By Pamela Pattison Lash (updated 10 October 2011)
They done her wrong, or at least someone had a nasty tongue and would spread the most evil stories about her. In the 1850’s a lady’s reputation was the most important aspect of her being and the worst thing to happen to any lady would be to have that reputation tarnished. So is the story I’m about to relate.
Roll 8 case number 12 Box 24 of Civil and Criminal Court Records for Williams County, OH, October Term (a hold over case from the April Term 1850) shows the following case of Christiana Ritchey v Nathan Hazen.
Christiana Ritchey was an unmarried woman who has always behaved and conducted herself well until committing the allleged grievances brought forth by Nathan Hazen, a neighbor and inhabitant of her vicinity. Christiana objected to the false, malicious, and defamatory words of Nathan Hazen who said she was guilty of fornication, adultery, and unchastity. On 15 Dec 1849 in Wms Co he falsely accused and attacked her in the presence of other neighbors that she has been delivered of a child (later two children mentioned in the case), a Jeremiah Ritchey. On 15 Feb 1850 Hazen called her a strumpet and a lewd woman, even before she came to this county. Her attorney was SE Blakeslee. Witnesses called for the plaintiff were Henry Rummel, Henry Sheets, Charles Gideon, Hannah Sheets, Harvey Depuy, and John Garrison
Nathan Hazen appeared in court with his attorney, of Case and Smith Law Firm, and stated in Bulford Twp, Cuyahoga Co, OH Christena had illicit and sexual intercourse on 1 May 1846 and other times with Thomas Sheets and Martin Sheets in a cornfield belonging to Benjamin Clayton. It was implied that she may have had relations with Hazen as well. According to the Issue Docket, Clerk of Courts, 1848-1852, in the October 1850 Term the case was continued and then settled with each party paying his/her own costs by March 1851 Term.
Christina Ritchey, daughter of Jacob and Sophia Glass Ritchey, was born in 1826 Columbiana Co, OH. Her father, Jacob Ritchey, was b 1796 and died 24 Feb 1846 in Ashland Co, OH; her mother Sophia Glass was b 26 Sept 1796 in Franklin Twp, York Co, PA. After the father died, the mother Sophia Ritchey moved to Bridgewater Twp, Wms Co, OH and the family was enumerated in the 1850 Bridgewater Twp federal census p47 – 21 Sept 1850 as Ritchey, Sophia 50 MA, Peter 31 OH farmer, Chasuna (f) 24 OH, Lewis 22 OH, Margret 20 OH. Jeremiah 16 OH, Sophia 14 OH, and Mariah 11 OH.
Land deeds in Wms Co, OH show various property sales as follows: Vol 1 (1824-1855)Grantor: John Woolf of Columbiana Co, OH; Grantee: Margaret Ritchey, a girl that was raised in my family, of Columbiana Co, OH; Ref Vol 4 p231 – 6 Apr 1837 $200 sold to him at Lima Land Office dated 24 May 1836, 80A, E 1/2 of NW 1/4 Sec 18 T7N R3E; Grantor: John Woolf of Columbiana Co, OH; Grantee: Jacob Ritchey of Columbiana Co, OH; Ref Vol 5 p49 – 15 Apr 1837; $300 sold at Lima Land Office, 80 A dated 24 May 1836, W 1/2 SE 1/4 Sec 7 T7N R3E. Grantor: Jacob and Sophia Ritchey of Columbiana Co, OH; Grantee: Christena Ritchey of Columbiana Co, OH; Ref Vol 5 p401 – 11 Oct 1839; 80 A $400 W 1/2 SE sec & T7N R3E; Grantor: Christena Ritchey of Columbiana Co, OH; Grantee: Peter Ritchey of Columbiana Co, OH; Ref Vol 7 p163 – 24 Oct 1842; $100 W 1/2 of SE 1/4 Sec 7 NR3E +; Grantor: Peter and Lucinda Ritchey of Williams Co, OH; Grantee: Joseph Cummings; Ref Vol 8 p22 – 29 Jan 1845; $75 W 1/2 SE 1/4 Sec 7 T7N R3E; Grantor: Jeremiah Ritchey and wife, Margaret Gilbert; Grantee: Peter Ritchey; Ref Vol 11 p582 – 7 Jan 1852; $20 Town Lots in Montpelier, OH #75 & 138.
The Sheets family appeared in the 1850 Madison Twp, Wms Co, OH federal census p34 as of 15 Sept 1850 as Sheats, Martin 27 OH carpenter, Eliza 19 OH, and Abagail 2 OH; Sheats, Henry 29 OH farmer, Hannah 28 OH, Mary 8 OH, Mariah 7 OH, Malissa 4 OH, Abner 2 OH, and Mary 2 OH. From the 1860 Madison Twp, Wms Co, OH federal census, p202 one finds this family enumerated as Sheets, MB 38, Eliza 29, Abigail 12, Sarah 8, and George 3; Sheets, Henry 45 OH, Hannah 40 OH, Mary 19 OH, Maria 18 OH, Melissa 14 OH, Abner 11 OH, Nancy 11 OH, Henry 5/12 OH, and Lewellen, Mary 17 NJ.
Henry Sheets ran for the Wms Co, OH Recorder position in 1860 and won as the Democrat candidate. In 1852 his cabin was often used as a school in Madison Twp and he served as a teacher in District #4 of Jefferson Twp as well. (History of Williams Co, OH, Goodspeed, 1882, p260, 422, 474). In 1863 he and his family moved to Bourbon, IN and in 1873 they resided in Inwood, IN. On 3 Mar 1887 they moved to Sand Lake, MI.
The accuser, Nathan S. Hazen, was b 23 Jan 1827 OH, the son of Henry and Abigail Lewellan Hazen. Nathan’s parents were married in Columbiana Co, OH (Marriage V2 p166) on 24 Dec 1823. Henry Hazen was b 19 Sept 1802 Greene Co, PA and d Jul 1878 Deer Lick, Wms Co, OH; Abigail Lewellyn Hazen was b 12 Jan 1804 NJ and d 8 Feb 1855 @53Y 27D with burial in Cogswell Cem, Bridgewater Twp, Wms Co, OH. He married Eliza J. Mercer, the daughter of John and Mary Dilworth Mercer in Wms Co, OH (Marriages V2 p104 – 12 Oct 1848); she was b 1837 Ravenna Twp, Portage Co, OH and died bef 1874 Wms Co, OH. John Mercer, her father, was b 3 June 1794 PA and d 8 Feb 1878 Jefferson Twp, Wms Co, OH with burial in the West Jefferson Cem.
The Hazen family was enumerated in the 1850 Madison Twp, Wms Co, OH federal census p34 as Hazen, Henry 48 OH carpenter, Abigail 44 NJ, Lervis 17 OH, and Henry 12 OH; Hazen, Nathan 23 OH no/occup, and Elv** (f) 18 OH. They were again listed in the 1860 Madison Twp federal census p202 as Hazen, Nathan 35 OH, Eliza 28 OH, David 6 OH, Albert 5 OH – b 1854 OH, and Henrietta 4 OH.
Shortly after the defamation of character suit Christenia Ritchie married Charles S. Gideon in Wms Co, OH V2 p122 – 8 Jan 1852. Nothing else is currently known of “the tarnished lady.