22 June 2010

James & Bethiah Hickey Divorce Petition In 1850

Among James Hickey's children was Lorenzo Dow Hickey. Lorenzo was known as the last of the apostles affiliated with James Jesse Strang's Beaver Island sect of the Latter Day Saints. Lorenzo D. Hickey lived in Lapeer County, Michigan in 1850 (where members of my paternal family lived in the 1850's). One of L. D. Hickey's descendants had an aunt (great-grandaunt?) who married my 2nd great-grand uncle (maternal line) in Arkansas.

He was referred to as Rev. James Hickey here; Lorenzo's brothers Manasseh and George were also clergymen, though not Mormons. Manasseh Hickey was a Methodist missionary. At the time of L.D. Hickey's death, his brother George was described as "Presiding Elder in the M.E. Church of Lansing."

Divorce proceedings between James Hickey and his 3rd wife, Bethiah, were initiated in 1850.

From "Divorce Records For Oakland County 1839 - 1865:"


Transcription of above divorce petition:

HICKEY, BETHIAH vs JAMES HICKEY. Petition filed 1 Jan 1850. Bethiah's petition states that she is a resident of Royal Oak, Oakland County, age 48, married James Hickey, age about 59, at Avon as a widow named Bethiah Dean. James Hickey was a widower and had at that time six children residing with him and constituting a part of his family. At the time, Bethiah resided in Avon Township and has continued to reside in Michigan ever since.

Immediately after the marriage, James with his six children, John, James, Humphrey, Rhoda Ann, Juliaett and George, came to reside with him in Avon Township. Bethiah continued to live with James as his wife until 28 Dec 1849. During all that time she conducted herself with propriety, managed the household affairs of her husband with prudence and economy and at all times treated her husband with kindness and forbearance and aided and assisted in the care and education of James' children, with the attention of a mother. James disregarded the the solemnity of the marriage vows and his obligations to treat her with kindness and attention. Within about a year the year after the marriage he commenced a course of unkind, harsh, and tyrannical conduct toward her which continued with the very slight interruption until fearing for her personal safety, she separated from him on 28 Dec 1849.

On diverse occasions while she lived with him, he was guilty of extreme cruelty to her by using personal violence and by other means which rendered it unsafe and improper for her to cohabit with him. On 1 Aug 1848 at Royal Oak, at the house in which they resided and in the presence of Mrs. Ferguson, he charged her in harsh, abusive, and scandalous language with having abused his children at which time he went up to her in great anger and with his fists doubled and in a menacing manner said to her "You are the most saucy, impudent and insulting slut I ever saw in my life." He called her a liar and other insulting, abusive and indecorous language. She feared he would have done her bodily harm had it not been for the presence of Mrs. Ferguson.

Such fits of anger and threats of violence to her have been frequent and continued from about one year after the marriage until her separation from him and that as such times she has been compelled to go to her neighbors to avoid his insults and injury from him. In an insulting and tyrannical manner he forbid her to see her friends and neighbors and commanded her to stay at home and on such occasions he called his children to witness his commands to her. He has told his children not to mind her, that she has no right to control or govern them and has permitted and encouraged them to call her a liar and disobey her reasonable requests made to them.

About two weeks, on Sabbath Evening, before her separation from James, she had word from her daughter-in-law that she was leaving to go West across the Lakes [Great Lakes] and asked her to come see her before she left. James held Bethiah in a room and said she had no business going to see other folks. He kept her confined until she screamed enough to alarm two of his sons so that he let her out. On occasion he has called her "a dirty tripe," "an old strumpet & a liar" and that lying was her besetting sin.

About two weeks before the separation, in the presence of Mrs. Estes, he called Bethiah a "lying old strumpet" and a lying old bitch." Also he has taken her clothes and wearing apparel away and concealed them and said that she should have nothing to wear but one old wash dress. Some weeks before the separation, while in bed, James punched and struck her with his elbows so that she was compelled to sleep with one of James' daughter-in-laws. The next morning in front of the family, he directed the most vulgar, obscene and unchaste language to her.

James is a man of violent passions and ungovernable temper and because of his brutal and outrageous conduct she cannot live with him. He has frequently told her that if she left his house, he would not provide for her support or maintenance so that she is now entirely dependent upon her own labor and charity of her friends and is very destitute and is unable to defray expenses of her board and to procure necessary clothing.

At the time of the marriage she was possessed of household furniture for a family, her clothing and wearing apparel and some other personal property which James refused to let her have. James in in fee and possessed of a certain real estate: E 1/2 of NE 1/4 Sec. 17 T1N R11E containing 79 A and SE 1/4 of NE 1/4 NE 1/4 of SE 1/4 of Sec. 17 T2N R10E, containing 40A, all valued at $1500 and of personal property sufficient for farming purposes and is of sufficient ability to support and maintain her. He threatened to sell his property and leave. About three years ago he feared some difficulty and litigation with Calvin Rose and deeded away his land to avoid any Judgment which Calvin Rose might obtain against him. After settlement, James had the farm conveyed back to him together with certain land and real estate which belonged to her.

Before her marriage to James, she was the owner of and possessed in fee jointly with her son, Alanson Dean of NE 1/4 of SE 1/4 Sec. 17 T2N R10E; also SE 1/4 of NE 1/4 of Sec. 17, T2N R10E, excepting 2 acres deeded by Ira Smith to Geo. Slater from SW corner and one acre from NE corner of land SE 1/4 of NE 1/4 Sec. 17 T2N R10E (Deeds 22:57) and she continued to hold some joint with her son, Alanson Dean, until her marriage. At the time of the trouble with Calvin Rose, James induced her to join in a deed on conveyance with him conveying NE 1/4 of SE 1/4 Sec. 17, T2N R10E and SE 1/4 of NE 1/4 to Otis Judson (Deeds 32:243, 244) to avoid a possible Judgment. Otis Judson redeeded the property to James Hickey (Deeds 32:417 and 418) in a fraud of her just rights. James has since refused to convey the property back to her.

On 15 Feb 1850, Bethiah Hickey signed a statement that she had settled with James Hickey and stopped the suit in the Chancery Court in which Crofoot and Phelps were her attornies.

CASE #174, but file does not show where or when Divorce granted.

When the 1850 census was taken James & Bethia Hickey were living together and living with them were John Hickey, age 23, and George Hickey, age 11, in Royal Oak Twp., Oakland County, Michigan. It is probable that the divorce was never finalized. James Hickey died on December 15, 1851.

In 1860 the widowed Bethia Hickey was living with Calvin Rose and his wife, Fanny, in Waterford Twp., Oakland Co., Michigan. James Hickey deeded away his land in order to avoid the possibility of Calvin Rose being awarded said property in a lawsuit in 1847 (per the divorce document). Then in 1860 Bethia Hickey is living with the Rose family?!

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