Thomas Churchman v Elizabeth Williams Sullivan Churchman
Nine Miles Separated a Couple Destined for Divorce, Williams County, Ohio, 1859
By Pamela Pattison Lash (updated 2010)
"She will not live with him." This quote was taken from the divorce proceedings of Thomas Churchman v. Elizabeth Churchman, 7 Dec 1859, Williams County, Ohio Civil and Criminal Court Records (Journal 5 p589- 7 Dec 1859; Roll 13 case number 54-Nov 1859). Thomas Churchman, Jr., was born in VA on 22 June 1794, the son of Thomas Churchman, Sr., of London, England (mother unknown) or Elijah and Ann Knight Churchman of Nottingham, PA. Thomas Jr., was said to have first settled in Preble Co, OH and made his way to Tiffin Twp, (now Defiance Co, OH) before Oct 1845, where he was a registered voter. He first married Susanna Argerbright, also a VA native, a widow of Henry Garber, on 6 Aug 1818, Preble Co, OH; Susanna died 7 Oct 1845 in Tiffin Twp @55Y 7M 4D and was buried in the Old Evansport Cemetery in that township. Thomas, a War of 1812 veteran, and Susanna were the parents of Amelia, Elias, George, Lucy A. Erman, Adaline, William, Thomas, Sarah, and Malinda.
Thomas needed a helpmate after his wife's death and he found her in the form of Elizabeth Williams, widow of Samuel C. Sullivan, whom she married in Adams Twp, Defiance Co, OH, on 25 May 1845, by Reverend EW Fuller (Marriage V1 p1). Little is known of Elizabeth's parentage, but she was born c. 8 Nov 1821, VA, and married Thomas Churchman, Jr., 25 Oct 1849, Defiance Co (Marriage, V1 p46). In the 1850 Tiffin Twp, Defiance Co, OH federal census p46, the Churchman family was listed as Thomas 56 VA, Elizabeth 28 VA, Sarah A 20 OH, Malinda 18 OH, Sullivan children Adelaide 4 OH, Julia A 3 OH, and Mary E 2 OH, with Churchman William 23 OH, Sarah 21 OH, and Francis M.
According to Defiance Co, OH Death Records, a Walter N. Churchman (14 Sept 1850 - 16 June 1874, Adams Twp, @23Y 9M 2D) had a mother whose maiden name was Elizabeth Williams. This fact corresponds with the divorce record, which shows the issue from the Churchman marriage as William N. or W. Churchman who was born on 14 Sept 1850.
In the divorce proceedings Thomas stated that his wife willfully abandoned him on 3 Oct 1851 until his court appearance in 1859. "She resides in Adams Twp, some nine miles from him." In his eyes she was guilty of gross neglect of her marital duties. He called Henry Lehman, a native of Germany and resident of Adams Twp in Defiance Co, OH, as a witness; Henry’s wife, Mary Jane, was a sister to Thomas; he stated that the couple had not lived together for six years or more. There was no chance of reconciliation and the court granted him a divorce. Both were later enumerated in the 1860 federal census, Thomas in Springfield Twp, Wms Co p67, as Thomas 64 VA, Derina Leven 43 OH, and Ellena 4 OH, and Elizabeth in Adams Twp, Defiance Co p330 as Elizabeth A. Churchman 37 VA with Adalade Sullivan 13 OH, Julianna 12 OH, Mary 11 OH, Walter Churchman 9 OH, Charles B. Williams 26 laborer VA. Note that Thomas resided with a married woman and her child and Elizabeth had three Sullivan children. Elizabeth was again listed in the 1870 Adams Twp, Defiance Co, OH federal census p2, as Elizabeth 48 VA.
A grave in the Poplar Ridge Cemetery, Adams Twp, is recorded for a Mrs. Elizabeth A. Churchman, who died of consumption on 22 Feb 1895 @73Y 3M 14D; most likely this is Elizabeth, one of our subjects, but this has not been definitely confirmed. Her daughter Frances Adalaide married Daniel Marckel.
Thomas Jr., may have married again as there was a Wms Co record (Marriages, V3 p572) for a Thomas Churchman and Heziah Lefer, 21 June 1866, but since Thomas had a son named after him, this could be the son's marriage. Further research needs to be made on this issue. Our Thomas, in any event, died on 21 Mar 1867 @72Y and was buried next to his first wife, Susanna.