David Harris v Ellen A. Lay Harris
Quick Divorce for an Englishman in Williams County, Ohio, 1884
By Pamela Pattison Lash (updated 2010)
Sometimes the early divorces took a long time; there were multiple filings with set backs or refusals by the court. Occasionally the wheels of justice did move quicker as was the case with this example. An English-born man married an Ohio native slightly half his age. They lived together for about 16 years and then the wife disappeared with a workman of the husband's father.
John Harris, b 15 June 1798, Mason, Bedfordshire, EN, and his wife Elizabeth Helson/Hillson, immigrated to the US c1850 and settled on 160 acres of land in Springfield Twp, Wms Co, OH. The 1850 Springfield Twp federal census, p101B, showed the family as John 49, Elizabeth 44, Richard 19, William 16, David 14, Joseph 11, and Alfred 8. The couple reportedly had 14 children. Mother Elizabeth died on 5 May 1860 @56Y and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Stryker, OH, but she was enumerated in the 1860 Springfield Twp, Wms Co, OH federal census, p62B, with the Harris family as John 60, Elisabeth 52, David 21, Joseph 19, and Alfred 10, all born in England. John next married Elizabeth Laze on 29 Oct 1861, Wms Co (Marriage V3 p203). She apparently was half his age as the couple was enumerated in the 1870 Springfield Twp federal census, p30, as John 71 EN and Elizabeth 36 PA along with several children.
However, this detailing pertains to John's son David, born 15 Nov 1836 in Marston-Moretain, Bedfordshire, EN, who married Helen “Ellen” Lay, daughter of Eliza Lay; she was born 28 Mar 1853 in Ohio and married David on 4 July 1868 in Morenci, Lenawee Co, MI. She was listed as 15 and he was 32. According to the 1860 Brady Twp, Williams Co, OH federal census the Lay family was listed as Eliza 32 PA, Ellen 7 OH, Anna 5 Oh, and Maticy 3 OH. By the 1870 Springfield Twp federal census, p28, the Harris couple was enumerated as David 35 EN and Ellen 18 OH.
Once again this couple was listed in the 1880 Springfield Twp federal census, p675C, as David 46, Ellen 27, and George W 9 along with his father John 79, Elizabeth 47, Charley 11, and Cora B 7. John Harris, a retired farmer, often hired farm laborers to help; one such man was Henry Frank Andrist.
David stated in the Williams County, Ohio Civil and Criminal Court (Journal 12 p391 - 10 Dec 1884; Roll 41 Box 133 case number 1381 - 27 Oct 1884) that on 4 July 1884, their wedding anniversary, Ellen left him and traveled to Kalamazoo, MI, where she later committed adultery with Frank Andrist, David's father's hired laborer, on 16 Sept 1884, and from that time to the filing of the divorce, Andrist and David's wife had lived there together. David told the court that he and his wife did not have any children. Note in the 1880 census there was a George W. Harris, age 8, who may have died or may have been a nephew to the couple. At any rate the court granted this divorce on 10 Dec 1884. On 27 Dec 1884 Ellen A. Harris married Henry F. Andrist in Wms Co (Marriage V5 #575).
The Andrist family was listed in the 1900 Defiance, Defiance Co, OH federal census p8B as Henry farmer 39Y June 1860 OH mar 16Y, Ellen 44Y Mar 1856 OH-PA-PA with 6 out of 7 living children, Edward F 15, Bertha 13, Goldie 11, Frederick 10, Charles 9, and Marie 2, all children born in OH. Ellen Andrist died on 15 Mar 1927 in Gladwin Co, MI. According to widower Henry’s death certificate he was born on 30 June 1857 in Salem, Columbiana Co, OH and died in Defiance on 15 Jan 1933 @72Y 6M 15D; his burial site was Beaverton, Gladwin Co, MI. Henry was the son of Swiss natives, Jacob and Elizabeth Holenberg Andrist.
David Harris died at the Williams County Infirmary in Jefferson Twp, Williams Co, OH on 13 Nov 1916, where he resided during both the 1900 and 1910 federal censuses.