Monday, July 25, 2011



It is often thought that divorces didn't much happen in "the old days." But people being people, it happened then just as it does now. The record above (which I will "translate" in part below) is found in the Court Records of Lawrence, Douglas County, Kansas, Divorce Packet 5532 and dates to September 9, 1884.

Nellie, daughter of Levi J. and Nancy Anderson Sperry, filed for divorce from her husband, Charles S. Perry. In this petition she says that she married said Perry on October 1, 1879 and was a good, faithful and obedient wife. However, she adds, beginning about May 1, 1884 her husband went to a house of prostitution known as "Moll Butler's" on 3rd Street in Kansas City, Missouri and committed adultery with "a certain woman whose true name is unknown to your petitioner but who is known by the name of 'Blondeyes' and 'Ella' and who is an inmate of said house of ill fame." She adds that he's continued committing adultery with her ever since that time.

She asks the court for a dissolution from the marriage bonds and that she be restored to her maiden name of Nellie D. Sperry. The court granted her request.

I know from further records that she married again, but she is so loosely connected to my Dobbins family that I really haven't spent a lot of time researching her.

Her father, Levi J. Sperry is written about in my blog of April 2011. He was married the first time to Paulina J. Dobbins, who was my great-grandfather Dobbins's sister. Levi, Paulina and a daughter Unitia made the trip west with the Dobbins Family, but Paulina and a newborn baby died in early 1856. Unitia died when she was about 11 years old, so there is no one left in this family related to the Dobbinses. But my great-grandfather remained friends with his former brother-in-law,and in fact was working on Levi's farm when he met his future wife, the widow Nancy "Nannie" Corel LaHay. I have always considered the Sperry family to be emotionally but not biologically connected to the Dobbins line. That's not very good genealogical practice, but sometimes it just happens!

The Sperrys had marriage problems all around. Levi and 2nd wife Nancy had a major divorce scandal. Levi married a third time, and after his death, that wife sued a besotted neighbor for breach of promise.

In genealogy, sometimes you find other people's relatives are far more interesting than your own!

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