Susan Gibbons (Baum) Beck vs. Gearhart Beck

Anna (Jones) Baum vs. William F. Baum

Widow Married Bigamist, Divorce in Williams County, Ohio, 1879, 1881


            Little currently is known of farmer Gearhart Beck, b. 1827 PA, who may have been from Antrim Twp, Franklin Co, PA; he married the widow Susan Baum on 5 Jan 1868, Wms Co (Marriages V3 p748) and together they were enumerated in the 1870 Florence Twp federal census, p39, as Gearhart 43 PA, Susan 37 OH, Anna 8/12 OH (Susanna b. 29 Sept 1868, Florence Twp, Births V1 p8), Thomas Baum 6 OH, William Baum 13 OH, John Baum 11 OH, and Martha Baum 7 OH.

            Prior to this marriage Susan Gibbons/Gibsons had married John G. Baum, 20 Aug 1852 in Wms Co (Marriages V2 p126).  John G. Baum, possibly the son of John and Catherine Baum, was born on 3 Nov 1822, Summit Co, OH and his bride Susan Gibbons, parentage unknown, was also a Summit Co native, born 29 Mar 1833.  Shinn's History of Williams County, Ohio, 1905, p275, gave an account of John traveling to Florence Twp c1851 and purchasing land there. The couple was listed in the 1860 Florence Twp federal census, p21A.  John enlisted in the 111th OVI during the Civil War and when he returned home on invalid furlough he died on 16 Nov 1865 @ 45Y 13D; John was buried in the West Buffalo Cemetery, Florence Twp.

            John and Susan Baum were the parents of the following children: Thomas J (24 Oct 1853 - 16 Mar 1907, buried Riverside Cemetery, Montpelier; m Henrietta Hammel, 3 Feb 1879, Wms Co [Marriages V4 p446]); William J (1857 - aft 1905); George W (27 Mar 1858 - 12 Apr 1858); Mary E (27 Mar 1858 - 14 Apr 1858); John V (1859 - aft 1905); Martha E (1863 - aft 1905, Stillwater, OK; m James Miller).  Twins George and Mary were buried in West Buffalo Cemetery.  On 9 Dec 1865 John Baum's estate was probated (#1003) and Susan received the farm.

            In 1868 the new husband Gearhart Beck entered the family and about a year after the marriage, the Baum children were granted a guardian to oversee their interests in their father's estate (#1303 - 5 July 1869).  About ten years later after finding out that Gearhart had a wife living in Seneca Co, OH, Susan appeared in the Williams County Civil and Criminal Court requesting a divorce (Journal 10 p112 - Mar/Apr 1879; Roll 34 case number 589 - June 1879).  Susan had two children by Gearhart, Anna (9) and George (6).  She informed the court that Gearhart had skipped the jurisdiction of Williams County and had returned to Tiffin, Seneca Co, OH.  Susan was granted a divorce and restored to her former married name, Baum.  Whether Gearhart was ever prosecuted for bigamy in Seneca Co or elsewhere has yet to be discovered.  In Aug 1879 Susan Baum of Blakeslee, Williams Co, OH, widow, applied for and received a CW widow’s pension of $8 per month.  In the 1870 and 1880 Venice Twp, Seneca Co, OH federal census, there was a Mary A. Beck 48 OH and later 59 OH listed as either widow or divorced.  She appears to be a candidate for the second wife of Gearhart but this needs to be determined.

            By the 1880 Florence Twp federal census, p602A, one finds a full household of Susan Baum 47 OH, William 24 OH, John 20 OH, Martha E. Miller 17 OH, James Miller 22 OH, Anna Beck 11 OH, George Beck 8 OH, and Nora Gibbons 17 OH, Susan's niece.  Sometime after this census and before the Shinn account (1880 – 1905) Susan moved to Stillwater, OK, to live with her daughter Martha Miller; however in the 1900 Elm Grove Twp, Payne Co, OK federal census p118, Susan Baum Mar 1833 (67) OH widow lived with her married daughter, Anna Ford b. Sept 1869 (30) OH, and her family, Frank Ford  b. Feb 1863 (37) OH married 13Y with 4 children, 3 surviving, and Frank’s widowed father, William Ford Oct 1833 (66) OH.  Susan was not listed in the 1910 Oklahoma federal census, so she either died between 1900-1910, moved to another location, or remarried.

            Another divorce proceeding was found in the Wms County cases (Journal 12 p133 - 28 Nov 1883; Roll 37 case number 900 - May 1881; Roll 40 case number 1280) that I initially thought tied into the previous detailing, but I have since abandoned that notion.  Anna Jones b. 1859 OH, daughter of William and Elizabeth Jones, married William F. Baum on 18 Oct 1879, Wms Co (Marriages V4 p535).  The Jones family was listed in both the 1860 Florence Twp, PO Lukes Corners federal census, p20, as William D 22 NY, Elizabeth 20 NY, and Jane 1 OH, and by the 1870 Florence Twp, p39, (a few households from the Gearhart-Baum family) William D 33 OH, Elizabeth 31 OH, Anna 11 OH, Martha 9 OH, Francis 7 OH, and William 3 OH.  Note the change of birthplaces for both parents from NY to OH.

            Anna Jones Baum requested a divorce in 1881 and again in 1883 stating that her husband, William, had a violent and angry disposition.  He often cursed and threatened her.  He was guilty of gross neglect as he did not provide any food or clothing and that Anna had to support herself for the "whole of the marriage."  She told the court that William was 38 years old, strong, and healthy; he was able to earn $2 per day as a laborer.  In both divorce filings the court dismissed the case.  If this William was 38 in 1881 his calculated birth year would be 1843 and yet there is a Baum couple buried in Riverside Cemetery, Montpelier, that fits this pair: William Baum (1855 - 1939) and wife Anna M. (1859-1938); however this does not fit with the husband's calculated birth year of 1843.  The information in the case could have been incorrectly recorded, [28 years instead of 38 years] or Anna could have been incorrect in her statement to the court.

            Susan Baum's son William was living with her in 1880 as William Baum 24 OH, single marital status. According to Susan Baum Beck in her divorce statements, her son was William J, not William F. There was also a William Baum 23 OH, farm laborer, single living with the Catherine Hughes family in the 1880 Superior Twp federal census, p536D.  Are these men the same William?  Were either of them the husband of Anna?  Is the couple buried in Riverside Cemetery the pair from this divorce detailing? Further investigation should be made to clarify the data.


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