14 September 2010

Divorce Action in Williams County, Ohio - Blessing


David Blessing v Catherine Dirr Blessing
Count Your Blessings, No Divorce in Williams County, OH, 1881
By Pamela Pattison Lash (updated 11 April 2013)

The court said he was not entitled to be divorced.  A German immigrant who admittedly was a habitual drunk must stay married to a woman who also drank too much and loved too well.  This genealogical detailing concerns a couple whose names appeared in many newspaper articles between 1870-1880 during the whiskey crusade.  They were quite a pair.

David Blessing b.c. 1833, Wuertemberg, Germany, parentage unknown, married Ohio native of German heritage, Catharine Dirr in Pleasant Twp, Henry Co, OH on 30 Mar 1869 (Marriages V3 p100). This couple appeared in the 1870 Bryan, Pulaski Twp, Wms Co, OH federal census p22, as David 37 WUE, shoemaker, and Catherine 21 OH.  A newspaper ad in The Bryan Democrat, 12 Jan 1871, noted that D. Blessing was the boot and shoe proprietor of a business on the west side of the square, but he also sold liquor.  From the Williams Co, OH Directory, 1877, D. Blessing was the proprietor of a restaurant on High Street near Lynn Street.

During the whiskey crusade of the 1870's there was a law that permitted wives to sue proprietors of saloons for selling drink to their husbands if the wives had not granted permission to do so in writing.  Such was the early crusade case brought to the court's attention by a Mrs. Caroline Carroll to whom David Blessing had to pay $75 in damages.

Wives were not the only ones suing David.  Jerry Beavers, his neighbor, sued Blessing for $100 in damages for selling liquor to Beaver's minor son. The court awarded Beavers $2 instead. (Bryan Democrat, Feb 1871).  From another newspaper account (Bryan Press, Aug 1878), one Sunday night the Blessings substituted wine for their usual beer and suffered some unusual effects in their home.  A riot ensued when Catherine began beating David with an empty bottle and pulling his magnificent beard.  Mrs. B was fined $1 for her antics while Mr. B. was unable to appear in court due to his wounds.

The couple appeared in the 1880 Bryan, Pulaski Twp, Wms Co, OH federal census, p647A, as David 46 Germany, saloonkeeper, and wife Catherine 29 OH- Wuertemberg - Bavaria.  According to the Williams County, OH Civil and Criminal Court records (J11 p164 - 10 June 1881, Roll 36 #882 - April 1881) David Blessing appeared before the court requesting a divorce.  He told the magistrate that Catherine had committed adultery with a Charles Smith on 20 June 1877.  On 27 July 1878 at the home of Samuel Shorthill in Bryan she committed adultery with Herbert Granville and on 27 Aug 1880 and every day since she committed adultery at their Bryan home with John Richmond (the Town Marshall who later died cJuly 1884 as reported from a surfeit of Blessing).  David also stated that he was married to Catherine on 23 Mar 1869 but the Henry Co, OH record showed the date as 30 March 1869.  David brought several Pulaski Twp residents to court to give testimony on his behalf such as Dora Wheeler, Daniel Tharp, and Philip Schatzer.

Catherine appeared in court and countersued with the story that on 17 Sept 1872 David has assaulted her whereupon she spat up blood and was confined to her bed for two days.  The court basically dismissed both suits and specifically told David that he was not entitled to a divorce.  The couple did not appear to have any known children.


Bryan Democrat, 14 July 1881
David Blessing, one of the parties in a divorce case tried at the late term of Common Pleas, left Bryan immediately after the decision, which by the way was fornint? him, and the word went out that he had started for Faderland.  One day last week Sheriff Kober found Blessing at Stryker and suggested to him that it would be well to whack up the cost or _____.  David took the hint and whacked up.  The European tour has been indefinitely postponed.


