07 February 2018

Mother Sues Daughter - Grace Harper v Mary Alice Mills, Wms Co, OH 1909

Mother Sues Daughter - Grace Harper v Mary Alice Mills, Wms Co, OH 1909
By Pamela Pattison Lash

Sometimes I see a newspaper article that is definitely unique and this is one such item.  Here is the article:
Bryan Democrat (Bryan, OH), Thursday, 19 January 1909 p1 c4
Mother Sues Her Daughter
Says Offspring Refused to Keep Agreement to Support Her for Property

In a petition filed in common pleas court last week a mother sues to have the property restored to her that she had transferred to her daughter who the mother charges has failed to fulfill an agreement to keep and support her during her natural life.

The action is brought by Grace a Harper past eighty years of age against her daughter, Mary Mills, of Springfield Twp.  Mrs. Harper says in her petition that on august 17, 1903 her daughter agreed to keep and support her for the remainder of her natural life, in consideration of which Mrs. Harper avers she deeded to her daughter some property in Ridgeville Township, Henry Co, OH, and gave her certain personal effects named in the petition and $80 in cash.  

The aged plaintiff charges that shortly afterwards Mrs. Mills refused to fulfill the verbal agreement.  By reason of this Mrs. Harper says she was forced to become dependent on other relatives and friends.  She asks for an order of the court setting aside the transfer and the return of the personal property and money.  RL Starr is attorney for Mrs. Harper.

This is what one can learn from a little research concerning the family:

Grace A Hively (17 May 1829 Ross Co, OH – 19 November 1915, Ridgeville, Henry Co, OH); daughter of James W Hively and Henrietta Easterbrook; buried in Locust Grove Cem, Ridgeville, Henry Co, OH; spouse of James Wesley Harper (19 May 1828 Lenawee Co, MI – 23 September 1900 Defiance Co, OH); buried in Locust Grove Cem, Ridgeville Corners, Henry Co, OH; married 28 June 1849, Defiance Co, OH

Their children were two boys who died early, one unknown, Arthur A, Hattie E, Mary Alice, and William EP.  It is Mary Alice that figures into this story.

Mary Alice Harper (13 Feb 1863 Henry Co, OH – 20 February 1928 Wms Co, OH); buried in Boynton Cem, Springfield Twp, Wms Co, OH; spouse William Arthur Mills; married c1881.
According to federal census records we get a sense of the geographical dynamics of this story:
1900 Ridgeville, Henry Co, OH – Grace Harper 71 widow no occupation, mother of 7 children with 4 surviving; she is living alone

1900 Ridgeville, Henry Co, OH – William Mills and wife Mary are living there; he is a farmer; not living close to mother

1910 Adams, Defiance Co, OH – Grace Harper 81 is living with son William E P and his family

1910 Springfield, Wms Co, OH – William Mills and wife Mary are farming and residing there

The conclusion using just the census is that Grace has been taken in by her son William, presumably sometime between the agreement of 17 August 1903 and the court date of 19 January 1909.  She is living with her son in Adams Twp, Defiance Co, OH in 1910 but dies in Ridgeville in 1915.  Whether she retrieved her personal and real estate property needs to be researched further.