1806 – Divorce Proceedings

[transcribed from documents in Indiana Territory General Court Case Files, Box 9, Folder 614,1 and Box 10, Folder 678,2 Indiana State Archives, Commission on Public Records]

August 7, 1806 Petition1

Indiana Territory        } ss
County of Randolph  }

To the honorable Judges of the General Court for the United States of America in and over the Indiana Territory.

The petition of Elizabeth Chribbs of the County of Randolph in the said Territory humbly sheweth, that on the first day of May one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine she lawfully intermarried with William Chribbs late of the said County of Randolph and being so lawfully married she the said Elizabeth and the said William afterwards on the day and year aforesaid at Pittsburgh in the State of Pennsylvania to wit at Massac in the County of Randolph aforesaid lived together and continued to live and dwell together as husband and wife for the space of fourteen years thence next ensuing the day aforesaid, during all which said time she the said Elizabeth did well and truly observe keep and perform all and singular the marriage covenants vows and promises on her part

nevertheless the said William Chribbs being of and possessing an illicit and evil inclination and mind and not regarding the Holy sacred and solemn contract of matrimony which was entered into by and between her the said Elizabeth and him the said William as aforesaid he the said William afterwards to wit on the nineteenth day of April in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety nine contrary to the consent of her the said Elizabeth against the solemn vows and promises of the said marriage covenant and the law in such cases made and provided did commit adultery with one Margaret Eady of the said County of Randolph aforesaid to wit at Massac in said County and did then and there live with the said Margaret Eady in a state of adultry and continued so to live and to dwell with the said Margaret Eady in a state of adultery as aforesaid for a long space of time to wit for the space of nine months next ensuing to the great chagrin and mortification of her the said Elizabeth

and afterwards to wit on the first day of October in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and three the said William contrary to the consent of her the said Elizabeth against the solemn vows and promises of the said marriage covenant and the law in that case made and provided did commit adultery with divers squaws otherwise called Indian women whose names respectively are to the said Elizabeth altogether unknown to wit at Fort Wilkinson in the County aforesaid

and the said Elizabeth further saith that afterwards to wit on the same day and year last aforesaid at Massac aforesaid the said William did treat her the said Elizabeth in a most cruel inhuman and intemperate manner by beating striking and wounding her and did then and there with a loaded gun and pistol presented at and toward the said Elizabeth threaten to take her life

and so the said Elizabeth doth represent and declare that the said William Chribbs is of such intolerable ill temper that it is both improper and impossible for her and her said husband William Chribbs any longer to live together –

and the said Elizabeth further saith that since the day and year last aforesaid the said William Chribbs hath totally left and forsaken the bed and company of her the said Elizabeth and ever since has altogether refused and still doth refuse to live with her or to afford any aid comfort or support.

Your petitioner therefore prays that your honors may be pleased to take her case under consideration, to dissolve the bonds of matrimony between her and her said husband and thereupon according to law and the statute in such cases made and provided to grant her a divorce from the bonds of marriage as in duty bound your petitioner will ever pray.

– Dated the 7th day of August in the year of our Lord MDCCCVI

Elizabeth Chribbs
R. Easton her atty

[A summons was issued August 27, 1806 for William Chribbs to appear at the General Court on circuit at Kaskaskia on the first Mondy in October to answer Elizabeth Chribbs in an action for divorce. The summons was returned by the sheriff with the notation that it had been executed.]

September 22, 1806 Deposition of John and Mary McClain1

Kentucke Livingston County
Septem th22 1806

Acording to order ishued to us from the Curcut Cort of Keskaskia to take the deppitons of John McClain and Mary McClain his wife to be read in evedance in a sute know depending between William Cribbs and Elisebeth Cribbs in the Curcet Cort at Keskaskia to be held the furst Monday in October

We have proseded to take the depptions of John McClain

Quest: Did Capten Bisall call on you to keep Ms’s Cribbs at your house

Answer: He did and my answer was that I wold have nothing to do between Man and Wife and intemated to him that I walde be trubeled with him for I thought he kept her and I said other papel said so tow

Quest: What was the general conduct of Capt. Besel and Mis Cribbs

Answer: The [ ] of the popel was that Capt. Biseal did keep her as a comon prostetute and I did beleve so two

And further saith not

Quest: Mis McClain I think some time in the year 1802 or three Miss Cribbs told Mis Rushaw that the treetment given her by Mr. Cribbs aspeshaly at Wilkinsvill that he had knocked her down sevrel times and Capt. Beasel standing canceld at the same time and beckened to me [ ]at to discover on him as he wanted to her what was said and before the [ ] ended Capt Beasel leped in in angur and the word maid use of was this Betesy Cribbs if ever Bill Cribbs offendes you by words or blow strike a knife in him and I will  protect you and likewise he told her to get all the money you can git and lay it up for you Cant lives with hime and the reply maid by Mis Cribbs that his bisness was fixeded so that he never brought aney money to hand. Then answared Capt. Beseal I will fix you in a way to make money and then heard it up and the plan [ ] on was that he wold plase her in a tavern at Masack for it is in my power so to do and with that steped out. And I asked Mis Cribbs what she thot of fallering Capt. Besal advice and she answard and said god dam him when I am mad I cold kill him and when I am in a good humer I cant hurt him.

