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Sheriff's Son Took a Powder
His Widow Is Resurrected, and the Woman Left Behind Suffered a Lonely Heart 
Divorce in Topeka, KS and Bryan, OH
 1870's

By

Pamela Pattison Lash

"He said he was seeking a new home for them." This genealogical detailing concerns a Williams County, OH sheriff's son who left his wife and daughter on the pretense of looking for a new home. What he didn't tell was that this home would not include them.

"He said he was seeking a new home for them."  This genealogical detailing concerns a Williams County, OH sheriff's son who left his wife and daughter on the pretense of looking for a new home.  What he didn't tell was that this home would not include them.

            Elon Langle, b 25 Dec 1835, OH, the son of Daniel and Elizabeth Langle, was a lawyer in Bryan, OH.  His father Daniel brought the family to Wms Co c. Sept 1841 and built the "Mansion House", one of the first public houses in Bryan.  Daniel was the Sheriff between 1849-1852 and was responsible for conducting the duties of his office during the sensational David Schamp murder trial and subsequent hanging of the convicted murderer, Andrew F. Tyler.  Sheriff Langel built an enclosure fence prior to the hanging to afford Tyler a private execution but the night before the hanging a mob tore down the fence and Tyler's execution became a public affair.  Langel's family was recorded in the 1850 Bryan, Pulaski Twp federal census p84B as Daniel Langel 45 PA, Elizabeth 40 OH, John 18 OH, Thomas 16 OH, Eli 14 OH, Joseph 11 OH, and Anson L. 9 OH.  Wife Elizabeth died c. 6 Oct 1855 and was buried in the Williams Center Cem.  Daniel next married Mary Johnson, 8 May 1856.  She died c.12 Jan 1865 followed by Daniel c. 7 Apr 1865 and both were buried alongside first wife Elizabeth.

            Elon Langel married Sarah Elizabeth Shouf, 29 Oct 1855, Hillsdale Co, MI (Lib B #387/456) and they became parents of daughter Carrie b. 5 Apr 1857.  Sarah Shouf, b. 13 Oct 1836, Polk, Ashland Co, OH, was the daughter of Pennsylvania natives John Breckenridge and Nancy A. Franks Shouf.  The Shouf family settled in Wms Co c 1854 and consisted of the following known children: Lovina Jane Price, Sarah E. Langel, James Van Buren Shouf, Solomon B. Shouf, Peter L. Shouf, John H. Shouf, Nancy Ann Cowhick, Lemuel O. Shouf, Mary J. Watson, and William A. Shouf.  Many of this large brood were found living with or near the parents in the 1860 Bryan, Pulaski Twp federal census records.  Sarah Shouf Langel's brother Van Buren Shouf was a printer and manager of an early "Democratic" newspaper published in Montpelier, OH.  Another brother John H. Shouf had an ice business in Bryan along with a brick making enterprise.  Elon Langel and family were enumerated in the 1860 Bryan, Pulaski Twp federal census p69, with Elon 24 OH listed as a lawyer, along with wife Sarah E 24 OH, and Carrie 3 OH.  How and where he obtained a law degree is not currently known, but a small article in The Bryan Democrat, 25 Feb 1864, p3 c1, stated, “Elon Langel, attorney at law and justice of the peace, has removed his office to Stern’s Block, upstairs.”

            According to Journal 7 p568-569 and Roll 22 case number 30 - 16 May 1871 of the Williams County, OH Civil and Criminal Records, Sarah E. Langel desired an after-the-fact divorce from errant husband Elon.  It seems that since Sept 1867 in Madison Twp and 5 Sept 1868-May 1869 Elon had committed adultery with a Bertha Green at the Downer or American Hotel in Bryan and the Pacific House in Council Bluffs, Iowa where a clerk, William Fisher, of Bryan, OH said he registered the couple as EE Earle and wife.  The couple left for Sioux City, Iowa and returned to the hotel two days later.  Elon left his family on 1 June 1869 stating that he was seeking a new home for them in Topeka, Kansas.  Sarah later learned that Elon had filed and was granted a divorce from her in Topeka on 31 Oct 1870.  According to the Marriage Records of Shawnee, KS, "Elin" Langel married Bertha Lynch, 24 Jan 1871(V1 #1181); thus Elon, technically in Ohio, had committed bigamy.

