Breach of Promise and a Bigger Problem for Fearnley and Stevenson, 1882
by Pamela Pattison Lash
Lois Fearnley, the daughter of Joseph and Elsie (Mack) Fearnley, was
born in Amboy, Hillsdale Co, MI, c1858. Joseph Fearnley had died and his
widow, Elsie, married a second time. Her
husband, John T. Joy was married to a Sarah M., who died on 16 Oct 1862 @49Y
3D and was buried in the Floral Grove Cemetery, Pioneer, Madison Twp, Williams
Co, OH (Madison Twp, Williams Co, OH Cemeteries, WCGS, 1996, p45).
Also buried beside her are John T. Joy, died 13 Mar 1899 @84Y 9M 17D
and his second wife, Elsie, 1832-1915. Mrs.
Elsie Joy later married Thomas Reader, 1 Apr 1900,Williams Co, OH (Marriages,
V8 p120). Williams County Probate #840, 30 April 1864, shows that Amelia,
Lois, and Lucy Fearnley were underage minors whose father had died and the
girls were given guardians. In the Madison Twp federal census records for 1870
and 1880 Lois Fearnley, a dressmaker, was enumerated with her mother, sisters,
and stepfather, John T. Joy. In
the 1880 listing there was a neighbor, William Stevenson, enumerated as
William Stevenson, 24 oar finisher b-place - OH; father's b-place - Scotland;
mother's b-place - PA
Williams Co, OH Civil and Criminal Court Records (Journal 11 p458, 20 June
1882; Roll 38 [#1006], 20 April 1882, one learns that Lois Fearnley was suing
William Stevenson for $6,000 in a breach of promise to marry suit.
Lois said that on 8 May 1881 William Stevenson promised to marry her on
11 May 1881, which he later refused to do.
Lois received another promise on 1 June 1881.
Subsequently from 25 Sept 1881 to 26 Jan 1882 she had been waiting for
a marriage to take place. In Apr
1882 she feared that William was about to convert and dispose of his real
property and leave the area; William held the mortgage on a farm occupied by
Charles Close in Madison Twp, Williams Co, OH.
bigger problem for Lois was that there was a child involved. Williams County,
Ohio Births, V2 p31 show a birth in Pioneer, Madison Twp, Williams Co, OH of
an unnamed male, 5 Feb 1882 (Glenn Wood Fearnley) to Lois E. Fearnley and
William J. Stevenson. This record was used in court to strengthen Lois' claim.
responded in court that Frank E. Loomis, a resident of Stillwater, Minnesota,
was his material witness. William
claimed on 31 Aug 1881, Lois and Frank went to Toledo where they slept
together as husband and wife; they were there until 2 Sept 1881 when Lois
returned to Pioneer and Loomis left for Minnesota.
William claimed he never promised to marry Lois. Note that William was
probably trying to show the court that Lois had relationships with other(s)
and this child could be some one else's other than himself. There were many
other witnesses called for both sides and this microfilm record is quite
occupied the attention of the court and jury for a week.
Lois' attorneys were Pratt and Bentley and Smith and Strayer while
William retained the services of Emery and Boothman and JR Tyler of
Perrysburg, Wood Co, OH. The jury
returned a verdict for the plaintiff, Lois, and assessed her damages at $100.
Promptly after this decision a motion for a new trial was made by the
defendant, William, but was later withdrawn and the judgment was rendered on
the verdict. William refused to
pay any amount of money to her. The
record does not show if he ever did or whether he served time in jail.
newspaper, "The Bryan Democrat", 10 Dec 1882, p5, stated,
"there probably has not been a more hotly contested trial in a case of
this nature at any session of the Court in this county."
Note that a judgment of $100 was a far cry from Lois' original suit for
later married William Shellhart in Williams Co, OH on 3 Oct 1893 (Williams Co,
OH Marriages, V6 #1032). William
was the son of Christian Shellhart and Elizabeth Cook, who are found in the
1850 Weller Twp, Richland Co, OH federal census p267. William was a Civil War
veteran of the Civil War in Co G 68th Ohio Volunteer Infantry.
to the Williams Co, OH Probate, #5967, William SHELLHART, late of Madison Twp
left a will in which his wife, Lois, was name the executor, along with the
following children, named within: daughter Sophia FERRIS of Pioneer, OH;
daughter Eda REPP of Pioneer, OH; and, son Jessie O. SHELLHART of Bryan, OH.
Jessie was to have been the executor but his name was crossed out and
Lois' substituted. Jessie
received the tools of his father while the others received a part interest in
the residence and land. William Shellhart was buried in Floral Grove Cemetery,
Pioneer, Madison Twp, Williams Co, OH (Madison Twp Cemeteries, (1841-28 MAR
1914). His first wife, Ruth
A.Wallace, daughter of Noah and Sophia Bowser Wallace, is buried beside him
(1842-12 Feb 1892, Williams Co, OH Deaths, V2 p64).
They were married in Williams Co, OH on 22 Aug 1861 (Williams Co, OH
Marriages, V3 p189). Lois later died and was interred at Birchardsville, PA.
1894 Williams Co, OH Atlas, p33, William Stevenson owned 100 acres of land in
the NW and SW 1/3rd of Section 11N in Madison Twp.
According to the three other atlases for this county dated 1864, 1874
and 1904, this same piece of land was owned by John Cox (1864, unnumbered
page), John Cox (1874, P52), and RB Cleveland (1904 p3), all reprinted as
Williams Co, OH 1874, 1894 Atlases, 1904 Plat Book, and 1864 Wall Map
Combined, WCGS, 1983. From this
same volume William is listed as the owner of a NW part containing 131.50
acres in Section 29 of Madison Twp. This
property was formerly owned by the heirs of DF Eggleston (1864, unnumbered
page), Daniel Eggleston (1874, P52), and Isaac GRANT (1894, p33).
Stevenson, who apparently never married, was buried in the Floral Grove
Cemetery, Pioneer, Madison Twp, Williams Co, OH, as W.J. Stevenson, 1856 - 10
Aug 1906. (Madison Twp, Williams Co, OH Cemeteries, WCGS, 1996, p70).
His death was recorded in the Williams Co, OH Deaths, V3 p106.
Statement of Copyright
Information posted on this site is copyrighted by the Williams County Genealogical Society. As a non-profit organization, funds are generated through memberships and sales of materials published by the Society.
Please respect our rights.