01 November 2010

Divorce Action in Williams County, Ohio - Poynter/Pointer/Bunker

Caroline Bunker Poynter v Henry Poynter/Pointer
Henry Poynter/Pointer v Amanda Pointer Poynter
Sarah Ann Gannon Bunker v William Bunker

What Goes Around Comes Around, Three Divorces in Williams County, Ohio, 1857, 1859, and 1863

By Pamela Pattison Lash (updated 2010)

What seems particularly interesting to me when dealing with these divorce cases based on adultery is that many of the cheaters end up being cheated on by the other man or woman.  It reminds me of the old saying, "what goes around, comes around."  The genealogical detailing of this initial couple has a few additional twists concerning marital relationships, which were acceptable in bygone times, but for the most part, are not today.

Henry Pointer, the son of Nathaniel and Catherine Webb Pointer, was born on 24 Sept 1823, probably Knox Twp, Columbiana Co, OH.  Nathaniel, a Virginia native, and his first wife Catherine were the parents of eight children, Lucinda, Levin, Henry, Elender Whitney, Anna Whitney, Barbara Bafley, Joseph, and Catherine Alverson.  Catherine, the mother, died and on 16 Apr 1849 Nathaniel married his sister-in-law, Sarah, the widow of brother Samuel Pointer.

Samuel and Sarah Pointer were the parents of eleven children, William, Robert, Samuel, Rebecca J. Snow Back, Benjamin, Matilda, Sarah Ann, Eunice, Mary Ann, Amanda, and Louisa Jane.  Samuel died sometime after his youngest daughter was born c1842, and his widow joined the other Pointer family as the stepmother.  In the 1850 Madison Twp, Wms Co, OH federal census p33, the Pointer family was enumerated as Nathaniel 52VA, Sarah 43 VA, with James and Anna Whitney and their family.

Brothers Nathaniel, Samuel, and Leminal are believed to be the sons of a William Pointer of Knox Twp, Columbiana Co, OH.  The brothers moved to Wms Co between 1835-1840.  Nathaniel and second wife Sarah were buried in the Floral Grove Cemetery, Pioneer, OH, as Nathaniel (2 Nov 1796-30 Oct 1880) and Sarah (6 Dec 1806-4 Apr 1885).

Son of Nathaniel, Henry Pointer, was listed in the 1850 Bridgewater Twp, Wms Co, OH federal census p49, as a lodger in the household of his brother Levin; Henry was 21 years old.  Henry married in 1851, Hillsdale Co, MI (Marriages Book B p230) teenager Caroline Bunker (b.1836 OH), the daughter of John and Betsey Bunker.  The Pointers became parents of Ruth (1851/1854).  According to the Williams County, Ohio Civil and Criminal Court Records (Journal 5, p317, 342, 517 - Apr 1854, Nov 1854, 20 Mar 1857; Roll 11 case number 114 - June 1858) Caroline sought a divorce on the grounds that Henry had committed adultery with an Amanda Pointer.  As it turns out this teenager Amanda was Henry's first cousin and the daughter of Henry's stepmother, Sarah.  Wife Caroline wanted custody of minor daughter Ruth plus $52 in alimony to be paid annually for nine years.  The court agreed to the divorce on 20 Mar 1857, but in June 1858 (Roll 11 case number 114) Caroline had to sue Henry for this money and asked for witnesses to testify to her need; these witnesses were William Bunker, Charles Bunker, and WA Smith.  Henry Pointer wanted his brother Levin to pay Caroline money because Henry said Levin owed him money.

Prior to her marriage, Caroline was found in the 1850 Superior Twp federal census p38B, as Caroline 14 OH living with her parents John Bunker 67 NJ and Betsey 58 NY.  Her mother died before the 1860 federal census for that township where her father was listed as John Bunker 77 NJ living with his son William Bunker 26 OH and his family.  Caroline and daughter Ruth were not enumerated with them. 

