Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Common Pleas Court Record for Abel Armitage, 12 March 1880

In February I posted newspaper articles noting Abel Armitage's appearance in the Common Pleas Court of Jefferson County, Ohio.  In March, I posted the results of my searches to find where the court records of those cases might be.

Now, in April, I'm happy to report that Joyce Humphrey, another descendant of Abel (and his second wife, Ann), went to the Jefferson County Genealogical Society office, searched the journals, and found some records.  She noted that the newspaper dates were not consistent with the docket and journal entries she found.  (Reminder to self:  Never take a newspaper article as absolute truth.)  I'm transcribing only the journal entries in this post.  She gave me permission to post and share these documents.  Thank you, Joyce!

The first image of a journal entry is for Abel Armitage vs. The City of Steubenville and is dated March 12, 1880.

Journal page 23
March Term 1880

Friday March 12" 1880  8½ oclock A.M.
Court met pursuant to adjournment
Present Hon. James Palnick Jr. Judge

Abel Armitage                  }
v.                                     }     Civil Action Verdict
The City of Steubenville   }
The jury heretofore impanneled and
sworn to try this cause, after hearing the evidence
arguments of counsel and charge of the Court return to open Court the
following verdict in [uniting touch?]:  We the jury in this case being duly
impanneled [sic] and sworn do find for the plaintiff and assess his damages
at the sum of One hundred and fifty ($150) dollars  E. H. McFeely [?] Foreman.

Notes and Comments
Is this the case that was announced in the February 14, 1879, issue of The Steubenville Weekly Herald.  At that time Abel was asking for $2,500.00 in damages.

The notice in the March 5, 1880, issue of The Steubenville Weekly Herald gave the court date as March 11.  Was the court so busy on the 11th that Abel's hearing was postponed until March 12?  Did this necessitate his being in court both days?

In this case Abel was awarded the sum of $150.00.  The Inflation Calculator tells me that $150.00 in 1880 was equal to about $3784.00 in 2016. 

Was he able to collect the money from the City of Steubenville?  Steubenville's City Council journals are available online at FamilySearch.  When I browsed through them a month ago I was impressed with how much detail they contained.  Perhaps there is a record of money being paid to Abel. 

If this case was settled in 1880, Abel and/or his wife must have filed at least one more case against the City of Steubenville.  The last image Joyce sent dates to 1883.

This is the first of several more court records I'll post.  Thanks again to Joyce Humphrey for sharing so generously.


Copyright ©2017 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

High and Holy Hymning:  He Is Risen!

                    He is risen! He is risen!
                    Tell it out with joyful voice.
                    He has burst his three days' prison;
                    Let the whole wide earth rejoice.
                    Death is conquered; man is free.
                    Christ has won the victory.

                    Come with high and holy hymning;
                    Chant our Lord's triumphant lay.
                    Not one darksome cloud is dimming
                    Yonder glorious morning ray,
                    Breaking o'er the purple east,
                    Symbol of our Easter feast.

                    He is risen! He is risen!
                    He hath opened heaven's gate.
                    We are free from sin's dark prison,
                    Risen to a holier state.
                    And a brighter Easter beam
                    On our longing eyes shall stream.

I wish you the blessings of a joyful Easter!


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

A Generous Gift - Wedding Wednesday

My parents, Audrey Meinzen and Lee Doyle, married on September 15, 1938.  It was nearing the end of the Great Depression but it was not over yet and, of course, they had no idea how much longer it would continue.  The wedding was small and simple, as was the reception which was held at the home of Audrey's parents.  In talking with Mom years ago about her wedding I remember her saying that she and Dad received "a large sum of money" from Dad's grandfather, William "Pap" Doyle.  She never mentioned the amount.

Not long ago I was looking through papers that my mother had saved and found a check from William Doyle, dated September 22, 1938, a week after Mom and Dad married.

It's clear that Pap signed the check but it was written by someone else.  The check was folded inside this wedding card.

My mom recorded that she and dad together earned about $160.00 per month at the time
they were married.  Dad was working at a steel mill, she as a nurse at a hospital in Warren, Ohio.  U.S. Inflation Calculator tells me that if this "large sum of money" were converted to 2017 U.S. dollars it's value would be $3,455.00.

