Father and Mother Fight For A Child

Rev. G. Heathcote Hills and Wife Clash in the Depot at West Chester

Beatrice was the Prize

Mr. Hills Brought the Child From New York and the Mother Captured Her.

There were some lively scenes witnessed in the Pennsylvania R.R. depot at West Chester last evening when Mrs. Hills, wife of Rev. G. Heathcote Hills, who is suing for divorce, attempted and finally secured her daughter, whom the father has brought on from New York city.

WEST CHESTER, Pa., March 17. Rev. G. Heathcote Hills, rector of the fashionable Episcopal Church of the Holy Trinity , of this place, and his pretty wife, Mrs. L. Caroline Hills, whom he has sued for absolute divorce, were the actors in a personal encounter at the depot of the Pennsylvania Railroad in this place tonight, and the police of the town were called upon to quell the disturbance.

The trouble was caused by the actions of Mr. Hills, who went to New York City today and brought to this place his oldest daughter, Beatrice, who has been in the charge of her mother in that city, and the fight was over the possession of the little one.


Today Mrs Hills, accompanied by her father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. James B. Peirson, of New York City, and Bishop Whitaker, of Philadelphia, came to this place and Mrs. Hills appeared before the court in secret session for the purpose of making a denial of her alleged intimacy with Benjamin Bechtel, the former young member of the choir of the church who is now in London , where he is a member of a religious body. After  her visit to the court she went to the home of her husband, but found him absent. She then went to the home of Thomas Cheyney, an intimate friend, and a member of the choir of the church. During the day, it is supposed, Mr. Hills learned in some manner of the absence of his wife and also her parents from the home on West Eighty-first Steet, New york, and he at once took a train for that city. Arriving there he secuired possession oft he little girl and took a train for this place. In the meantime, however, Mrs. Hills received a telegram from New York, stating that Mr. Hills had been there and left with the child.


Mrs. Hills was at the depot when the 6 o'clock train from Philadelphia arrived and Mr. Hills and the little girl alighted from the platform. She at once rushed forward , grasped the child by the hand and endeavored to carry her off. Mr. Hills held tightly to the hand of the little one, but Beatrice screamed and ran for her mother, finally being allowed to depart with her. She was taken to the home of Mr. Cheyney, where mother and daughter took supper.

After the meal Mrs. Hills, accompanied by Mr. Cheyney, went to the depot for the purpose of boarding the 7.20 train for Philadelphia, where she could make connection to New York. When she arrived at the station the platform was crowded with people and Mr Hills was there, awaiting her arrival. As soon as she started down the platform, he advanced rapidly towards her, and a decidedly sensational scene followed. As her mother made an attempt to lift the little one to the platform of the car, her father grasped her by the arm. "Come Beatrice," he said, "to your father. I will care for you." "Help, help," cried the terrified woman. "Send for the police. This man is robbing me of my child. Save my little darling."


At least a hundred men and women crowded the cars and the platform, and every car window went up at the sound of the cries. Mr. Cheyney interfered and laid his hand on the shoulder of the angry husband. Mr. Hills thrust him aside and faced his wife. "I want that child," he demanded. "And you shall not have her," the woman retorted.

At his juncture bystanders interfered and the police were summoned by an employee of the depot. An officer quickly appeared on the scene, and another messenger meanwhile summoned William M. Hayes, the counsel for the woman in the divorce suit. They finally succeeded in putting an end to the trouble, but Mrs. Hills carried off her daughter in triumph.

"Judge Waddell told me today to keep the children," she said, as she retired, "and no one shall take any of them from me."

Mrs. Hills then returned to the home of Mr. Cheyney, the train having meanwhile pulled out of the station, and remained there over night. It is expected that there will be another stormy scene when she attempts to leave town in the morning.1

  • 1. Philadelphia Inquirer, 3/18/1897