Other Divorces in the Mankin Family

 Divorces in Williams County, Ohio, 1867

by Pamela Pattison Lash


Emma Mary Nelson Mankin v Benjamin W. Mankin

Elizabeth Kent Mankin v Joseph W. Mankin


            Are some families predisposed to the situations that lead to divorce?  This genealogical detailing begs the question that one sees in modern times as well as old  - the father runs away with another woman and the eldest son, who had many financial and emotional burdens placed upon him in turn grossly neglected his wife.  Both father and son were the defendants in their respective spouses' divorce demands.

            So much has already been written about the Kent family in Bryan, Williams County, Ohio (See Native Sons Gone Wrong, Lash, 2000).  Our story picks up with Elizabeth "Betsey" Kent, b 1812-1814, Loudoun Co, VA, the daughter of Benjamin and Sarah Kent, who married Joseph W. Mankin on 27 Nov 1836, Butler Twp, Columbiana Co, OH.  Joseph W, Mankin, b Dec 1817, Columbiana Co, OH, was the son of George and Charity Jane Wright Mankin.  The Mankins and the Kents were early settlers in this county; our couple showed up in the 1850 Pulaski Twp federal census, p85, as Joseph W 33 OH, Elizabeth 36 VA, Benjamin 12 OH, George 11 OH, Sanford 11 OH, Clinton 8 OH, Hiram 7 OH, Adaline 5 OH, and Silas 3 OH. 

This family was listed in the 1860 Bryan, Pulaski Twp federal census, p183A, as lumber dealer JW 45 OH, Elizabeth 46 VA, Benjamin 22 OH no occupation, George 21 OH blacksmith, Sanford 21 OH, Clinton 19 OH blacksmith, Hiram 17 OH, Adaline 15 OH, Silas 13 OH, Joseph 9 OH, and Lavina 7 OH.  Several of the sons later fought in the Civil War.

Trouble brewed in the Mankin household that forced Elizabeth to appear in the Williams County, Ohio Civil and Criminal Court (Journal 6 p587, 592, 596-597 – 31 Oct 1866; p621-622 – 6 Nov 1866; Roll 18 case number 73 - Apr 1866/1867) requesting a divorce.  Elizabeth told the court that all the children had reached the age of majority except Joseph, Jr., (15) and Lavina (13), and she feared that her husband planned to liquidate his assets to keep her and the minors destitute.

It seems that on 9 Jan 1866 Joseph committed adultery at a local infamous house of prostitution with Harriet Griswold and Delphine Lloyd, both women of lewd and unchaste character.  Joseph willfully abandoned Elizabeth and traveled to White Rock, Huron Co, MI, where he committed adultery with Delphine Lloyd on 15 Jan 1866.  From 1 Feb - 26 Mar 1866 he established a home in White Rock, valued at $400, and openly lived with a Mrs. Ann Mack.  He squandered his property thereby depriving Elizabeth of her only means of support.  She gave a detailed list of real estate in Bryan, including Lots 73 and 78) plus the goods and chattel owned by Joseph, totaling over $2,000.  He had a great deal of financial resources tied up in his lumber business and a large amount of money owed to him by David Oxenrider, Solomon Gotshall, and Clinton Mankin.  The court agreed that Joseph's actions warranted a divorce, and after a legal notice appeared in the Bryan Democrat, Apr 1866, a divorce was granted to Elizabeth.  In the 1870 Bryan, Pulaski Twp federal census p20, Elizabeth was head of household as 59 VA, along with sons Joseph 18 OH, Sanford 30 OH, and Hiram 29 OH.

According to the 1880 Bryan, Pulaski Twp federal census Elizabeth Mankin 64 VA, a  divorced woman, resided with her son GW and his family. Elizabeth lived out the rest of her days in Bryan, dying on 29 Mar 1890, and she was buried there in the Fountain Grove Cemetery.  From the 1880 Monterey, Allegan Co, MI federal census p186, Joseph W. Mankin was 63 OH farmer and mill man, living with wife Hannah 37 Ireland, and Franklin Mankin 8 MI nephew. Joseph died on 12 Sept 1903 in Hopkins, Allegan Co, MI.  Apparently he married a Hannah, unknown surname or parentage, who had several children of her own.  Whether he kept in touch with his own children is not currently known.

After this domestic upheaval, oldest son, Benjamin W. Mankin, b 1838, presumably Columbiana Co, OH, married Emma Mary Nelson on 1 Jan 1868, Wms Co (Marriages V 3 p748).  Emma, daughter of Josiah and Ellen Eleanor Byers Nelson, was born on 7 Aug 1844, Mahoning Co, OH.  The Nelsons were married on 24 Nov 1842 in Mahoning Co, OH and besides Emma they had one other daughter who died young. They moved to Bryan c1851 and were listed in the 1860 Pulaski Twp federal census, p41, as Josiah 41 VA, Eleanor 33 OH, Mary 15 OH,  James P 8 OH.  After Emma's marriage to Benjamin, the couple lived with her parents as evidenced by the 1870 Bryan, Pulaski Twp federal census, p26, as Josiah Nelson 52 VA, Ellen 44 OH, James C Byers 19 OH farm hand, Benjamin Mankin 32 OH worker in stave factory, Emma 26 OH, J. (f) 1/12 OH.

On 25 July 1870 in Wms Co (Births V1 p18) about a month before the federal census Emma and Benjamin Mankin became parents to daughter Ada Eveline.  According to the 1880 Pulaski Twp federal census, p621C, Emma Mankin was the head of the Mankin household, living with her father.  Benjamin had left her.

Emma filed for divorce in the Williams County, Ohio Civil and Criminal Court (Journal 12 p202 - 4 Jan 1884; p221 - 27 Feb 1884; Roll 40 case number 1214 - 20 Oct 1883).  Benjamin owned property in Saline Co, Nebraska, valued at $1,000.  She told the court that he had willfully abandoned both her and daughter Ada (13) and Emma wanted a divorce and financial support.  She said her mother Ella Nelson, aged 56, was sick and Emma had responsibilities to take care of her.  She called many witnesses to support her cause such as Matilda Knight, George Mankin, Mrs. Frank Mott, and Mrs. Lorenzo Swift.  The court agreed in 1884 that Emma, who wished to be restored to her maiden name, should receive a divorce and the Nebraska property.  The whereabouts and further particulars of errant Benjamin W. Mankin are not currently known.

Daughter Ada married Charles L. Shasteen on 10 Dec 1892 in Wms Co (Marriages V6 #837).  Emma Nelson died on 3 Sept 1897 @53Y 1M 10D in Bryan (Deaths V3 p96) and was buried in Fountain Grove Cemetery.  Emma's obituary (Bryan Press, 30 Sept 1897) recorded her life as that "amid changed plans and unfulfilled hopes and pain and wasting she seemed only to think of her aged parents and daughter who tenderly cared for her until the final summons came."  Mother Elenor Nelson died on 28 Dec 1898; by the 1910 Bryan, Pulaski Twp federal census Ada Mankin born July 1870 (30) OH lived with her grandfather; currently it is unclear whether Ada was a widow or divorced from Charles Shasteen. Josiah Nelson died on 25 Nov 1911 and both Nelson parents were buried in the Fountain Grove Cemetery.  Josiah had lived in Bryan for 60 years. Emma Nelson Mankin’s daughter Ada later married Frank Uran (1860-1938) sometime after her grandfather's death.  She also married a Mr. Mallory.  Ada died in 1941 and was buried between her Nelson grandparents.


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