David Blessing vs. Catherine (Dirr) Blessing

Count Your Blessings, No Divorce in Williams County, OH, 1881


            The court said he was not entitled to be divorced.  A German immigrant who admittedly was a habitual drunk must stay married to a woman who also drank too much and loved too well.  This genealogical detailing concerns a couple whose names appeared in many newspaper articles between 1870-1880 during the whiskey crusade.  They were quite a pair.

            David Blessing b.c. 1833, Wuertemberg, Germany, parentage unknown, married Ohio native of German heritage, Catharine Dirr in Pleasant Twp, Henry Co, OH on 30 Mar 1869 (Marriages V3 p100).  In the 1860 New Bavaria, Pleasant Twp, Henry Co, OH federal census p247, a Dirr family was listed as Henry Dirr 45 Wurtemburg, Catharine 40 Bavaria, Mary 18 OH, Henry 17 OH, Peter 15 OH, Andrew 13 OH, Frederick 11 OH, Charles 7 OH, and Eve 5 OH.  Note that Eve Dirr could be the later bride of David Blessing, even though the birth years do not line up. This couple appeared in the 1870 Bryan, Pulaski Twp, Wms Co, OH federal census p22, as David 37 WUE, shoemaker, and Catherine 21 OH.  A newspaper ad in The Bryan Democrat, 12 Jan 1871, noted that D. Blessing was the boot and shoe proprietor of a business on the west side of the square, but he also sold liquor.  From the Williams Co, OH Directory, 1877, D. Blessing was the proprietor of a restaurant on High Street near Lynn Street.

            During the whiskey crusade of the 1870's there was a law that permitted wives to sue proprietors of saloons for selling drink to their husbands if the wives had not granted permission to do so in writing.  Such was the early crusade case brought to the court's attention by a Mrs. Caroline Carroll to whom David Blessing had to pay $75 in damages.

            Wives were not the only ones suing David.  Jerry Beavers, his neighbor, sued Blessing for $100 in damages for selling liquor to Beaver's minor son. The court awarded Beavers $2 instead. (Bryan Democrat, Feb 1871).  From another newspaper account (Bryan Press, Aug 1878), one Sunday night the Blessings substituted wine for their usual beer and suffered some unusual effects in their home.  A riot ensued when Catherine began beating David with an empty bottle and pulling his magnificent beard.  Mrs. B was fined $1 for her antics while Mr. B. was unable to appear in court due to his wounds.

            The couple appeared in the 1880 Bryan, Pulaski Twp, Wms Co, OH federal census, p647A, as David 46 Germany, saloonkeeper, and wife Catherine 29 OH- Wuertemberg - Bavaria.  According to the Williams County, OH Civil and Criminal Court records (J11 p164 - 10 June 1881, Roll 36 #882 - April 1881) David Blessing appeared before the court requesting a divorce.  He told the magistrate that Catherine had committed adultery with a Charles Smith on 20 June 1877.  On 27 July 1878 at the home of Samuel Shorthill in Bryan she committed adultery with Herbert Granville and on 27 Aug 1880 and every day since she committed adultery at their Bryan home with John Richmond.  David also stated that he was married to Catherine on 23 Mar 1869 but the Henry Co, OH record showed the date as 30 March 1869.  David brought several Pulaski Twp residents to court to give testimony on his behalf such as Dora Wheeler, Daniel Tharp, and Philip Schatzer.

            Catherine appeared in court and countersued with the story that on 17 Sept 1872 David has assaulted her whereupon she spat up blood and was confined to her bed for two days.  The court basically dismissed both suits and specifically told David that he was not entitled to a divorce.  The couple did not appear to have any known children.  David's death date is not currently known but his wife Catherine may have died on 28 Apr 1922. 


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