I agree with Mom and would call it a large sum of money, too.  At the time of Mom and Dad's marriage, Pap, a farmer for most of his life, was 75 years old and had been a widower for two years.  Dad's mother, Beulah (Gerner) Doyle, died soon after Dad's birth; his father, Gust Doyle, died in 1933, just six years earlier.  Pap's gift of money may have been an attempt to offer the financial support he knew Dad's parents weren't there to offer or he may have realized how difficult it would be for a young couple starting life together during the Great Depression.  Whatever his reasons for giving such a large sum of money, I think Pap was a generous man who gave a generous gift.


Copyright ©2017 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

On Break at Copperweld Steel - Workday Wednesday

These are photos of my father and some coworkers at Copperweld Steel Company, Warren, Ohio, in 1946.  Perhaps they are on break or just finished lunch.

Joe Mack on the left, Lee Doyle, my father, on the right. 
This was probably taken inside the mill.  I like the effects of the back lighting.  To me it looks dramatic, almost eerie, and very late-1940s. 

Two men, Joe and Dad again.

Three men.  H. Baker joins Joe and Lee.
My father always preferred shirts with two pockets.  His preference must have started before this photo was taken.

H. Baker leaves and Einhorn, Joe Weaver, and an unnamed man join Lee.
The way my father has his head down it looks like he's being teased.  He smoked cigarettes for a number of years.  I tried to use the length of the cigarette to put these photos in sequence.

Men come and go, Dad remains.
Left to right, K. Ambrose, Lee Doyle, J. Weaver, and the same unnamed man as above.

The group gets bigger.
Left to right:  H. Baker, Joe Mack, Lee Doyle, Joe Weaver, and another unnamed man.
With all heads (except one) turned his way, it looks to me like Joe Mack is telling a story.

I don't remember my father speaking about work or his coworkers often but I do remember the name "Einhorn" and it seems that Einhorn was a "character" -- an interesting person who did things differently than most others. To the right is "Einhorn."  In the vernacular of the time and place, I believe most men were called by their last names.

For the longest time I couldn't find these photos.  They surfaced when I was looking through the scanned pages of my mother's photo album.  They were taken after Dad had been at Copperweld for five or six years but before he became a foreman.

I cropped the backgrounds out of these and could probably improve them by adjusting the contrast but am posting them as is.


Copyright ©2017 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Pvt. William Dray Seriously Wounded - Military Monday

Doris Jean Meinzen was known to her parents and her sisters as Dot, and to her nieces and nephews as Aunt Dot, a childhood nickname used by family but later discarded when she moved away from her childhood hometown of Mineral Ridge, Ohio.

The last time we visited with Aunt Dot last fall, she briefly told us about her and her husband.  She and Bill Dray had dated through high school and wanted to marry soon after high school graduation.  Her parents, however, disapproved of Bill and refused to let her marry until she was 21.  Aunt Dot turned 21 on July 19, 1941, and she and Bill married on Wednesday, February 18, 1942.  She remembered that they had a variety of weather on their wedding day.  It was dry when they went to the church to be married, rained while they were in the church, and they came outside to find it snowing.

Doris and Bill married during the United States' involvement in World War II and after the draft had begun in September, 1940.  I think it would have been a fearful time to marry and begin a family, not knowing what the future might be like.  And yet who would want to miss the opportunity to marry the one they loved just because there was a war?  Transcribed records on FamilySearch tell me that Bill enlisted in the Air Corps branch of the United States Army on May 5, 1942.  His commitment to serve in the military was "for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law."  He went to Patterson Field, as it was known then, near Dayton, Ohio.  I don't know the sequence of his military service, nor when he left the United States or from where, to fight in the war overseas. 

One of Aunt Dot's sisters, Polly, once told me that Uncle Bill had been wounded in the war and taken for dead.  He was on a truck with other soldiers who hadn't survived, about to be transported, when someone noticed that he moved.  He was removed from the truck and taken to a hospital.  Aunt Polly also said that a metal plate had been placed in his head due to a wound and that he was very protective of that side of his head.  I never asked anyone about this and I don't think Aunt Dot never mentioned it to me.

Not long ago I was searching newspapers local to Mineral Ridge and found an article about Uncle Bill in The Niles Standard, published on Thursday, March 16, 1944. 

