The topic for the 52 Ancestors Challenge this week was LOVE, so I started searching through the family photo album for examples of happy couples.
Of course, my first discoveries were my own parents and then the grandparents. There’s no wedding picture from my parents’ end-of-WWII marriage at the parsonage, but I do have both sets of grandparents in wedding pictures.
Now, I’m sure that each of these couples went through the rough patches that beset all relationships, but they persevered. Charles Lorenzo Martin and Cora Myrle Joy were married in February 1915 in Madison, Kansas and that marriage lasted 55 years until Ren’s death. They raised eight children through the 1920s, the Great Depression and past World War II when their last child, Charles went away to college at MIT in the 1950s.
My mother’s parents, Clarence Oliver McGhee and Ruth Vining married in July 1917 shortly before he left for the Great War. He survived the horrible warfare in France and returned to work many years for Phillips Petroleum. They raised three daughters. Their 43 years of marriage ended when Ruth died of a heart attack.
My parents, Clyde Owen Martin and Gail Lee McGhee, married in June 1945 and were together for 67 years. Along the way, they raised six children. My dad had a favorite punchline when people asked what was the secret for a long marriage. He’d say, when we got married, we agreed that whoever asked for divorce had to take the kids.
Not All Succeeded
There were some unsuccessful marriages among my ancestors. My 3rd great-grandmother, Nancy Ann Daggs married Thomas I. Long in pioneer Indiana. Nine children and 38 years later they called it quits with a divorce. Quite unusual in the 1860s.
Here’s the transcription of the divorce papers:
State of Indiana
County of Crawford
Be it remembered that at the Febr’y Term of Crawford Circuit Court, the same being 13th day of February 1866, Before the Hon. William F Parrell, the then sole Judge of the Crawford Circuit Court of Indiana, the following proceedings were herd in the cause of Thomas Long vs. Nancy A Long for Divorce.
And now comes the plaintiff and the Defendant being Thrice solemly Called, Come not but herein make default and it appearing to the satisfaction of the Court that said defendant has been notified of the pendence Of this suit, more than ten days before the 1st day of the present term of this Court and the Court having heard the evidence and being advised in the premises finds that a divorce ought to be granted herein. It is therefore Considered by the Court that the Bonds of Matrimony heretofore existing between plaintiff and defendant …..
The official divorce is dated 1866, but I noticed that in 1860 Nancy Ann was living with her son-in-law and daughter (Abraham and Nancy Angeline Tower). In 1870, the census seems to show her in the household of Susannah Esrey (Perry County, Indiana), but I haven’t yet figured out how they connect.
It seems that 12 days after the divorce, Thomas Long marries Charlotte Anthony. The 1870 census shows Thomas and Charlotte Long and two children that might be from a previous marriage of Charlotte (Anthony Lydia Long and Waldo Long). Further research might clarify the origin of those two children.
Most Stayed Together
For the most part, I’d say the happy couples outnumber the unhappy ones on my family tree.