Quest: Did you ever her Mis Cribbs say that she loved Capt. Beasel beter then she did her husband

Answer: I did and she said the caus was that he treated her ill and Capt. Beaseal [ ] treeted her well

Quest: What was the gener taul of the papel concarning Beseals keeping Mis Cribbs

Answer: The general talk was that Capt. Besal did keep her as a comon prostetute and I did beleve so to and further saith not

[signed] John McClain
[signed] Mary McClain

Sworn to befor us Wiley Davis and James [ ]
th 22 Sept 1806
[signed] Wiley Davis
[signed] James Ferguson

October 1806 Answer and Reply1

Indiana Territory Randolph County to wit
In the Circuit Court holden for the County aforesaid
at October term 1806

William Cribbs
ads                     } on a petition for divorce
Elizabeth Cribbs

And the said William having heard the petition of the said Elizabeth read, for answer thereunto or so much thereof as he is advised is material for him to answer, he saith that he doth not in any thing confess or allow the allegations in the said petition contained as therein set forth. And for further answer saith that he hath always hitherto, to wit, from the said first day of May in the year 1789, untill the present date performed all and singular the marriage covevants, vows & promises on his part with the said Elizabeth to be performed & kept, notwithstanding which he saith that the said Elizabeth did some time about the [blank] day of [blank] at Massac in the County aforesaid elope from his bed and board and then & there did continue live in a state of adultry with one Daniel Bissel for a long space of time, to wit, for [blank] months thence next ensuing & still doth continue to live seperate & apart from the said William – of all which he produces proof &c

Carr & Robinson
att Deft

And the said Elizabeth by Rufus Easton her attorney replies to the plea and answers within pleaded &c set forth and protests against all and singular the charges and allegations within alledged against her by the said William and protests also that she did not on or about the [blank] day of [blank] at Massac or at any other time or place before or after that period elope from the bed and board of the said William and then and there continue to live in a state of adultery with the said Daniel Bissel in manner or form as within stated or otherwise howsoever. And for plea replication and answer in this behalf saith that the said William Chribbs on the nineteenth day of October in the year 1799 contrary to the consent of her the said Elizabeth against the solemn vows and promises of the said marriage covenant and the laws i such cases made and provided did commit adultery with one Fanny Mitchel of the County of Randolph aforesaid to wit at Fort Massac i said County and did then and there live with the said Fanny Mitchel in a state of adultery for the space of ten months thence next ensuing the date last aforesaid to the great chagrin and mortification of her the said Elizabeth all which she is ready to verify and prove as the court shall [ ] wherefore &c

R. Easton
for Libellant

Rejoinder and Response1

William Chribbs
advs
Elizabeth Chribbs

And the aforesaid William Chribbs by his attornies Robinson & Carr comes into Court & defends the charge &c and saith that the replication of her the said Elizabeth above to the plea of said pleader and the matter therein contained merits good & sufficient nor is he bound by the laws of the land to answer it, therefore for want of a good replication prays Judgt &c Oyer special [ ] of demurrer shews to the court the following

That the said replication is double and contains new charges not specified in the libel

Robinson & Carr

And the said Elizabeth by Rufus Easton her attorney [ ] to the rejoinder of the said William and his answer last above pleaded and saith that the same is good and sufficient in law and such as be the laws of the land said William is bound to answer to [ ] &c

R Easton
Att for Libellant

October 1806 Order2

Proceedings at a Circuit Court, Court Oyer & Terminer & General Jail Delivery begun & held at Kaskaskia in and for the County of Randolph on the first Monday (6th) of October 1806.

Present
The honble Waller Taylor Judge
Benjm Parke Atty Gen
James Edgar Sheriff
Jno Rice Jones Clerk pro tem for Henry Hurst Clrk Gen Court

* * *

Elizth Chribs
agt                  } on libel for a Divorce
Wm Chribbs

Pleas filed, [Summons] filed, Demurr filed, joinder in Demurrer – Demurrer allowed, Libellant to join issue on the first part of the Defts plea, with liberty for the Deft to give every special matters in evidence, on hearing the allegations and proofs of the parties in this Cause, the Court do order and decree that the said Elizth Chribbs be & she is hereby absolved from the bonns of matrimony which were solemnized between her the said Elizth Chribbs & the afsd Sm Chribbs

and it is further ordered & decreed that the said Elizabeth shall be permitted to retain & keep Mary & Eliza two of the children & issue of the marriage – and that the said Wm Chribbs shall retain and keep Hannah & John the two other children of the marriage.

[Notation in margin: Drury Pritchard, John Pritchard, Margaret Eady, Mr Finney, Jas Edgar, __ Loveitt, E. Carpenter]

Adj’d to tomorrow morning at 10 oClock

[signed] Waller Taylor

On Wednesday 8th October 1806 the Court met . . .