William Palmer Back v Louisa Norman Back
No Going Back, Divorce in Williams County, Ohio, June 1846
By Pamela Pattison Lash (updated 10 Oct 2011)
William Palmer Back of Bridgewater Twp told the Williams County Civil and Criminal Court (Roll 6 Box 20 - June 1846) that he and Louisa Norman were married in Medina, Lenawee Co, MI, on 20 Sept 1841, by Orville Woodworth, JP. William was 22 years old and Louisa was 19 when they married. Jno Summers and William Norman witnessed this marriage. His wife was having an affair; he had to take action; there was no going back; he wanted a divorce.
William, b 21 Feb 1819 in Hampton, Windham Co, CT, was the son of Erastus and Anna Flint Back, early settlers in Wms Co, OH c1834-35. On 10 Sept 1844 William purchased a 40-acre plot in Williams County. Louisa, b 11 May 1822. London, England, was the daughter of John Wale and Rebecca Norman, who immigrated to the US in 1837. The Backs resided in Bridgewater until 1 Mar 1843 when Louisa left him and committed adultery with John Drake in Roland Twp, Hillsdale Co, MI on 13 Nov 1844; on 31 Aug 1845 Louisa was delivered of a bastard child. His legal notice appeared in Thomas H. Blaker's "Northwestern", a Bryan newspaper, on 6 March 1846 - 18 May 1846. From the Appearance Docket, Clerk of Courts, 1846-1852, the case of William Back v Louisa Back was transferred to the Issue Docket on 7 June 1846. William was awarded a divorce.
William next married Rebecca Pointer Snow, former wife of Almon S. Snow, in 1848. Rebecca was possibly born c1830 in Washington Co, OH and had married Almon on 13 Dec 1845 in Steuben Co, IN. The family was enumerated in the 1850 Bridgewater Twp federal census as William 30 CT, Rebecca 20 OH, George 6/12 OH along with her siblings, Benjamin and Mary Pointer and his brother George Back. They were also listed in the 1860 Bridgewater Twp federal census p94-94b as William 40 CT, Rebecca 30 OH, George 10 OH, Robert 8 OH, Hann/Hellen (f) 6 OH, William 3 OH, and Lelila 1 OH. Speculation exists that William and Rebecca divorced or Rebecca died prior to 1865 as William had a new wife and family. At some point before 1865 according to the Kansas State Census results William had married Mary J. Speak and they had a daughter, Rachel, b Jan 1867 in KS; William had moved to Doniphan Co, KS as suggested in the Portrait and Biographical Record of Lenawee Co, MI, 1888, p768-770. He was listed in the 1868 Doniphan Co Directory as “Back, Wm. P., farmer, res 1 m e Highland, s s'd Telegraph r'd, Iowa tp, Po Highland.”
Third wife, Mary J, was the daughter of Joseph and Lea Carnes Speak; Leah, a widow, resided in Doniphan Co, KS according to the 1860 federal census with daughter Mary Jane and other children. Mary Jane Speak was born in Rose Hill, Lee Co, VA c1835, where her father died in 1852, and moved to KS with her widowed mother and siblings. Mary’s mother, Leah, died there on 6 Jan 1894.
According to the 1870 Iowa Twp, Doniphan Co, KS federal census p102, the Back family was listed as William 51 CT, Mary 35 VA, George 20 OH, Robert 18 OH, William 13 OH, Lilly 10 OH, Jeanette 8 OH, and Rachel 3 KS. In the 1880 Iowa Twp federal census p503, they again were listed as William P. Back 61 CT, Mary J 45 VA, Rachel C 13 KS, and John Ball 28 OH boarder and fence builder. In the 1895 Kansas State Census, William P. Back is listed in Doniphan Co without Mary, his wife; presumably Mary died between 1880 and 1895. According to the 1900 Highland City, Doniphan Co, KS federal census p7A, the Back family was enumerated as William P. Back, widower, 81 CT uncle to head-of-house Edward Back, Rachel (William P’s daughter) and their family. William died on 31 Dec 1900.
John Norman, father of Louisa, died on 24 Apr 1847 and was buried in the Gardner Cemetery. His widow Rebecca married a James Deming. They were listed in the 1850 Florence Twp federal census, p56, as James Deming 62 NY, Rebecca 50 ENG, and John Norman 4 OH, the son of Louisa Norman Back.
Louisa next married Daniel Hare on 2 Aug 1846 in Camden, Hillsdale Co, MI (Lib B p87). Daniel, b1820 PA, parentage unknown, settled in Wms Co c1838-1840. The couple had the following children: Almira, Sarah Jane, William Norman, Lewis, and Mary Ann. According to the 1860 Nettle Lake, Florence Twp federal census, p15A, James Deming 74 NY and Rebecca 61 ENG still took care of John Norman 14 OH, and his half-sister Sarah Hare 10 OH. Louisa and Daniel lived with her sister and brother-in-law John and Ann Bigg according to the 1860 Springlake, Florence Twp federal census, p30, as John Biggs 58 ENG, Ann 44 ENG, Daniel Hair 40 PA, Louisa 38 ENG, Almira 12 OH, William 9 MI, Lewis 6 OH, Mary A 1 OH. Daniel died in Bardstown, Kentucky during his Civil War service on 8 Jan 1862; he was a member of Co G 11th Reg Michigan Infantry and enlisted on 21 July 1861 at Hillsdale, MI as a private.
Louisa next married one of the court-appointed guardians for the Hare children and next-door neighbor in 1860, widower John McCamis on 26 Feb 1863 in Hillsdale Co, MI; they were the parents of Louisa McCamis. The family was listed in the 1870 Springlake, Florence Twp federal census as John McCamis 61 OH, Louisa 48 ENG, Rebecca 35 OH, William Hare 18, Sarah Hare 20, Mary Hare 11, and Louisa McCamis 5 OH. Louisa applied and received a widow's pension based on Daniel Hare's CW service.
When Louisa's mother, Rebecca Norman Demining died c12 Oct 1867 she willed her grandson John Norman, "son of my daughter Louisa Hare", all her real estate in Sec 31 of Florence Twp, which was 12 acres, when he became of age; Louisa's brother William Norman became the boy's guardian.
Louisa died on 15 Feb 1896 and was buried in the Edon Cemetery. Her third husband, John McCamis, died on 26 June 1899.