15 October 2010

Divorce Action in Williams County, Ohio - Kemp and Davis

Lavinna W. Parrish Kemp v John R. Kemp
William M. Davis v Mary Manda Chapman Davis
Married Doctor Hiding Property, Two Divorce Actions in Williams County, Ohio, 1868-69
By Pamela Pattison Lash (updated 30 May 2012)

One reads about physicians today who are accused of 'hanky panky" with their patients.  This is certainly not a new circumstance as evidenced by this genealogical detailing from the Wms Co, OH Civil and Criminal Court records (Journal 7 p174 - 8 May 1868; p183 – 19 May 1868; Roll 19 case number 84 – May 1868).

Dr. John Kemp, native of England,  (1822 - aft 1870) married Lavinna W. Parrish (1821 NY - bef 13 Apr 1872) on 26/30 Nov 1844 in Steuben Co, IN.  John R (Roper?) Kemp was the son of John and Mary Jane Roper Kemp.  The Kemps migrated from England to the US c1829 and spent a period of time in Hume, Allegany Co, NY. According to the 1850 Washington Twp, Henry Co, OH federal census p14A the Kemps were enumerated as John R 28 Eng plastering mason, Lavinna W 29 Canada, John B Ultly 50 PA carpenter, and Isaac Bowman 23 NY carpenter and joiner.

It is not currently known how and where John R Kemp received his medical training but the first record for Dr. Kemp in Williams Co is a newspaper article in the fall of 1852 mentioning John was an E flat cornet player in the original Bryan Band.  No one knows how well his musical abilities were but practicing with the band would have afforded him several nights away from his wife.  The 1860 Bryan, Pulaski Twp federal census, p37, enumerated the Kemps as John R. 38 EN physician, Lavina 39 Canada East, and Leonard 13 IN.  Kemp's office was located at 121 W. Butler St. in Bryan.

With regard to "son" Leonard Kemp, it appears that Leonard is really Leonora (7 Apr 1847, Angola, Steuben Co, IN - 2 Sept 1916 pos Perry, Dallas Co, IA), wife of Thomas Gilbert.  She was absent in the 1850 census but appeared in the 1860 census.  From probate mentioned below, Leonora was an adopted daughter.

On 27 Apr 1868 Lavina petitioned the court for a divorce stating that at diverse times from 1 July 1863 in his office her husband committed adultery with  "sundry women unknown to Lavinia."  On 24 June 1866 and 24 Sept 1866 Dr. Kemp committed adultery with Mrs. Amanda Davis and from this liaison he became a father of a male child born on 24 Mar 1867.  Almost a year later on 11 Mar 1868 Kemp left his home with Amanda and the child and eloped for parts unknown.  He took a wagon, one cow, books, furniture, and account books plus other provisions and headed to the state of Kansas leaving Lavina with nothing.  She also sued lawyer Samuel A. Treat whom she stated was in collusion with Kemp to hide property.  Dr. Kemp owned 10 acres of land (NE 1/4 NE 1/4 Sec 21 T6N 3E) and Lot #121 in Bryan.  She wanted a reasonable alimony and the real estate.

Lavina called the following witnesses who all attested to her charges: John B. Shouf, Alfred Plummer, David A. Wolf, and Dr. QH Graser (all local businessmen).  A legal notice of this suit was published in the "Bryan Union Press", Apr 1868.  The divorce was granted and Lavina did receive John's real estate.  Thanks to Hal Kemp (a descendant of John R Kemp's brother, George W Kemp) a new marriage record has come to light showing that John R Kemp married Clarissa Mary West on 2 Oct 1870 in Miller Co, MO; whatever happened to the doctor from this point is not currently known.  From the Bryan Democrat, 6 Oct 1870, p3, “Arm Broken: while descending a flight of stairs at the residence of A M Pratt (attorney) on Tuesday, Mrs. Dr. Kemp slipped and in the fall dislocated her wrist and broke her arm.”

By the 1870 federal census for Bryan, p34, Lavina W. Parrish, restored to her maiden name, was listed as 49 NY housekeeper living with Ann Moore 24 Baden, a domestic servant.  Williams Co, OH Probate (#1500) filed on 13 Apr 1872 showed an estate for Lavina, who had written a will on 6 Jan 1871 in which she left the house and buildings to an adopted daughter Leanora Gilbert, wife of Thomas Gilbert.  Lavina's sister, Mary F. Norse of Steuben Co, IN, received $100 to be paid one year after Lavina's death.  The First Regular Baptist Church of Bryan was also to receive $100 to be given two years after her death.

The 1870 Bryan, Pulaski Twp federal census showed Thomas Gilbert 25 OH and his wife Lenora 23 IN; she was Lavina’s adopted daughter. The 1880 York, Steuben Co, IN federal census showed a Mary A. Norse 56 NY divorced with son Loyd 18, niece Lora 19, and mother Elizabeth Stockman 79 US.  If this was Lavina’s sister, the mother Elizabeth Stockman could also be the mother of Lavina.

The other woman, Amanda Davis, was born Mary Manda Chapman.  She had married William M. Davis in Paulding, OH, on 25 May 1862 (Marriages, V2 p23).  William filed a divorce action in Wms Co on 16 Oct 1869 according to court records (Journal 7 - Nov 1869, and Roll 21 case number 40).  Davis stated that on 24 July 1867 Amanda committed adultery with John R. Kemp and that she left this state for Kansas with Kemp.  William did not mention Amanda having a child with Dr. Kemp.  Under old miscellaneous probate, which contained divorce cases for Defiance Co, OH (Defiance Co, OH Records Center) there was a case of William E. Davis v Amanda M. Davis (case number 265, undated index).

The 1850 Harrison Twp, Paulding Co, OH federal census p176B showed a Mary A. Chapman, age 5, as the daughter of Timothy and Sarah Ann Barnard Chapman.  From the 1860 Harrison Twp, Paulding Co, OH federal census p98 Amanda 15 OH lived with her uncle Miles Chapman due to the death of her mother Sarah; her father Timothy had married twice more and presumably the next wives did not want Amanda in the household. Chapman online sites claim Timothy was the nephew of John Chapman, aka Johnny Appleseed.

One does wonder why William Davis waited almost 1 1/2 years after Lavina Kemp received her divorce before he filed for one of his own.  Maybe he thought he and his errant wife would reconcile or maybe he found someone else.  There is always the possibility that Amanda separated from John Kemp since he married again in 1870 and did reunite with her husband or the following is not the Amanda Davis mentioned in the divorce proceedings above. The rest is a possibility but not a certainty; more research needs to be done.

According to the 1870 Ridge Twp, Van Wert Co, OH federal census p370A the Davis household was listed as William 37 Wales, Amanda 25 OH, Elizabeth A 3 OH and a teacher, Charles S. Crosby; in the 1880 Washington Twp, Van Wert Co, OH federal census p425 William M. Davis 43 Wales-Wales-Wales was enumerated with his wife, Amanda 35 OH-OH-OH, and their son Henry 11 OH-OH-OH.  From the 1900 Washinfton Twp, Van Wert Co, OH federal census p8A the Davis household was listed as William M farmer 67Y June 1837 married 33Y (1867) Wales, wife Amanda 55Y May 1845 OH mother of 1 deceased child, two servants, and an Addison niece and nephew, Auratta 16 OH and Harry 10 KS, noted as servant and farm laborer, respectively.  Wiliam immigrated to the US in 1841.

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