Scoby’s Divorce and Battle for Child Custody

divorceAlthough there were significantly fewer divorces in the early nineteenth century than there are today, they nevertheless did exist.  One of the earliest divorces on record in Monroe County is that of James and Ruth Scoby.

On August 24, 1824, the Monroe County sheriff was commanded to bring several witnesses to court to testify on behalf of James Scoby and his petition against Ruth.  The witnesses included Samuel R. Cavin, George Hardesty, George Johnston and James Edwards.

According to an index of divorces available at the genealogy library in the Monroe County History Center, James was granted the divorce on March 7, 1825.  The couple had one child together, an infant daughter named Eunice.  Ruth was apparently given custody.

Following the divorce, James married again on October 3, 1826.  His second wife was Rhoda Polly. Sometime thereafter, he brought Eunice to his home and refused to give her back to Ruth.

Understandably, Ruth was upset.  She protested that she had rightful custody of Eunice and asked the court to intervene on her behalf.  On August 8, 1827, the judge ordered the sheriff to bring James and Eunice to court so that James might explain, if he could, why he refused to return Eunice.

There is little more information than this in the circuit court file for James Scoby vs. Ruth Scoby.  (See Circuit Court Records Box 5 at the Genealogy Library, Monroe County History Center, Bloomington, Indiana.)

Post by Randi Richardson.

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