Mary J. Overdear Allen v William Allen
Bullying Got the Best of Her, Divorce in Williams County, Ohio, 1870
By Pamela Pattison Lash (updated 2010)
A divorce can mean freedom from the bad behavior of an ex-spouse. Many abused spouses go on to lead full, rewarding, and happy lives, but a few die within several years of "being set free". This genealogical detailing handles such an example.
The Stories of Fountain City, Van Gundy, 1975, p33, told that when an early newspaper, "The Weekly Bryan Democrat" was first published, Jacob Overdear, a staunch Democrat, snatched the first sheet "hot off the press" and would never part with it. Jacob and family were recorded in the 1860 Crooked Creek, Jamestown Twp, Steuben Co, IN federal census p681 as Jacob Overdear 47 OH millwright, Mary 36 PA, Mary 13 OH, and Everett 6 IN. He and his family were early Bryan settlers, being recorded owners of land in Sec 16, Pulaski Twp, 1864. Jacob died on 15 Oct 1864 @52Y 10M 15D and his wife Mary died on 20 Apr 1877 @65Y 6M 3D. They were laid to rest in the Shiffler Cemetery, Jefferson Twp. Their two known children were Everett, a schoolteacher, and Mary J.
Mary J. Overdear (b 1847 OH) married William Allen in Wms Co on 27 Aug 1868. Nothing is known of William's parentage. According to the 1870 Pulaski Twp federal census, p17, the family was listed as Mary Overdear 57 PA, Mary J. Allen 19 OH, Everett Overdear 17 IN teacher, and Charles Allen 2 OH. Mary Allen appeared in the Williams County, Ohio Civil and Criminal Court (Journal 7 p483 - Nov 1870; Roll 22 case number 20) requesting the divorce. Mary Allen stated that on 26 Feb 1870 William beat her and threatened to maime her. For the last three years he had beaten, abused, struck, bullied, and defamed her in her own home and neglected her financially. Mary said their son Charles Allen was 22 months old and even though William was not fit for custody of their son, as he was a habitual drunk for more than three years, William had threatened to take Charles from her. Mary called the following witnesses to testify on her behalf: Thomas Clodfelter, John Miller, William Davis, and David Hults.
Evidently the court granted a divorce and William Allen did not receive custody.
She died on 5 May 1873 @24Y 2M 7D and was buried in Shiffler Cemetery. Her son Charles O Allen was granted a guardian on 18 June 1873 (Probate #1590). When he died in 1902 at 33Y he was buried close to his mother.