Thursday, September 3, 2015

New Information From a Divorce File

Last week we discussed how to obtain a Kentucky divorce record from the Archives. I did just that recently and was pleased with the results.  Sometime ago I purchased the Crittenden County Circuit Court Index on microfilm[1] and used that to locate a file I thought might be of interest - John Bebout vs Ellen Bebout.

There have been a number of John Bebouts through the years, but who was Ellen Bebout? Which John Bebout had a connection to an Ellen?  I suspected this was a divorce case, but wasn't sure until I read the file. It was full of information.

According to the plaintiff (John Bebout), he married Ellen Adams in Hardin County, Illinois in July 1869. The couple lived together until June 1872. During that time he treated the defendant (Ellen Bebout) "kindly and did all he could to make her a kind & loving husband and provided her with a good home and all that was necessary to make her comfortable." [2] In June 1872, Ellen left the plaintiff and moved to Madison County, Missouri.  The couple had been living in Illinois, but after Ellen left for Missouri, John moved back to Crittenden County.

Several people gave depositions for the plaintiff at the home of John and Martha E. Tolley in Pope County, Illinois in July 1874, including Absalom Vanbaber; J.A. Bebout, John Bebout's 27-year-old son; Samuel Humphreys and John and Martha E. Tolley.

So what did I learn from this file?  I determined this John Bebout was the Reverend John Bebout,  brother of my ancestor, Peter Bebout. John  first married Sarah Shoemaker in Caldwell County, Kentucky in 1841. Sarah died 1 February 1869, according to her tombstone in Deer Creek Cemetery in Crittenden County. When she died, she left young children in need of a mother's care.  Just five months later John married Ellen Adams in Hardin County.

Those of us who had ancestors living in Crittenden and Livingston Counties know that many of those ancestors  married, lived or died in Hardin County and Pope County. There was a lot of movement back and forth across the Ohio River between Kentucky and Illinois. The problem with researching Hardin County is there were two courthouse fires, the last being in 1884, so often the records we  need no longer exist. In the Bebout divorce file is there is a copy of  the 1869 marriage license, something I would not expect to find. Although the copy dates several years after the actual marriage, it is well before the courthouse fire.  If this copy did not exist we would have no idea John Bebout ever married Ellen Adams.  But we know about the record now and it helps fill in some blanks.

Ellen Adams Bebout did go to Madison County, Missouri and is found living there with her married daughter, Frances Adams Wiseman, and family on the 1880 census. Ellen is listed as a widow, which was probably preferable to being listed as divorced.

John didn't file for the divorce from Ellen until July 1874 and it was granted 17 December 1874. Three days later he married Mrs. Mary Barger in Crittenden County. John died in 1883 and is buried beside his first wife, Sarah.

[1] John Bebout vs Ellen Bebout,  Case File #202, Crittenden County Circuit Court General Cross Index to Case Files 1842-1977, Roll No. 7018899, Kentucky Dept. for Libraries and Archives.
[2] Ibid

Published 3 September 2015, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

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