This is one of my favorite stories. It was published in the Chicago Tribune, December 16, 1906.
The farms of the Mercer's and the Moffitt's lay adjoining with the Raccoon creek flowing between. They were connected by a small walking bridge near Charleston, W. Virginia. When William Mercer was 19, he took his first bride, Miss Jennie Moffitt, who was 16 to the altar. In a short time, he was a widower through consumption which seems to have been an unfortunate inheritance of the Moffitt family.
Then came his marriage to Miss Ada Moffitt, Catherine Moffitt and Missouri Moffitt, each in succession and each dying of the same disease that carried off their oldest sister. Three years ago, Miss Anna Moffitt, the last of the family, became Mrs. Mercer, having jilted a young, handsome, and prosperous businessman to wed her quadruple brother-in-law. She was 26 and her husband was 47. On September 3, 1905, there was a reception at the Mercer homestead in celebration of her three years of married life.
Mrs. Anna Moffitt Mercer is extremely handsome, being a dark, glowing, muscular girl of the the mountaineer type, and looking exceptionally healthy. Mr. Mercer has eight children by his various marriages, two of whom are near their stepmother's age and bright, attractive girls.
The well trodden path between the two farms crossed a rustic bridge, and it was here, it is said, William Mercer asked the momentous question which ended in each of the girls becoming a Mrs. Mercer. Mr. Mercer is a genial, cheerful, joyful man, and, in spite of his having lost so many wives seems to take a great deal of comfort and delight in his present spouse. In fact his successive wives all said as the time of their death drew near that he was a good a man and as loving a husband as woman could want.
The neighborhood for awhile took a great deal of amusement in talking about Mercer's marrying the Moffitt family. One inquisitive old mountaineer ventured to ask him: Why don't you marry somebody besides a Moffitt, Billy, just for a change, ye know? Billy, looked thoughtfully at the white house across the creek and munching a straw said: I ain't never thought much about it. Pears like, though, if ye want a reason, it's kin' o' handy to over there an' git a wife. I ain't got much time to go chasin' roun' in the mountains for one. The inquirer said no more about it.
"That the present wife is not jealous of his former better halves is shown by the fact that the crayon portraits of Mercer's four wives hang in a row on the sitting room wall beside her own. It makes me feel at home, she said, to see the pictures of my sisters about, and I wouldn't be without them."