     Pvt. William Dray, son of Mr. and Mrs. Lee Dray, 25 Wood, Niles, was seriously wounded in Italy on Feb. 13, according to a War Department telegram received Sunday.  Details are unknown as yet.
     Pvt. Dray took part in the early invasion operations in Africa and had been in action continuously since that time [and] although his parents had been receiving frequent letters from him, they were unaware of his direct participation in battle.
     Dray, 23, had been in service two years.  He took basic training as a member of the Air Force ground crew, at Patterson Field, Dayton, O.  He graduated from Mineral Ridge High School in 1938 and was employed at the Ravenna Arsenal before induction.
     His wife, the former Doris Meinzen, of Mineral Ridge, is in California.

Aunt Dot and Uncle Bill had been married just over two years.  Imagine her alarm and concern at learning the news that he'd been seriously wounded.  And then it must have been astonishing to see that it took a month to receive the news, from the day of his injury on Sunday, February 13, to the arrival of the telegram on Sunday, March 12.  I don't know if Aunt Dot was in California to be with Uncle Bill or for some other reason but I have a vague memory that she went to him as soon as he was in the U.S. again.

Uncle Bill survived, of course.  I remember him from my childhood through young adulthood.  He died of a heart attack on January 28, 1974.  I am aware that there are many World War II veterans who have lived long lives but I continue to believe that military service during war time takes a toll on an individual and soldiers return home different people than they were when they left.  I believe it was so with Uncle Bill, too.


Copyright ©2017 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Books for Women's History Month 2017

I know Women's History Month is nearly over and I've posted very little (because sometimes living life takes precedence over seeking dead ancestors) but I did want to publish this list of books that seem appropriate for women's history.  There are both fiction and nonfiction and all are ones I've read during the past 12 months.  Maybe you will enjoy them even though Women's History Month is nearly over? 

This year there are only three non-fiction books, and one of those I can't really fit into the "history" part of Women's History Month because it records the work life of one of our contemporaries.  In several dozen years it will be considered history but I wanted to include it in this list because it focuses on a woman and her work.

Not Becoming My Mother & Other Things She Taught Me Along the Way.  Ruth Reichl
     Reichl writes of her mother's generation, “Good women didn’t work if they didn’t have to; it would only humiliate their husbands and make the world think their men were incapable of supporting them.”
     The author's mother was born in 1909.  She and her husband had plans for Ruth.  They sent her to music school even though she wanted to be a doctor.  They told her that she wasn’t particularly attractive and would have a hard time finding a husband.  She married in her early 30s, then divorced.  She remarried later but was bored with being a housewife.  It wasn’t until after her mother’s death that Ruth learned of the sacrifices her mother made so that Ruth could live a different, freer life.
     I thought this was a great family history book.  The writing of it was helped by that fact that Ruth’s mother had left lots of notes, letters, and other ephemera.

The Shift:  One Nurse, Twelve Hours, Four Patients’ Lives.  Theresa Brown, R.N.
    This is not currently a women's history book because it is contemporary to us, but it will fit that category in a number of years.   The author, who works on a hospital cancer ward, takes us through her day.  She records her physical actions; her thoughts; her concerns about how patients will respond to medicines and medical treatment; interactions between herself, other nurses, and other medical staff; her decision-making process about a variety of situations including who to help first when call lights come on at the same time; record-keeping; and much more.  This book gave me a greater appreciation for all a nurse must keep in mind when working in a hospital.  There are three nurses in my family which may have generated my interest in this book, but it was interesting to compare 1930s nursing to today's nursing experience.

The Witches:  Salem, 1692.  Stacy Schiff
     If you have ancestors who lived in Salem or any nearby community in the 1690s you may find this book interesting.  I found it interesting as wells  challenging.  The cast of characters was extensive but their stories were scattered through the chapters.  It gave me a different perspective of life in the 1690s among the Puritans.  While reading I couldn't help but wonder how the people could have been "duped" by a 9-year-old and an 11-year-old.  I wrote a more in depth post about this book which you can read here

I also like to share fiction books that I think fit into the Women's History category.  Though not a true story of one particular woman or group of women, I find that well-researched fiction can give the reader a sense of time and place and tell a universal story, or perhaps a composite story, of a woman's life.

