Series Summary: The 1866 divorce of Zebulon and Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee

Sepia Saturday 491: A recap of the series on the 1866 divorce of my third great-grandparents — what the court records reveal.

The surprise discovery that a my paternal third great-grandparents Zebulon and Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee were divorced in Pennsylvania in 1866 led me on a quest for the records of their divorce case.

https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/66b6f080-a7ca-0136-2f49-0d2629ed7326
Divorce the lesser evil (1900). Original caption: The Church  – Stop this awful immorality! Justice – You are wrong! Divorce is rather an aid to morality. Statistics prove that countries where divorces are granted are more moral than countries that forbid them! Source: NYPL Digital Collections

After a Genealogy Road Trip to the Susquehanna County seat in Montrose, Penna., I worked with courthouse staff to locate and obtain copies of my ancestors’ divorce papers — research that was well worth the effort!

The court records gave surprising details about my third great-grandparents’ separation and eventual divorce, and also raised new questions about why Hannah left Zebulon in 1858 — to be explored in future posts.

For now, here’s a recap of what the court records revealed about my Blakeslee ancestors’ nineteenth century divorce.

Divorce law, petition and subpoenas

Depositions and new questions

Divorce decree

Dec. 1865: Divorce subpoena addressed to Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee. In the 1800s, divorces were common enough in Susquehanna County, Penna., to justify printing fill-in-the-blank subpoena forms. However, Hannah lived beyond the court’s jurisdiction and did not respond to hers. Photo: Molly Charboneau

One mystery remains…

Many thanks to the readers of Molly’s Canopy for following along throughout this Blakeslee series and the previous one, and posting insightful comments.

If you are new to Molly’s Canopy, you may also want to check out the prequel to the Blakeslees’ divorce proceedings in The Odd 1860 Separation of Zebulon and Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee.

One mystery remains: Why did Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee leave her marriage in 1858, never to return? Some thoughts on this in the next post. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.

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8 thoughts on “Series Summary: The 1866 divorce of Zebulon and Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee”

  1. Thank you all for your visits and comments. This has been as interesting a tale for me as for you, since it was a surprise discovery. I am hoping to use circumstantial evidence from Hannah’s life to delve a bit deeper into why she left her marriage, since neither she nor others have left a records — at least none I have discovered to date.

  2. I have a hunch if there had been free testimony from some of Hannah’s friends and acquaintances (rather than women at that time more or less abiding by what their husband’s said) we might have more insight into why Hannah left IF she had confided in those women and they had felt free to say what THEY knew about the case.

  3. I really like how you’ve laid everything out so neatly – divorce, on the other hand, tends to be messy. I aim to emulate your organisation and presentation in future with family history research.

  4. It’s odd how the stories of love and marriage get repeated through life. The tale of the meet cute, the first date, the wedding, the party, the kids, etc. All get repeated by the couple, their friends and relations. But divorce? That’s a quiet story told in whispers. Parents, children, friends rarely learn the full reasons. Lawyers? What do they know?

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