13 September 2010

Divorce Action in Williams County, Ohio - Blaker

Thomas H. Blaker v Elizabeth Blaker
Renaissance Man of Williams Co, OH - Divorce c1846
By Pamela Pattison Lash (updated 12 October 2011)

A Renaissance Man by definition is a fellow who is a "jack of all trades."  This genealogical detailing pertains to a man who at one time in the Williams Co area followed the occupations of physician, lawyer, soldier, and newspaper editor.

Roll 6 Box 20 of the Wms Co, OH Civil and Criminal Court Records gave some details about our Renaissance Man that the local history books failed to mention.  Dr. Thomas H. Blaker, b.1820, PA, parentage unknown, married Elizabeth (maiden name unknown) in Philadelphia, PA on 1 May 1839.  Six months later the couple moved to Cincinnati, OH and lived there until Aug 1842 when they traveled to Henia, Green Co, OH, and stayed there until moving to Bryan, OH in Oct 1845.  According to The History of Williams Co, OH, Weston Goodspeed, 1882, p267, Thomas established The Northwestern, a newspaper that ran from 31 Oct 1845 to November 1846.  This was reported to be the first newspaper in the county and Blaker's partner was another well-known physician, Dr. Thomas Kent.

Another account written by Paul VanGundy for The Bryan Times, 14 Oct 1974, p27, gave this information: In 1845 Bryan has less than 100 inhabitants.  The county was strongly Democratic and the faithful felt the need of a newspaper to keep it so.  Dr. Thomas Kent and other leaders of the Democratic party appealed to Dr. William Trevitt of Columbus to persuade a printer of Columbus, Thomas H Blaker to edit the paper.  Blaker had no money to buy a printing outfit that had been used by John A Bryan to publish The Western Hemisphere at Columbus, but Judge Bryan would sell for money.

Blaker loaded his new office, as a printing outfit was called, into a wagon, hitched up four horses and reached this town after 17 days of hard travel from Columbus.  He found the local Democrats all torn up over local matters.  Dr. Kent led one wing and WA Stevens, a private banker and county auditor, the other. Blaker set up his press and pulled the first impression of The North Western in Nov 1845.  His paper consisted almost entirely of delinquent tax list of Williams County.  In those times subscriptions to a country weekly if paid at all were paid usually in garden sass, perhaps a wild turkey, and green elm stovewood, useless to the subscriber and which barely warmed the editorial sanctum.  Blaker’s newspaper could not continue to exist without the county delinquent tax list.  This was worth $400 each year and it was controlled by WA Stevens.

As the winter of 1845-46 lengthened Blaker appeared to favor the Kent faction.  He may have been influenced by the fact that Dr Kent had co-signed his bank note but his editorial pen angered Stevens who determined to put him down.  Stevens quietly arranged with James W Wiley to bring in another printing office from Defiance to Bryan.  In Nov 1846 Wiley issued the Williams County Democrat and it was the second newspaper in Bryan, and in fact in Williams County.  Wiley’s paper was poorly printed but courtesy of Stevens posted the county delinquent tax list, which filled 17 of the 20 columns.  Blaker’s NorthWestern folded and the office was sold at sheriff’s sale to Giles Tomlinson.  Eventually Wiley’s paper folded too and Kent along with Dr. John Paul, Reuben Gilson, and Charles Case, first mayor Bryan, sought to control their own newspaper.  

From the Appearance Docket, Clerk of Common Pleas Court, 1846-1852 I have discovered several suits which doubtless can be attributed to business over the newspaper and of personal animosities:
Nov 1846 - Thomas H Blaker v William A Stevens
Thomas H Blaker v Thomas Kent
Thomas H Blaker v Commissioners of Williams Co, OH
Jacob Boyers v Thomas H Blaker

September 1847 - Thomas H Blaker v Andrew J Tressler
Thomas Kent v Thomas H Blaker
Erastus H Leland v Thomas H Blaker

