Saturday, January 12, 2008

Caldwell County Circuit Court Case (Divorce) 1834

The Glenn Martin Genealogy Library, located in a separate building just in front of George Coon Public Library on Main Street in Princeton, Caldwell County, Kentucky, is becoming "The Place" to research your western Kentucky families. Winter hours for Martin Genealogy Library are 10-2 Monday - Friday and 10-1 Saturday. Before traveling to visit the Martin Library, you might want to call 270-365-2884 for the current hours as they do change periodically.

The library has a wide selection of published works as well as vertical files on local families and the Sam Stegar collection of research material, but the jewels of the collection are the Caldwell County circuit court order books and case files. Caldwell County is only one of a handful of Kentucky counties that has retained these valuable records. Circuit court files include a variety of cases including felonies, will contests, debts, and divorces petitions. An index by year and by complainant is available at the library.

From 1802 - 1849, the county circuit courts accepted divorce petitions and those they approved were sent on to the state legislature, where the divorce was granted or not granted. Beginning in 1850, the circuit courts were empowered to grant divorces without the state legislature being involved. I have found in my personal research, however, that some divorce petitions are mentioned only in the county circuit court files with the case below being one of those.

The following is an abstract of one of the divorces filed in Caldwell County in 1834:
Hooper vs Hooper} Your orator Ennis Hooper would respectfully state that a good many years ago he married his present wife Elizabeth and lived with her until they had several children, all of whom now live with your orator; that about five years ago she became disatisfied with your orator and refused to live with him. He cannot account for her dissatisfaction, for he declares his treatment to her was kind and he regretted what he could not prevent - a discontent on her part. Perhaps it was owing to some unaccountable caprice; be this as it may, the matter at last reached its climax and she determined to leave your orator with all the children, several of whom are small, and go to her kin in Alabama. This was a little over a year ago that she left the country entirely, though for several years previous she had abandoned his bed and board. She is now with her relations in Alabama and he has no idea she ever intends to return and live with him. He therefore prays she may be made a defendant to this bill and required to answer the several allegations ... and on a final hearing he prays the Court to divorce him from Elizabeth Hooper. [signed] Ennis Hooper.

Elizabeth Hooper responded that everything Ennis said was true, she plans to remain in Alabama and is willing that Ennis be divorced from her and he may keep the children.

Thomas Kivel gave a disposition 22 Mar 1834: It was his understanding that Elizabeth left the county and was going to Alabama to live with her brothers. He also said he had "lived a neighbour" to Ennis for near 20 years and Ennis always made a kind husband and provided for his family.

In another disposition, James H. Bigham stated that Elizabeth told him that she does not intend to live with Ennis again.

Francis Hooper, of lawful age, identified the parties to this suit as his parents.

The divorce was granted and to Ennis was restored all the rights of a single man.


Willis said...

Brenda, is there an index to the divorce records?

Brenda Joyce Jerome, CG said...

I asked that question of a library employee just recently and was told that an index is currently being compiled. I do not know when it will be finished.