Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Follow-up on Chancery Suits

The Twin Rivers Genealogy Society in Lewiston, Idaho will be using some of my brick wall information in an upcoming presentation.  Thank you, Jill Nock (president of the TWGS), for reading the blog and for sharing the information with your group. 

I have added a new page to the blog.  The Toolbox page has my favorite websites listed by category.  This is a work in progress so check back often.  I am going through my bookmarks and cleaning them up as I am updating this page so it will take a while to get it just right.

Here is a follow-up on Chancery Suits from Holly:

“I received the Chancery suit yesterday. It was an informative document. I found the name of Mariah's daughter, Mary Ann Moffett. In it, Mariah and her daughter vs George W. Booth (Mariah's husband) and his brother Thomas Harper Booth. The judge asks questions of two others, Alexander G Booth, another brother and J. Jarrett Morrow about their hiring of two negro boys Jim and Bill and how long they employed them and who did they pay. The boys were hired for $140 apiece for 5 months of work. The money was paid to George W. Booth and the time period was 1838. Mariah and her daughter wanted their share of the money. Since the other record I have not yet received was from 1838, this year must be critical. My bet is that Mariah and her husband parted ways this year, financially and otherwise and that is what the 1838 document is concerning.

Now, my question is, were trial separations given in this time period? Where would I go to look for a possible divorce? I can find lists of marriage records, but not divorces. I am sure it would be covered under some other court action. Each state did everything so differently, I have no idea where to look.”

Whenever I have a question like this the first place I look for an answer is the FamilySearch Wiki.  This is a convenient and fast way to find things out. It isn’t always completely up-to-date but it is a great starting point.  I found a wiki page just for Alabama Divorce Records.  On this page you will see that there are divorce records back to 1818.  The original records are held by the Alabama Department of Archives and History and have been microfilmed by the Family History Library. 

As far as a legal separation goes, this concept was first established in Alabama in 1852 and was a divorce “a mensa et thoro” which means a divorce from bed and board. You can read about it HERE.  In 1838 this wouldn’t have existed.  Your Mariah and George might have been separated but it wouldn’t have been a legal arrangement. 

I found that answer on Google Books which is another one of my favorite places to go to find an answer to a question.  I had a teacher in high school tell me that no one can possibly know everything but as long as you know where to look to find the answer then you will get along just fine.

Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

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