• Ricki King

Legal Notice: Divorce

Updated: Jun 19

When you read the newspaper do you read everything from front to back including the legal notices? I know I don’t. I mostly scan the headlines and some of a story that catches my eye. Yet, when I am doing family history research I do read everything including the legal notices. Why? Because you never know where that nugget of information you are looking for will be located. Before, newspapers became standardized the report of a death could be found on the front page or in the legal notices. The editors or publishers placed information to fit a space at least that’s what it seems to me. Another good reason to read the complete newspaper is to get a feel of the times and place your ancestor lived. You can incorporate small details into the life of your ancestor and add character to their story.


As I was doing some newspaper research I came across some legal notices. When I started to read them, I noticed that in these cases they were notices to husbands informing them their wives were seeking a divorce. All four of the following legal notices appeared in the same newspaper on the same day.[“Legal Notice,” Fort Madison (Iowa) Plain Dealer, 15 April 1859; State Historical Society of Iowa-Des Moines, p. 4 col. 2.]


Because, I had done little research working with Iowa divorce records I went to the State Historical Society of Iowa in Des Moines. I went to check out the microfilm images of the below four divorce cases. Each divorce packet contained several pages of information I only chose one or two samples to share. At the end of each filing I have included some of the genealogy related information that can be gleaned from the legal notice and divorce document. Each divorce packet does contain some unique information from one of the others.


· Transcriptions are recorded as written no corrections in spelling or punctuation have been done.


Definition of a couple of words used in the legal notices

· Prayer: “The request contained in a bill in equity that the court will grant the process, aid, or relief which the complainant desires. Also, by extension, the term is applied to that part of the bill which contains that request.”

· Pro confesso (confesso, bill taken pro.): In equity practice. An order which the court of chancery makes when the defendant does not file an answer, that the plaintiff may take such a decree as the case made by his bill warrants.”

[Henry Campbell Black, M. A., The Publisher’s Editorial Staff eds. Black’s Law Dictionary, Revised Fourth edition (St Paul, MN.: West Publishing Company, 1968).]

Henrietta Myers vs Henry D. Myers

Henry D. Myers: “Legal Notice,” Fort Madison (Iowa) Plain Dealer, 15 April 1859; State Historical Society of Iowa-Des Moines, p. 4 col. 2.

Legal Notice.

To Henry D. Myers; Sir, you are hereby notified that there is now on file in the Office of the Clerk of the District Court of Lee county, Iowa, at Fort Madison, a petition of Henrietta Myers claiming of you a Divorce from the bonds of Matrimony on the ground of adultery and other causes mentioned in her petition, &e.

Now unless you appear and answer said petition on or before the second day of the May term of said Court to be begun and held at Fort Madison, on Monday, the 16th day of May, 1859, a decree will be rendered against you in accordance

with the prayer of said petition.

Henrietta Myers.

Attest, Erie J. Leech, Clerk

March 25th, 1859. n5-4w


Divorce packet

Fort Madison, Iowa, District Court Files, divorce packets (1859), Henrietta Myers v. Henry D. Myers, no. 116 M-9; North Lee County Courthouse, Fort Madison; FHL microfilm 1955569, item 1.

Transcription:

“Your petition Henrietta Myers (formerly Henrietta Hughes) respectfully States that on the 8th day of March 1856 she intermarried in the City of St Louis Missouri with Henry D. Myers, who is made party defendant to this petition, and resided in said City after such marriage for more than two years except a short time at Quincy Ill but plaintiff now resides in the county, and has done so for more than six months last past.

Plaintiff State that for nearly two years after said marriage she and said defendant lived agreeably and happily together, during which time a child was born to them in lawful wedlock (which has since dec’d) That after the birth of said child (which was named Chas [Charles] Ross Myers) the conduct of defendant towards your petitioner materially changed …”


Genealogy related information

· Maiden name Henrietta Hughes

· Married 8 March 1856 in the city of St Louis, Missouri.

· Lived in St. Louis two years after marriage. (1856-1859)

o During those two years lived in Quincy, Missouri for a short time.

