Lucy Curtis Alderman v Martin Alderman
Cruel, Cold, and Unkind, Divorce in Williams County, Ohio, 1878 and 1886
By Pamela Pattison Lash (updated 2010)
Within the divorce records one may find a vivid narrative of the household situation for a family that does not have many records in this county. The following is such an example.
The leasee of the local hotel known as "The Bryan House" c. 1885-1886 was George F. Alderman whose parents were Charles Bidwell and Elizabeth McLaren Alderman. Charles b1828 VT started out as a grocery clerk in LeRoy, Genessee Co, NY but in the 1860, 1870, and 1880 federal census records for Goshen, Elkhart Co, IN, one finds the Alderman family with Charles as a woolen merchant living in a hotel with wife Elizabeth, a native of NY, and son George. By 1880 Charles B. Alderman was the Mayor of Goshen and later died there on 1 Nov 1887.
Son George F., b June 1852 NY, married Mary Pryor Motte on 19 Nov 1884, in Belmont Co, OH, and moved to Goshen, IN where Mary had an uncle, WW Holloway. From there they came to Bryan to manage the hotel.
Mary, the daughter of William Dennis and Mary Jane Pryor Motte, was recorded in the 1880 Wheeling, Ohio Co, WVA federal census as Mary P 23 OH, with parents William D 60 OH merchant and wife Mary J 62 MD. Mary Motte’s father had died several months before her marriage on 10 Aug 1884 and her mother Mary J. Motte occasionally came to stay at the hotel. Another regular visitor was George's mother. Both mother and mother-in-law testified in the divorce action brought by Mary Alderman against her husband George in the Williams County, Ohio Civil and Criminal Court (Journal 13 p526 and 536 - 17/19 June 1886; Roll 43 Box 144 case number 1638 - 15 May 1886). Mary stated that George allowed his hotel housekeeper to treat Mary not as the mistress of the house but as less than a guest or servant; she was not permitted to order any meals to be filled. The housekeeper stated, "I will not attend to Mary." Mary frequently left the dining hall in a state of hunger and she was not often allowed to have friends or her own mother visit her. In Dec 1884 George was extremely cruel to her and said, "I won't have any kids around me or about me."
In July 1885 Mary returned from a trip to visit her former home with George's consent. She found him cold and indifferent to her. By 18 Nov 1885 the couple stopped living together. She did not have any way to provide for herself. George told her he was not fit to have a wife. She had not done anything wrong; she left. On the way to her destination of Wheeling, WVA, she took ill and eventually she decided to sue for a divorce. Both Mary's mother and mother-in-law testified that George was cruel, cold, and unkind to Mary. He would not give any reason for his behavior. His mother, Elizabeth Alderman, 56 years old, said sometime in July 1885 George had been ill for five days and did not seem himself. She confided that her son told her he did not love Mary and would not continue to live with her. Mary Motte, the mother, aged 69 years, told the court she related to George before the marriage to her daughter that Mary was frail and of a nervous temperament.
Mary Alderman told the court that George repeatedly told her of their needing to leave the hotel and since he ran the business she decided it would be her to leave. George had a salary of $15,000 per year plus he owned chattel and property in Bryan and shares in a gas company in Goshen, IN. Mary asked for a reasonable alimony; the court decided to grant her a divorce with a settlement of $2500. George continued to run the hotel for a time but later returned to Goshen. In the 1900 federal census of Goshen, IN, George Alderman was married to Augusta N, b Feb 1861 IL, and they had a daughter Elizabeth b May 1892 IN; the couple had been married for nine years. He ran the Alderman Hotel on North Main Street. He was again enumerated with his wife and daughter in the 1910 federal census of Goshen and he later died sometime before 1919 when his widow Augusta married Walter F. Hackett on 24 Nov 1919. Daughter Elizabeth had married Irvin Kelly on 4 Feb 1913. Such was the history known of George F. Alderman; Mary Motte’s mother returned to Wheeling, WVA where she died on 9 May 1900, but the particulars of her daughter are not currently known.
Another divorce in the Williams County Civil and Criminal Court (Journal 9 p494, Roll 32 case number 445 - 17 Apr 1878) dealt with a cruel Alderman. Lucy Curtis, daughter of James and Ellen Curtis, natives of Ireland but living in Oneida Co, NY in 1870, married Martin Alderman in Onandaga Co, NY on 4 July 1870; the census record states that Lucy was 18 NY and a schoolteacher. She appeared in court, a resident of Ohio for at least one year, in 1878, requesting a divorce. She stated that on 1 Aug 1871 Martin violently beat her; on 1 Nov 1876 Martin was extremely cruel to her and willfully deserted her on that date. She called into court the following people to substantiate her claims: Alex Gilbert, Lewis Grosvenour, Sarah J. Alderman, and Jenny Kinney. The divorce was granted, but nothing further is known of the principals.