When I created my first drawing, it was very crude. I drew a rectangle, which was to be a house, with two windows, a door, a chimney, and a sidewalk leading to the house. When I created my 100th drawing, it was the same scene and no better. Clearly, I do not have creative drawing skills.
When I created my first piece of original writing, it was equally crude. It was equal to what I was reading at the time, “See Dick run.” In the ensuing time frame approaching 70 years, my reading fare has improved, and you must be the judge to determine if my writing skills have made progress.
My name is Patrick Gallagher and I did not set out to become an author. It was never my dream to write books. My father, Buck Gallagher, was an attorney and was quite proud of his writing skills. He told me once, he could always tell which attorneys dictated their letters, because they rambled on and on. Dad wrote his letters out longhand and had his secretary type them.
I always thought writing was quite a chore. One has to really work at it.
But for me, this story demanded to be written, and I was literally the only person who could write it from this perspective. I write from the perspective of long-hidden documents that were passed on to me from my grandfather, Patrick Joseph (P. J.) Gallagher, through my father Buck. Buck was, of course, his nickname. His full name was Martin Patrick Gallagher. And actually, that was not his given name at birth. His name at birth was Francis Martin Gallagher, but somewhere along the way he had his name legally changed. I am named for my grandfather, but only the first name. My middle name is from my mother’s side of the family.
Granddad was a very well-respected attorney, and was kind of the “dean” of attorneys in Malheur County, Oregon. Malheur County is on the eastern edge of Oregon, butting up to Idaho. He and Dad practiced law together, and like all small-town lawyers they practiced any kind of law that came their way. They handled everything from divorces to contracts to criminal cases to corporate law. They were the attorneys that represented the Ore-Ida Corporation, which was headquartered in my hometown of Ontario. They helped Ore-Ida form and even helped them patent the now-ubiquitous food item, Tater Tots, which is a copyrighted name. And they represented clients in murder trials.
In 1946, a woman was accused of murdering her prosperous husband, Dr. Willis D. Broadhurst. Granddad was the lead defense attorney for Gladys Broadhurst. The case quickly gained national interest in the news media, and was one of the most sensational murder trials in Oregon history. Everyone in the region became fixated on the story as more and more details became public. The saga involved seduction, adultery, bigamy, and a history of marriage after marriage by the defendant.
During the course of preparation by the District Attorney, a pasteboard box decorated with poinsettia flowers full of love letters from the Doctor to his wife disappeared, never to be found during the course of the trial.
This box is what I inherited. No one has seen these letters since 1946 except me. They are incredible in their display of the depth of emotion shown by the Doctor. When the dates of the letters are placed in parallel of the facts of the case as shown by the trial transcript, we are astonished to understand how the doctor could retain such feelings. Even more we are stunned to grasp how Gladys could have read such letters from her husband and proceeded to act as she did.
‘TIL DEATH DO US …’: A True Story of Bigamy and Murder is the book that juxtaposes those letters in correlation with the actions of Gladys Broadhurst. You will find it hard to put this book down as you are glued to the narrative of how Gladys and the Doctor proceeded through these tragic events.