A Sly Fox, Divorce in Williams County, Ohio, 1874


Pamela Pattison Lash

            In the early records of this county a divorce could be obtained more easily if one is the husband seeking to terminate his marriage to an unfaithful wife. The trick seemed to be providing documentation by date, place, and name of third party in the accusations coupled with a large number of witnesses who were willing to testify in court or submit a deposition. Such is the case with this affair.

Ezekiel Fox, son and eldest child of Thomas and Elizabeth Lyon Fox, was born in Knox Co, OH on 30 Jan 1835.  Thomas and his family were enumerated in the 1860 NW Twp, Wms Co, OH PO Nettle Lake federal census, p11, as Thomas 49 PA, Elizabeth 44 OH, Ezekiel 25 OH, John 20 OH, and Mary C. 9 OH. The Fox family suffered a loss with the death of Thomas Fox on 4 June 1863 @51Y 8M 2D, who was buried in the Columbia Cemetery.  Widow Elizabeth joined her husband on 15 Jan 1878 @62Y 1M 23D. 

Ezekiel married Ann Catherine Sickles on 17 May 1862, NW Twp (Marriages V3 p242).   Ann b. 6 Dec 1844, Wms Co, OH, was the daughter of John W. and Lydia Fisher Sickles of Steuben Co, IN. Ann Catherine's parents were Ohio natives with John b. 24 Sept 1819, Harrison Co, OH and wife Lydia b. 23 June 1824, Seneca Co, OH.  The Sickles married in Hancock Co, OH on 24 Sept 1842 and chose their final resting-place in Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, Steuben Co, IN with John dying on 24 Aug 1892 and Lydia on 22 May 1904.  Ann Catherine was the second of nine known children. 

            Ezekiel and his bride became the parents of son Marion b. 1863.  The couple was listed in the 1870 NW Twp federal census, p21, as carpenter Ezekiel 34 OH, Catherine 24 OH, and Marion 7 OH.  Next door to them was another young couple, Thomas Fetterhoff 30 OH and his wife Lavina I. Miller 28 OH whom he married in Wms Co on 13 Mar 1859 (Marriages V3 p50) plus their daughter Marilla 10 IN.

            On 27 May 1874 (Journal 8 p254 – 27 May 1874; Roll 26 case number 23) Ezekiel Fox appeared at the Williams County, Ohio Civil and Criminal Court requesting a divorce.  He provided specific dates when wife Ann Catherine committed adultery with neighbor Thomas Fetterhoff at the Fox home at least five times between 10 Jan 1872 - 8 July 1872 when Ann left the home and fled to someplace in Henry Co, OH.  After listening to the testimony the court granted a divorce.  An interesting fact from the case showed the marriage date of Ezekiel and Ann Catherine as 19 May 1861, which conflicted with the marriage record cited above.  It also seemed that Ezekiel would wait two years before requesting a divorce after Ann abandoned her home, but the puzzle cleared up when one learns that Ezekiel had another bride in mind in the form of Almeda Russell whom he married after the divorce in 1874.

            The Fox family was listed in the 1880 NW Twp federal census, p430C, as Ezekiel 45 OH, Almeda L. 36 IN-PA-CT, and son Frances T. 3 OH, who was born on 25 Jan 1877, Florence Twp (Births V1 p102).  Almeda b. 1844 IN, parentage unknown, survived her husband who died on 7 Jan 1910, NW Twp, and was buried in an unmarked grave in Columbia Cemetery.  His obituary, which appeared in the "Bryan Democrat", 18 Jan 1910, p4, mentioned that he came here in 1853 and "was a good man, a good citizen, and a man of sound judgement and honest purpose." 

Ezekiel as of 1887 was VP of the NW Twp Early Settlers to Williams County Association and owned land in Section 22 of NW Twp.  His son Marion went out west and nothing more is known of him.  Ex-wife Ann Catherine “Kate” married William H. Terpening  (1844-1929).  In the 1870 and 1880 Blackman and Spring Arbor, Jackson Co, MI federal censuses William Terpening was married to a Sarah and had several children but by the 1900 Clinton, Fulton Co, OH federal census the Terpening family included William b Apr 1844 MI, Kate b Dec 1844 IN, and mother-in-law Lydia Sickles b June 1824 widow.  The couple was married for 20 years and did not have any children. Ann Catherine later died in Morenci, Lenawee Co, MI on 14 Nov 1917 and was buried in the Canandaigua Cemetery, Medina Twp, Lenawee Co, MI.  William was a Civil War soldier, serving in Co E 68th OVI and a member of the GAR; he had enlisted on 7 Oct 1863 at the age of 19 and his military papers showed a distinquished service record.



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