01 November 2010

Divorce Action in Williams County, Ohio - Phillis

Homer M. Phillis v Frances Hoover Phillis (Journal 9 p536 - 8 Jul 1878; Roll 32 case number 433 - June 1878)

No Happy Home for Homer

By Pamela Pattison Lash (updated 2010)

The couple was married in Butler, DeKalb Co, IN on 26 Feb 1874 according to Homer; Early Marriages of DeKalb Co, IN, Harter, p218, stated a license was issued on 25 Feb 1874 but no return was recorded.  Homer told the court that he was a resident of Ohio for one year; there was an 18 year old Homer Phillis listed as a day laborer in the 1870 Delta, Fulton Co, OH federal census, p434.  Homer was born in Dec 1852 in Beaver Co, PA, the son of Thomas and Annie Bates Phillis. Frances could be the daughter of a Jacob and Louisa Hoover or Andrew and Frances Hoover who both had daughters named Frances in the 1860 DeKalb Co, IN federal census.  On 23 Oct 1877 Homer M and Frank Phillis had their property in Butler, IN foreclosed (Town Lot #159); it was sold on 17 Nov 1877 to Charles R. Wannamaker.

Homer charged Frances with adultery and abandonment as she left their home in Butler, DeKalb Co, IN on 28 Mar 1878 and went to Kansas to an unknown residence.  Homer had many witnesses who testified to Frances' lack of moral character and, in my opinion, their own. Cornelius Moore of DeKalb, a 21-year-old blacksmith in Butler, had known the couple for one year.  He stated that Frances committed adultery with Walter Gildersleeve, Boon Madden, Jerome Newcomb, Jack Gayhart, and himself in the old blacksmith shop on 4 Feb 1878 and at other times in a caboose on the railroad tracks and at the Long Home in Butler.  William Headley, 20 years old, a terra cotta manufacturer, stated that George Stoner, Curt McBride, Boon Madden, Byron Rank, and himself on 9 Mar 1878 committed adultery with Frances in a drugstore known as Kehrer and Stoner, a hotel barn owned by Haverstock, a paint shop owned by Curt McBride, and other places.  Frances had syphilis pox when she left Butler. 

Alonzo Wade, a 22-year-old farmer, characterized Frances as "a sporting woman."  JW Cox, a 33-year-old tinner, stated he had sex with Frances in Samuel Searight's hardware store.  James Byron Rank, a 20-year-old farmer, had sex with Frances in Haverstock's barn and also present were William Headley, Boon Madden, and George Stoner.  Bank characterized Homer as a "sober, industrious fellow." Ira Boon Madden, a 19-year-old farmer, stated on 22 Aug 1878 Frances was intentious of "getting crammed" and on 8 Mar 1878 he didn't sleep with her but "it went back on me." Ira said Frances had a reputation as a notorious prostitute before she left town. 

Homer also charged that on 14 Mar 1878 she was unfaithful with Alonzo Johnson and the same with Wallace Gildersleeve in the shed of the old blacksmith shop on 15 Mar 1878, just days before she left town.  A legal notice of divorce was posted in the Fountain City Argus.  Homer received an n annulment.  From the 1900 Smithfield Twp, DeKalb Co, IN federal census p4B Homer had married a Laura S c1892; he died after 1920.

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