Sepia Saturday 489: Seventh in a series on the 1866 divorce of my third great-grandparents Zebulon and Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee — what the court records reveal.
The third and final deposition in the divorce case of my third great-grandparents Zebulon Blakeslee vs. Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee came from Cordelia Snow. She was married to Jehiel W. Snow who gave the second deposition — as detailed in the previous post.
Perhaps because she was a woman, and also a wife and mother like Hannah, I had expectations that Cordelia Snow’s testimony might provide more insights into my ancestors’ divorce.
Surely she might have been in a position to know more about Hannah than the two male deponents — and to have been taken into confidence about why my third great-grandmother left her husband. Or so I hoped.
Cordelia Snow’s deposition
Alas, her testimony was much the same as her husband’s, and in some ways even more complimentary of my third great-grandfather Zebulon Blakeslee’s behavior — finding him “uniformly” kind to his wife.
Deposition taken in case of Zebulon Blakeslee vs. Hannah Blakeslee — Mrs. J. W. Snow sworn
Have been acquainted with Mr. Zebulon Blakeslee and his wife for 13 or 14 years. Know of them living together for six or seven years. Since which time she has not lived with him for six or seven years. Was frequently at Mr. Blakeslee’s house and had the opportunity of knowing that Mrs. Blakeslee was well provided for within relation to living and with better than average of people.
Have never seen any unkind treatment of Mr. Blakeslee toward his wife but always kind — uniformly so. Have never heard her assign any reason for leaving him and that she would not come back to him. I believe that she might have lived with him amicably if she had tried to do so. Am acquainted with his two daughters — known them for years — and he has the reputation in the community where he lived of being a good provider for his family and I believe his family was broken up by her leaving.
[Signature] Cordelia Snow
Another side to Zebulon
Naturally, I wondered: Did Mrs. Snow genuinely express her own observations? Or was she testifying as she thought she was expected to?
Yet despite my reservations, her sworn statement — and those of her husband and James E. Whitney — appear to paint a consistent picture of my third great-grandfather Zebulon Blakeslee as a good provider who was publicly kind to his wife and family.
My own research supports the witnesses’ contentions that Zebulon did his best to earn a living in what had to be a challenging rural economy — working as a farmer, elocutionist, postmaster and tavern owner, sometimes simultaneously. And he was operating a country store in Brookdale, Penna., when Hannah left in 1858 — an occupation he kept at until after their 1866 divorce.
In fact, Cordelia Snow seemed incredulous that Hannah would leave him since, she claimed, “Mrs. Blakeslee was well provided for within relation to living and with better than average of people.”
The divorce moves forward
I was disappointed that Cordelia Snow was not able to shed light on Hannah’s reasons for leaving Zebulon. Without a witness, or direct testimony from Hannah, her exact motivations remain a mystery.
Yet I have my own theories of what may have occurred between my third great-grandparents — which will be the subject of future posts.
Meanwhile, Zebulon’s divorce petition moved forward once the witness testimony was filed — and on 16 Aug. 1866 he received a court decree dissolving his marriage to Hannah.
Up next: Zebulon Blakeslee’s divorce decree. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.
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