In a column devoted to news from south Lima, the Lima Times-Democrat reported Nov. 15, 1900, that U.S. Army Private Charles E. Fuller had arrived home the previous evening after a seven-week journey from the Philippines.
Fuller brought with him a “large trunk filled with relics and production of the Islands” as well as tales of “his personal experiences” in the Army, which, the newspaper wrote, “are quite interesting and adventuresome, as well.”
Although fighting continued to suppress an insurrection in the Philippines that broke out after the Spanish-American War, Fuller told the newspaper, “There are no serious battles taking place,” and “Many of the boys in blue are homesick to step foot on the States and mingle once more with the natives, their former acquaintances.”
Fuller’s Army tales, which the Times-Democrat didn’t elaborate upon, would have a difficult time topping the “interesting and adventuresome,” not to mention bizarre, tale that unfolded a little more than 20 years later when Fuller’s 21-year-old son married a 13-year-old neighbor. Lima’s Republican-Gazette newspaper, which covered the story extensively, dubbed them the “child bride and her boy husband.”
Fuller was born Dec. 28, 1872, in Ohio, the son of John and Isabella Fuller. Around 1897, he married Mary E. Fuller. In June 1899, when he was in his late 20s, Fuller enlisted in the Army, serving in the 4th Infantry Division. Shortly after his enlistment, his four-month-old son Clarence died of pneumonia. The Fullers would have five more sons, Ursa in 1901, Veda in 1904, Deva in 1906, Siva in 1909 and Eugene in 1919. A daughter, Lema, was born in 1913.
The 1903 city directory shows Fuller operated a bicycle repair shop which, by 1908, had become a general repair shop in the basement of a building at 214 N. Main St.
“C.E. Fuller can repair your bicycle, cut and thread your gas or water pipe, file your saw, gum your cross-cut saw, sharpen your clippers, ax, hatchet, or any kind of tool, make any shape or kind of butcher knife you may want,” read a classified ad from the Lima Morning Star and Republican-Gazette from January 1911.
Fuller would later move his repair shop to a building on South Main Street just north of the bridge over the Ottawa River and then, finally, to a shop just south of the bridge. All those years, his name appeared only in small ads advertising his services, until the late summer and early fall of 1923.
On Aug. 28, 1923, in a ceremony in Augusta, Kentucky, 21-year-old Ursa Fuller wed 13-year-old Rose Kreshmer. The parents of the bride, who had disappeared from her home several days earlier, notified police when she and Ursa Fuller returned to Lima from Kentucky. Both Rose and Ursa would later say they had been told in Kentucky to say that the bride was over 21.
Under the headline “Youth, Brothers, Battle Police to Guard Bride of 13,” the Republican-Gazette recounted what happened next in a front-page story on Aug. 31.
“After her young husband and his two brothers battled police in a vain attempt to keep her in their home, Rose Kreshmer, 13, No. 1331 S. Union street, was in the custody of juvenile officers Friday. There she wept and pleaded that she be not returned to her parents and a 38-year-old boarder she says they wanted her to marry,” the newspaper wrote.
“The husband, Ursa Fuller, 21 years old, No. 1205 S. Main Street, and his brother Veda, 19, were held at the police station, charged with resisting an officer. Deva Fuller, a still younger brother, had been turned over by the police to the Juvenile Court,” the newspaper added. “The girl’s disappearance was reported Sunday. A supplemental report was later added by Mike Kiss, the amorous boarder, who had been keeping track of her, that she was last seen with Ursa Fuller, her ‘fellow’ despite family pressure.”
According to the Republican-Gazette’s account Deva, had initiated “the unexpected attack” on the two police officers at the Fuller house and was joined by Ursa and Veda. After the skirmish, with the three brothers and Rose in custody, the police headed for the station “followed at a short distance by the elder Fullers.” At Main and Third streets the “elder Kreshmers” met the procession and “Mrs. Kreshmer and Mrs. Fuller fought a pitched battle” before being separated.
Over the next several days, with the Fuller brothers released on bond and the family denying there had been an attack at all, Ursa attempted “to gain possession of his child bride … through habeas corpus action,” the Republican-Gazette reported Sept. 5. The Kreshmers, meanwhile, vowed they would have the marriage annulled while their daughter faced a charge of delinquency in juvenile court.
On Sept. 12, Ursa’s attempt to “gain possession of his bride” was rejected in Common Pleas Court while, in Juvenile Court, the judge said the charge of delinquency against the bride might be dropped “if Rose decides to give up her husband,” the Republican-Gazette wrote.
“Rose declares her parents wanted her to marry a boarder at their home, who is 40 years old. To escape him, she said, she married young Fuller,” the newspaper reported.
For their part, the Kreshmers denied this story, saying the man was “waiting for an older girl to come over from ‘the old country.’”
The case, and the marriage, effectively ended in early October.
“’Finis’ was written Tuesday in the court of appeals to one of the most sensational and bitterly fought cases which the sedate judges of the Allen County courts have been asked to decide in many months,” the Republican-Gazette wrote Oct. 3. “The end came when a child bride rejected her boy husband. She will be reunited with her mother and father. Her marriage will be annulled. She will have the opportunity to continue her education.”
The end came at a hearing in the Court of Appeals.
“Asked by the judges of the Court of Appeals if she wanted to return to her husband, Rose unexpectedly declared she did not,” the newspaper wrote. “And thus ended the habeas corpus proceeding through which Young Fuller was trying to regain possession of his bride. If Rose didn’t want to go back to him, there wasn’t any use for argument.”
By the time Ursa Fuller learned his marriage was ending, his brother Veda Fuller was in prison. On Sept. 17, The Lima News reported, “Veda Fuller, 19, 1205 S. Main St., member of the ‘yards’ gang, convicted of looting B&O cars, was sentenced to serve an indeterminate period in Mansfield reformatory. … He took part in the battle waged between police and the Fuller brothers when officers went to their home to take the girl away.”
Veda Fuller died at Lima’s City Hospital in July 1927 after a month-long illness. He was 23. Ursa Fuller married Clara May Joseph in 1926. He died in 1946 at the age of 45.
Charles Fuller repaired bicycles, sharpened saws and, later, worked as a cobbler, into the mid-1930s. He died at the age of 66 in January 1939.
This feature is a cooperative effort between the newspaper and the Allen County Museum and Historical Society.
See past Reminisce stories at limaohio.com/tag/reminisce
Reach Greg Hoersten at [email protected].