The Shape of Mercy.  Susan Meissner 
     Considering that this book is, to some extent, about the witch trials in 1692, I thought it was interesting that it just seemed to appear soon after I finished The Witches
    Lauren, a 20-year-old, is hired by wealthy, 83-year-old Abigail to transcribe the journal of Mercy Hayworth, accused witch in 1692.  One of the themes of the book is preconceived ideas about others and judging based on appearances.  In addition to being an interesting, well-written story, I thought this was a though-provoking book.  And interesting that it happened into my hands soon after reading The Witches.  The reader's guide at the end enhanced my reading experience with its thoughtful discussion questions.
     I especially like this quote from the book:  “I used to think mercy meant showing kindness to someone who didn’t deserve it, as if only the recipient defined the act.  [I've] learned that mercy is defined by its giver.  Our flaws are obvious, yet we are loved and able to love, if we choose, because there is that bit of the divine still smoldering in us.”

Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse.  Faith Sullivan
     The book opens with Nell Stillman’s obituary, written when she was 65.  In the first chapter we meed Nell Stillman, her 18-month-old son, Hillyard/Hilly, and her abusive husband, Bert.  The setting is the early 1900s in a small town in Minnesota.  Bert is killed in an accident in the first chapter.  We watch as Nell accepts help from local families, becomes a 3rd grade teacher, finds friends, and makes a way for herself.  She takes solace in good books and particularly enjoys the novels of P. G. Wodehouse.
     I thought the author did a fine job of moving the characters and setting through time, going from outhouses and coal stoves to indoor plumbing, electricity, and telephones.  

Journey to Munich.  Jacqueline Winspear
     I love Maisie Dobbs novels!  Maisie is a detective in the 1930s and you never know what’s going to happen.  After being away from her usual work, Maisie’s returned to England and is recruited by the British Secret Service to travel to Munich to bring back a man imprisoned in Dachau in February, 1938.  Maurice is Maisie's deceased mentor whose wisdom Maisie remembers throughout the book.
     Maisie remembers Maurice's words:  “Never fear going in circles, Maisie.  The next time around, you’ll see something you missed before—that’s if your mind is open.  And you will be different, and it will be better.  Experience, Maisie.  Knowledge of yourself.  And when you have knowledge, you have wisdom.  If your mind is open, and your heart is willing.”

A Fall of Marigolds.  Susan Meissner   
     This book is two stories in parallel.  One is about Taryn in 2011 who lost her husband on 9/11.  The other is about Clara in 1911, who lived through the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire but lost a young man she thought she loved.  The majority of the book is about Clara who has secluded herself on Ellis Island, working as a nurse.  Both have deep wounds.  We see them heal as we read.  The thread that connects them is a beautiful scarf.
     If you have Ellis Island ancestors or someone who died in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire this book may be of particular interest to you.  Even if you don't, I think it's still a great read.

What Katy Did.  Susan Coolidge   
     I've included this as a women's history book because it was written in 1872.  It's less historical fiction and more fiction written at some historical time period.  It’s somewhat of a morality story and though I didn’t love it, I’m glad I read it.  (Remember the time, values, and morals of 1872 when reading this book.)  At the beginning of the story Katy Carr is an active, busy, 12-year-old girl who is creative, curious, a little self-centered, and not especially kind to her brothers and sisters.  She realizes her mistakes and sets goals to be better only to forget them within a few minutes.  Her invalid Cousin Helen comes to visit for a few days.  Katy and her siblings adore Helen because she is sweet, pleasant, and saintly.  She encourages Katy to be kinder to her siblings.  As the story continues, Katy has an accident and has to decide how to behave.  Personal growth is a theme in this book. 
     For me the interest in the story was the environment, activities, and play of children in the 1870s.  I felt like I got a glimpse into what life was like during that time – how children played, how they used their imaginations, a little about their education, and what the expectations were for girls and women during that time period. 

