The Letters

“My message is so terribly awful that it is almost impossible to pen it; but what I have to communicate concerns your daughter, and will almost drive you to madness, because I know how you worship her.”

Desiring to end his engagement to Lizzie Nutt, Dukes felt it necessary to send her father a difficult letter. He explained his evidence of Lizzie’s alarming behavior and her reputation in the community. Dukes asserted that Lizzie had been flirtatious with him, along with other men. He said he went to kiss her, expecting her to pull back, only to be surprised by her assertiveness in kissing him back. He also claimed to peep through her window to find her in the embrace of his friend, A.C. Hagan, along with other men. Rumors were flying around town, by unnamed sources, about the promiscuity of Lizzie Nutt.

In one of the letters, Dukes quoted one of her suspected lovers, who described the dangers of her allure by saying: “Her beauty and affectionate manner would disarm the devil himself.”

After sending letters back and forth on the matter of Lizzie Nutt’s reputation, animosity grew between Dukes and Captain Nutt. The Captain would not believe a word that was written about Lizzie and would defend her till the end. As men of honor, Captain Nutt and Dukes could be obliged to take up arms on the matter, though Dukes wrote: “You may murder me if you will. I shall not arm myself.”

At the time, Captain Nutt was working for the Pennsylvania Treasury in Harrisburg. Angered by the letters and wanting to pursue a course of action, he returned to Uniontown. There, Captain Nutt immediately visited the bank and deposited up to $625 for his wife. Today this sum would amount to more than $14,000.

The very next morning, on Christmas Eve of 1882, Captain Nutt left home to confront Nicholas Dukes.