27 October 2010

Divorce Action in Williams County, Ohio - Nichter

Bonaparte Nichter v Susan Flora/Flowers Nichter

Debts of the Bigamist Bride, Divorce in Williams County, Ohio, 1848

By Pamela Pattison Lash (updated 2010)

Sometimes the husband was the last to know.  This genealogical detailing ponders the question, why didn't he know?  Here's what the records reveal.

Bonifatius Nuchter aka Bonaparte Nichter was married on 3 Aug 1845 in Wms Co, OH to Susan Flora or Flowers (Marriage V1 p84).  Bonaparte and his older brother Joseph were immigrants from Germany who settled in Wms Co between 1840-1845. Their oldest brother Jacob had inherited all the land and property of their father and so they, plus other siblings, decided to seek their fortunes in America. Their parents were Johannes Christian and Anna Katharina Wiegard Nuchter.  Another brother, Peter, settled in Fort Wayne, IN.

Bonaparte, b. 25 Mar 1808 in House #14, Unterstork, Fulda, Hesse, Germany, owned 80 acres in Sec 9 and 16, Brady Twp.  He and his brother gave one acre for a church site and burial ground eventually known as the Floral Grove Cemetery in West Unity. (The Advance Reporter, 1935.

According to the Williams County, Ohio Civil and Criminal Court records (Roll 7 Box 22 case number 17 - July 1848) Bonaparte sued Susan for a divorce, claiming that they were married on 1 July 1845 in Brady Twp; after a year of marriage he learned that Susan was already married to a lawful husband in New Haven, Huron Co, OH.  At the time of Bonaparte's marriage Susan said she was single, but she knew she wasn't.  On 1 Aug 1846 Susan left the bed and board of Bonaparte and stuck him with debts contracted during the marriage.  Bonaparte stated that he had to pay off the creditors.  He summoned two witnesses, Adam and Rachel Nickerthina, who vouched for his claims against Susan.  The court quickly granted him a divorce in July 1848 based on this fraudulent contract.  Nothing further is known of Susan and apparently no criminal action was taken about Susan's bigamy.

The groom soon comforted his broken heart by marrying Anna Margaret Belaugh/Billow on 23 Nov 1848 in Wms Co (Marriage V2 p103).  The couple was enumerated in the 1850 Brady Twp federal census, p8B, as Bonaparte 35 DEU, Margaret 31 DEU, and Louisa 1/12 OH.  By the 1860 West Unity, Brady Twp federal census, p149b, they were listed as Bonaparte 52 DEU, Mary 42 DEU, Leora 10 OH, Margaret 7 OH, Jacob 6 OH, Caroline 4 OH, and Elizabeth 2 OH.

According to her obituary in The Advance Reporter, Apr 1900, Margaret was born in Nordheim, Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany on 28 Nov 1819.  In 1844 she and her parents immigrated to this country.  She married Bonaparte and had seven children, four of whom survived her.  She was a member of the German Methodist Episcopal Church and was buried beside her husband in the Floral Grove Cemetery.  Anna Margaret Nichter died on 8 Apr 1900 @80Y 4M 10D while Bonaparte died earlier on 2 July 1891 @83Y 3M 8D.  Their known children were Louisa Leora Karshner, Anna Margaret Lutz, Jacob, Caroline Schmucker, Elizabeth Kunkle, and possibly George.

When Bonaparte's will was probated (Probate #3222), he left Margaret the use of the home during her lifetime plus land and personal property to son Jacob and money to daughters Louisa ($5), Anna Margaret ($425), Elizabeth ($425), plus $100 to grandson Calvin Arthur Schmucker when he turned 21.  Louisa had received other money from him during his lifetime. 

With regard to his bigamous wife Susan, there are questions of curiosity to which we do not know the answers: How did Bonaparte find out about this fraud?  Did he know all the time and decided when Susan left him to bring this out in court?  Was his second, actually first wife, Margaret, the real reason behind this action?  Did money and debt play a bigger part in these proceedings?

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