Blog: DEATH COMES TO CARBON: Chapter 5, James Takes Action (8/2/22)

Chapter 5: James takes action

James decided to go talk to Grover and appeal to him man to man to stop associating with his wife. He took a gun with him, just in case. He asked Grover to accompany him home so they could form a united front to tell Grace that the affair was over and that she should be his faithful wife again. The outcome of this appeal did not have the effect James desired.

Grover told James he had no intention of ending the affair. The essence of Grover’s response, which was full of epithets and implied threats, was, “You’re just mad because she loves me more than she loves you.” She is stuck in the house day and night and says if she needs money for clothes and things, she has to get it from her father because you are too stingy. Maybe if you treated her better, you would have a better chance of getting her back. Now go away and don’t come back, or I’ll have to teach you a lesson.

James was furious. He had tried to be a gentleman about it all, but with Grover’s insults and comments about his treatment of Grace, he couldn’t take it anymore. On February 18, 1918, he filed for divorce through his lawyers, alleging cruel and inhuman treatment and naming Grover as an accomplice.

The Brazil Daily Times covered details of the divorce petition on its front page, including “Grover Jackson Named” in large letters. The newspaper shared the costume’s list of times Grace and Grover have been spotted together. The Van Sandts’ dirty laundry was out for public inspection, and it became the talk of Clay County.

The following day, the Daily Times published Grace’s denial of her husband’s accusations as “entirely false without foundation and would not have been made if her husband had not been in a bad mood”. She asked her friends not to trust the accusations until she had a chance to convince the public of her innocence. On March 1, 1918, James filed another lawsuit in Clay County Circuit Court, this one asking that Grace be evicted from their home in Carbon.

Meanwhile, Grover had another problem on his mind. The United States had entered the war raging in Europe in April 1917, and Grover was on the Clay County Draft Board’s list of men to go overseas. In October 1917, he had appealed the Council’s decision to recall him.

Grover had even requested permission from the Commission for his attorney to appeal to the Commission. This was probably a delaying tactic as the Commission had already banned professional legal representation generally. Not that Grover had a justifiable request for an adjournment, but it probably didn’t help that Dr. William Van Sandt, James’ father, was on the board.

By the time James filed for divorce, the editorial board had rejected Grover’s appeal, and Grover knew he was weeks away from getting on a ship for France. He likely viewed the publication of claims that he had broken up the Van Sandts’ marriage as another sign that the world had united against him.

Asked about the article by an acquaintance, Grover remarked, “I guess Van Sandt had put this article in the paper about me. I’m going to have to kill Van Sandt again.

Friends and admirers of Dr. Van Sandt again tuned in to Grover’s behavior and reported it to James. James took Grover’s lyrics and reputation seriously and carried his sidearm with him the entire time. One day, while James was in Brazil, he saw Grover and realized he had left his gun at home. He bought another on the spot.

In next week’s chapter, James and Grover come to blows.