Secrets of a Charmed Life.  Susan Meissner   
     Kendra is a history major interviewing Isabel McFarland, a 93-year-old survivor of World War II who tells the story of 15-year-old Emmy and her 7-year-old sister, Julia.  They were moved from London at the beginning of the war to a place of safety in Gloustershire.  But Emmy had bigger plans:  she intended to be a designer of brides’ dresses and had recently begun working at a bridal shop and made arrangements to meet with a potential designer to begin an apprenticeship.  The girls move to the country but Emmy pursues her dream.  Trouble comes.
     From a conversation with the author in the Reader's Guide, responding about how little we are aware of the experiences of past generations living through difficult times, “I think this is the danger we face whenever time passes and those who have suffered recover from what flattened them.  The generation coming up behind might under estimate or miss completely all that the older generation survived.”

The Girl You Left Behind.  Jojo Moyes   
    This is a story about a young French woman, Sophie, whose husband is away at war in 1916; a story about a painting by Sophie’s husband, Edouard, which hangs in the bar/hotel where Sophie and other family members live; a story about a young widow, Liv, whose husband bought the painting for her on their honeymoon a hundred years later; and a story about who owns the painting and discovering Sophie’s story.  The first part is written in the first person by Sophie.  The rest is written in the third person with brief sections by Sophie telling the rest of her story. 

Sarah’s Key.  Tatiana De Rosnay   
    The first half of the book is presented as two different stories, alternately by chapter.  The first is told in third person about a young Jewish girl living in Paris, France, in 1942.  When the French police come to take her and her family away the little girl's brother doesn't want to leave.  She locks him in their secret hiding place, a cubby within the walls of their home, certain that she will return within a few hours.  Along with thousands of other Jews, she is taken to the Velodrome, a huge, enclosed bicycle racing rink, where they are kept for several days until parents and children are separated.
    The second story is presented in the first person by a 45-year-old American journalist, Julia, living in Paris with her French husband and 12-year-old daughter.  She works for a small American newspaper written for Americans living in Paris.  Her current assignment is researching and writing an article about the people who were held in the Velodrome in 1942.  Eventually the stories converge.

If you choose to read any of these books, I hope you enjoy them.  Have you read any good books that pertain to women's history lately?  Titles, please.


Copyright ©2017 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Searching for Common Pleas Court Records, Jefferson County, Ohio

Supposing that the newspaper might be accurate in reporting that my great-grandfather Abel Armitage's court case had been filed in the Court of Common Pleas in Jefferson County, I decided to see if I could locate those records.

First I looked again at the Jefferson County, Ohio, court records online at FamilySearch to see if I'd missed, misread, or misunderstood the content of those records.  But no, I didn't find Common Pleas records, unless they're not identified as such.

My next idea was to ask if anyone in the Jefferson County Ohio History and Genealogy group on facebook knew the whereabouts of Common Pleas court dockets.  Someone responded that they are at the Jefferson County Genealogical Society offices.  I knew that many court records had been moved from the courthouse a number of years ago.  I was also aware that the records from the courthouse had been scanned by missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and guessed that many of them had been added to FamilySearch.

I emailed the Jefferson County Genealogical Society and while waiting for a reply checked the courthouse website.  They gave no indication whether the records were there or not.

A representative from the gen. society emailed a day or two later and said that yes, in fact, they had the dockets of the Court of Common Pleas in their offices.  I then asked if there was any plan to digitize them and add them to FamilySearch.  The representative responded that yes, those records were online, too.

Back I went to FamilySearch to see what I could find.  In their Ohio image-only collection I clicked on Ohio, Jefferson County Court Records, 1797-1947,

which took me to a list of links to specific court records.

When I clicked on County Court records I arrived at these options:
The index to the civil docket does not list Armitage, Armiddage, nor Harmitage, nor any other spelling variation of Armitage.  Nor do these dockets look like court of common pleas records (or at least not what I expect them to look like).

I emailed the person from the gen. society again hoping to receive a little more direction about where to find the records online (really hoping for a direct link) but I've received no further response.

The Jefferson County Genealogical Society office is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. and Saturdays by appointment.  Wintersville, where the office is located, is a 2½-hour drive from my home.

The questions I need to answer now are
  • How much do I want these records?  
  • What information will they provide that will help me find a death date and location for Abel Armitage?
  • Might there be any other information in these records that would be of genealogical interest?

To you who have more experience with court records, are Common Pleas court dockets also known as Civil Dockets?


