Puzzle of Nicholas Brown,
Divorces in Williams County, OH 1863 and 1867 – see Albright
Pamela Pattison Lash
Nicholas Brown was born in Niederkechen, Germany, on 21 Sept 1811 and
married his bride Catherine Brown, 30 Mar 1837 in Germany.
Catherine, b. 17 Aug 1815, immigrated to the US with her husband
shortly after their marriage, first settling in Tuscarawus Co, OH and then
making St. Joseph Twp, Wms Co, OH their home.
The Browns had the following children: Elizabeth (8 May 1839 Tuscarawus
Co, OH - 15 Apr 1916; m. George Fix, 31 Jan 1862); Julian (1840 - aft 1860);
Caroline (1842 - 1927, m. John Michael Weicht); Catherine (22 June 1844 - 20
Jan 1866); Louisa (1845 - 3 Mar 1856); John (1849 - aft 1860); four children
all dying young - Sevilla, a young child, Andre Andrew, Daniel; and Lucinda
(1857 - 1935; m. Thomas L. Donaldson).
The Brown family was enumerated in 1850 St. Joseph Twp, Wms Co, OH
federal census, p80B, as Nicholas 38 DEU, Catherine 34 DEU, Elizabeth 12, July
Ann 10, Catherine 5, Caroline 8, Lavina 4, Andrew 9/12, with all the children
born in Ohio. In the 1860 St.
Joseph federal census, they were listed as Nicholas 49 Germany, Catherine 43
Germany, and Ohio born children, Elizabeth 21, Juliann 19, Caroline 18,
Catherine 16, John 11, Lucinda 3. Sometime
after this 1860 census was taken, mother Catherine died, although there is a
puzzling tombstone inscription on her marker found in Thomas Cemetery, St.
Joseph Twp which lists her date of death as 19 Nov 1858 @ 43Y 3M 2D.
If this is correct then the Catherine aged 43 of Germany is someone
else in the census.
There are two more pieces of data to add to the mystery.
On 2 Jan 1860, Fulton Co, OH, a Nicholas Brown married Veronica
Meister. According to the
Williams County, OH Civil and Criminal Court records (Journal 6 p311 – 10
Nov 1863; Roll 16 case number 66 - 18 June 1863) Nicholas Brown brought a suit
against his wife, Veronica, who had been absent for three years.
He called the following witnesses to attest to his errant wife's
behavior: George Arnold, John Robinson, George Runkle, and Elizabeth Fix.
Nicholas was granted this divorce. The puzzling questions are (1) Was
Veronica Meister known as Catherine and was she the 43 year old included in
the 1860 census? (2) Was the witness for the plaintiff Nicholas Brown, his
daughter Elizabeth Brown Fix? Finally, (3) was this divorced Nicholas Brown
the subject of this detailing? Nothing
further is known to date of Veronica.
Another puzzle comes along two years later as Nicholas Brown married
Mary C. Deeds, 22 Oct 1865, Edgerton, Wms Co, OH (Marriages, V3 p481).
It appears that this Mary was Mary Krieger Deeds, widow of Samuel
Deeds. For further information on
her early life see Albright detailing.
Trouble started shortly after the marriage, which made it necessary for Mary
to bring a suit of divorce against Nicholas in the Williams Co, OH Civil and
Criminal Court records (Roll 18 case number 51 - April 1867).
Mary Deeds Brown stated that on 1 Mar 1866 and other times Nicholas
committed adultery with Mary Flickinger.
On 30 April 1866 he committed adultery with Charlotte Miller.
By 13 May 1866 Nicholas deprived Mary of the comforts of his home and
compelled her to leave. She
charged him with gross neglect, extreme cruelty, and adultery.
Mary stated that he had property, livestock, and a large amount of cash
always on hand in his home. The
land property was described in the suit and valued at $5,000.
Mary desired alimony and called a huge number of witnesses such as
Jacob Geib, Elizabeth Fix, Michael Weicht, Catherine Weicht, John and
Elizabeth Richmond, John, Peter, and Christian Manweiler, George Firestone,
George Barkdoll, Mary McAntoffer, Henry Kissinger, Reuben Everhart, and
Next it was Nicholas' turn to call witnesses such as George Herman,
George Fix, George Kochendorfer, and Reuben Everhart.
Nicholas stated that for the court's knowledge Mary was not even a
resident of Ohio and was not when she filed this suit.