July 1848 - Thomas H Blaker v Andrew Tressler

July 1849 - Thomas H Blaker v Thomas Kent and others in Chancery Court with leave for Blaker to amend the bill and costs

Testimony in this divorce case stated that Dr. Thomas Blaker sued his wife, Elizabeth in June 1846.  In this action Thomas charged that between Feb and Mar 1846 Elizabeth had "prostituted herself to the purposes of adultery with Dr. Thomas Kent of Bryan", his newspaper partner, and that Elizabeth threatened to destroy Dr. Blaker's personal property.  On 30 Mar 1846 Elizabeth assaulted her husband with a club.  On the next day he summoned the following women to court to testify to the shabby treatment he had received at her hands: Mary Monow, the mother of the newspaper printer, Sarah Connin, Mary Athy, Lucinda Casatt, and Betsey and Nancy Kent.  According to the Appearance Docket, Clerk of Common Pleas Court, 1846-1852, case #12, the divorce action of Thomas Blaker v Elizabeth Blaker was transferred to the issue docket on 7 June 1846. Blaker was later granted his divorce.  

Whether this ex-wife Elizabeth went back home, possibly to Philadelphia, or stayed here is not definitely known, but there is a Defiance Co, OH marriage of an Elizabeth Blaker to a Robert Randall, 11 Apr 1847.  From the Williams County Civil and Criminal Case Files, November 1849 Box 23 case # 6, I recently discovered the suit of Robert Randall et al v Thomas Kent.  Robert Randall and wife Elizabeth Randall sued Thomas Kent for a debt, they claimed, of $100.  On 1 Nov 1848, Elizabeth Randall said she was owed $75 by Kent.  In the record there is a list of people who were called to give testimony.  One of those was Thomas H Blaker.  The case was filed on 5 June 1849.

This Robert Randall, a Hardy Co, Virginia native, was a voter of Highland Twp in Defiance, 1845; he was born c1801, the son of Alexander and Nancy Strother Randall, and he died in Defiance Twp, 18 Oct 1874 @73Y.  He is reported to have married an Elizabeth Arter (born c1805 Chester Co, PA, daughter of John and Mary Arter), 8 Mar 1830 in Muskingum Co, OH, and had six known children; it is likely that she died prior to Robert’s marriage to the ex-Mrs. Blaker. 

In the 1850 Defiance Twp, Defiance Co, OH federal census p16, the Randall family was listed as Robert 49 VA farmer, Elizabeth 30 PA, Alexander 19 OH, Felix 12 OH, Isaac 10 OH, and Henry 7 OH.  The family was enumerated in the 1860 Defiance Twp federal census as Robert 59 VA, Elizabeth 40 PA, Isaac 20 OH, and Henry 16 OH. Once again the Randalls were listed in the 1870 Defiance Twp, Defiance Co, OH federal census p25B as Robert 69 VA and Elizabeth 50 PA. Further research needs to be done to determine if our divorcee' was indeed his second wife. 

Thomas Kent, the former partner, published a notice in the Sept 1847 issue of The Northwestern, stating that he had sued his former employer (Blaker) and received a judgement for a total of $700.  He wanted to be paid what was due him.  In the 21 Jan 1848 issue of that paper there was a notice to remove Tom Blaker from the list of representatives to the Ohio General Assembly as he had removed from the county and returned to his former residence in Green Co, OH.

Dr. Blaker healed his broken heart by marrying Mary Ann Huyck on 11 Nov 1849 (Wms Co, OH, V2 p108) and was enumerated in the 1850 German Twp, Fulton Co, OH federal census p357 on 4 Oct 1850 as Blaker, Thomas 30 physician PA and Mary Ann 20 OH.  By the 1860 Bryan, Pulaski Twp, Wms Co, OH federal census p33B-34A (h/h574/497) the family had grown: Blake(r), Thomas H. 40 lawyer, PA; Mary A. 30 OH; Charles E 5 OH; and Albert P 2 OH.

