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Fair Charmer

Readers of the Omaha World-Herald on June 25, 1894, were entertained with details of the past exploits of a woman identified as Evelyn Nims, "the fair charmer who dealt in stocks, bonds and hearts." Then wanted by police in Chicago for fraud, Ms. Nims had lived for a time in Omaha, where she was described as a "Cleopatra for infinite variety of fascinations and conquests."

According to the World-Herald, Evelyn Nims "went in the guise of a portrait painter before the public upon her first appearance in Omaha, and represented herself as the wife of Captain Pilcher of Dakota City. She visited Rose Bros. art store and arranged for a supply of frames and mouldings. She then engaged the services of J. K. O'Neil, the artist, to give her a course of lessons in painting, for which she agreed to pay $100. The pictures which she painted and as many others as she could borrow or buy on credit were placed in her 'studio' in her rooms in the Martin flat on South Nineteenth street, where Captain Pilcher, her husband, conducted would-be purchasers. The pictures were all signed 'Evelyn Pilcher' and sold as the works of her brush.

"After the portrait painting scheme had been worked for all it was worth, the fair artist launched the mining stock scheme with ex-Mayor Vaughn, Captain Pilcher and another still residing here as chief pilots. Several blocks of the mythical mining stock were floated on the market. . . .

"It was about this time that Charles Nims, an Illinois hardware merchant, arrived in Omaha with a pocketful of money and considerably less of brains at his command. He bought a controlling interest in the mining stock company, and became so infatuated with 'Miss' Pilcher that he proposed marriage to her, and an immediate acceptance and an early marriage ensued at the Goos hotel. Then followed a bridal trip, with silks, satins and jewels, which only terminated when the hardware man's money was exhausted. The grass widow returned to the bosum of her first love, Captain Pilcher, and then branched out as a teacher of elocution.

"'Mrs.' Pilcher, the elocutionist, secured a class of ten students, taught one lesson, and disappeared from sight, leaving all her creditors and victims, except J. K. O'Neil to mourn their losses. He swooped down upon her baggage with an attachment. Captain Pilcher interceded and secured the release of the trunks by giving Prof. O'Neil an order on a local butcher for $50 and a note signed by Editor W. R. Vaughn for the other $50. The butcher and the editor failed shortly afterward.

"Nothing further was heard of Miss Nims until one year ago, when she returned to Omaha and presented herself as a reader of life through the aid of a looking glass. Letters of invitation to visit the world-renowned life reader and fortune-maker at her parlors in the Iler block, Sixteenth street, near Jackson, were received by many men and women. It is needless to say that the 'parlors' were thronged for weeks and finally fair Evelyn flitted away. She was not heard of again until the furniture deal fraud was exposed in Chicago."


(March 2005)



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