David Blessing married Caroline Wohlhueter in Williams Co, OH on 4 Feb 1886.  By 1887 the couple had moved to Seward, NE and started a family.  In 1892 they lived in Beaver Crossing, NE where he once owned a furniture store.  They sold the store and moved c1893 to Guthrie, OK.

The Daily Oklahoma State Capitol (Guthrie, OK), 24 Mar 1897 p1 
In the case of Carolina Blessing v David Blessing, the court refused the decree on the ground that the parties were equally matched in scrapping propensities and qualifications.  While he broke milk pitchers over her head, she relieved him of large flowitities of Pefferian beard and both were experts in profanity and expletives.

On 11 Sept 1897 David Blessing, after a day or drinking, got into an argument with a renter of his over a piece of farm equipment.  Blessing shot the man who later died.

The Oklahoma Leader (Guthrie, OK), 16 Sept 1897 p2
D E Dudley, the farmer who was shot Saturday night by farmer David Blessing during a quarrel on the later’s land, died yesterday morning from the effects of his wounds.  The body was brought to town yesterday and a post mortem was held by Drs Blesh and Smith.  The fatal bullet was found near the stomach and the man’s entrails had been badly torn.  Blessing will be indicted by the grand jury today on the charge of murder.  During his last moments Dudley made a statement concerning the killing which was given on the grand jury.  The people in the vicinity of the Blessing farm are generally wrought up over the tragedy and local officers are believed to fear trouble.

The coroner empanelled a jury last night at 9 and heard the expert evidence submitted by the doctors.  They testified that Dudley did not die of fever but froma pistol wound in his liver and stomach.  The ball was not found.  The jury adjourned at 11 until 9 this morning, when a verdict will be rendered.

The remains of Dudley will be taken to Lindsburg, KS today for burial.  MS Fisher and Miss Fisher, uncle and aunt, arrived last night from Kansas.  The post mortem exam was prompted by a report which held that Dudley died of a fever and not from a pistol wound.

The Oklahoma Leader (Guthrie, OK), 30 Sept 1897 
The case of the Territory v David Blessing, charged with the murder of DE Dudley will come up this morning at 9.  A special venire for 24 additional jurors was sent out by the clerk yesterday afternoon, returnable at 9.

The Guthrie Daily Leader (Guthrie, OK), 3 Oct 1897 p1
The trial of David Blessing lasted all day in division court yesterday, the jury retiring some time after 4 in the afternoon.  This case has been bitterly sustained from start to finish and yesterday the court room was crowded with interested spectators who desired to hear the final summing up.  Attorneys JW Wilson and Henry Thurston appeared for the defendant while HN Huston looked after the interests of the territory in the absence of County Attorney Strang who is attending to urgent in Washington at this time.

The features of yesterday’s trial was the glowing argument of Wilson for the defense.  The evidence adduced at the trial shows that on the afternoon of the shooting, Blessing on his return to Guthrie to his place about six miles from the city needed some double trees for his wagon and ascertained that DE Dudley, his renter, had been using them.  A quarrel arose over this fact and Dudley who was a young, vigorous man, weighing over 180 pounds, promptly knocked Blessing down, causing him to spit all kinds of gore.  Blessing who is a little skinny German nearly 60 years of age made his escape and immediately armed himself.  Shortly after this the quarrel was renewed and upon Dudley making some threatening demonstrations Blessing drew his gun and upon Dudley refusing to stop, let her schlip, as he puts it, from the effects of which Dudley died.  

Up to a later hour last night the jury was still out, with no prospect for immediate agreement.

The Wichita Daily Eagle (Wichita, KS), 20 Oct 1897 p2
Territory v David Blessing convicted of manslaughter for killing DE Duffey; sentenced to confinement for ten years.  On account of defendant’s age he got a lighter sentence than he otherwise would.  The case will be appealed.  Bail pending appeal was fixed at $5,000.

The Wichita Daily Eagle (Wichita, KS), 11 Apr 1903, p2
David Blessing, prisoner, died in prison during this quarter.

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