Monday, August 11, 2008

A Bit of Old Family Intrigue

In 1892, my Great, Great Grandmother, Margaret Elizabeth Jones, was a young woman. She fell in love and married William Riley Dennis. After a year, he bought a piece of land for $1500 then the following year they had a son. This much we know quite solidly. Then the story splits. One branch of the family tells it this way:

The Jones and the Williams were respected families in Malad and were quite cliquish. When Margaret married a Dennis, her family was very unhappy about it. They did not hide their disdain from their new son-in-law, William. He was unable to bear it and so moved back East to establish himself and earn enough money to support his small family. His mistake was to leave Margaret in the care of her overprotective parents during this venture, but what choice did he have? During his absence, Margaret’s mother, Annie was able to convince her daughter that William was a no-account and not worthy of her. When he had saved enough money, William sent for his wife and son but Margaret refused to travel to him. So she sued for divorce.

In another branch, we have this version:
William Dennis was a dead beat from the start and was unable to hold a job or support his wife and child. He was not well liked in the community. He left his young family in the care of his In-Laws and expected that family to offer all financial support. He traveled back East where he continued to be unsuccessful and probably drank and gambled away any money he did make. Finally, he wrote to his wife, asking for more money and she decided that her Mother was right; he was a dead beat. So she sued for divorce.

The decree of divorce is dated November 13, 1900. She got the property that they owned.

Wouldn't it be awesome to know the real story? What happened so long ago? Who really did what? This was in Malad, ID. I'm sure divorce there was a serious thing in 1900. I love these vignettes that make my family come to life for me. It's easier to imagine a real person when there is evidence of an interesting story somewhere along the way.


Sieler Family said...

Family History is incredibly real -- we descended from people who were remarkably human. I was shocked to find out on my mother's side, there were several couples that just never made it to the preacher to get married!!
BTW -- I LOVE LOVE LOVE the quilt!!!
Pretty soon, you will be so into quilting, you will make the grand purchase of a quilting machine to quilt all those "hellish curls!"
Hope your vacation is great!
Your Aunt Debbie in Ellensburg!

Heidi Lindsay said...

Isn't that interesting! I didn't know there were two sides to that side of the story! I only heard that he had run off and left her penniless.