According to the 1870 Bryan, Pulaski Twp federal census p36, Sarah Langle was listed as being 33 OH and daughter Carrie 13 OH. Sarah, whether she had learned of this marriage or not, wanted her own divorce decree, the Bryan real estate valued at $5,000, plus alimony and child support; Elon had threatened to “take Carrie away from Sarah.”  Sarah called the following witnesses to support her claims: Mary E. Welsh, Benjamin R. Willett, John B. Jones, Henry W. Ayres, David King, and Frank Fisher. At the time of the Williams Co divorce Carrie, the minor daughter, was granted lawyer John A. Simon, as her guardian but on 8 Dec 1871 Sarah requested and was granted the position herself.  Sarah's parents died within this decade, JB Shouf (Dec 1811-5 Apr 1876) and Nancy (June 1809, Fayette Co, OH - 31 Oct 1880) and were buried in Fountain Grove Cem. in Bryan.

            What happened to the errant husband?  Elon Langel's obituary (Bryan Democrat, 25 Apr 1878) stated that he died on 15 Apr 1878 @42Y in Topeka, Shawnee Co, KS, of consumption; he was buried in the Topeka Cemetery. (Cemetery Records of Burial 1859-1880, p49).  A grave in Floral Grove Cem, Pioneer, Madison Twp plus two obits (Bryan Press and Bryan Democrat, both 15 Sept 1881) state that Elon had married Bertha Green, and fathered a son, Frederick Elon Langel, b.17 Dec 1878; the son died 8 Sept 1881 @2Y 8M 21D of cholera, the only son of his widowed mother. Other details of Elon's life in Topeka have not been discovered to-date. Note that son Frederick was born after his father’s death.

            Our story takes an interesting twist from the account of a resurrection in the Bryan Press, 23 Nov 1882.  Mrs. Pettit of Ft. Wayne, IN "came to life after having been supposed dead for several hours.  She died in the afternoon and was prepared for the grave but sometime in the night signs of life startled her watchers.  She speedily recovered and was delivered to her overjoyed husband."  Mrs. Pettit was formerly a Wms Co, OH resident and the second wife of Elon Langel.  Allen County, Indiana marriage records show that Bertha Langel married William L. Pettit on 5 Oct 1882.

            What happened to the first Mrs. Langel?  Sarah Langel is found living with her married daughter Carrie and son-in-law James McNamara in Toledo, Lucas Co, OH, in the 1880 federal census as Sarah 44 OH, James McNamara 35 IR, Carrie 23 OH, and James McNamara, Sr. 63 IR.  The Bryan Press, 5 Mar 1925, stated that Sarah E. Langel, "widow" of Elon Langel had lived for years in Toledo; at the age of 88Y she died there and was buried in Woodlawn Cem, survived by sister Mary Watson of Toledo, and brothers John H. and William A. Shouf of Los Angeles, CA.  Once again the use of "widow" is misleading without the divorce records to keep things straight.  Carrie Langel McNamara is not listed as a survivor nor are any grandchildren.

            This detailing takes a painful turn from an article in the Bryan Democrat, 9 Jan 1879 p9, which deals with Sarah Shouf Langel's sister, Melvina Price, her brother-in-law, Abe Price, her brother James Shouf, and several of the Price children.  It seems James Shouf had been living in the Washington Territory and had traveled from there to hook up with the Price family, late of Iowa, in the southern Oregon Territory.  The article stated that these relatives were rumored to have been murdered by Indians of that area.  Sarah Shouf Langel certainly had her share of grief.

 

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