Archer vs. Thomas Archer
Gold Mines and Gambling Tables, Divorce in
Williams County, OH, 1865
Some women for whatever reason excuse the faults of their husbands.
Perhaps they don't want to admit to themselves or the world that they
picked a lemon. Perhaps love is
blind. These ladies may naively
believe that tales told to them are the absolute truth, but after eleven
years, one lady took stock of the situation and took action.
Such is the theme of this genealogical detailing.
Mary Halley b.c. 1834, possibly Morgan Co, OH, daughter of William and
Debra (Bond) Halley, appeared with her parents as a 16 year old in the 1850
Noble Co, OH federal census along with siblings Samuel, John, William F, Eliza
Jane, and Lucy Malvina. She
married her Prince Charming in the form of Thomas Archer on 4 Sept 1851 in
Noble Co, OH. Thomas, possibly
born 17 Aug 1830, Brookfield Twp, Morgan Co, OH, may have been the son of
Michael Archer and his second wife, Jane Elliott, but this is only speculation
at the moment; furthermore, one wonders if the Archer and Halley families were
closely allied as they both came from the Morgan-Noble Co, OH area.
the 1860 Rochester, Enoch Twp, Noble Co, OH federal census, p440, Mary Archer
26 OH domestic and son William L. Archer 8 OH, were living next door to her
brother Samuel Halley 25 carpenter and Mary Halley 18 domestic.
Mary's father, William Halley died on 29 Feb 1864, Noble Co, OH and she
was mentioned in his will. Mary
may have joined her uncle Nathaniel Halley who lived in Milford Twp, Defiance
Co, OH. This would explain why
she moved to this area.
appeared before the Williams County, Ohio Civil and Criminal Court, in May
1865 (Journal 6 p485, Roll 17), and revealed an amazing story to the judge of
her married life and her spouse, Thomas Archer.
It seems that for eleven years Thomas was guilty of gross neglect.
While they lived in Noble Co, OH Thomas decided to make his fortune in
the gold mines of California, so he left Mary and their 15-month-old son,
William Luther Archer, on 29 Dec 1853. Thomas
told Mary he would return to his family in two years time, but he made no
provision for their financial support. [As
evidenced by the 1860 federal census Mary earned her living as a domestic
servant and as a cherished daughter and sibling she received help from time to
time from her family.]
year for six years from that departure date he informed Mary by letter that he
would soon return. After eleven
years had passed and Mary, now living in Williams County, had not heard from
him as to any disposition on his part to return.
At one point during the first six years Thomas promised to return and
asked her to send him $100 by mail, which she did.
She later learned that Thomas had spent it all at the gambling tables
in California. The court granted
her an immediate divorce and a legal notice to that effect was published in
"The Bryan Democrat".
her so long one might ask? What
was the pressing issue that provoked her to finally take action?
The Ohio statue only required that one of the parties be willfully
absent for three years before hearing a divorce complaint.
She waited more than three times the requirement. The answer is simple
- love and stability. Mary wanted
to remarry and that's exactly what she did on 24 May 1865 in Wms Co
(Marriages, V3 p442) when she became the wife of Canfield Phelps.
Interestingly, Canfield Phelps was enumerated in the 1850 Noble Twp, Morgan
Co, OH federal census, p16, as Canfield 40 CT millwright with wife Nancy 31
OH, and in the 1860 Center Twp, Noble Co, OH federal census p476, as Canfield
49 CT and Nancy 44 OH. He may have known Mary or her family before they
married in Williams County.
the Phelps had the following children: Almon B (b. 1867), Drayton Canfield
(13 Jul 1868, Edgerton -1927, m. Roxie Caroline Pearce, 14 Jan 1894,
Ney, Defiance Co, OH), and Rebecca (b. 1871).
The family was enumerated in the 1870 St. Joseph Twp, Wms Co, OH
federal census p17, as carpenter Canfield Phelps 58 CT, Mary 36 OH, Luther
Archer 17 OH, and Phelps children Almon 3 OH and Drayton 2 OH. Canfield Phelps
may have been from East Granby, Hartford Co, CT.
According to the 1880 Buffalo, Noble Co, OH federal census, p40C, there
was a Luther Archer 27 OH with parents born in Ohio and a wife Lucetta;
further research needs to be done to determine if this is the son of Thomas
and Mary Archer.
On 5 Nov
1871 (Wms Co, OH Deaths, V1 p13), Canfield died @60Y 3M 29D and was buried in
Maple Grove Cemetery, Edgerton, St. Joseph Twp.
He left a will that was probated on 29 Feb 1872 (#1489) bequeathing his
widow and heirs, Almon, Drayton, and Rebecca, his land in Section 28, St.
Joseph Twp, Wms Co, OH.
married a third time on 2 Mar 1876, Wms Co, OH (Marriages, V4 p451) to John
Battershell, a widower; the family was enumerated in the 1880 Milford Twp,
Defiance Co, OH federal census p210C, as John 65 PA, Mary 46 OH, Alvah Phelps
13 OH, Drayton Phelps 11 OH, and Rebecca Phelps 9 OH.
By 1880 Mary's uncle, Nathaniel Halley and his family had moved to
Iowa. John Battershell was listed
in the 1860 Milford Twp, Defiance Co federal census p403, as Jn. 44 PA,
Catharine 40 PA, James 20 OH, Lucia 17 OH, William 11 OH, Finnell (f) 8 OH,
James 73 PA, Elizabeth 45 PA, and Joseph 33 OH.
In the 1870 Milford Twp federal census p138, John 54 PA and wife
Catharine 52 PA were enumerated with their children.
1900 St. Joseph Twp, Wms Co, OH federal census p198, Mary Battershell was
enumerated as widow, b May 1834 (66) OH, having all four children surviving.
Husband John Battershell died on 23 Dec 1893 @78Y from being kicked by
happened to the gambling man, Thomas Archer?
If Thomas was the son of Michael Archer, he may have died on 5 May 1876
in California. Records need to be
searched to verify this. One of the Halley cousins, Levi, was definitely into
gold mining as well. Family lore claims that Thomas Archer came back to Noble
Co, Oh and remarried. Whether
Mary ever heard from him after the divorce or whether Thomas ever struck it
lucky either in the gold fields or the gambling tables is not currently known.
What is known is that Mary Halley Archer Phelps Battershell enjoyed a
full life despite her errant first husband, Thomas Archer.
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