Susie Ingram vs I. L. Ingram – 1904 Divorce

My 2nd great-grandfather Irvin Lewis INGRAM (1846-1910) was married twice. During his marriages, seven children were born. DNA has proven that his first two daughters from his first marriage to my 2nd great-grandmother Mary M. DEMPSEY were his biological children. Their third daughter’s birth was reported by her father I. L. INGRAM in March 1871.1 She likely died after the 1880 census as no other records were found.

The four other children were born after Mary’s death and during the time Irvin was married to Octavia Susan ALIFF. Irvin married Susie on 11 February 1888.2 Their first daughter was born in 1889, 17 months after the marriage took place.3 Descendants of three of her eight children had their DNA tested and are in common with matches whose MRCA (most recent common ancestors) are Robert INGRAM and Huldah JOHNSON, the parents of Irvin.

The next three children that Susie gave birth to were born in 1897, 1901, and 1904. The son born in 1897 was registered as Irvin’s son.4 Birth records for the daughter born in 1901 and the son in 1904 were not found. When the daughter died in 1918 Samuel Russell WALK was the informant on her certificate of death and gave his own name as her father.5 The delayed birth certificates of the two sons created in 1952 and 1958 both identify their father as Samuel Russell WALK.6,7

While revising my 2014 post on Irvin Lewis INGRAM, I checked it against the information in my GEDCOM file. As I moved old source citations out of his notes into the source citation window, I found a task I had not followed through on.

The divorce of Irvin Lewis INGRAM and Octava Susan ALIFF was recorded at Fayette County courthouse on 15 December 1904. This fact was not supported by a document and I failed to note who gave me this information.

Per the FamilySearch catalog, divorce records for Fayette County, West Virginia, are included in the Chancery orders.  I searched the Chancery orders, 1832-1927 for a record dated 15 December 1904 and found the missing record.8

Susie Ingram vs I. L. Ingram

Chancery orders, 1832-1927, Vol. 8, page 316, 15 December 1904, Susie Ingram vs I L Ingram in chancery

In Chancery
Susie Ingram vs I. L. Ingram
This cause came on this day to be heard when the plaintiff’s bill and its exhibits, upon the answer of the defendant thereto and general replication to said answered when the depositions on behalf of the plaintiff and defendant when consideration of which the court is of the opinion that the plaintiff is entitled to the relief prayed for in her said bill. It is therefore adjudged, ordered, and decreed that the marriage heretofore celebrated between plaintiff Susie Ingram and defendant I. L. Ingram be, and the same is hereby dissolved and the said Susie Ingram and I. L. Ingram, be, and they are hereby divorced from each other from the bonds of matrimony.

I thought the entry for the suit would have more details about the divorce. It seems not. Susie was the plaintiff which means she was the one to file for the divorce.

How long had the divorce proceedings been going on? Are chancery records filed in Fayette County Court? Have they been filmed or digitized? Will they be available online?

By the time the marriage was dissolved on 15 December 1904, Susie’s son Joseph was nearly 8 weeks old, Mary Ann was 3 years old, Julian was 7 years old, and Ocie Ola was 15 years old. Wouldn’t the children be mentioned in records presented in chancery when the suit was filed?

If the records of the children can be believed, Irvin and his second wife Susie were living a troubled marriage long before they were divorced in 1904. Samuel Russell WALKER, the man Susie married after her divorce from Irvin, was documented as the father of Julian, Mary Ann, Joseph, and an unnamed daughter born after they married in 1905.

One record at a time, I’m learning about my ancestors. It’s always been this way but some records tell more and some leave me with more questions.

And, yes, I am still checking DNA matches for the possibility that Susie’s sons may have been INGRAMs and not WALKs.

