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The Feuding Porters, Divorces in Williams County, Ohio

by Pam Pattison Lash

 

Abraham Porter v Hannah M. Brooks Porter

Elizabeth Metzler Porter v Abraham Porter

Hannah M. Brooks Porter Porter v Samuel Porter

 

            Once upon a time there were four Porter brothers, natives of W. PA, who traveled to Richland Co, OH. James Jasper Porter (b 2 Apr 1801) and wife Ruth Ferguson (b28 Mar 1806) migrated from Richland Co, OH to Wms Co c1840.  James' brother, William Porter, came too.  James and Ruth had six children, the oldest of whom was Samuel.  William Porter married  Margaret Ferguson, a sister of Ruth Ferguson Porter, and they had several children, one of whom was Abraham.  Our story deals with first cousins, Samuel and Abraham.

            In the 1850 Superior Twp federal census p44, Margaret Porter 45 OH appeared with sons John 18 OH and Abraham 14 OH.  Nearby James 50 PA and Ruth 44 OH were listed with their children Samuel 8 OH, William 14 OH, Henry 11 OH, Jane 8 OH, John 5 OH, and James 3 OH. 

            Samuel, b 22 May 1832, Richland Co, OH, married Elizabeth Dunlap in Wms Co on 9 Jan 1859 (Marriage V3 p40).  The couple was enumerated in the 1860 Superior Twp federal census p184B, as Samuel 27 OH, Elizabeth 24 OH, and Ellen 1 OH.  Samuel and Elizabeth's children were Ellen, Edward Laurence, and William Henry.  Elizabeth died in 1864 of complications during childbirth.  By the 1870 Superior Twp federal census p29, Samuel 38 OH engineer in a sawmill lived with his mother Ruth 64 PA, brother James 22 OH, and children Ellen 11 OH and Edward 8 OH.

            Abraham, b Apr 1836 OH, married Hannah M. Brooks in Camden, Hillsdale Co, MI.  The couple was enumerated in 1860 Superior Twp federal census p185B, as Abraham 24 OH and Hannah 20 OH. By the 1870 Superior Twp federal census Abraham's family appeared as Abraham 35 OH, Hannah 32 OH, William 10 OH, Sarah 7 OH, and Ida Brooks 12 OH.     According to the Williams County Civil and Criminal Court Record, Roll 26, Mar 1874-May 1875, Abraham Porter sued Samuel Porter for $625 in damages.  This suit stemmed from an earlier action over money that the court had granted Abraham on 20 Oct 1869; Samuel had not paid his debt to Abraham so Abraham sued Samuel again and won.

            From the Wms Co Ohio Civil and Criminal Court Records Roll 27 case number 78 on 16 Nov 1875, Abraham Porter sued Hannah M. Porter for a divorce.  He stated that in Aug 1862, except between the fall of 1864-June 1865, he resided in Wms Co.  On 17 Oct 1870 Hannah abandoned him and left with Samuel Porter for Toledo, Lucas Co, OH, taking their daughter Sarah Jane; Abraham was visiting a relative in Mahoning Co, OH; prior to this in Apr 1869 and on 11 Oct 1869 Hannah committed adultery with Samuel Porter in Abraham's home.  Hannah now lived in Rockwood, Wayne Co, MI.  Abraham brought the following witnesses to corroborate his story: John Platt, Lewis Howell, William Fifer, and David Hawkins.  A legal notice appeared in the Bryan Press.  A divorce was granted; Hannah received $100 in alimony and $100 in two years.  If Abraham failed to pay, his property would be sold.

            From Roll 34 case number 644 in Nov 1879, Elizabeth Metzler Porter sued Abraham Porter for divorce.  The couple was married on 18 Nov 1875 in Amboy Twp, Hillsdale Co, MI and lived in Superior Twp, Wms Co.  They married two days after Abraham’s divorce from Hannah. Elizabeth, daughter of Abraham and Margaret Markle Metzler, was born in 1850, and charged that on 10 Mar 1879 Abraham abandoned her and went to Michigan to the house of Lucinda Murdich in Hillsdale and committed adultery with Hannah Porter, his former wife.  Elizabeth catalogued other dates when this happened (15 Mar, 20 Mar, 25 Mar, 30 Mar, and 20 Apr 1879).  Abraham had a wandering eye before this as Elizabeth told the court in the fall of 1876 he committed adultery with a Lucy Squires.  Elizabeth and Abraham had a son, Emmett Porter, b 22 June 1876.  She stated that Abraham had 40 acres in Superior Twp, valued at $1600 plus other land and property and she wanted a reasonable settlement.  The court granted her a divorce.  Later in Nov 1879 Elizabeth sued Abraham again for non-payment of a promissory note for $100 and other funds owed to her.  Elizabeth died in 1908 and was buried in Beaver Creek Cem close to her parents, Abraham (1814- 18 Apr 1891) and Margaret (1816 – 7 Aug 1891).

            From Roll 36 case number 827 in June 1880, Hannah M. Brooks Porter sued Samuel Porter.  It seems that on 2 Mar 1876 in Wauseon, Fulton Co, OH, Hannah married Samuel (Marriage V3 p500). Hannah told the court that on 1 Feb 1879 Samuel was harsh and cruel to her, compelling her to perform household labors beyond her strength.  She wanted alimony based on Samuel's real estate in Superior Twp, valued at $6,000, plus livestock.  Hannah resided in Montgomery, Hillsdale Co, MI. The couple had children Sarah A (17) and William (20). She stated that 12 years before she married Samuel, he wanted to destroy the happiness that existed between her and her husband, Abraham.  Samuel wanted them to divorce so he could marry Hannah; he lived about a half mile from her.  In 1864 under a false guise of friendship Samuel told her of Abraham's infidelities.  He told her that Abraham had contracted a sexual disease and that he wanted to poison Hannah or "put her away".  Samuel promised her $1500 if she'd divorce Abraham and marry him.  She left for Monroe, MI with her daughter and did abandon Abraham.  She obtained the divorce and married Samuel. Now Hannah has learned the truth.  Abraham was always able to clothe her in fine and costly attire

            Samuel borrowed $400 from her, which she had earned as a servant after leaving Abraham.  On 1 Aug 1878 Samuel was abusive, violent, and tyrannical.  Hannah told the court she was 43 years old and in feeble health. 

Samuel came to court stating that Hannah abandoned him for her ex-husband, Abraham Porter, his cousin. He also told the court that he did provide her with clothing, food, etc. He said she committed adultery with Abraham in Samuel's home between 1 Sept 1878 - 1 Feb 1879.  The court granted Hannah a divorce. In the 1894 Village of Montgomery, Camden Twp, Hillsdale Co, MI state census, p207, Abraham and Hannah lived together.  They were also in the 1900 Camden Twp, Hillsdale Co federal census, p66, as husband and wife.  By the 1910 federal census for that location Abraham lived alone; presumably Hannah had died.

 In the 1880 Superior Twp federal census p12, Samuel 47 OH was listed with sons Edward 18 OH and William 16 OH, plus his first wife's sister, Lenore Dunlap 45.  In the 1900 and 1910 Superior Twp, Wms Co federal censuses, Samuel lived alone, identified as "divorced" in 1910. He died on 27 Dec 1912 and was buried beside his first wife Elizabeth in Riverside Cemetery. 

To recap the Porter marriages, Samuel was married to Elizabeth Dunlap and Hannah M. Brooks Porter.  Abraham was married to Hannah M. Brooks, Elizabeth Metzler, and Hannah Brooks Porter. The common denominator for the feuding cousins was Hannah. 

 

 
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