Tag Archives: Sarah Ann (Sherman) Blakeslee

1866: Zebulon Blakeslee receives his divorce decree

Sepia Saturday 490: Eighth in a series on the 1866 divorce of my third great-grandparents Zebulon and Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee — what the court records reveal.

After my third great-grandfather Zebulon Blakeslee petitioned for divorce in 1865 — and subpoenas were issued and witnesses deposed — the Susquehanna County, Penna., Court of Common Pleas finally issued his divorce decree on 16 Aug. 1866.

Calling the Friday Calendar (circa 1901-1910). Courts were a male-dominated affair in the nineteenth century. So is it any wonder that my third great-grandmother Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee moved out of the range of subpoena power when she left my third great-grandfather Zebulon Blakeslee? His petition for divorce on grounds of desertion was granted on 16 Aug. 1866 in Montrose, Susquehanna Co., Penna. Photo: NYPL Digital Collections

Zebulon contended that my third great-grandmother Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee deserted him in 1858 — and that she had not returned after an absence of seven years.

Meanwhile, according to court documents Hannah was living outside the court’s jurisdiction (likely in New York State where she resided in 1860) — and she did not receive/respond to subpoenas asking for her side of the story.

The Blakeslee divorce is finalized

Three witnesses — James E. Whitney, Jehiel W. Snow and Cordelia Snow — supported Zebulon’s version of events. After reviewing their testimony, the court issued the following decision summing up the case and granting my third great-grandfather the divorce he sought.

Decree in the case of Zebulon Blakeslee vs. Hannah Blakeslee – Libel for Divorce

December 14th 1865 on filing the petition of Libellant praying for the reasons therein set forth he may be divorced from the nuptialities and bonds of matrimony entered into with the defendant and from application of A.O. Warren Atty. for Libellant, the Hon. C.F. Read Judge of Chambers directed a Subpoena of Divorce to issue to the defendant [Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee] returnable to January term 1866 wherein a Subpoena issued accordingly and duly stamped according to law returned non est inventus1and from Jany 16th 1866 also sub to April term 1866 returned non est inventus2, and now to wit April 9th 1866, court direct the Sheriff to make Proclamation in this case and appoint R. Kenyon J. Commissioner to take depositions in this case.

August 16th 1866 on motion of Libellant’s attorney and on reading of depositions the court upon due consideration of the [premises?]3do order, [sentence?]4and decree a divorce and separation from the nuptial tie and bonds of matrimony entered into between the said Zebulon Blakeslee and the said Hannah Blakeslee and that all the rights and duties accruing to either of the said parties at any time heretofore in pursuance of said marriage shall cease and determines as fully and to all intents and purposes as though the said Zebulon Blakeslee and the said Hannah Blakeslee had never been married. Cert. copy.

As if they had never been married

Amazing that 37 years of marriage was ended by a decree consisting of two extremely long sentences — the court determining “as fully and to all intents and purposes as though the said Zebulon Blakeslee and the said Hannah Blakeslee had never been married.”

But there you have it. As of 16 Aug. 1866 my third great-grandparents — Zebulon, 59, and Hannah, 54 — were legally entitled to move on with their lives.

http://panewsarchive.psu.edu/lccn/sn84026112/1866-08-28/ed-1/seq-3/#city=Montrose&rows=20&proxtext=Zebulon+Blakeslee&searchType=basic&sequence=0&index=0&words=Blakeslee+Zebulon&page=1
Montrose Democrat, 28 Aug. 1866, p. 3. Source: panewsarchive.psu.edu

The Montrose Democrat included the Blakeslees’ divorce decree in a column on court proceedings in its 28 Aug. 1866 issue (above) — which is how I learned of it.

As a country store owner who served the public, Zebulon  may not have been totally pleased with the publicity — even though he initiated the divorce.

Because by 1870 he had relocated within Susquehanna County, Penna., from Brookdale in Liberty Twp. — where he lived for much of his first marriage — to Fairdale in Jessup Twp., where he married his second wife Sarah Ann Sherman.

And Hannah? She remained single and lived the rest of her life in New York State — avoiding social stigma by portraying herself as Zebulon’s widow.

Thus ends the story of the Blakeslees’ divorce case. Yet one mystery remains: Why did Hannah leave Zebulon, never to return? Some theories on this will begin after the next post.

Up next, Series summary: The 1866 divorce of Zebulon and Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.

© 2019 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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Series summary: The odd 1860 separation of Zebulon and Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee

Sepia Saturday 482: A recap of the series on the odd 1860 separation of my great-great-great grandparents Zebulon and Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee — a summertime census mystery.

Two months ago I began a quest to discover why my paternal third great-grandfather Zebulon Blakeslee was living separately from his wife Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee at the time of the 1860 federal census.

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

That journey took me through census records, county histories and digital newspaper archives — and led to the surprise discovery that my Blakeslee third great-grandparents were divorced in 1866!

As each question about the Blakeslees was answered, new queries arose — and before long I was headed on a Genealogy Road Trip to the Susquehanna County seat in Montrose, Penna.,  to see what more I could learn about my third great-grandparents and their final rift.

