Civil War Soldier Who Loved and Married Too Often

 Divorce in Williams Co, OH, 1866

by Pamela Lash


            When I abstracted Williams Co, OH marriages many years ago, I found a couple who had married twice.  At first I thought I had made a mistake, but I have since discovered there was a powerful reason for this man marrying the same woman twice.  This genealogical detailing deals with a Civil War soldier who loved often and married often without benefit of legal procedures until his first wife headed for the divorce court.

            Daniel Shellhart, b.28 May1826, Schuylkill Co, PA, son of Christian and Elizabeth Cook Shelhart, married Catherine Campbell, b.c. 1828, PA, parentage unknown, in Richland Co, OH, on 17 Nov 1847 (Marriages, V5 p77).  The couple was enumerated in the 1850 Blooming Grove Twp, Richland Co, OH federal census p163, as Daniel Shelhart 26 PA, Catherine 24 PA, William Romley 27 NY, Nancy Romley 26 PA, Laura Romley 2 OH, Christian Shelhart 2 OH, and William Shelhart 11/12 OH.

            Apparently Daniel left his wife and children in Richland Co, OH and moved to Williams Co where he married Elizabeth Folk, daughter of PA natives Isaac and Elizabeth Folk, on 8 Nov 1855, Wms Co (V2 p161).  Elizabeth was b.c. 1835, Columbiana Co, OH. This couple was listed in the 1860 Jefferson Twp, Wms Co, OH federal census, p168A, West Jefferson PO, as Daniel Shellhart 32 PA, Elizabeth 24 PA, Harriet 4 OH, Sarah 3 OH, and Joseph 1 OH. Catherine and Daniel's son, Christian, lived with a Kamble family according to the 1860 Madison Twp federal census, p213. Daniel joined Co G 68th OVI on 4 Jan 1862 as a private and served in the Union Army during the Civil War for 17 months.

            Catherine Shelhart sought a divorce from the Williams County Civil and Criminal Court (Journal 6 p509, 592 - 31 Oct 1865; Roll 17 #83).  What caused her to wait until 1865 when he had been missing for about 12 years is anyone's guess, but Catherine told the court that her husband had willfully abandoned her and their two sons, Christopher Hulbart (30 Sept 1848, Richland Co, OH - 30 Dec 1911, Fallon, ND; m. Sarah Isabelle Harley, 23 Sept 1875, Polk, IA) and William B. (5 Oct 1849, Richland Co, OH; m. Olive C. Hill, 11 Nov 1873, Wms Co, V4 #303) on 1 Apr 1853.  Daniel had committed adultery with Elizabeth Folk, on many occasions and the couple was openly living as husband and wife with several children.  He did not have real estate known to Catherine but she sought this divorce and a reasonable alimony.  Catherine also sued Elizabeth's older brother, Jacob Folk, for his part in the supposed cover-up of this affair.

            The court found Daniel Shelhart guilty of abandonment and awarded Catherine $500 in alimony plus the divorce on 31 Oct 1866.  Daniel's bigamy trial began on 3 Nov 1866 and he was found guilty of the charge, but since the court had granted Catherine a divorce, he was now free to legally marry Elizabeth Folk, which is precisely what he did on 14 Aug 1867, Wms Co (V3 p702). 

            Daniel and Elizabeth Folk Shelhart had the following children: Harriet (1856 - ?; m. Alvaro D. Clark, 14 Oct 1879, Putnam Co, OH); Sarah Elizabeth (1857-1932; m1. John Wesley Cripliver, 18 May 1874, Whitehouse, Lucas Co, OH; m2. Horace Greeley Harbaugh, aft 1881); Joseph (16 Apr 1859 - 2 Dec 1861, bur West Jefferson Cem); Mary Etta (1862 - ?; m. Albert Chamberlain, 14 Dec 1882, Sandusky, Erie Co, OH); Joshua (29 Feb 1864 - 6 Feb 1926, MI; m. Martha Ellen Johnson, 13 Apr 1889, Big Rapids, Mecosta Co, MI).

            Catherine may have stayed here after the divorce but one does know that as Catherine Kimmell she married John Klotz on 17 Nov 1868, Wms Co (V4 p27) and the couple were found on the 1870 Center Twp, Wms Co, OH federal census, p18, as John Klotz 49 WT, Catherine 40 PA, William Shellhart 19 OH railroader, and Kate Campbell 9 IN.  The relationship of the little girl to Catherine is not currently known, but Campbell was Catherine's maiden name.  In another part of the county in the 1870 Madison Twp, Wms Co, OH federal census, p15, one finds a William Shellhart 28 OH, Ruth A 26 OH, William 9 OH, Sophia D. 3 OH, Mary E. 1 OH, and Christopher Shellhart 21 OH.  This Christopher is the son of Daniel and Catherine, living with relatives.  Closeby in Madison Twp there was a Joshua Shellhart 33 OH along with his family, p3.

            After the bigamy trial and subsequent remarriage to Elizabeth Folk, Daniel and his second family disappear, but in Williams Co on 29 July 1873 (V4 p286) a Daniel Shelhart married Jane Priest; whether this is our subject is not presently known, but our subject did become a groom once again on 20 Mar 1880, Sandusky, Erie Co, OH, when he married Eliza Birdsall.

            The report of the Board of Managers of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers of the Ohio Soldiers and Sailors' Home, Sandusky, Erie Co, OH, 30 June 1895 listed (#2725) a Daniel Shelhart, Regiment G 68th OVI, age 69, carpenter, widower, bp PA.  He had applied for a disability pension as an invalid on 20 June 1882.  This Daniel died on 30 Sept 1895 at this veterans' facility. More research needs to be done to prove this man is the Civil War soldier who is detailed herein.

            In Yackee Cemetery, Center Twp, there is a tombstone inscription for a Catherine Klotz who died 20 Apr 1876 (Deaths, V1 p38), who may be Catherine Campbell Shelhart Klotz.  Again no sufficient proof has been currently discovered as to this supposition.


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