Changing Minds, Changing Hearts in the 
Pathway of Life: No Divorce
 Williams County, OH


Pamela Pattison Lash


How many times have you ever heard of modern-day people filing for divorce and then dropping the suit? Just as this happens today, so did this change of heart, change of mind occur in the 1870's. The detailing of this "almost" divorce deals with this type of change plus a rather unusual suit involving the parties of this story. I will introduce the principals of the case.

The son of Pennsylvania natives whose identities are unknown to-date, Gideon Albright was born on 16 Feb 1828 in Allegheny Co, PA; at the age of 16 he traveled to Holmes Co, OH in 1844 and later moved to Center Twp, Wms Co, OH in 1848.  According to the 1840 German Twp, Holmes Co, OH federal census p248, Samuel Deatz resided there with a wife and four children. By the 1850 federal census for Center Twp p71, Gideon, a brick maker, lived with the Samuel Deetz family as follows: Samuel Deetz 39 PA, Mary 34 OH, Catherine 15 OH, Susannah 12 OH, Jonathan 10 OH, Sarah 8 OH, Mary 5 OH, Samuel 2 OH, and Gideon Albright 21 PA.

            Samuel Deatz (alternative spellings Deetz, Deeds, Deedz, and Dietz), the son of Jacob O. and Susannah Baker Dietz, was born on 7 Nov 1812 in Somerset Co, PA.  His wife, Mary Elizabeth Krieger, parentage unknown, was born on 27 Feb 1817 in Holmes Co, OH.  Samuel Deetz and his wife Mary were married in Holmes Co, OH on 21 Apr 1833 by Jacob Fisher, JP (Marriages of Holmes Co, OH, Raber, p120).  They moved from there in 1842/43 to set up residence in this county.  Possibly since Samuel was a native of PA he was a relative of Gideon or had known him through acquaintances back in Holmes County.  Note that the Samuel Lint family, residing next door to the Deetzs in the 1850 federal census, also traveled here from Holmes Co; Samuel Lint married Elizabeth Krieger there on 5 Sept 1840.  Elizabeth Lint and Mary Deatz were sisters. The Deatzs had the following children: Catherine, Susannah, Jonathan/Jonas (1840 Shanesville, Holmes Co – aft 1897; m Sarah A. Deal, 12 Jan 1865, Wms Co), Saloma/Sarah (23 Dec 1842 Holmes Co – 25 July 1900, Wms Co; m Benjamin Cotterman, 3 July 1860, Wms Co), Mary (25 Dec 1845 Wms Co – 13 Dec 1928 Wms Co; m William Lint, 1 Jan 1867, Wms Co), Samuel (1848 Wms Co – aft 1897). 

            On 26 June 1851 in Wms Co, OH (Marriages V2 p118) Gideon Albright married Catherine Deetz, the oldest daughter of his host family. Gideon's fifteen-year old bride, Catherine, was born on 4 Feb 1836 in Sobaresville, Holmes Co, OH and at the age of six she moved here with her parents on their farm in Center Twp near West Buffalo.  About six years later Gideon's younger brother, Perry Albright, born in Feb 1831 PA, followed suit and married the Deetz's second daughter, Susanna, on 11 Nov 1857 in Wms Co (Marriages V2 p129); Susannah was born in Holmes Co on 11 Nov 1838.  Perry had evidently traveled here to visit or he came later to live with his brother and his new bride.  Note that in census records for 1870 Pulaski Twp, Wms Co there appear several other Albrights: Davis Albright 28 OH, a wagon master (p24); Dennis Albright 34 PA with a family consisting of wife Sarah 37 OH (the former Mrs. Sarah Chrisman, married here on 3 Dec 1857, Marriages V2 p182), Emma Chrisman 15, and Albright daughters Anna 11 OH and Ella 5 OH (p1 Bryan).  Whether Davis and Dennis were relatives of Gideon and Perry has yet to be determined.

            The Albrights were enumerated in the 1860 Pulaski Twp, Wms Co, OH federal census p43 on 28 June 1860 as follows: Gideon 32 PA, Catherine 25 OH, Matilda 7 OH, William 6 OH, Jemima 3 OH, and Mary 1 OH.  This couple would eventually have a total of six children all born in this county: Matilda (Aug 1852-1939; m1 Ezra O. Knight, 17 Aug 1871; divorced 1888; m2 William Ervin Marsh, 7 May 1899); William (1854-pos bef 1870); Regena/Jennie (Nov 1856-aft 1930, Cumberland MD; m. Joseph Lippold c1879); Mary (1858-Jan 1882; m. **Wilcox); Benjamin F. (May 1861- cNov 1938; m. Gertrude Kampf, 4 Mar 1886); Anna Florence (1863-8 June 1938; m. William S. Stackhouse, 30 Jul 1888).

            At some point in 1860 Gideon was brought before the Wms Co, OH Grand Jury.  He owned an ashery on the west side of Beech Street in Bryan.  Prior to this his name is found as either the plaintiff or defendant in numerous civil cases between Nov 1852-June 1858; all these suits involved financial matters in association with the ashery.  The cases continued from May 1864-June 1877.

