Sunday, June 26, 2016

Query: Gilbert Weesner, Wabash County


                I am looking for a Wabash County birth and death certificate for Gilbert Weesner, born to Lester Gilbert Weesner and Nellie Catherine Bishop Weesner.  These may have been in Milwaukee, if not Wabash County.  Gilbert Weesner was my grandfather.
                Also looking for cause of death, death certificate, burial place for Nellie Catherine Bishop Weesner, born 8/12/1878 and died 12/18/1907. Thought to have died in Chicago. Burial place listed as Laketon Cemetery in Ijmsville, Indiana (near Laketon, IN). I went to Ijmsville to look in this cemetary and could not find the grave.  Thank you. 

Carol Weesner
4626 Washington Blvd.
Indianapolis, IN 46205 carol.weesner@gmail.com

Query: Araminta Sims, Monroe County

            I was told that my Grandmother graduated from the University of Indiana in the first graduating class. Her name was Araminta Sims. Later she married John Thompson. I believe that she was either a singer or a pianist in the School of Music.

Patti Thompson Buechner
1234 James St. #6
Syracuse, New York 13203
pbuechne@twcny.rr.com

Query: Joshua Brooks, Wayne County


            Looking for any evidence (negative or positive) that identifies the Joshua Brooks, school teacher, who died 30 Aug 1830, in Richmond, Indiana.: “Mr. Greene, Post Master of this city, has lately received a letter from the P.M. of Richmond, Indiana, stating that a Mr. Joshua Brooks died there August 30; that he had taught school there: that he left 5 or 6 children in or near Boston, their mother having died several years since.” Trumpet and Universalist Magazine (Boston, MA), 20 Nov 1830, Vol III, Issue 21, Page 83.

            Joshua Brooks married in 1806 in Kingston, MA, said to be of Albany, NY. Wife Lydia Beal petitioned for divorce in April 1826 stating that he had abandoned the family a few years earlier and had committed adultery. Repeated notices printed for him to appear. He never appeared and divorce granted Oct 1829.

            Need evidence the Joshua Brooks who died in Indiana was the same born Albany, NY, and married and lived in Massachusetts.

Ethelind Wright
59 Warren Ave
.
Lewiston, ME 04240
ethelind@gwi.net

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Research Tip: Indiana's Divorce Mill

by Meredith Thompson

Don't assume your ancestors didn't get divorced because there isn't a divorce case for them in the area courthouse. Your ancestors may actually have gone to another state to file for divorce, either because it was easier to obtain there, or because there was less chance of them being recognized. In the 1800s and early 1900s, certain states got a (bad) reputation for being a divorce "mill," because they would grind out divorces at an alarming rate.

These states became divorce destinations because:
  • Their divorce laws were not as restrictive (e.g. they allowed more grounds for getting a divorce or didn't require strict proof of residency) or the judges didn't always enforce them.
  • They were easy to get to by train, which had started to connect the country by the 1840's. 
  • All the businesses that were near the courthouse - including lawyers, hotels and restaurants - benefited from the extra visitors and they sometimes advertised in other states' newspapers. 

Indiana became infamous in the 1800s for being a divorce mill. Noted editor Horace Greeley wrote an editorial in the New York Daily Tribune on March 1, 1860 that chastised Indiana and Robert Dale Owen (founder of the New Harmony colony) for having conspired to establish "a state of law which enables men or women to get unmarried nearly at pleasure." The Indianapolis News issue of October 30, 1871 said that train conductors will soon have to announce when they pull into the station, “Indianapolis, 20 minutes for divorces.”

Beginning in 1830, there was a residency requirement in order to file for divorce in Indiana (between 1 year and 2 years). However, according to The History of Indiana Law (2006), in 1858, two-thirds of all the divorce cases in Indianapolis were actually filed by someone from out of state. That may have been because Indiana judges were also given "discretion" in laws passed in 1838, 1849 and 1852 to waive the requirements if they felt the circumstances warranted it.