· Henrietta has lived in Lee county, Iowa past six months. (1858-1859)

· They had a son named Chas. [Charles] Ross Myers

o Born between 1856-1858 born in Missouri.

o This may be the only record of his birth.

o Died before 16 March 1859.

· Divorce papers filed 16 March 1859.

Barbara Slaughter vs Joseph E. Slaughter

Joesph E. Slaughter: “Legal Notice,” Fort Madison (Iowa) Plain Dealer, 15 April 1859; State Historical Society of Iowa-Des Moines, p. 4 col. 2.

Transcription:

To Joseph E. Slaughter. You are hereby notified that there is now on file in the Office of the Clerk of the District Court of Lee county, Iowa, at Fort Madison, a petition of Barbara Slaughter, claiming of you a Divorce from the bonds of Matrimony, entered into between you and her ; for the guardianship of your child ; for alimony, and for such other and farther relief as she may be entitled to. And that unless you appear and answer thereto on or before the second day of the next term of said Court, decree proconfesse as prayed will be rendered against you thereon.

F. SEMPLE

Attorney for Plaintiff

January 11th, 1859.

The foregoing notice having been returned by the Sheriff of Lee county, “the within named defendant not found in my county.’ It is hereby ordered that publication be made in the Fort Madison Plain Dealer, for four weeks, as required by Law.

Erie J. Leech, Clerk D.C.

By D. H. Le Suer, Deputy.

March 28th, 1859. n6-4w


Divorce packet

Fort Madison, Iowa, District Court Files, divorce packets (1859), Barbara Slaughter v. Joseph E. Slaughter, no. 128 S-7; North Lee County Courthouse, Fort Madison; FHL microfilm 1955710, item 1.

“Before the undersigned personally came Christian Mosier who on his oath according to laws says

That he is brother to Mrs Barbara Slaughter who is plft [plaintiff] in the case of Slaughter vs Slaughter in the District Court of Lee county Iowa at Fort Madison

That she intermarried with Joseph Slaughter, at the residence of his father in Charleston township Lee county Iowa, on or about the 3rd day of May 1854

That they remained at the house of his father this[?] fall of that year, and there moved to Oquawka, Illinois About six months to a year, afterwards a letter came from them desiring leave for her to return home, which was granted, … she came back in fall of 1855 …”


Genealogy related information

· Maiden name of Barbara Mosier

o Provided through testimony of brothers.

o Christian Mosier

o Her brother Abraham Mosier also agrees to testimony of Christian Mosier.

· Her father lived in Charleston township, Lee county, Iowa on 3 May 1854.

· Married in Charleston township, Lee county, Iowa on 3 May 1854.

· The couple lived in Oquawka, Illinois (1854-1855).

· Moved back to Lee county in fall 1855.

· Divorce papers filed 26 March 1859.

Fort Madison, Iowa, District Court Files, divorce packets (1859), Barbara Slaughter v. Joseph E. Slaughter, no. 128 S-7; North Lee County Courthouse, Fort Madison; FHL microfilm 1955710, item 1.

· A child is also mentioned in legal notice.


Nancy Hamilton vs William Hamilton

William Hamilton: Fort Madison, Iowa, District Court Files, divorce packets (1859), Nancy Hamilton v. William Hamilton, no. 176 H-4; North Lee County Courthouse, Fort Madison; FHL microfilm 1955397, item 1.

Transcription:

To William Hamilton, in pursuance of an order of the County Judge of Lee county, Iowa. You are hereby notified that on or before the second day of May, 1859, there will be file in the office of the Clerk of the District Court in Lee county, Iowa, at Fort Madison, a petition of Nancy Hamilton claiming of you a divorce from the bonds of matrimony and alimony, and unless you appear and answer thereto on or before the seventeenth day of May, 1859, or on such subsequent days as may be allowed by said court, decree will be rendered against you thereon.