© 2022, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. West Virginia Vital Research Records Project (database and images), West Virginia Division of Culture and History, citing county records in county courthouses, West Virginia (A collaborative venture between the West Virginia State Archives and the Genealogical Society of Utah to place vital records online via the West Virginia Archives and History Web site accessible at https://archive.wvculture.org/vrr), West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 584755, image 32, Fayette, West Virginia, Register of Births 1871, line 83, March 1871, Harriet Ingram, citing Loop Creek, Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/584755/00032.jpg : accessed 25 January 2022). 
  2. Ibid., West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 584765, image 166, Fayette County, West Virginia, Clerk’s Certificate and Marriage License, page 288 (stamped), Irvin Lewis Ingram (widower) and Susan Octava Holstin (widow), citing Fayetteville, Fayette County, West Vrginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/584765/00166.jpg : accessed 22 January 2022). 
  3. Ibid., West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 584755, image 223, West Virginia, Fayette County Register of Births, page 208-209 (stamped), line 185, 8 Feb 1889, Ociola Ingram, citing Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/584755/00223.jpg : accessed 5 February 2022). 
  4. Ibid., West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 584761, image 504, West Virginia, Fayette County Register of Births, page 406-407 (stamped), 4th entry, 9 Jul 1897, ___ Ingram (Julian Lee writing in above), citing Star, Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view2.aspx?FilmNumber=584761&ImageNumber=504 : accessed 10 February 2022). 
  5. Ibid., West Virginia Deaths, 1804-1999, FHL microfilm 1952762, image 175, West Virginia, Standard Certificate of Death, Registered No. 9428, 9 July 1918, Mary Ann Walk, citing Dorothy, Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/1952762/0000175.gif : accessed 9 February 2022). 
  6. Ibid., West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 4835009, image 1431, Delayed Certificate of Birth, 47395, Julian Lee Walk, 9 Jul 1898, subscribed 25 January 1952, citing Red Star, Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/4835009/01431.jpg : accessed 10 February 2022). 
  7. Ibid., West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 4017263, image 272, Delayed Certificate of Birth, 6516, Joseph Walk, 22 Oct 1904, subscribed 12 Aug 1958, citing Coal Run, Fayette County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/4017263/00272.jpg : accessed 9 February 2022). 
  8. West Virginia. Circuit Court (Fayette County), Chancery orders, 1832-1927, FamilySearch, citing microfilm of originals at the county courthouse, Fayetteville, Film 1738697, DGS 7617580, Vols. 8-11 1904-1910 (v. 8 from p. 280 & v. 11 to p. 275) > image 23 of 836 > Vol. 8 page 316, 15 December 1904, Susie Ingram vs I L Ingram in chancery. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99V1-FHJC?i=22&cat=441399 : accessed 9 February 2022). 

Author: Cathy Meder-Dempsey

When I’m not doing genealogy and blogging, I spend time riding my racing bike with my husband through the wonderful Luxembourg countryside.

15 thoughts on “Susie Ingram vs I. L. Ingram – 1904 Divorce”

  1. My experience with court records is mixed. The books only give the merest summaries. Sometimes the actual case documents have been delivered to an archive that may or may not digitize them. Sometimes they are still stuffed in a clerks office in the courthouse (or basement) and never seen again. The clerks don’t even know what they have or how to search them. I expect it requires a lot of persistence to make headway. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Eilene, this is what I thought. I am not familiar with what the US courthouses and archives may have stashed away. I’ve heard things about clerks not being aware of what they have or even how to use them. I have a scanned copy of a photocopy of a 1799 marriage permission slip that a distant cousin found in a box full of loose papers at the Amherst courthouse. She wrote, “I’m surprised they let the public have access to them, they are so brittle.” I think the condition of the records and how they are filed has a lot to do with whether they will ever be digitized. As for this 1904 divorce, it is a bit recent and may be part of a collection that includes later dates that are still considered not for public release.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. If you have a case number from the record book, you might have some luck getting the file. It is over 100 years old, so probably not restricted. Best thing to do is call the courthouse. I recently received documents for a 1910 murder trial that I used to write an article (Idaho).

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Pretty scandalous material for 1904. Somehow I tend to think of divorce and adultery as “modern” problems, yet we know they are as old as the ages. I hope you can learn more. Maybe a newspaper article somewhere? I have found pretty detailed and private things about marriages in old papers.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Cathy, have you tried calling that court house and speaking with the court clerk? I was able to get the complete divorce file for my hubby’s grandmother who sued 1st husband for divorce and won in 1903. Sometimes the divorce records are still on file and for a nominal copy fee, you can request the full file. It cost me less than $4 to have copies mailed to me (and the clerk even sent me scans via email so I could improve the readability of the pages). Best of luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Marian, my one time trying to get in touch with the county clerk in WV never generated a reply. It might be a good idea for me to try calling this county’s clerk. They’d probably be surprised hearing from someone living in Luxembourg. Thanks for the suggestion.

      Like

  4. Cathy, Divorce records are some of the hardest records to come by depending on which state you are researching in. Great find by the way! Great post…keep ’em comin’! Brian

    Liked by 1 person

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