A Ladies' Rumble

Mad hatter tears worshipper's chapeau in two during Sunday service.

HUMANITIES, July/August 2008, Volume 29, Number 4

An account, surely apocryphal, of local goings-on in the “Bingville Bugle,” a humor column that ran in the Washington Herald, found in Chronicling America, the NEH-supported online newspaper archives at the Library of Congress. From the March 28, 1909, issue:


Disgraceful Fight Betwixt Ladies at Church Last Sunday Morning—Fatal to One Hat—Particklers as Follers

There was a disgraSeful and scandalious scene ockurred in church service last Sunday morning at the Bingville church which shocked everybody present and filled them with consternashion in the extreme. For a while it looked as if the service would almost be broke up on the spot.

Miss Phronica Hildebrand, our fashionable dress maker, who also trims hats and indulges in milinery along with her dress making, paid a visit to the Co. seat a couple of weeks sinst in order to study the spring styles and lay in a fresh supply of millinery which she done.

While at the Co. seat Phronicia purchased what is called a pattern hat for herself which she made up her mind she would wear as a sort of advertisement for her millinery dept. as you mite say.

Last Sunday Rev. Moore had just begun to preach when Miss Phronicia with her new hat on and all rigged out in a new suit of clothes entered the church and swept down the aisle and set down in about the 5th pew back right in front of Miss Amos Hillyer, wife of our talented loryer and legal light.

Phronicia’s hat was the synocure of all eyes. Them as saw it say it was the biggest hat they ever seen on a woman’s head and they should think it would give Phronica the headake to carry it. The church was crowded and Mrs. Hillyer set just behind Phronicia and couldn't see nothing but hat. Mrs. Hillyer and Phronicia ain’t been very good friends sinst 2 years ago last winter when Phronicia trimmed a hat for Mrs. Hillyer which Mrs. Hillyer didn't like and refused to pay for it and so they ain't spoke sinst.

Mrs. Hillyer says she would just as well leaf set at home as to set in church and lissen to a sermon without being able to see the pastor. She stretched and craned from one side to the other trying to see past Phronicia’s hat until she began to get stiff neck. Then she whispered to Mrs. Lem Brown, who set beside her, loud enuff for Phronicia to hear. “I should think she would take off the ridicklus thing so a body could see,” but Phronicia never let on she heard it.

Finally Mrs. Hillyer leaned over and whispered to Phronicia, “Will you kindly remove your hat, Madam?” Phronicia turned around and gave her a cold stare and hissed back, “No, I wouldn’t remove my hat for nobody, let alone you.”

What follered almost beggars desckripshion. Mrs. Hillyer grabbed the hat with both hands and pulled it offen Phronicia’s head and throwed it into the aisle on the floor. Phronicia give a shreek of anger and turning round grabbed Mrs. Hillyer’s hat and tore it in 2.