He called Andrew Barger of DeKalb Co, IN who testified that he had
fetched Mary's belongings at her request and moved them to the home of George
Firestone on 18 Feb 1866. Nicholas
said Mary had deserted and abandoned him; he never abused her nor compelled
her to leave. "Mary had gone
into bad company and received bad advice in making these false and malicious
statements." He never
committed adultery but he wanted a divorce from Mary.
After listening to the witnesses, the court granted a divorce in favor
of Mary on 17 May 1867. Nicholas
died in St. Joseph Twp on 25 Mar 1895 @84Y 6M 4D and was buried in Thomas
Cemetery next to his first wife.
While this divorce was happening, another divorce was also set in
motion by Nicholas' son-in-law, John Michael Weicht, husband of Caroline
Brown, b. 1842, Wms Co, OH, whom he married on 24 Dec 1865, Center Twp, Wms Co
(Marriages V3 p511). John, b. 22
May 1842, Bolivar, Tuscarawas Co, OH, was the son of Hess-Darmstadt natives
Michael and Catherine Weicht. Note
that Michael and Catherine appeared in the previously described divorce giving
testimony against Nicholas.
John Weicht went to the Williams Co, OH Civil and Criminal Court
(Journal 6 p613 – 5 Nov 1866; Journal 7 p248 – 18 Nov 1868; Roll 18 case
number 46 - Oct 1866) and stated that on 1 Jan 1866 Caroline had refused his
marital rights and had departed for her father's home, refusing to return to
him. She was guilty of gross
neglect and abandonment without provocation on his part.
"Caroline has an evil and malicious disposition which renders her
vicious and disagreeable. She is
an unfit wife for any good man." Henry
Herman of DeKalb Co, IN sided with John and gave damaging testimony about
Caroline. Catherine Weicht,
John's mother, said Caroline has resided in DeKalb Co, IN for several months
and that in March 1866 she completely abandoned John.
"Caroline is the mother of a six-month old child and John is not
the father. Caroline would not do
washing or mending, and seemed indifferent to John's comfort and
appearance." The court
granted John a divorce on 13 Dec 1867.
Prior to this Caroline sued John for a divorce in DeKalb Co, IN and ran
notices of such in the "DeKalb Democrat" on 21 and 28 Apr 1867.
The DeKalb County Civil and Criminal Court awarded Caroline a divorce
in May 1867, more than six months before John obtained his divorce.
Caroline for some reason came back to Wms Co and sued for another
divorce on 18 Nov 1868, charging John with being willfully absent.
She stated that she had a minor child, Charles N. Weicht, aged two
years old. The Wms Co Court
granted her alimony of $200.
Caroline Brown Weicht did have a son whom she called Charles N. Brown
(1866-16 July 1898; buried Thomas Cemetery, St. Joseph Twp, Wms Co, OH; m.
Addie M. Porter, 27 Dec 1891, Wms Co [Marriages, V6 #582]).
Charles was tragically kicked in the head by a horse and left a widow
and two children ("Bryan Democrat", 21 July 1898, p5).
Caroline Brown was listed in the 1870 St. Joseph Twp federal census,
p24, with Nicholas Brown 60 Baden, Caroline 27 OH, Lucinda 14 OH, and Charles
Brown 3 OH. The 1880 federal
census for that township, p24, enumerated the family as Nicholas 68 Bavaria,
Katherine 38 OH, Lucinda 22 OH, Charles 13 OH, and Charles Parrish, boarder,
19 Saxony. Note that the census
taker mistakenly listed Caroline as Katherine.
Caroline died in 1927 and was buried next to her son.
If she married again it is not currently known.
John Weicht married Mary Perky on 16 Aug 1868 and had two children,
Willis who died in infancy and Artie who married Arthur Freed of Terra Haute,
IN. The Weicht family was
enumerated in the 1900 Troy Twp, DeKalb Co, IN federal census, p143, as John
M. b. May 1839; married 31 years; Mary b. 1833 OH; mother of 7 children with 4
The Butler Weekly obituary for John on 21 June 1912 stated that he died on 14 June 1912 in Troy Twp, near Arctic, IN and was buried in the Hamilton Cemetery. His daughter and two stepchildren survived John, a butcher by profession. His wife Mary had died on 29 May 1908. To pick up the threads of this family with one more divorce see Nicholas' daughter, Lucinda, who married a divorced man, Thomas L. Donaldson, "An Irish Businessman and His Temper."
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