Evangelist and temperance advocate Emma Molloy was already famous by the time she made the Missouri Ozarks her family home. A lecturer, writer, and newspaper publisher, she was a reformer of men and temperance was her vehicle for reform. Her devotion to the temperance cause was forged during her first marriage, to Louis Pradt, whose alcoholism eventually caused his death.
During the latter half of the nineteenth century, the temperance movement gave women a respectable outlet for public speaking and politics, and Emma achieved success and fame for her temperance work. Her work took her across the United States and to England and her travels were closely followed; some newspapers wrote of her with affection and others with contempt. Her work with the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), the Good Templars, and numerous other temperance organizations made Emma both famous and infamous.
Emma moved to the Ozarks to establish a home for her family while she continued to travel and lecture. She spent much of her time away from home, trusting her farm manager, George Graham, to take care of her home and family. Her trust was misplaced and the result was the “Graham Tragedy,” so named when George’s missing wife Sarah was found dead on the Molloy farm. Emma’s relationship with George, as well as her status as a respected public figure, placed her at the center of a scandal from which she never fully recovered.
Emma was no stranger to scandal even before she made headlines for her role in the so-called “Graham Tragedy.” Along with the reports of her many successful lectures and revivals, accusations of impropriety with male colleagues followed her in newspapers for years. The accusations peaked during the Graham affair when she was charged with being an accessory to bigamy as well as an accessory to murder after the fact, charges she could never fully disprove.
Sinner and Savior: Emma Molloy and the Graham Murder, is available in paperback and ebook here.
Copyright © 2018 by Connie Yen