“Quite Pretty” Wife Catches “Fairly Good-Looking” Husband With Woman

A scene was enacted just outside the National Theatre last night at the close of the performance which may end in a divorce suit.

Stories like this are always amusing. With a headline of “How She Caught Her Husband” in The Washington Post, how could we not delve deeper? This was printed in the September 25th, 1886 edition of the newspaper.

A scene was enacted just outside the National Theatre last night at the close of the performance which may end in a divorce suit. There was no excitement because it was enacted so quickly and so adroitly that probably not a dozen people in the crowd noticed it.

A gentleman who lives on Capitol Hill left his home last evening, saying that he was going down town. Soon after his departure, his wife while arranging his discarded clothes shook a paper out of his pocket. She picked it up, opened it and found a note from a woman of easy virtue accepting an invitation to go to the National Theatre with her husband. The couple have been married but a short time, and are in comfortable circumstances, and at first the young wife could scarcely believe the evidence of her husband’s duplicity and unfaithfulness. After the first outburst of anger and tears she related the story of her discover to her brother-in-law and his wife, her sister, and it was determined to catch the delinquent.

How she caught her husband
Newspaper headling

This is where the story gets interesting … and good. It continues below. And appropriately includes a Herdic cab (remember earlier this week?).

Accordingly the indignant wife and her two relatives hired a herdic cab and, driving down to the theatre, waited patiently until the end of the last act. The first few people passed unnoticed, but all at once the wife caught sight of her husband coming down the steps talking sweetly to the girl leaning on his arm. Jumping quickly from the cab she pushed her way through the crowd and with a torrent of indignant words and many expletives for the benefit of the girl, seized her husband and dragged him towards the cab. The girl, a diminutive woman, dressed in black and wearing a black bonnet, uttered a scream as soon as she saw the wife, and hurried off towards Thirteenth street.

The 1885 National Theatre building is seen in this photograph from about 1918
The 1885 National Theatre building is seen in this photograph from about 1918. Source: Library of Congress via Streets of Washington

I’m sure you can imagine what a scene this caused. It’s hard to believe that few noticed it. It did after all end up in the newspaper.

Meanwhile, the brother-in-law, who had followed the wife from the cab, had secured the disengaged arm of the husband and assisted in dragging him towards the vehicle. “Get into the cab quickly or I’ll get this policeman to arrest you,” said the brother-in-law sternly. In this ignominious manner the husband was bundled into the cab, the other parties followed and the cab drove rapidly away.

Of the two most interested parties in this little rehearsed drama the husband was a fairly good-looking young man, wearing a dark cutaway coat. The wife was of medium height, quite pretty and was dressed in a gray suit.

How great and tabloid of the time to close with how the husband and wife appeared. Times never change. This was like the TMZ article of the time.

Don’t forget to check out other crazy stories like this, including the nutty husband who drowned his wife in Georgetown, or the Capitol Hill wife murdered by her drunk lover. History is full of crazy tales like these.


More from Ghosts of DC

Healy Hall in 1940

Healy Hall in Brick? … Nevermind

Is this right? We need your help. We’re doing a little pre-posting for the next week and came across this fascinating photo. It appears to

Great Map of Takoma Park in 1907

Look how amazing this old map is. You can see the outlines of proposed roads in and around Takoma. Source: Library of Congress

Aerial view of a traffic jam, 14th Street and the Mall, Washington, D.C., Apr. 1937. 30-N-37-1360A. (National Archives)

Ugh, Traffic Sucks

Think your commute home today will suck? Check this out … Constitution Avenue circa 1937. By the way, do you know why it’s called Constitution

Capitol Dome under construction in 1860

Capitol Dome Under Construction

Here is an old photograph from around 1860, showing the Capitol Dome under construction. I don’t think I’ve seen or posted this one before.

Fairlawn real estate advertisement from the Washington Herald - July 22nd, 1911

To See Fairlawn Means a Lot

This is an advertisement for new development and real estate across the Eastern Branch, near Anacostia. Click on the ad for a closer look at

Trump Hotel in 1919

Here is the lovely Old Post Office Pavilion, currently the Trump Hotel on Pennsylvania Ave.