A Tragic Story of Star Crossed Lovers

Jun 7, 2021
This piece of family furniture has a sad story attached to it. The beginning is well told in its entirety at Find A Grave; how William E. "Bill" Musgrove (1824-1847), eloped with Mary Elizabeth (Lawless) Wade (1832-1867). How the bride's father followed them, brought his daughter home, and murdered the young groom.
Mary Elizabeth eventually married William E. Wade (1824-1880), whom we can assume her father approved of, but in 1867 she ended her life with chloroform. Our connection starts with Mary Elizabeth's daughter, Cloteal B. (Wade) Botto (1852-1832), family nickname "Telie," who was just 15 when her mother committed suicide.
In 1929, Cloteal, a widow with limited means of support, was renting a room in my grandparents' house in Louisville, KY, and having no cash with which to pay her rent, began giving my grandparents her furniture in order to pay her debt. Sort of a reverse mortgage situation, using whatever assets you have, I suppose. My grandmother, who was a struggling young mother at that time, far from her own mother, became extremely fond of Cloteal, so much so that she named one of her daughters after her.
Cloteal's furniture is pretty well scattered across the family tree now, as are the stories of her kindness, and this is the piece I inherited. No one in our family seems to quite know what it is though, or how old it is. My uncle claims it was steps made to help little boys climb into four poster beds (his use for it). My mother said it was a library table and the fold out steps allowed people to get books off the top shelf of the bookcase.
BTW - Cloteal's middle name was Bouche. I'm not sure about the spelling, but it rhymes with "Touche'."


1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
Apr 18, 2019
Upstate New York
Both suggestions could well be correct - steps like these were used in houses where the bookshelves were tall enough to require a ladder or other way to get at tall shelves. Those houses were rare though - most people didn't own that many books. Small sets of steps were also used to get onto tall mattresses with feather beds - this would be more common but still not something ordinary people needed.


Sergeant Major
Dec 5, 2019
It's a lovely piece and you are fortunate to have it! At a guess, your mother is probably right: that would have been quite a leap for a child--but, for an adult reader, not difficult. Also, 4-posters weren' that high (at least in this area). I'd sure hang on to it!