            Gideon's brother, Perry, and wife Susannah lived in Wms Co, OH between 1860-1870 as evidenced by federal census records, 1860 Pulaski p42 and 1870 Bryan, Pulaski p49 and the couple had the following children: Mary who first married Thomas Frank Davis on 3 Apr 1869, Wms Co (later divorced), m2 Mr. Chatterton, m3 Rev Asa Brickley; Sarah, Charles W., William, George A., and Millie Aurelia who married Isaac Cruse on 3 Mar 1885, Cherryvale, KS.  Perry and his family were enumerated in the 1880 Drum Creek Twp, Montgomery Co, KS federal census p212A as Perry 50 PA, Susanna 47 OH, William 18 OH, George 15 OH, and Millie 11 OH. He was also a brick maker by trade and was found as a widower living in Portland, Multnomah Co, Oregon in 1900 (federal census Roll 1351, ED 81 p17) with his daughter Millie Amelia Cruse and husband Isaac, a railroad engineer; the Cruse family lived in Oregon c1889 and perhaps Perry and Susanna Albright moved to Oregon with them; his wife Susannah Deatz Albright died in Portland, OR in 1895. Perry later passed away ithere n Jan 1911, and was buried in the Lone Fir Cemetery beside his wife.  Perry and Susannah may have left Wms Co with some financial stability or dissatisfaction based on the next events.

            Suffering from the effects of fire damps in a well, Samuel Deetz, Susannah and Catherine Albright’s father, died intestate on 2 Sept 1854 here, but his estate was not settled until 10 June 1867 when Gideon Albright and wife Catherine and Perry Albright and wife Susannah sold their shares in the farm property for $98.68 apiece to Leonard Nafitzger of Bryan.  There appears to have been a dispute between Samuel Lint, a brother-in-law to the Deetz's and the administrator of Samuel's estate against the widow, Mary Krieger Deetz and the heirs; this would account for additional stress on the couples. 

According to Wms Co Probate (case numbers 407 and 408) on 14 Jan 1856 David Thomas was appointed guardian for the minor Deeds children, Jonas, Saloma, Mary, and Samuel with their mother given an allowance on the sale of real estate.  This was the same date when Samuel Lint, administrator, sued widow Mary and minor children with David Thomas as guardian, plus Catharine and Susannah Albright and their husbands over a petition to sell the land Samuel Deetz held at the time of his death.  The adults wanted a homestead set off this land for Mary Deetz and the minors to live on; Samuel Lint apparently did not wish this.

            Another stressful event would unfold in the marriage and subsequent divorce of Susannah and Catherine’s mother, Mary Krieger Deeds.  From the 1860 Center Twp, Wms Co, OH federal census p87B, Mary Deeds 44 OH was listed with her children, James/Jonas 20 OH, Salma 17 OH, Mary 14 OH, and Samuel 11 OH.  It appears that Mary married Nicholas Brown, a Center Twp resident, on 22 Oct 1865 in Wms Co, OH.  Mary later requested a divorce from Nicholas in 1867.  For further information see Nicholas Brown detailing.

            The Albrights were again found in the federal census records for 1870 Bryan, Pulaski Twp p17 with five of their children, as Gideon 40 PA, Catherine 38 OH, Jennie 13 OH, Mary 12 OH, Benjamin 9 OH, Anna 7 OH, and Matilda 18 OH domestic servant. Note that in the 1870 census Jemima becomes known as Jennie and son William had possibly died as a youth or as a teenager he may have left the area.  He would have been 16 by then.  In 1871 Catherine sued several local saloonkeepers for furnishing Gideon with liquor without her consent.  This was both a very proactive move on her part and, apparently by the local newspapers, a very foolish one.  One surmises that the men of this county were amused and shocked while the females, especially women with husbands or fathers who drank to excess, probably felt delighted and secretly supportive of Catherine's move.  Since women did not have the legal or political clout or status that they do today, this case was dismissed.

            In June 1877 according to Journal 9 p195 of the Wms Co, OH Common Pleas Court, Catherine and Gideon both appeared seeking a divorce, thereby suing each other.  Gideon planned to appeal this action to the District Court but he was told the appeal would cost $800.  Whether Gideon changed his ways or Catherine changed her mind, each of the parties dropped the suits for divorce sometime in late 1879.

            According to the 1880 federal census for Bryan, Pulaski Twp p632B, the couple was listed with their two youngest children, Anna and Benjamin, a hostler.  Catherine's mother, Mary Krieger Deetz (27 Feb 1817-8 Apr 1897 @80Y 1M 13D, Center Twp, Wms Co, OH) died 17 years later and was buried in West Buffalo Cem, Florence Twp.  Her obituary in the Bryan Democrat, 15 Apr 1897 p4, stated she was the mother of nine children, but only six are currently known.  At the time of her death she lived with her daughter and son-in-law, Mary and William Lint.

            Three years later in 1900 the couple was still together at their home on North Walnut Street in Bryan, according to the federal census p155, and they had six children with four still living.  Their son, Benjamin, was an insurance salesman and their surviving daughters, Matilda, Jennie, and Anna had all married. 