The tide began to turn in Indiana in 1873. The judge's discretion was removed, residency requirements were tightened, and newspapers had to publish legal notices of the divorce filing for 3 weeks before any action could be taken. In 1881, they made it a crime (punishable by a $100 fine) to distribute any pamphlets, newspapers, etc. that called attention to the ability to obtain divorces in Indiana. And beginning in 1901, Indiana would not grant an uncontested divorce - any defendant who did not show up in court would have their interests represented by the county prosecutor.

According to statistics compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 25,193 divorces granted in Indiana from 1867 to 1886; 60,751 divorces were granted from 1887 to 1906. Indiana's population grew by 60 percent in that half century, but its divorce rate had grown by 157 percent. By 1900, 1 out of every 5.7 marriages in Indiana ended in divorce - a higher rate than surrounding states.

Want to look for an Indiana divorce? You may want to start by looking in Indiana newspapers, some of which have been digitized and can be viewed online for free at the Hoosier Chronicles website. The Indiana State Library also has microfilm of many county's newspapers - your local library can request it via inter-library loan. And some Indiana newspapers have been digitized and are available through a subscription to a premium site (e.g., Newspapers.com or NewspaperArchive.com).

You can also look for evidence of a divorce case in the court order books of Indiana counties. Many counties' pre-1920 court order books have been microfilmed and can be rented directly from FamilySearch. Search their catalog here

Friday, June 17, 2016

New Databases: School for the Deaf, Coal Miners, Odd Fellows and More

From School for the Deaf students to coal miners to prisoners to Odd Fellows -- there's a little bit for everyone in the newest databases on the IGS website! Let's see what's new:


FREE Database:

- Directory of Businesses in Elwood, Madison County, Indiana (1930)
Browsable digital images of listings from a 1930 business directory for the town of Elwood. This database was contributed by Wayne Klusman.

Premium Databases:

These databases are available to members of the Indiana Genealogical Society. Not a member? Join today and get access to these and 1,700 more collections!

Deaf:
- Students At Indiana School for the Deaf, Indianapolis Who Died (1849-1914)
An index of 88 students who died while attending the school, as listed in the institution's annual reports for 1869 through 1914. The index includes their date of death, age, cause of death and the county they were from.

Coal Miners
- Coal Miners Injured in Indiana (1890)
An index of 16 coal miners who were injured while working in Indiana, as listed in the state mine inspector's annual report for 1890. The index includes the date they were injured, a description of their injuries, the name of the coal mine and its county.

Fraternal Organizations:
- Members of Independent Order of Odd Fellows Who Died in Indiana (1860-1869)
Browsable digital images of listings of members who died, as listed in semi-annual reports of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. This database was contributed by Ron Darrah.

Prisoners:
- Prisoners Sentenced to Indiana State Prison North, Michigan City, Indiana (1861)
An index of 17 prisoners sentenced to the Indiana State Prison North, as listed in the institution's annual report for 1861. The index includes their age, the county they were convicted from, the crime they were convicted of, the date they were sentenced, and the length of their sentence. In 1861, this prison only housed convicts from the northern half of the state.

Fountain County:
- History of Fountain County, Indiana (1826-1926)
Browsable digital images of the history of the county and its individual townships, as listed in a centennial booklet. This database was contributed by Ron Darrah.

Henry County:
- Students of Middletown High School, Henry County, Indiana (1914)
Browsable digital images of student in grades 9 through 12, as listed in Middletown High School's 1914 yearbook, "Senior Annual." Only the students in grade 12 have photos. This database was contributed by Ron Darrah.

- Teachers of Middletown High School, Henry County, Indiana (1914)
Browsable digital images of teachers in grades 9 through 12, as listed in Middletown High School's 1914 yearbook, "Senior Annual." This database was contributed by Ron Darrah.

Sullivan County:
- Students of Sullivan High School, Sullivan County, Indiana (1941)
Browsable digital images of students in grades 9 through 12, as listed in Sullivan High School's 1941 yearbook, "Purple and Gold 1941." Only the students in grade 12 are identified by name. This database was contributed by Ron Darrah.

- Teachers of Sullivan High School, Sullivan County, Indiana (1941)
Browsable digital images of teachers in grades 9 through 12, as listed in Sullivan High School's 1941 yearbook, "Purple and Gold 1941." This database was contributed by Ron Darrah.

A listing of deaths of Indiana Odd Fellows members in the 1860's.