F. G. Dorr

Attorney for Plaintiff

April 8th, 1859 n7-2w


Divorce packet

Fort Madison, Iowa, District Court Files, divorce packets (1859), Nancy Hamilton v. William Hamilton, no. 176 H-4; North Lee County Courthouse, Fort Madison; FHL microfilm 1955397, item 1.

Marriage Certificate

This Certifies, That I have Solemnized the Rite of Matrimony, between William Hamilton

of Chicago and Nancy Doyle of Chicago according to Law.

Dated this 5th day of July AD. 1885

Calvin D. Wolf Justice of Peace

Genealogy related information

· Married 5 July 1885 in Chicago, Illinois.


Nancy Hamilton vs William Hamilton

Fort Madison, Iowa, District Court Files, divorce packets (1859), Nancy Hamilton v. William Hamilton, no. 176 H-4; North Lee County Courthouse, Fort Madison; FHL microfilm 1955397, item 1.

“Samuel Doyle and Abigail Doyle having duly sworn do say that they are the parents of Nancy Hamilton, the wife of William Hamilton late of Chicago- Illinois And defendants further say that the said Nancy and William were married on the fifth day of July AD 1855 in Chicago aforesaid as appears by the Certificate …”


Genealogy related information

· Father is Samuel Doyle and mother Abigail [?].

o Their letter gives another generation of the family.

o It also verifies the names of her parents.

· Divorce papers filed 3 June 1859.


Barbara Shireman vs Adam Shireman

Adam Shireman: “Legal Notice,” Fort Madison (Iowa) Plain Dealer, 15 April 1859; State Historical Society of Iowa-Des Moines, p. 4 col. 2.

Transcription:

To Adam Shireman. You are hereby notified that there is now on file in the office of the Clerk of the District Court of Lee county, Iowa, at Fort Madison, a petition of Barbara Shireman, claiming against you a divorce from the bonds of matrimony entered into between you and her ; for the guardianship of your infant child ; for alimony, and for such other and farther relief as she may be entitled to. And that unless you appear and answer thereto on or before the second day of the next term of said Court decree proconfesso as prayed will be rendered against you thereon.

F. SEMPLE

Attorney for Plaintiff

January12th, 1859.

The foregoing notice having been returned by the Sheriff of Lee county, “the within named defendant not found in my county.’ It is hereby ordered that publication be made in the Fort Madison Plain Dealer, for four weeks, as required by Law.

Erie J. Leech, Clerk D.C.

By D. H. Le Suer, Deputy.

March 28th, 1859. n5-4w


Divorce packet

Fort Madison, Iowa, District Court Files, divorce packets (1859), Barbara Shireman v. Adam Shireman, no. 127 s-4; North Lee County Courthouse, Fort Madison; FHL microfilm 1955710, item 1.

“That said Barbara had by her said marriage one child, a boy, about 3 years old That at the time of their marriage said Shireman, to all appearance was a sober man, and well educated, and gentlemanly in his manners and deportment, but became habitually drunken and continued his course until partially insane when under the influence of liquor …” 1 Nov 1859


Genealogy Related information

· They have an unnamed two or three-year old boy.

o Born between 1854-1858 born in Missouri.

o This may be the only record of his birth.

o Child is mentioned in legal notice.


Barbara Shireman vs Adam Shireman

Fort Madison, Iowa, District Court Files, divorce packets (1859), Barbara Shireman v. Adam Shireman, no. 127 s-4; North Lee County Courthouse, Fort Madison; FHL microfilm 1955710, item 1.

1 “That for the last six months and upwards, she has been a resident of Lee county, and State of Iowa, and so resides at present

2 That on 1st day of September 1853, at Franklin said county, she intermarried with defendant

3 That she lived with him in the character of a wife for man three years, …

4 That she has by said marriage, one child, a boy now two years old …”


Genealogy Related information

· Moved to Lee County in past six months.

o Gives a timeframe when arrived in Lee County, Iowa at least six months before newspaper notice of 15 April 1859.

o Divorce papers filed 27 May 1859.

· Barbara and Adam Shireman married 1 September 1853 in Franklin county, Iowa.

o A place to look for marriage record and other information on each of them together and separately.

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