A Little “Peyton Place” (Part II)

MRIN00038 Clonch, Alex
Alexander CLONCH 1842-1910

After William CLONCH’s death in 1863 his sons John William CLONCH (aka John William DOSS) and Alexander CLONCH (aka Alexander DOSS) continued the “tradition” their parents and maternal grandmother began.

John W. Clonch (1840-1919) married Sarah Jane Foster in 1862. Alexander Clonch (1842-1910) married Mary Ellen Lemaster on 10 Nov 1863. Neither marriage lasted.

Now for the interesting part:

On 18 July 1864 Sarah J. Clonch, wife of John W. Clonch, sued by her next friend, John W. Foster, for divorce. Three years ago at the age of 21, she left her father’s house and married John Clonch. “Since that time [she] has been to him a constant, faithful and dutiful wife and has borne him two children to wit: William A. now two years old and an infant daughter three months old. Her husband on the other hand has been negligent and insufferably abusive and violent to her within the last two years frequently beating and choking her for no cause whatever on her part. He has left his house and home taking with him her oldest child and living in adultry with another woman… further alledges that he has been seen in bed with his own brother’s wife and has failed to furnish support to your oratrix and her child which she is oblige to labor for their entire support, or they would come to starvation. The only property owned by your oratrix and her husband is the household and kitchen furniture and one house the most of which your oratrix bought from her father”. Sarah called three witnesses to include John’s own sister and they told it like it was. They testified that John and Rebecca Lemaster spent the night together in each other’s arms while the light in the fireplace went out. Peter Dewitt testified that “I saw Rebecca Lemaster sitting in his lap mighty close together and he was hugging her, and this happened after dark.” Lavina Ann Patterson, John’s sister, testified that John and Mary Ellen Lemaster Clonch had been in bed together. Mary Ellen was married to John’s brother, Alexander Clonch. [Sep 1864 in the Circuit Court of Mason County, West Virginia]

Now wasn’t that a little Peyton’s Place?” wrote Ralph Hays who should be credited for researching the divorce. About the time John and Sarah got their divorce in 1864, Alexander and Mary Ellen called it quits but were not divorced until 1880. John and Mary Ellen, who were expecting their first child, “shacked up together” for over 30 years until 7 May 1895 when they finally got married – after 13 children were born. [Marriage Book 8, p 5, Item 15, Gallia County, Ohio]

In November 1865 Rebecca Lemaster had an illegitimate son Austin Richard Lemaster. His father was listed as unknown. Later this son went by the name Oscar R. Clonch. His death record shows he was the son of Rebecca Lemaster and an unknown father. Family tradition is that Alexander Clonch had a son named Austin and it has been assumed the child died young as no trace was found. Most likely Alexander acted as a father to Rebecca’s illegitimate child in early years and he took the Clonch surname.

The 1870 census listing has not been found for Alexander Clonch or Rebecca Lemaster nor has a marriage record been found for them. [I believe no record will be found as Alexander was still married to Mary Ellen Lemaster and the marriage was legally dissolved in 1880.]

Alex’s daughter Emma Sidosa “Emily” was born in 1868 (no birth record found). The birth record of his son Joseph E. Clonch born in 1872 lists the mother as Rebecca Clonch and most likely the reason it has been believed the parents were married. No record of birth has been found for his daughter Barbara Elizabeth born in 1875.

The divorce of Alexander Clonch and Mary Ellen Clonch was found in Mason County, West Virginia Chancery Order Book March term 1880, p 274. The marriage was dissolved, Mary did not appear and she did not get her dower and had to pay costs. Alexander had at least three children (most likely all with Rebecca Lemaster as seen above) and Mary Ellen had eight children by John Clonch, Alexander’s brother, by the time their divorce was final.
[Source: Ralph Hayes, 17 May 2002, CLAUNCH-L Archives]

I suspect Rebecca may have died before 1880 as no record has been found for her. Having such young children Alex may have seen it necessary to get a divorce from his estranged wife so he could legally marry. He was seen as divorced in the 1880 census with his children Emily, Joe, and Barbara in his household. During the same year, he married Tabitha Cooley. They were married 30 years and had nine children by the time Alex died in 1910.

Although John and Alexander did not get off to a good start with their first marriages, they remained with their second wives until parted by death.

© 2013, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

A Little “Peyton Place” (Part I)


While reading about black-sheep and skeletons recently, I was reminded of my DOSS and CLONCH lines in Mason County, West Virginia.

Lavina DOSS, daughter of James DOSS Jr. and Elizabeth LESTER, lived in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, with four known and possibly three unknown children (per 1830 and 1840 census). The children were born out of wedlock as Lavina never married. Two of her children, William and Polly, went to live in Mason County, (West) Virginia, before 1840.

