Martha Jane (Best) Aldrich vs. George W. Aldrich

The Husband Ran Away But the In-Laws (With a Twist) Remained Supportive, Divorce in Williams County, Ohio, 1881


            Two early Williams County, Ohio settlers married here on 24 Mar 1859 (Marriages, V3 p52) and they probably shared dreams of a happily ever after life for themselves and their children.  Seven years later the father died (Probate #1065 - 23 July 1866) and three years later his minor children were granted guardians by the Probate Court (#1283 - 14 Apr 1869).  The widow had to make a living on the farm that her husband had established in Madison Twp.  She hoped good fortune would visit each of her girls but one was not so lucky.

            Alexander Best married Elizabeth Fleagal and the couple settled on land in Section 32 of Madison Twp.  They had three daughters, Martha Jane (1859 OH - 28 Sept 1883; m. George W. Aldrich, 10 Dec 1875 or 1876, Hillsdale Co, MI [VE p198]); Mary (1861 OH -?); and Ada R. (Aug 1863 OH - 25 Feb 1960, Floral Grove Cemetery, Pioneer; m. Benjamin Hugh Traxler).  The Best family was enumerated in the 1860 Madison Twp federal census, Deerlick PO p203, as Alexander 25 PA, Elizabeth 17 OH, Martha 1 OH and 1870 Madison Twp federal census, p7, as Elizabeth Best 35 OH, Martha 10 OH, and Ada 6 OH. This genealogical detailing deals with the eldest daughter, Martha Jane Aldrich who married George W., the son of George S. and Emily Aldrich. 

George W., the groom, b. 1853 NY, was listed with his parents in the 1860 Bridgewater Twp federal census, p98A, as George Aldrich 48 NY, Emily 43 NY, Eliner 22 NY, Oliver 20 NY, Emma 18 NY, Marion (f) 16 NY, William 14 NY, Mary 11 NY, Sarah 9 NY, George 7 NY, Samuel 4 OH, Ida May 2 OH, and John 7/12 OH.  By the 1870 Bridgewater Twp federal census, p3, George Aldrich, who would be 17 years old, was missing from the family unit as was his mother Emily.  The family was enumerated as George Aldridge 57 NY, Samuel 14 OH, Ida M. 12 OH, and Henry H. 10 OH.  Presumably wife Emily died between the 1860 and 1870 censuses.

            Shortly before divorce action took place Martha was listed in the 1880 Madison Twp federal census, p476A, with her in-laws as George Aldrich 58 OH, Elizabeth 39 OH, Martha 20 OH, and sisters Mary Best 19 OH, Ada Best 16 OH, and daughter Myrtie Aldrich 3 OH.  Father-in-law George S. Aldrich was a native of NY and settled in Bridgewater Twp between 1856 -1860.  Before the 1880 census father-in-law George S. Aldrich married widow Elizabeth Best, making George S. both a father-in-law and stepfather to Martha Jane Best Aldrich.  No wonder the in-laws were so supportive and the Best sisters were living with Aldrich.

            Martha Jane filed a suit for divorce in the Williams County Civil and Criminal Court (Journal 11 p268 - Dec 1881; Roll 37 case number 922) against husband George stating that he was willfully absent for three years or more, had totally abandoned his wife and four year old daughter, and was guilty of gross neglect.  Note that she gave the marriage date as 1875 but a check in the Hillsdale Co, MI records showed the year was 1876.  She was granted a divorce and two years later died on 28 Sept 1883 @24Y; her tombstone in the Floral Grove Cemetery, Pioneer, Ohio showed her as Martha Best Shaffer, so she may have remarried after July 1881.  She rests beside her in-laws or mother and stepfather, George S. Aldrich (8 Apr 1898 @ 84Y) and Elizabeth Aldrich (6 or 16 Mar 1841 - 15 Sept 1921).  Elizabeth Aldrich was listed in the 1910 Pioneer, Madison Twp federal census as Elizabeth 69 OH widow with 3 children, 2 living.  Next door via the census was Myrtie M. Brandon, wife of Burget, who was listed as 32 OH, married 8 years with one child, Harold H, age 7.

            Errant husband, George W. Aldrich, as of 1881 lived in Geneva, Fillmore Co, Nebraska.  A newspaper notice in the "Bryan Press" notified him of Martha's intentions for a divorce.  Nothing more is known of him.  Martha Jane Best Aldrich was 16 or 17 years old when she married George, was about 18 years old when she became a mother, and was 24 years old when she died. 


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