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, 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. ( : 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. ( : 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. ( : 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. ( : 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. ( : 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. ( : 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. ( : 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. ( : accessed 9 February 2022). 

Gathering Records to Tell the Story

The stories passed down by descendants who have researched the CLONCH family history are fantastic and a bit unbelievable. Ralph L. Hayes heard of the scandals which went on in the family and shared the stories in mailing lists and genealogy forums on the internet nearly two decades ago. Being a good researcher, Ralph went to the courthouse in Point Pleasant in Mason County, West Virginia, to ferret out the records to back up the family history. He found the divorce of his 3rd great-grandfather “only by going through some OLD dusty unindexed boxes in the courthouse.”

Seeking Documentation

I’ve wanted to find the documents Ralph discovered as the story of the CLONCH brothers is so difficult to believe. Since FamilySearch has added more collections from Mason County to their online records, I’ve been looking for this and that record to better tell the story.

Ralph L. Hayes is my fourth cousin. He descends from John William CLONCH (1840-1919) and Mary Ellen LEMASTER (1847-1921) while I descend from Alexander CLONCH (1842-1910) and Tabitha Ann COOLEY (1861-1913). John and Alex were the sons of our 3rd great-grandparents William CLONCH (1807-1863) and Mary E. “Polly” DOSS (c. 1816-c. 1892).

If you’ve been following recent posts about William CLONCH’s estate, you’ll have learned William and Mary were not married but had eight children, seven grew to adulthood and married, six had children. William kept the family together beyond the grave by leaving a will in which he stipulated the land the family lived on was to remain in the family. Did he know at the time of his death in 1863 that his two oldest sons would become part of an incredible story equal to a primetime soap opera?

I wrote A Little “Peyton Place” (Part I) and A Little “Peyton Place” (Part II) in December 2013 but the posts only recount what Ralph learned while researching and don’t include documentation.

Living overseas and nowhere near the American courthouses of the counties my ancestors lived in, I must rely on record collections found online. FamilySearch’s catalog is my go-to place whenever researching and gathering records to tell their stories.

Two Marriages

1862 marriage entry courtesy of FamilySearch

John W. CLONCH married Sarah Jane FOSTER on 20 February 1862 in Gallia County, Ohio, across the Ohio River from Mason County.1

1863 marriage entry courtesy of FamilySearch

Alexander CLONCH married Mary Ellen LEMASTER on 10 November 1863, also in Gallia County.2

Two Divorces

Neither of the marriages lasted. In the September Court of 1864 John and Sarah were divorced.3 The records of the circuit court in which Ralph found more details are not yet online but I found another mention a few pages further in the Chancery orders4 and in a fee book.5 [Click on over to the links in the citations below to learn why this divorce produced more records.]

Alexander and Mary Ellen never had children even though by 1880 they were legally married a little over seventeen years. To be more precise, they never had children with each other. Alex’s brother John and Mary Ellen had eight children between 1865-1880 and Alex had 3 children with Mary Ellen’s sister Rebecca from 1868-1876. Many online trees list Rebecca LEMASTER as Alex’s second wife. A marriage record was not found in West Virginia or Ohio. Is it possible they were married and the record has yet to be found?

I think not. Alexander was still married to Mary Ellen LEMASTER when her sister Rebecca gave him three children. Alex and Mary Ellen’s marriage was not dissolved until the March term on 1880, when the divorce was mentioned in the Chancery orders.6

1880 chancery order courtesy of FamilySearch

March term 1880

Alexander Clonch
     vs                                          In Chancery
Mary E. Clonch

This cause come on this day to be heard upon the bill, exhibits and depositions filed therewith and the process having been duly served upon the defendant and she still failing to appear answer or demur to plaintiffs bill and the cause set-for hearing and was argued by counsel on consideration of all which the court is of the opinion that the

1880 chancery order courtesy of FamilySearch

plaintiff is entitled to the relief prayed for in his said bill, it is therefore ordered, adjudged and decreed that the marriage heretofore solemnized between the plaintiff and defendant be dissolved and annulled and the plaintiff forever divorced from his said wife from the bonds of matrimony and that she be forever barred of dower in any lands the plaintiff had or now has or hereafter has and the plaintiff recover from the defendant his costs including a fee of ten dollars as prescribed by law in and about his suit in this behalf expended and that execution issue therefor & c.

Importance of the Records

Why was finding this record so important to me? Five months after the above divorce, on 19 August 1880, Alexander CLONCH married Tabitha Ann COOLEY, my great-great-grandmother. They were the parents of nine children, six of whom married and had children, including my great-grandmother Rebecca Jane CLONCH (1888-1950). Also with the above record I have proof for the part of the story which goes:

The marriage was dissolved, Mary did not appear and she does not get her dower and must pay costs.

One document at a time, the complete story may one day be told.

Genealogy Sketch

Name: Alexander CLONCH
Parents: William CLONCH and Mary E. “Polly” DOSS
Spouse: Tabitha Ann “Tobitha” COOLEY
Parents of Spouse: John COOLEY and Sarah Ann TREADWAY
Whereabouts: Mason and Fayette, West Virginia
Relationship to Cathy Meder-Dempsey: 2nd great-grandfather

1. Alexander CLONCH
2. Rebecca Jane CLONCH
3. Myrtle Hazel ROOP
4. Fred Roosevelt DEMPSEY
5. Cathy Meder-Dempsey

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

  1. “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013” (index and images), FamilySearch (digital images of originals housed at the county courthouses in Ohio), Gallia > Marriage records 1862-1874 vol 3 > image 14 of 276. John W. Clonch and Jane Foster, 20 Feb 1862. ( : accessed 18 Dec 2013). 
  2. Ibid., Gallia > Marriage records 1862-1874 vol 3 > image 19 of 276. Alexander Clonch and Mary Ellen Lemaster, 10 November 1863. ( : accessed 19 February 2019). 
  3. “Mason County, West Virginia, Circuit Court, Chancery orders, 1831-1929” (database with images), <i>FamilySearch</i> (Microfilm of originals at the county courthouse, Point Pleasant, West Virginia.), Film 1861961, DGS 7615568, Chancery orders, Vols. 1-2 1843-1877 (1 from 469 & 4 to 401 – Back of v. 1 has separate pages of land records), image 286 of 949, Folio 386, September Term 1864. 1864 Divorce of John Clonch from Sarah Jane Foster.( : accessed 6 January 2019). 
  4. Ibid., image 303 of 949, folio 421, March Term 1865. 1865 John W. Clonch ordered to surrender his child William A. Clonch to the mother Sarah A. Clonch.( : accessed 6 January 2019). 
  5. “Fee books, 1804-1881” (database with images), FamilySearch (Microfilm of originals at the West Virginia University Library, Morgantown.), Film 174649, DGS 7616441, Fee Book 1859-1867, 1859-1869 1860-1866 1862-1868, image 76 of 425, page 62, bottom of page. ( : accessed 6 January 2019). 
  6. “Mason County, West Virginia, Circuit Court, Chancery orders, 1831-1929”, Film 1861962 Item 1, DGS 7615569, Chancery orders, Vols. 4 1877-1880, image 321 of 899, Folio 274 and 275, March Term 1880. 1880 Divorce of Alexander Clonch from Mary Ellen Lemaster. ( : accessed 6 January 2019).