I’ve been working on editing The Gritty Ones and am currently finishing up the first part which introduces Mary’s first husband, William Dubois. I find his character, and life to be quite interesting. What does prompt a near sixty year old man to take a wife forty years his junior. It’s just one of the many questions I have for my ancestors that probably never find a direct answer to. So while my mind is swamped in thoughts of 1886, I’ll leave you with my post for my 3x great grandfather, William Dubois. Enjoy!
William was born 22 August 1818 in Katsbaan, Ulster County, New York, located in the Catskill Moutains. At this time, I know little about William’s early years, including who his parents and siblings may have been. By the time of the 1850 census, William, aged 32, is living in Perry, Noble County, Indiana along with his wife, Rebecca (Baker), aged 26, and their newborn son, George Marion. The small family soon made their way west, settling in Iowa, and by 1852, a daughter, Emma Isabel was born in Iowa. The family eventually settled in Oxford Township, located in the southeastern corner of Jones County Iowa. There, William and Rebecca would have six more children, of whom, only two would live to see adulthood: there was an son born 11 Jan 1854 but died three weeks after his birth on 11 Feb 1854; James Madison, b. 2 Aug 1855; Franklin, b. 6 Nov 1857, died 22 Jul 1865; Mary, b. 15 Dec 1859, died 1 Feb 1860; Nancy., b. 23 Jun 1863 and passed away the same day; and Mollie, b. 1867.
William prospered in the small town of Oxford Mills, in Jones County, owning real estate that was valued at $18,000 in the 1870 census. However, while William and his farm continued to thrive, Rebecca’s health did not and she passed away on 30 Jun 1878. She was buried in Diamond Cemetery, located west of Oxford Mills, where the children she lost in infancy were laid to rest.
Almost a year to the date of Rebecca’s death, William remarried, at the ripe age of sixty, taking a wife who had just turned eighteen. At the time of his second marriage, his youngest daughter, Mollie was twelve years old, only six years younger than his new wife. With his new wife, Mary Morton, William would have two more children: Myrtle Louella, b. 17 May 1880; and Chloe Edith, b. 29 July 1881. William and Mary’s marriage was not a happy one and in December of 1882, she left the household for a brief period of time, before returning, most likely due to missing her daughters. However, four short years later, William filed for divorce, claiming that Mary had been unfaithful. She in turn charged him with cruel and inhuman treatment and according to the newspaper, “those who listened to the testimony were of the opinion that both parties proved their case”. The court ruling gave William full custody of both Myrtle and Chloe and granted visitation, under the supervision of others, once every three months to Mary. The newspaper also stated that Mary let out a wail upon hearing the verdict.
Mary remarried a year after her divorce, this time marrying a man her own age, John Dailey, a son of Irish immigrants. Sometime after their marriage, Mary went to her daughters’ school with plans of kidnapping them. Once there, she learned that only Chloe was at school that day as Myrtle was home sick. The plan had already been set in motion, and so Mary and John took Chloe, with hopes that Myrtle might follow. Throughout the early 1890s, Mary petitioned or was summoned by the court for custody hearings, but there were not any changes made to the original agreement. According to family, Myrtle chose to stay with her father, whether that was by choice or by coercion, we’ll never know. After her decision however, William sent Myrtle to live with her half-brother, James and his family to be raised. It was only when William’s daughter Mollie married in 1892, that William recalled Myrtle so that she could begin taking care of his household at the age of twelve.
In June of 1899, Myrtle married her childhood sweetheart, William Edward Sutliff, a man her father did not approve of. Myrtle and husband lived with her father until his death that September at the age of eight-one. Upon William’s passing, his estate of nearly $100,000 was split among his surviving children: Emma, James, Mollie, and Myrtle. William’s son George left the Jones County area shortly after his mother’s death, or his father’s second marriage. Perhaps he left because he had quarreled with his father, or he didn’t approve of the marriage to Mary. He began a new life in Audubon, Audubon County, Iowa, a distance of some 250 miles away from Oxford Mills and his father. After marriage and three children, George passed away in 1885 from consumption, or tuberculosis as it is known now. His heirs, daughters Pearl, Dolly, and Sally received only $5. Because Chloe remained with Mary, she too would only receive $5 from her father’s estate. William was buried beside his wife Rebecca and their infant children in Diamond Cemetery.
photo from Ancestry