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!
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.