Mary E. “Polly” DOSS, like her mother Lavina, also had all of her children out of wedlock. The children are mentioned in the will of William CLONCH dated 17 January 1863. He wrote, “I do wish to will my Land to Mary Doss and her Children John William Doss, Alexander Doss, Loving Ann Doss, Elizabeth Jane Doss, Thomas Eli Doss, Joel Doss and Charles Henry Doss”. William did not write “my” or “our” when he named the children in his will. All of the boys used the CLONCH surname after their father’s death. Mary DOSS also used the CLONCH name after William’s death. She could not marry William CLONCH as he was still married to another woman.

William CLONCH married Ann Eliza HILL on 20 Aug 1832 in Gallia County, Ohio. They had one child Mariah Jane CLONCH mentioned in his will. They may have had a son named Dennis CLONCH (named after William’s father and seen with William’s mother in 1850) but he was not mentioned in the will. Dennis appears to have begun using the HILL surname about 1862 when he enlisted to serve during the Civil War. Could it be that he was a son of Ann Eliza HILL and another man? “Eliza Claunch” had her own household in 1840 and had two more children before she married Andrew GAUSE on 26 March 1842 in Kanawha County, (West) Virginia. The bride was listed as Anna Eliza Claunch, widow of Wm. C. Claunch. William did not die nor was he divorced from Anna Eliza. William was living with another woman (most likely Mary DOSS) and his daughter Mariah from his marriage to Anna Eliza in 1840.

Was Ann Eliza Hill who married 1st William CLONCH and 2nd Andrew GAUSE a bigamist? Or could there have been a divorce and papers have not yet been found?

And the saga continues….(part II to come)

© 2013, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.



One of my 15 known (of 16) great-great-great-grandmothers was a PHILIPPART from Rodange in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. I have her line documented back through 5 generations in Villers la Chèvre, Meurthe-et-Moselle, France, between the 1660s until 1744 and Rodange, Pétange, Luxembourg, from 1744 until her death in 1843 and her parents’ deaths in 1849 and 1851:
Marie Catherine Philippart 1801-1843 (3ggm)
Michel Philippart 1777-1849 (4ggf) md. Catherine Meunier
Jacques Philippart 1749-1824 (5ggf) md. Catherine Singer
Jacques Philippart 1714-aft 1764 (6ggf) md. Elisabeth Burkel
Jean Philippart 1678-1755 (7ggf) md. Jeanne Dorion
I have birth, baptismal, marriage, and death records from France and Luxembourg for the 1600s to 1800s to document these five ancestors.

The PHILIPPART line goes back further with the name changing to PHILIPPART DE FOY and earlier to DE FOY. At this point, I have names and approximate dates for 11 generations back to the 1300s (18ggf) but have not been able to document the information which was found on the website of Dr. Robert L. Philippart. I share with him PHILIPPART, MEUNIER, BURKEL, FOURNELLE, and NEU ancestors (4C1R, 5C2R, and 5C1R). It is not known if Dr. Philippart is the person who researched the earlier generations or if it was done by another researcher. Unfortunately, the genealogy information has been removed from Dr. Philippart’s site http://robertphilippart.eu/accueil.htm.
[To-do list: contact Dr. Philippart to determine the source of his information]

The surnames PHILIPPART DE FOY and DE FOY are Belgian nobility according to the list found on the Europedia website. The giveaway, when looking at surnames, is that families issued from the old nobility typically have a particle, such as de, de la, du or le in French. The PHILIPPART DE FOY and DE FOY lines are at the bottom of the nobility totem pole being esquires and preceded by knights, barons, viscounts, marquises, princes, and dukes. Does this mean that I can trace my ancestry, like other families of nobility, back to Charlemagne (742-814), and by doing so also to Clovis (466-511) and older Merovingian kings?
[Europedia, online http://www.eupedia.com/belgium/belgian_nobility.shtml#Esquire]

“The idea that virtually anyone with a European ancestor descends from English royalty seems bizarre, but it accords perfectly with some recent research done by Joseph Chang, a statistician at Yale University. The mathematics of our ancestry is exceedingly complex, because the number of our ancestors increases exponentially, not linearly. These numbers are manageable in the first few generations—two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, sixteen great-great-grandparents—but they quickly spiral out of control. Go back forty generations, or about a thousand years, and each of us theoretically has more than a trillion direct ancestors—a figure that far exceeds the total number of human beings who have ever lived.”
~ Steve Olson, “The Royal We”, Atlantic Magazine published May 2002, online http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2002/05/the-royal-we/302497/ : accessed 9 Dec 2013.

You can ask whether everyone in the Western world is descended from Charlemagne, and the answer is yes, we’re all descended from Charlemagne. But can you prove it? That’s the game of genealogy.” ~ Mark Humphrys, a computer scientist at Dublin City University

© 2013, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.