Beam, SHEVS003 reel no. 77, New Jersey State Archives, Trenton.

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