Gideon and Catherine were also grandparents, presumably now setting an example of connubial bliss; however daughter Matilda Knight sued her husband for divorce in 1888. (Roll 47 case number 2064 - 1888). The couple was married on 17 Aug 1871, Wms Co (Marriage V4 p183).  Ezra was the son of Samuel and Amanda Jane Johnson Knight who were listed in the 1870 Bryan, Pulaski Twp federal census p18, as Samuel 45 PA carpenter, Amanda 41 OH, Alwilda 22 OH, Ezra O 19 OH works in stave factory, Joe P 16 OH, Milo O 13 OH, Emma L 11 OH. Samuel D. and wife Amanda were married in Wayne Co, OH on 25 Oct 1847.

The Knight family was enumerated in the 1880 Bryan, Pulaski Twp federal census p632 and 655B as Ezra Knight 28/29 OH brakeman, Matilda 26/27 OH, and Charles 7/9 OH.  The census taker possibly made some mistakes and returned to the neighborhood as several surrounding families were listed twice with different particulars. After this divorce Matilda married William I. Marsh on 7 May 1899 in Wms Co (Marriages V8 p28).  William had been married before to Lanetta T. Altaffer who died on 2 Oct 1896.  The Marshs were listed in the 1900 Bryan, Pulaski Twp federal census p161 East Mulberry St as Irwin W Dec 1847 (52) OH house carpenter, Tillie Aug 1852 (47) OH, Dessey Jan 1884 (16) OH. In 1910 William E. Marsh and wife Tillie lived on Walnut St according to the 1910 Bryan federal census p173 and by 1920 p140 Tillie Marsh 67 OH widow was still residing on Walnut St. William died on 16 Mar 1916 and was buried in Shiffler Cem, Jefferson Twp, next to his first wife.  Matilda died in 1939 and was buried in the Bryan Fountain Grove Cem as Matilda (Knight) Marsh.

            On 7 Nov 1906 Gideon Albright died @78Y 8M 22D of paralysis.  His funeral was held at the United Brethren Church in Bryan and he was buried in Fountain Grove Cem.  His health had declined two years prior to his death.  According to his obit in the Bryan Democrat (13 Nov 1906 p1), "Mr. Albright was always industrious and worked hard, never idle until two years ago" and "for several years he (Gideon) has been a devoted member of the UB Church in whose circle he will be greatly missed".

            On 1 Jan 1908 Catherine Deetz Albright succumbed to heart failure after a long illness and was buried beside her husband; Catherine was 71Y 10M 28D at her death.  Catherine had obituaries in both Bryan newspapers; the Bryan Democrat (7 Jan 1908 p1) stated, "Mrs. Albright was always industrious, never idle and only thought of her loved ones at home.  She never faltered or skirted the duties of a devoted wife and a loving mother".  Catherine was also a faithful member of the UB Church whose pastor, Dr. Raymond C. Swisher, conducted the funeral services for both her and husband Gideon.  Catherine's Bryan Press obit (9 Jan 1908) stated that she had lived in Bryan about 50 years and with her husband Gideon "they traveled the pathway of life together until his death".

            Their daughter Regena/Jennie had married Joseph H. Lippold c1879 and the couple was listed in the 1900 Cumberland, Alleghany Co, MD federal census p54 as Joseph Oct 1858 (42) MD, Regena Nov 1856 (43) OH, along with their children.  The couple had 10 children with 8 surviving.  By the 1910 federal census p60 they owned a truck farm and had 11 children with 9 surviving.  In the 1930 Wills Creek, Alleghany Co, MD federal census p142, Regina was listed as 71 OH widow.

            From another divorce case one finds that Annie Albright married Charles H. Hitchcock on 14 July 1881, Cumberland, Allegheny Co, MD. Annie Hitchcock appeared in the Williams County Civil and Criminal Court (Journal 12 p403 - 17 Dec 1884; Roll 40 Box 133 case number 1301 - 12 May 1884).  She told the court that Charles was guilty of gross neglect and failure to provide for her.  She lived and cohabited with him for three weeks and then learned she would have to support herself. Charles, an only child, belonged to a wealthy family and he had both money and property.  The court agreed to the divorce and awarded Annie alimony of $800.

            Annie could be the daughter of Dennis and Sarah Chrisman Albright or more likely the daughter of our subjects, Gideon and Catherine. Anna, their daughter, was 17 in the 1880 Bryan census and her sister, Jennie Lippold, had married and was living in Cumberland, Alleghany Co, MD.  Annie Albright might have visited her sister, married Charles Hitchcock (1881), realized her mistake, moved back to Bryan, filed for and received a divorce (1884), and later married Wiliam Stackhouse (1888). The Stackhouse couple traveled around in the east and was found in the 1910 East Orange, Essex Co, NJ federal census p166 as William 49 OH piano salesman and wife Ann 45 OH; they did not have any children. By 1920 they lived in Arlington, Middlesex Co, MA, and by the time of her death on 8 June 1938 Anna and William Stackhouse had moved back to Bryan.  Her obituary in the Bryan Press, 11 Aug 1938 p6, stated that the couple had observed their 50th wedding anniversary a few days before she passed away. 



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