On 27 Mar 1857 in Woodbridge, Hillsdale Co, MI (Marriages Book B p475) Henry Pointer married Amanda Pointer, b1840, his first cousin. According to the 1860 Bridgewater Twp federal census p94B, Henry 35 OH and Qanies (m) 3 OH lived with Henry’s brother Levin and his family. Within the Williams County, Ohio Civil and Criminal Court Records (Roll 16 - June 1863) Henry brought suit against his wife Amanda whom he stated had been willfully absent for at least three years.  He further told the court that in April 1860 Amanda committed adultery in the house of Amos Landford near Coldwater, Branch Co, MI and he wanted a divorce; apparently there were no children.  The court agreed with his suit and granted the divorce.  Nothing further is known of Amanda. 

About a year later in Hillsdale Co, MI, Henry married teenager Sarah Ann Morris (b1847) in 1864 (Marriages Book C p402).  As of the 1870 Madison Twp federal census p25, the couple was listed as Henry 45 OH teamster, Sarah 23 OH.  On 10 Oct 1876 Henry died near Hillsdale, MI but his place of burial and any further particulars about his widow are not currently known.  There was a Sarah Morris age 3 OH with perhaps a stepfather John Clyne and wife Sarah Clyne listed in the 1850 Madison Twp federal census, p33B.  Guardianship was granted for Sarah Ann Morris on 23 Dec 1852, Wms Co (Probate #260).  Whether this Sarah was the third wife of Henry Pointer needs to be verified.

There was another divorce that ties into the Bunker family for Caroline Bunker Pointer's brother William Bunker, b1834 OH.  He married Sarah Ann Gannon, 25 Dec 1856, Bridgewater Twp, Wms Co (Marriages V2 p174).  Sarah, b1837, possibly Livingston Co, NY, was the daughter of Bartholomew (8 May 1813, Livingston Co, NY - 2 Dec 1887, Seward, Nebraska) and Malila Adana McFall Gannon (1819 - 1862/1865, Wms Co).  William and Sarah Bunker became the parents of son George Willis Bunker, b.28 July 1857. 

According to the Williams County, Ohio Civil and Criminal Court (Journal 5 - Mar 1858; Roll 14 case number 12 - Mar 1860) Sarah Ann Bunker sued her husband for a divorce citing adultery on his part.  On 25 July 1857, 28 July 1857, and 20 May 1859 at the homes of Hiram Hilton of Steuben Co, IN and Nelson M. Bunker of Superior Twp, Wms Co, William committed adultery with Mary Taylor and as of 1 Aug 1857 William had sold his Superior Twp property, owed Sarah money, said farewell, and was living with this Mary Taylor and the Hiram Hilton family in Steuben Co, IN.

The tricky aspect of this case was that Sarah was abandoned by her husband on the very day she gave birth to their son, 28 July 1857; Sarah stated,  "I want this child to be declared William Bunker's child."  Since the minor infant was born during the impending proceedings, Sarah needed the court to accept satisfactory proof that the child was the issue of this marriage.  Evidently the court was satisfied by Sarah's parade of witnesses ready to inform the court of her wayward spouse's infidelities and plans to leave her destitute.  She called her father Bartholomew Gannon to give testimony as well as Hannah and Sarah A. Tingley, to name just a few witnesses.  The court granted Sarah a divorce.

As found in the 1860 Superior Twp federal census rolls William Bunker had married Mary Taylor; he was 26 and she was 20 years old.  They had a child Mina 5/12 OH.  In 1898 William Bunker died in Huntington Co, IN.  In the 1860 Bridgewater Twp, Wms Co, OH federal census, one finds B. Gannon 46 NY, Dana 42 NY, Sarah 22 OH, Joseph 20, Wilber 18, Samuel 16, Jerome 14, George 12, Myron 9, Frank 7, Charles 5, Marion 3, and George 3.  This young George was surely the son of Sarah and William Bunker. Nothing more is known of the other parties in this case.

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