Old Newspapers Reveal Surprise

I guess having ingested some silly childhood myth that went “no one in our family (except for Uncle Eddie) has ever been divorced” explains why I was surprised to find the following news about my great aunt, Mary Brown, reported in 1924 and 1935 in The Ostego Farmer.


Mary Brown (1888-1976) married Pearly Hanlon in 1907. They had 2 children: Doris and William Hanlon. She was buried in a plot with her two children in Mt. Calvary Cemetery in Oneonta, NY. The name on her gravestone is Mary B. Norwood. I assumed Pearly Hanlon had died prior to Mary’s marriage to Mr. Norwood. Au contraire!

News Articles

Pearly Hanlon of Oneonta, charged with desertion of his wife and children, threw himself upon the mercy of the court and sentence was suspended on the plea of his attorney Tennant. He assured the court that a position was awaiting him on the D. & H. and that arrangements had been made to have the company pay a stated sum to the wife.

The Ostego Farmer, March 7, 1924

Several cases appear reflecting matrimonial infelicity. Among these is one in which May (sic) Brown Hanlon seeks a divorce from Pearley (sic) Victor Hanlon, and there is another in which Pearly Hanlon is seeking damages from William T. Norwood for alienation of affections.

The Ostego Farmer, March 1, 1935

Alienation of Affections

At common law, alienation of affections is a tort action brought by a deserted spouse against a third party alleged to be responsible for the failure of the marriage. The defendant in an alienation of affections suit is typically an adulterous spouse’s lover . . .



It may be readily obvious, but Mary Brown’s second marriage was to one William T. Norwood. It appears that her 1935 divorce petition was granted. Pearly Hanlon married again in 1944 and died in 1962. Mary Brown Norwood died in 1976.

Alas, yet another tidbit of childhood or family lore bites the dust; there was at least one divorce in my family in addition to Uncle Eddie.

2 thoughts on “Old Newspapers Reveal Surprise”

  1. Hey Kathleen,
    I take it Mary Brown was our Grampa Brown’s sister. If so, she set a helluva example for her nephew Eddie. Shame on her.
    I liked looking at the photo of the snow scene on this page. It looks like you, not feeling very good, with the neighbors’ (Reese’s?)garage and convertible car (window down) in the background. I didn’t recognize the scene at first, but it came together in my mind a little afterwards.
    Nice stuff, photo and text.


    1. Yep, Mary Brown was Grandpa Brown’s sister. The family called her Mayme.

      You got the picture right.

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