Copyright ©2017 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Overlapping Years of a Few Females in My Line

During this Women's History Month I've been mentally focusing on the women in my family--women who were daughters and mothers, granddaughters and grandmothers.

I've been thinking about the nurturing influence women have on the lives of their children, especially when children remained at home with their mothers until they went off to school.  "The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world" may be more true in times past when infants and children traditionally grew up at the feet of their mothers.  Even though times have changed, the bond between mother and child is usually the strongest bond in the lives of children. 

What morals and values did mothers teach their daughters?  How did the daughters learn about work, responsibility, money management, about keeping a home?  How did grandmothers support their daughters as they became new mothers and as their granddaughters grew?  Certainly grandmothers who lived nearby had more contact and, therefore, more opportunity to interact with and teach their granddaughters.

I thought it would be interesting to take note of how many years a daughter had with her mother and her grandmother.  All just for the sake of curiosity, although, of course, there is the aspect of time spent with mothers and the learning that happens when girls spend time with their older female family members....

Audrey and Emma on left
Audrey (Meinzen) Doyle, my mother, was born in June, 1915.
  • Audrey's mom, Emma (Bickerstaff) Meinzen, was nearly 22 when she was born.  Their lives overlapped 58 years, from 1915-1973.
  • Audrey's grandmother, Mary (Thompson) Bickerstaff, was 42 when she was born.  Their lives overlapped 25 years, from 1915-1940.
  • Audrey's great-grandmother, Lydia (Bell) Thompson, was 64 when Audrey was born.  Their lives overlapped 14 years, from 1915-1930.

Mary center left, Emma on right
Emma (Bickerstaff) Meinzen was born in July, 1893.
  • Emma's mother, Mary, was 21 when she was born.  Their lives overlapped 47 years, from 1893-1940.
  • Emma's grandmother, Lydia, was 41 when she was born.  Their lives overlapped 37 years, from 1893-1930.

Mary (Thompson) Bickerstaff was born in October, 1872.
  • Mary's mother, Lydia, was 21 when she was born.  Their lives overlapped 58 years, from 1872-1930.

myself and older daughter
And me?
  • My daughters' lives and my life have overlapped 35 and nearly 30 years -- and counting.
  • My mother's and my life overlapped 47 years.
  • My grandmother Emma's and my life overlapped 23 years.

How about you?  How many years has your life overlapped with the lives of your female ancestors?


Copyright ©2017 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Thanking My Foremothers on International Women's Day

Left to right, top to bottom: 
Audrey Meinzen Doyle, Emma Bickerstaff Meinzen, Mary Thompson Bickerstaff, Elizabeth Armitage Meinzen, Beulah Gerner Doyle, Elvira Bartley Gerner, Tressa Froman Doyle, Elizabeth Laws Doyle

For International Women's Day I'd like to remember and honor my female ancestors, a few who appear above.  As far as I know none of the ones above changed the world in a broad, huge way -- no national heroines among these ladies --  but I know they changed and bettered the world in which they lived, improving their lives and situations and the lives of those they loved, including neighbors and friends.  All survived hardships, heartaches, and other difficult challenges.  Two lived through travel from England to the U.S.  All but one lived through at least one war and several scrimped and saved through the Great Depression.  One suffered dementia, another skin cancer, and seven of them lived into old age.

For them, and all the other women in my ancestral lines, I am grateful, knowing that if one of them had not lived I wouldn't be here.  Thank you, Mom and grandmothers.


P.S.  I know International Women's Day was celebrated yesterday, Wednesday, March 8.  Computer problems and inaccessible photos prevented publishing a post yesterday.

Copyright ©2017 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Abel Armitage's Court Case(s) Announced in Newspapers

Abel Armitage and his second wife, Ann (Bell) Armitage, appear in several editions of Steubenville and other Ohio newspapers from 1879 until 1881.  Most are the briefest of notices.  With the lapse in announcement dates it's hard to know if these tidbits indicate one court case or several. 

On February 14, 1879, the announcement below was published in Steubenville, Ohio, where Abel and his wife lived.  The article states that Abel fell on South street.

