The Scandalous Saga continued — Sharon Takes the Stand

Ex-Senator of Nevada William Sharon finally took the stand to tell his story late in May of 1884. Sarah Althea Hill, he said, had first come to his office in August, 1880, ostensibly seeking investment advice. He told her that he did not give such advice, but they chatted amiably for about a half an hour. He denied ever dictating or seeing a marriage contract and he also repudiated the “Dear Wife” letters. He said he may have written some of these, but the word “wife” was a forgery.

 

He gave his version of how their relationship developed.

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Daily Alta California, 27 May 1884

William Sharon had no hesitation in presenting himself as both a hard-headed businessman and a cold-hearted lover. As far as he was concerned, the liaison was a strictly financial transaction. He was completely cynical about the business. When asked why he thought she would respond to his offer he said:

DAC18840528.1.1-1074-6291-949-167-474w

Daily Alta California, 28 May 1884

Eventually he tired of Allie’s requests for additional money and her emotional antics. She was interfering with business and taking liberties. So he had no qualms about discarding her and moving on. But she was not so easily gotten rid of.

One time she climbed over a transom to get into his rooms and fell in a heap on the floor. He told her, “I wish you had broken your d — d neck.” Another time she hid in a closet, giving his Chinese manservant Ki a fright. He finally had to pay her off with money to finance a trip East to study acting.

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Daily Alta California, 28 May 1884

At the end of his testimony, Sharon had to admit that he was “habitually free with women” and that he had had other mistresses, but Allie was the only one he had introduced to some of his friends and family, or invited to his mansion at Belmont, or had allowed to live in his hotel.  With that the case rested until July, when the judge would give his ruling.

About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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