Married Doctor Hiding Property, Two Divorces in Williams County, Ohio, 1868-69


Pamela Pattison Lash

One reads about physicians today who are accused of 'hanky panky" with their patients. This is certainly not a new circumstance as evidenced by this genealogical detailing from the Wms Co, OH Civil and Criminal Court records (Journal 7 - 11 May 1868; Roll 19 case number 84).


Dr. John Kemp, native of England,  (1822 - ?) married Lavina W. Parrish (1821 NY - bef 13 Apr 1872) on 26/30 Nov 1844 in Steuben Co, IN.  The parentage of both is unknown.  The first record for Dr. Kemp in Wms Co is a newspaper article in the fall of 1852 mentioning John was an E flat cornet player in the original Bryan Band.  No one knows how well his musical abilities were but practicing with the band would have afforded him several nights away from his wife.  The 1860 Bryan, Pulaski Twp federal census, p37, enumerated the Kemps as John R. 38 EN physician, Lavina 39 Canada East, and Leonard 13 IN.  Kemp's office was located at 121 W. Butler St. in Bryan.

            On 27 Apr 1868 Lavina petitioned the court for a divorce stating that at diverse times from 1 July 1863 in his office her husband committed adultery with  "sundry women unknown to Lavinia."  On 24 June 1866 and 24 Sept 1866 Dr. Kemp committed adultery with Mrs. Amanda Davis and from this liaison he became a father of a male child born on 24 Mar 1867.  Almost a year later on 11 Mar 1868 Kemp left his home with Amanda and the child and eloped for parts unknown.  He took a wagon, one cow, books, furniture, and account books plus other provisions and headed to the state of Kansas leaving Lavina with nothing.  She also sued lawyer Samuel A. Treat whom she stated was in collusion with Kemp to hide property.  Dr. Kemp owned 10 acres of land (NE 1/4 NE 1/4 Sec 21 T6N 3E) and Lot #121 in Bryan.  She wanted a reasonable alimony and the real estate.

            Lavina called the following witnesses who all attested to her charges: John B. Shouf, Alfred Plummer, David A. Wolf, and Dr. QH Graser.  A legal notice of this suit was published in the "Bryan Union Press", Apr 1868.  The divorce was granted and Lavina did receive John's real estate.

            By the 1870 federal census for Bryan, p34, Lavina W. Parrish, restored to her maiden name, was listed as 49 NY housekeeper living with Ann Moore 24 Baden, a domestic servant; Lavina's son Leonard b. 1847 IN was not residing there but he may have established a home of his own or he died between 1868-1870.  Wms Co, OH Probate (#1500) filed on 13 Apr 1872 showed an estate for Lavina, who had written a will on 6 Jan 1871 in which she left the house and buildings to an adopted daughter Leanora Gilbert, wife of Thomas Gilbert.  Lavina's sister, Mary F. Norse of Steuben Co, IN, received $100 to be paid one year after Lavina's death.  The First Regular Baptist Church of Bryan was also to receive $100 to be given two years after her death.

            The 1870 Bryan, Pulaski Twp federal census showed Thomas Gilbert 25 OH and his wife Lenora 23 IN; she was Lavina’s adopted daughter. The 1880 York, Steuben Co, IN federal census showed a Mary A. Norse 56 NY divorced with son Loyd 18, niece Lora 19, and mother Elizabeth Stockman 79 US.  If this was Lavina’s sister, the mother Elizabeth Stockman could also be the mother of Lavina.

            The other woman, Amanda Davis, was born Mary Manda Chapman.  She had married William M. Davis in Paulding, OH, on 25 May 1862 (Marriages, V2 p23).  William filed a divorce action in Wms Co on 16 Oct 1869 according to court records (Journal 7 - Nov 1869, and Roll 21 case number 40).  Davis stated that on 24 July 1867 Amanda committed adultery with John R. Kemp and that she left this state for Kansas with Kemp.  William did not mention Amanda having a child with Dr. Kemp.  Under old miscellaneous probate, which contained divorce cases for Defiance Co, OH (Defiance Co, OH Records Center) there was a case of William E. Davis v Amanda M. Davis (case number 265, undated index).

The 1850 Harrison Twp, Paulding Co, OH federal census index showed an Amanda Chapman, age 15, as the daughter of Timothy or Miles Chapman.  More research needs to be done there for Amanda's background.  Nothing more is known of the principals of this case todate.  One does wonder why William Davis waited almost 1 1/2 years after Lavina Kemp received her divorce before he filed for one of his own.  Maybe he thought he and his errant wife would reconcile or maybe he found someone else. 


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