01 November 2010

Divorce Action in Williams County, Ohio - Priest

Barbara Ann Kaufman Priest v Peter Priest

Taking In Washing, No Divorce in Williams County, Ohio, 1874

By Pamela Pattison Lash (updated 2010)

When the divorce court refused to grant an abused wife her request for action, sometimes the lady has to grin and bear it.  Whatever justice she can find is often after the abusive spouse dies and the widow is free from a bad marriage, but often she was reduced to such financial arrangements as taking in washing to make ends meet.  This genealogical detailing illustrates such a circumstance. 

John Kaufman was listed on the Pulaski Twp, Williams Co, OH federal census in 1840; later he appeared on the rolls of the Bryan voters on 15 June 1849 and was enumerated in the 1850 Bryan, Pulaski Twp federal census p87B-88A, as John Cofman 55 PA, Mary 55 PA, Jacob 12 OH, John 10 OH. John was a builder of the early courthouse, the doorkeeper of that facility, and a veteran of the War of 1812, according to Stories of Fountain City, Van Gundy, 1975, p123. According to the Bryan Democrat, 18 July 1878, p5, Mrs. Kaufman, wife of John, died on 16 July 1878, of advanced aged.  She and her husband came to Wms Co c1838 from York, PA, and when the county seat was fixed at Bryan, they built a cabin on the land now owned by Dr. Graser (c1878).  They were the second family to do such.  In a newspaper article, Bryan Democrat, 31 Mar 1904, titled Bryan as It Appeared Fifty-Four Years Ago, there were several anecdotes about the Kaufman family.  John killed a deer while hoeing beans.  “The deer jumped into his garden and he ran the deer into a snow bank and killed it with a hoe.”  “John got a team and hauled lumber to his house from the mill.  But John liked to sleep and while he slept” area men loaded and stacked the lumber.  He never said a word about the lumber.  “John was an agent for the land (company).”

It is with Barbara Ann Kaufman that this story turns.  Barbara was born in PA on 22 Feb 1832.  She married Peter Priest, born on 21 Oct 1821, VA, on 2 Dec 1847 in Wms Co (Marriages V2 p99), and was listed with him and their daughter in the 1850 Pulaski Twp federal census p87, as Peter 28 OH no occupation, Barbara 18 PA, Sarah 2 OH, and Barbara's brother Joseph Cofman 39 PA carpenter.  From his obituary in The Bryan Democrat, Peter was born in Virginia but came to Wayne Co, OH as a youth.  Later he moved with his family to Williams County c1845.  As a young man he pursued the career of chair maker and later farmer and worker in a saw mill.

In the 1860 Washington Twp, Defiance Co, OH federal census p409 the Priest family, having moved, was enumerated as Peter 39 OH farmer, Barbara 29 OH, Sarah 11 OH, Rusilla 9 OH, Charles 4 OH, and Elizabeth 2 OH.  By the 1870 Bryan, Pulaski Twp federal census, p21, the family was enumerated as Peter 49 OH retired farmer, Barbara A 39 OH, Charles 15 OH, Elizabeth 12 OH, Clara 3 OH, and George 5/12 OH.  Peter was a Civil War veteran in Co B 6th Reg OH Cavalry and Co M 9th Reg OH Cavalry.

Barbara appeared before the Williams County, Ohio Civil and Criminal Court (Journal 8 p269 - 3 Nov 1874; Roll 26 case number 80), requesting a divorce from Peter.  She stated that on 28 June 1874 she had him arrested for extreme cruelty but he was found not guilty.  On 12 July 1874 he again threatened to kill her along with performing physical abuse which she graphically described. Peter struck, choked, and stomped on her with his boots before throwing her into a ditch. Peter, she stated, had refused to give her any money for clothing and care for their seven-year-old daughter Clara Jane.  Peter owned Lot 67 in Bryan valued at $150 and had a wide range of household property.  The court refused to grant her wishes for a divorce.  Barbara’s parents died in 1878 (Mrs. Mary M. Kaufman) and 1879 (John Kaufman).

Peter and Barbara were enumerated in the 1880 Bryan, Pulaski Twp federal census as Peter 58 PA no occupation, Barbara 48 OH, Charles 24 OH, and Jennie 18 OH. In July 1882 Peter applied for a Civil War invalid pension. On 11 Aug 1895 Peter died @73Y 9M 18D and was laid to rest in the Bryan Fountain Grove Cemetery.  Peter was a member of the Evans Post GAR.

In the 1900 Bryan federal census p167, Barbara, who had nine children with four surviving, was listed as a widow who took in washing at her home on E. Wilson St; she was born Feb 1832 (68) PA and lived with her daughter Jenny, born Apr 1867 (33) OH. The known Priest children were Sarah (1848-?), Charles H (July 1856 - 1922; m Lydia A __), Elizabeth (1858 - ?), Clara Jane "Jennie"(Apr 1867 - 1914), and George (1870-1897). On 3 Jan 1908 Barbara died and was buried beside husband, Peter Priest.

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