Benton Longanecker v Mary J. Page Longanecker – see also Amsbaugh
An Abandoned Civil War Veteran, Divorce in Williams County, Ohio, 1884
By Pamela Pattison Lash (updated 2010)
An obituary in the Bryan Democrat, 24 Mar 1908 p1, told a brief tale of Benton Longanecker, former resident of Bryan, and an old soldier "who died at his home in Pioneer recently. His remains were buried in the Brown Cemetery, Center Twp. He left a widow and two brothers, AR (Alfred) and (Francis) Marion." The tombstone for Benton reads "Co E 163rd OVI - Civil War, born 1846." Benton’s parents were Peter and Nancy Reifsnider Longanecker.
The Longenecker family resided in Blooming Grove Twp, Richland Co, OH and was listed in the 1860 federal census p363 as Peter 48 PA plasterer, Nancy 40 PA, Delila 21 OH, Alfred 18 OH, Laura 16 OH, Catherine 15 OH, Benton 13 OH, Oliver 12 OH, Maria 9 OH, Margaret Lindsey 20 OH seamstress, and Isabella Lindsey 21 OH domestic servant. By the 1870 Jefferson Twp, Wms Co, OH federal census p92 the Longeneckers were enumerated as Peter 58 PA, Nancy 52 PA, Kaiah (f) 24 OH, and Oliver 21 OH. Either Kaiah was incorrectly reported as female when in fact this was Benton or Benton resided elsewhere, but Benton, a plasterer, was enumerated with his parents in the 1880 Brady Twp, Wms Co federal census, p515D, as teamster Peter Longnecker 63 PA, Nancy 60 PA, Benton 34 OH. He lived with his parents even though he was married but abandoned by his bride, Mary J. Page, whom he wedded on 19 Mar 1874, Montpelier, Wms Co (Marriages V4 p328). Mary left Benton on 12 May 1880 and her last known address in the fall of 1880 was New London, OH. Nothing further is known of her. In 1881 Benton lost both of his parents who were buried in Shiffler Cemetery, Jefferson Twp.
Benton appeared in the Williams County, Ohio Civil and Criminal Court (Journal 12 p342 - 15 July 1884; Roll 40 case number 1293 - 17 Apr 1884). The court agreed that Mary had neglected her duty as a wife and granted him a divorce. About this same time frame Benton’s sister, Delilah Jenny was embroiled in her own divorce with Samuel E. Amsbaugh.
Benton later married Lilly Violet Saddoris on 2 June 1891, Wms Co (Marriages V6 #454). Lilly was the daughter of John and Susan Fulton Saddoris; John died in 1859 and his widow and family were listed in the 1870 Bryan, Pulaski Twp federal census p48 as Susan Saddoris 49 PA, Orlando 24 OH, Filmore 21 OH, Lemuel 18 OH, Joseph 16 OH, and Lilly 12 OH. Lilly V. Longenecker died on 6 Feb 1893 in Wms Co (Death V 3 p76). In the 1900 Brady Twp, Wms Co, OH federal census p93 Benton Longenecker, b Mar 1847 (53) OH plasterer, was a widower, which was contrary to his above-mentioned obituary, unless he married again sometime between the 1900 federal census and his death in 1908.
Next to Benton's obituary there was another article, which does not involve divorce, but revealed a touching yet tragic story of another Civil War veteran, Peter Keller. "Despondent over the loss of his family and the thought of being maimed, Peter Keller, 60 years old, ended his life on March 20, 1908, at night by shooting himself on the grave of his wife in the Pleasant View Cemetery, Fayette, Fulton Co, OH. His body was found prone upon the mound in the morning." The sexton, Horace Ford discovered the body when he went to the cemetery to dig a grave.
Peter's wife died many years before but he never ceased to mourn her death and when his only daughter died in Morenci, Lenawee Co, MI, the year before, this Civil War soldier was broken-hearted. Later working in a sawmill Peter had an accident, his foot was crushed, and it had to be amputated. He did not want to be a burden to his sister, Mrs. Mary Looker, with whom he had resided. None of his friends and relatives realized that his depression would end with suicide.