Thursday, January 9, 2014

Divorce in 1913

Far Guy’s Great Grandmother divorced her husband in 1913 or 1914.  They had ten children together, her husband Winfield …some called him “Winnie” was a drinker and a wife beater. 

I think.. just my opinion that Martha was greatly attracted to Winfield, she was willing to overlook his shortcomings…her love would make him change. ( Play the violin music now.)

One child lead to more children…more fights and more “making up.”  They were not well to do, but her father and mother were.  They secured her a place to live that Winfield could not sell.  I am certain that her father Xaver Aleck did what he could to protect her and the children, both of her parents died in 1903.  She must have felt very alone.

Much later something happened…not sure what…it was the straw that broke the camels back…she was pregnant and the baby died.  Soon after the oldest son beat the living daylights out of his father and threw him out of the house.

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Martha divorced her husband.  At that time she had nine children ages 3, 6,10,12,13,16,19, 22 and 24.   The two oldest would marry that year.  She was raising seven kids alone.  I have heard that the kids would see their Dad drunk in the streets and ignore him.

The oldest son was Far Guys Grandfather and in early 1914 he would leave Logan and come to Minnesota to settle down.  ( Some say…if he had stayed he would have ended up killing his father…so it was best he came to Minnesota.)  He did not return to Logan for years, none of the children attended “Winnies” funeral in 1936. After Winfield died Martha said “He can’t hurt me anymore.”

I suppose it was quite a scandal to get a divorce back in 1913…in small town Logan Iowa I am certain the tongues were a wagging, everyone knew what Winfield had ben doing…but behind closed doors I bet many women were thinking that Martha was very brave.   When Martha died in 1944 she was laid to rest next to Winfield in the cemetery in Logan.

 

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Some women are so stupid they think that they can change men, it is impossible, they are what they are, if they drink before you get married odds are they are going to continue drinking.  If they hit you once while dating odds are when you factor in a few kids and married life stress that the hitting will become a beating.  If they can’t hold down a job what makes you think marriage will help?  No amount of love will change them. Love does not conquer all.

I am not a fan of divorce, especially when there are children.  In some cases it is the only way a woman can survive. I think it was that way for Martha …she divorced so she could survive.  24 years married to a drunken bum and wife beater was long enough.

Back in 1913 only one out of a thousand people sought out a divorce.

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20 comments:

  1. There are things a lot worse than divorce. A divorce can be a blessing.

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  2. Wow!! glad she made that great decision, Francine.

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  3. She did what she had to do to protect herself and her children. She had guts for sticking it out that long.

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  4. Such a fascinating story about a very strong woman, who made a difficult decision, which turned out to the right one. I married an alcoholic believing that I could "fix" him but it didn't take much time before I realized I was wrong. I divorced him, the best thing I ever did.

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  5. What a story! It is a shame she had to be buried beside him. Yes, women need to heed the early warning signs. It only gets worse after marriage.

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  6. My dad was an alcoholic but he was never a mean drunk - - - just a sleepy one. It's a miracle we were never in an accident when in the car with him. My mom divorced him when I was 13 cuz she couldn't "afford" him and the four of us kids, too. What is so sad is his dad was an abusive drunk. My dad and at least one other brother became alcoholics for almost their entire lifetime. Those poor kids would have been better off if my grandmother had left him. When Grandpa died, only family was at the funeral. Evidently the community knew his true nature, too.
    One of my best friends (almost 80) was married to an abuser. He tried to drown her in the bathtub one time and then tried to strangle her another time with an electrical cord. One time after he beat her, someone convinced her to have him arrested. The man's aunt bailed him out and he then threatened to be successful in killing my friend the next time. She was eventually able to divorce him but the abuse really scarred her son emotionally. He never felt safe until the man died when the son was about 40.
    Thanks for telling us more of Martha's story. Praise God the cycle of abuse ended in that family.

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  7. She was a very brave woman and did what she had to do to survive and protect her children.

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  8. Martha was a very courageous woman. I'm betting she was a wonderful mother and protector of her children -no matter what. I hope that at that time she had support from the community!

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  9. Fascinating. Thanks for sharing your family story.

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  10. What an incredible story of a strong and brave woman. Also, Far Guy's father and his need to protect his mom is endearing.

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  11. Yes, divorce was really rare then and even while I was in grade and high school. From all the years I have taught school I see families with alcoholics and most times the wives just survive. One wife actually out lived the guy and went on to have a very much better life. That is quite a story of the grandfather who survived by leaving even though he did defend his mother the one time.

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  12. Sounds like that divorce was long overdue. Poor Martha, may she rest in peace.

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  13. I am not a 'fan' of divorce either ---but got one myself in 1982... We did have 3 sons --and they made it through those years (but I'm sure it wasn't easy for them). HOWEVER, I was living with a very lazy man who had an affair with a young gal. I HAD to get out --since I was ambitious and he had put us deeper and deeper in debt. It was the hardest thing I ever did --but for me, it was the best decision I've ever made. I worked with women (many of them beautiful women) who would stay in abusive situations (like your Martha) for many reasons, some of them because of the children. In those situations, it's BEST to get out... What a horrible situation Martha was in---and glad that the oldest son did get away from there. Hope the others all ended up with GOOD lives...

    I love Genealogy ---and there are sad stories in all families . But--back then, much of it was KEPT quite private... My Dad's brother was an alcoholic ---and Daddy had to help him alot during his life. Very sad situation...

    Hugs,
    Betsy

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  14. I'm actually surprised that a woman was able to divorce a man back then. Thank goodness she was though. I can never understand why women these days stick with men like that, but then I've never been in that situation.
    What a story....

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  15. There is a terrible "abused wife syndrome" that some women get locked into and although they desperately want to be free from the abuser, they can't do it. We were trying to help someone once who was being abused and got some counseling about the situation from the battered woman's shelter in town. It is quite remarkable that FG's ggm was able to be free of him. My grandfather and his first wife got divorced sometime between 1915 and 1920, but not because of abuse. He wanted to live in Arizona, she wanted to live in Florida... and so she did.

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  16. Today if a man behaved this way there is a good chance he would do serious jail time. Nobody should have to put up with such violent conditions. yes some people still think that changes will come. sometimes thinks do change but often not.

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  17. She certainly had grounds for divorce, and it most likely saved her life and maybe the lives of some of her children. Women have suffered much at the hands of men they couldn't change. It still goes on. At least now there are more resources to help.

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  18. Your family story is fascinating and how good the lady finally got free of Winnie. I agree that we can not change other people, we can only change ourselves.

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  19. YAY! She stepped up and took the hard road! High Five Winnie!

    Linda
    http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com

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Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your comments! If you have a question I will try to answer it here. Connie