The Mistress on the Saloon Roof

A Tale of a Blatant Affair and an Unsuccessful Escape

A woman is blatantly cheated on by her husband while cleaning the rooms in the boarding house. She found her husband’s mistress outside on the roof of the saloon next door, trying to escape.

“I stepped round to the next room and found Bertie Rockhold out on the shed room being the roof of the Saloon Building…” So Bell Ford testified in 1889 as she recounted her husband’s cheating ways. Her husband, B.M. Ford, had been treating her unkind for many years but this was the final straw.

According to Mrs. Ford, she married Mr. Ford in 1878, yet after 10 years of marriage, he would call her a “damn bitch” and “would refuse me and call me harsh names”. Also that he “was a daily and constant drinker for the last year.”

Matters reached a climax when Bertie Rockhold and
Mr. Ford began a flagrant affair--at the same boarding house that employed Mrs. Ford. She testified that after finishing her lunch in the kitchen, she went back upstairs to finish cleaning the rooms. She went to room No. 3, an unoccupied room she had already finished cleaning, yet she found the door locked.

She continued, “I knocked on the door and received no answer and I heard the window shoved up. I stepped round to the next room and found Bertie Rockhold out on the shed room being the roof of the Saloon Building …. I heard Mr. Ford’s voice in the next room and it being locked I forced it open and found Mr. Ford in the room with her. Mr. Ford was dressing himself.”

Two other witnesses, Wilfred Baulue and William Parker, provide pages and pages of testimony corroborating Mr. Ford’s habitual drunkenness and inappropriate treatment of Mrs. Ford.

Mrs. Ford was granted a divorce but kept her last name. A few years later she owned her own boarding house. Bertie Rockhold disappears from the historical record.

Infidelity was rampant on the frontier and was one of the more common reasons for divorce. If one party was able to prove infidelity by the other then the divorce would most likely be granted. If there was witness testimony, the divorce was a slam dunk for the plaintiff. The case of the Fords is a perfect example of infidelity and witness testimony in a divorce case, with a happier ending for Mrs. Ford.