Steubenville Weekly Herald, February 14, 1879

Suit against the city. --- Abel Armitage has sued the city, through his attorney, W. A. Owesney, for $2,500 damages, resulting from a fall in the night time in the trench dug for water pipes on South street.

On March 5, 1880, more than a year after the announcement above, this notice was published in a section of the newspaper listing court dates.  Did Abel wait more than a year for his court date to arrive?
Steubenville Weekly Herald, March 5, 1880
   Abel Armitage vs. the city of Steubenville March 11.

The next newspaper article of January 15, 1881, appeared 10 months after the previous one.  This article states that a suit was filed in court on the morning of January 15, 1881.  Further, the article indicates that the suit was filed by both Abel Armitage and his wife, Ann, and that Ann was the one who fell on November 25, 1880.  The location named is Fifth street.

Steubenville Daily Gazette, Saturday, January 15, 1881
   ---W. A. Owesney, Esq., this morning commenced a suit in the Court of Common Please for Abel Armitage and Ann, his wife, against the City of Steubenville, to recover damages in the sum of $5,100 which they claim to have sustained by reason of Mrs. Armitage falling on the street and fracturing her left leg above the knee.  They aver that the city negligently permitted a post about ten inches high to stand in the gutter on the West side of Fifth street, and that on the 25th of November last she was passing along the street, slipped on an uneven place and fell on this post resulting in the injury complained of.

The news of this suit was of interest to more than the people of Steubenville, Ohio, because it appeared in a Cincinnati newspaper on January 16, 1881, the day after the above article was published in Steubenville.

Cincinnati Gazette, abt. January 16, 1881
A City Sued for Damages.
Special Dispatch to the Cincinnati Gazette.     Steubenville, O., Jan. 16.--- Yesterday Mrs. Abel Armitage entered suit in the Court of Common Pleas against this city for $5,100 damages, for injuries sustained by falling over a stake set in the gutter.
A similar article to the two above was published in a second Steubenville newspaper on January 21, 1881.

The Ohio Press (Steubenville), January 21, 1881

   —Suit entered against city by Abel and Ann Armitage to recover $5,100 damages by reason of injuries sustained by the latter in November last, by falling over a stake set in the gutter on Fifth street.

The article below was published on April 8, 1881, in a column under court information.  It seems to be a correction of previously published information. 

Steubenville Weekly Herald, April 8, 1881
   The city of Steubenville vs. Abel Armitage.  In error:  Battin for plaintiff; Owesney and Daton contra.

Below is the last article I found pertaining to Abel's claim and court case.  The date is April 29, 1881, just 3 weeks after the previous article.  Can this mean that he went to court on April 8 and the case was settled in three weeks?

Steubenville Weekly Herald, April 29, 1881
   The claim of Abel Armitage for $207.84, judgment and costs obtained against the city in a damage suite, being recommended for payment by the former Solicitor, was referred to Claims Committee.
Notes and Comments
After careful consideration of these articles I believe that two different court cases were filed:  one in February, 1879, and another in January, 1881.  The attorney was W. A. Owesney in both cases.

The 1879 suit (in the first two notices)
> was filed by Abel Armitage
> for $2500.00
> because of a nighttime fall on South street

The 1881 suit (in the third through last notices)
> was filed by both Abel and Ann Armitage
> for $5100.00
> because Ann fell and broke a leg on Fifth street on November 25, 1880
> was filed in the Court of Common Pleas
> was settled for $207.84

As I think about Abel and Ann and these court cases I have several questions.  Did both Abel and Ann have problems with balance since both suits involved falls?  How did Abel miss seeing the water trench (even at night)?  Abel was noted as disabled in the 1880 U.S. Census.  Was the disability in either his mobility or his vision?  Did he use alcohol to reduce pain?  How did he have money to pay for a lawyer (assuming he wasn't working because he was disabled)?  Was the first case settled and was Abel awarded the money he requested?  In the second case, what happened to the original $5100.00 he and Ann requested?

A few days ago I posted an annotated list of Jefferson County, Ohio, court records on FamilySearch.  I hope records for these two cases will be somewhere amongst the images on FamilySearch.  While they will probably not lead me to a death date for Abel, finding records of the cases will add details to the life of my ancestor, Abel.

If any of you more experienced family historians have thoughts about these news articles, court cases, and where to search, please share.


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