Mary Ann Huyck was born c. 1829 in Huron Co, OH, the eldest child of Lucinda Basil and John T. Huyck, natives of Connecticut and New York, respectively.  By 1844 Lucinda died after John Huyck moved his family to this area.  He later married Mrs. Elizabeth B. Gibbons Ferrier, widow of Andrew Ferrier, on 5 Mar 1844 (Wms Co, OH V1p73). 

When the Civil War called men to service, Dr. Blaker joined the 80th OH REG as assistant surgeon and died 13 Nov 1862, Battle of Corinth, Mississippi. His Wms Co, OH probate (#756) filed on 9 May 1863 left all his goods to widow Mary and even though he supposedly had legal training, he did not leave a will.  In 1863 Mrs. T.H. Blaker was the President of the Bryan Aid Society, doing her part for the war effort.  Further probate (#1204) showed the court set up guardianship for sons Albert and Charles on 23 Mar 1868. 

Mary Ann Blaker married Bryan butcher and city marshall, Eli Ronife Bennett, 14 Sept 1863 (Wms Co, OH V3 p323).  In the 1870 Bryan, Pulaski Twp, Wms Co, OH federal census p13, Charles Blaker 14 OH resided with E.R. Bennett and his sons Joseph Bennett 16 OH and Fred Bennett 3 OH. There is a land transaction whereby Thomas Clodfelter and wife sold land to Mary A. Blaker Bennett (Wms Co Deeds V26 p596); Mary Ann died in Bryan on 28 Jan 1868.

The Bryan Press, 3 July 1879 p5 c1
Information as to the whereabouts of Charles and Albert Blaker, formerly of this place is wanted.  Their uncle who resided in Missouri, recently died and made them his heirs.  Charles was in Des Moines, Iowa, when last heard from, and Albert was working south of Goshen, IN about a year ago.  Any communication concerning them will be thankfully received by ER Bennett of this place.  Exchanges please copy.

In the Bryan Democrat, 12 Feb 1891 p5, Al Blaker was badly crushed between two railroad cars; this could be the son of Dr. Thomas H. Blaker.

Our Dr. Thomas Kent, son of Benjamin and Sarah Kent, was born in Loudon Co, VA, 30 Mar 1806 and was married four times.  The alleged affair would have taken place after his first wife died (27 Aug 1845) and before he married a second time in 1851.  He had seven children from his first wife, Elizabeth Garretson.  His other wives were Susan Amanda Carter, Hannah M. Edgar, and Sarah Kittredge.  Dr. Kent was a physician in Unity Twp, Columbiana Co, OH before setting up practice in the Pulaski area c. 1839.  He died in Bryan on 20 Mar 1883.  Drs. Kent and Blaker dissolved their newspaper partnership in Nov 1846, about five months after Dr. Blaker's divorce.

According to the Appearance Docket, Clerk of Common Please 1846-1852, Dr. Kent was definitely involved in many other court cases:
Sept 1847 - Stephen Kent, Eliza J Kent v Thomas Kent
Aelse Kent v Thomas Kent

July 1848 - Daniel Langle v Thomas Kent
Daniel Langel and Elizabeth Langel v Thomas Kent

Nov 1848 Daniel Langel v Thomas Kent - libel, trial verdict, Kent found guilty and told to pay damages of $318.75; then Kent sued Langel for libel with the case continued
Daniel Langel and Elizabeth Langel v Thomas Kent - slander, Kent found guilty and ordered to pay Langels damages of $200

There is no known record as to whether Blaker and Kent ever associated with one another after this, except in court.  Much later according to a fire report in The Bryan Union, 8 Feb 1866 p3, Dr. Thomas Kent sustained a loss of about $1500 in valuable bedding, furniture, paintings, silks, china, silverware, etc stoed away in the furniture rooms.  He had no insurance.  He lost many valuable family relics, which can never be replaced.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi, I am not sure I should claim him after reading your story. Robert Randall was my gr gr grandfather and I am trying to find Elizabeth Arter Randall's death date, Do you have any idea?