Bryan Hotelkeeper Couldn't Hold on to His Wife

 Divorce in Williams County, Ohio, 1873

by Pamela Pattison Lash


            He disappeared for three years and she tired of being legally tied to her Civil War veteran.  She retained an interest in a Bryan hotel and kept it going until her divorce was final.  Soon after this she moved out of state and died.  Her ex-husband lived to be 85 years old.  Perhaps he had fewer cares and concerns than the divorced hotel mistress did.

            John J. Carnahan, b.c. 1804-1807, OH, parentage unknown, was first married to unknown bride by whom he had two children, Kate C. (b. 1846, OH) and William A. (b. 1850, OH).  In Defiance Co, OH on 26 Oct 1856 (Marriage V1 p136) he married Mrs. Susannah Clark, a widow, b. 1820, PA, was formerly Susan Griffith who had married Thomas Clark in Wms Co on 11 Mar 1839 (Marriage V1 p34).  In the 1850 Defiance, Defiance Co, OH federal census p5, the Clark family was listed as Thomas 37 ENG shoemaker, Susan 31 PA, Minerva 10 OH, Mary Ann 8 OH, Joseph 4 OH, Elizabeth 2 OH, plus three lodgers, William Morse 19 NY shoemaker, NW Allen 20 CAN, and John Glower 23 PA wagonmaker.

            From a case in the Williams Co, OH probate (#488) known as Ohio v. John Carnahan, 3 Oct 1857, John was found guilty of withholding wearing apparel belonging to Maria Plummer, a lunatic.  It would seem that John had run the very hotel property on the SE corner of W. High and S. Beech called the Bryan House that he would later buy in 1859 but this Maria Plummer for some reason stayed at the hotel from 1857-1870. Maria was listed twice in the Jail Register for 14 Mar 1855 -14 July 1855 and 24 Oct 1855 -at least 1 Nov 1855 for the "crime" of lunacy; she appears to be the only woman in jail for that timeframe.

            The Carnahans were enumerated in the 1860 Bryan, Pulaski Twp, Wms Co, OH federal census, p32, as hotelkeeper John 53 OH, Susan 43 PA, William A. 10 OH, Kate C. 14 OH, with Clark children Sarah 12 OH and Emma 8 OH, plus Maria Plummer 43 OH, insane, and several others living at the hotel.  In the Williams Co, OH Common Pleas Witness Book, May 1860, John Carnahan et al was being sued by Israel Hull.  This appears to be a case concerning property and debt.

            The Civil War interrupted John's hotel work and by 1861 he sold this establishment to Eli Richardson but Susan and the family stayed on and ran it.  Perhaps John wanted the money from the sale for his own use.  During the war John had enlisted as a private on 3 Sept 1861 in Co E 38th OVI and at some point he transferred to Co H 38th OVI as a hospital steward.  He was honorably discharged but something went wrong with his marriage as he was not enumerated with Susan in the 1870 Bryan, Pulaski Twp federal census, p43; those listed were Susan Carnahan 50 PA, Susan Clark 21 OH, Jesse Miller (f) 10 OH, pauper Maria Plummer 52 OH, and pauper John Miserly 50 OH. 

            Susan appeared in the Williams County, Ohio Civil and Criminal Court (Journal 8 p192, Roll 25 case number 64 - 14 Nov 1873) seeking a divorce from errant John Carnahan whom she stated was willfully absent for 3 or more years.  The court granted her a divorce. 

            She was still in Bryan on 16 Sept 1874 when she made a will; then she moved to DeKalb Co, IN where she died before 20 Oct 1875, but her will was probated here (#1762) as well as DeKalb Co (Book 1 p329-330).  Susan who could not write selected daughter Sarah Elizabeth Clark Egnew, wife of Calvin P. Egnew, whom she married on 22 Sept 1870, as her estate administrator.  Sarah died in Erie, Colorado on 23 Jan 1902 (Butler Weekly, 31 Jan 1902).  Nothing further is known of Susannah or her children.

            John evidently had moved to Kendalville, IN.  In the 1880 Elkhart, Elkhart Co, IN federal census p547 a John Carnahan was listed as John 73 OH with PA native parents, flagman on railroad, and he lived with the Oscar and Mary W. Nott family; whether this is the divorce subject is currently unknown. John died in April 1889 @85Y (Bryan Press, April 1889).  His obit mentioned that he was a longtime resident of Kendalville and his daughter, Mrs. Deuchar, survived him.  There was no mention of his marriage to Susannah.


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