Susquehanna County Court House, Montrose, Penna. (2019). As each question about the Blakeslees was answered, new queries arose — and before long I was headed on a Genealogy Road Trip to Montrose, Penna. Photo by Molly Charboneau

I discovered a great deal on that trip — which will be the subject of future blogs. But for now, here’s a recap what I have learned about my Blakeslee ancestors so far.

Separation and divorce

Life moves on

New Discoveries

Many thanks to the readers of Molly’s Canopy for following along throughout this series and posting insightful comments. There will be more on the Blakeslee saga in coming posts.

Up next: A new series on the Blakeslees’ divorce proceedings, as revealed by the court records. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.

© 2019 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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Ancestors-in-Law: The Shermans of Susquehanna County, Penna.

Sepia Saturday 481: Tenth in a series on the odd 1860 separation of my great-great-great grandparents Zebulon and Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee — a summertime census mystery.

After his 1866 divorce, my third great-grandfather Zebulon Blakeslee married Sarah Ann Sherman in 1867. She was the daughter of Abel Sherman of Jessup Township, Susquehanna Co., Penna., according to their wedding announcement in the Montrose Democrat.

So this summer, not only did I learn about my Blakeslee ancestors’ divorce — but I was also surprised to discover a whole new set of ancestors-in-law: the Shermans of Jessup Township!

https://pixabay.com/photos/pennsylvania-farm-rural-trees-108697/
A Pennsylvania farm. In the mid-1800s Abel Sherman — the father of Sarah Ann Sherman, Zebulon Blakeslee’s second wife — owned a farm in the fertile Porter Ridge area north of Wyalusing  Creek in Jessup Township, Susquehanna, Pennsylvania. Photo: Coffee/Pixabay

I say ancestors-in-law because Zebulon and Sarah Ann, who married late in life, did not have children together.

Nevertheless, the extended Sherman family seems to have embraced Zebulon when he relocated to their part of Susquehanna County — so it seems fitting that I write a bit about them.

The Abel Sherman household in 1860

In the 1860 federal census5for Jessup Township — enumerated seven years before Sarah Ann married Zebulon — I found her living with her parents and two younger brothers on her father Abel’s farm. Located next door was an unoccupied dwelling. (See Table 1.)

Table 1. Abel Sherman household – 1860 U.S. Census, Jessup Township, Susquehanna Co., Penna – Source: FamilySearch2
Dwelling Name Age Born Details
339 Abel Sherman, Head of Household 61 NY Farmer; Real Estate: $2,000; Personal Prop: $821
Louisa Sherman 59 Mass. Wife
Sarah A. Sherman 38 Penna.
Charles Sherman 23 Penna. Farm laborer
Jim Sherman 21 Penna.
340 Unoccupied

The Shermans in 1870-1880

Ten years later, there were significant changes for the Shermans. By the 1870 federal census3of Jessup Township, Zebulon and Sarah Ann (Sherman) Blakeslee were married and living next door in the  formerly “unoccupied” dwelling — and Zebulon was working as a “day hand,” possibly on his father-in-law Abel’s farm.

The year 1870 is also when my possible cousins-in-law appeared. For Sarah’s brother Charles Sherman had married and started a family — and by 1880 his family had grown. (See Table 2.)

Table 2. U.S. Census Enumerations for Charles Sherman – Source: FamilySearch4
Year Location Head Wife Children
18705 Bridgewater, Susquehanna, Penna. Charles Sherman, 33, Born in PA, Works on Farm Hannah, 19, Born in PA, Keeping House Son Fredrick, 2, born in PA
18806 Jessup, Susquehanna, Penna. Charles Sherman, 43, Born in PA, Farm Labor Hannah, 29, Born in NY, Keeping House Son Fred, 11, and Dau. Gerty, 9. Both at school & born in PA

More to learn about the Sherman in-laws

Sarah Ann’s brother Jim Sherman, however, has been more elusive. In 1870, there was a Jesse Sherman, 35, with his presumed wife Ellen, 22, and children Emily, 4, and Lucy, 2, living in Abel and Louisa Sherman’s household7. Was “Jesse” actually Sarah’s younger brother Jim, just enumerated with a different name — which could mean more possible cousins-in-law?

https://www.anyplaceamerica.com/directory/pa/susquehanna-county-42115/streams/east-branch-wyalusing-creek-1173781/
Eastern Branch of Wyalusing Creek, Susquehanna County, Penna. Photo: anyplaceamerica.com

The 1860-1880 U.S. censuses for Jessup and neighboring townships show a number of other Shermans living in the vicinity of Abel’s farm — but it’s unclear how they were related to Sarah Ann or her family.

Since the Shermans are the newest additions to my family tree, I haven’t  had time yet to do much research on them.

Suffice to say there is more to learn about the family that gave my third great-grandfather Zebulon Blakeslee a new late-in-life start after his 1866 divorce — and hopefully I will find out more about them through future research.

Up next: A one-stop summary of my Blakeslee ancestors’ story. After that, a new series focusing on my Blakeslee ancestors’ divorce. (Yes, I have located the records!) Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.

© 2019 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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