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Mary Ann Hudson’s Divorce

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By Neil E. Mellen

Mary Ann (Moore) Rains married Jacob Hudson on 21 November 1818 in Clark County, Kentucky.[1]  Almost exactly five years later, on 24 November 1823, Mary Ann filed for a divorce in the Clark County circuit court.  She alleged that, “during the two years last past and upwards,” Jacob had abandoned her and failed to provide any support for her or for their children.[2]

Divorce publication

Mary Ann Hudson and Jacob Hudson divorce notice

Mary Ann had another, more pressing, reason for seeking a divorce.  Her father, Anthony Moore, died in 1822, and Mary Ann inherited a third of his “considerable” estate.[3]  A few months after Anthony Moore’s death, Jacob Hudson returned to Clark County and tried to sell his (i.e., Mary Ann’s) share of her father’s estate.  Mary Ann asked the circuit court to enjoin Jacob from selling the property.  For good measure, she added her father’s executor as a defendant and asked the court to enjoin him from paying any of the estate’s proceeds to Jacob.[4]

In June 1824, Mary Ann filed an amended petition, adding yet another ground for the divorce:  Jacob had entered into an adulterous second marriage with “a certain Anna Griggs of Switzerland County in the State of Indiana.”  Jacob, who was living in Indiana with his new wife, did not respond to the suit.  The circuit court granted Mary Ann a divorce on 14 April 1825.[5]

The divorce file contains several useful bits of genealogical information.  First, Mary Ann’s amended petition confirms that her husband is the same Jacob Hudson who married Anna Griggs — a question that has long puzzled both women’s descendants.  Second, witness statements taken in the divorce case provide a few clues about Jacob that may be helpful to other researchers trying to track down this elusive character.  Finally, the court papers suggest that Jacob was not the father of some children who were previously assumed to be his.

Affidavit of Publication (color)

Affidavit of Publication

Mary Ann

Mary Ann was the eldest of three daughters of Anthony and Mary (Polly) Moore.  The 1850 census says that she was born around 1784.  Anthony Moore first purchased land in Clark County in 1799, but the deed implies that he was already living in the county by that time.  The family lived on the waters of Johnson Creek, in the northwest corner of Clark County.[6]

Mary Ann married Thomas “Rayns” on 6 September 1805 in Clark County.  The 1810 census lists Thomas with a wife and one child.  He is found in the Clark County tax lists through at least 1811.  He apparently died before Mary Ann married Jacob Hudson in 1818, but his date of death is not known.[7]

Mary Ann and her extended family left Clark County by the time her divorce suit was decided:  a deed selling the family property on Johnson Creek, signed 19 April 1825, describes Mary Ann, her mother, and her two sisters as Shelby County residents.  The 1830 Shelby County census lists Mary Ann as head of her household.[8]

In December 1832, Mary Ann filed a lawsuit seeking $1,000 from her brother-in-law, John Leary, for assault and battery.  She alleged that Leary “did beat wound bruise & ill treat” her and that he took $1,000 that was her rightful property.  The jury ultimately awarded Mary Ann $85 in damages.  No transcript of the trial survives to clarify what happened.[9]

Mary Ann joined Burks Branch Baptist Church in June 1834.  She married a third time, to Peter M. Matthews, on 25 February 1840 in Shelby County.  He was a native of Dutchess County, New York.[10]

Mary Ann died in February 1853. Peter Matthews remarried in 1856 in Anderson County and died in 1859 in Shelby County.[11]


Jacob was born 11 November 1791.  The 1850 census says he was born in Virginia.  I have found no persuasive evidence of Jacob’s exact place of birth or his parents’ names.[12]

By 1813, Jacob had made his way to St. Helena Parish, Louisiana.  He entered the Louisiana militia in late December 1813 or early January 1814 and served for two months.  He was later drafted into Colonel DeClouet’s regiment of Louisiana militia, serving from September 1814 to March 1815.  His unit participated in the battle of New Orleans.[13]

Three years later, Jacob was in Clark County, Kentucky, where he married “Maryan Ranes.”  He is listed in the 1820 census of Clark County, but he is not found in the Clark County tax lists.[14]

Jacob allegedly left Mary Ann in 1821.  Her divorce petition claimed that Jacob was “rambling about the Country . . . engaged in no profitable occupation.”  The court file contains written testimony of witnesses (called depositions) that provide a few clues about Jacob and his rambles.  In the latter part of 1821, Jacob was working at the house of Richard Hudson in Indiana.  Richard also testified that Jacob’s parents were living in the Arkansas territory at that time.  Jacob returned from “a long trip in the Arkansas country” in February or March of 1823.  He met one of the witnesses in Owen County, Kentucky, in February 1823.  He returned to Clark County for a short time around March 1823, but “left this country & has not returned since.”[15]

Mary Ann’s amended divorce petition alleged that Jacob married Anna Griggs of Switzerland County, Indiana “on or about the 10th day of March 1824.”  Mary Ann was off by a few weeks and by one county, but she was close.  Jacob married Anne Griggs 19 January 1824 in Ripley County, Indiana.  The bride, usually known as Anna, was the daughter of Seth Griggs and Margaret Miller.  She was born in New York on 10 May 1804.[16]

Jacob and Anna were living in Ripley County in 1840 and in neighboring Jennings County in 1850.  Jacob died 8 July 1859.  He is buried in Holton Cemetery in Ripley County.[17]

Anna and her two youngest children were in Jennings County in the 1860 census.  She was living in Ripley County with her daughter, Anna Jackson, in 1870, but she is not found thereafter.[18]

Mary Ann’s Children

The divorce papers provide one more surprise.

Mary Ann’s divorce petition alleged that “she is the mother of four children who are also the children of said [Jacob] Hudson.”  But the deposition testimony makes clear that Jacob considered only two of these children to be his.  Several witnesses testified that Jacob said he intended to steal away “his two children.”  One witness explained that Jacob said “that he never intended to live with his wife again — though he intended to get his two children Tabitha and William.”  Jacob told another witness that “he did not care a damn about the balance — meaning his wife & her other children.”[19]

It gets worse.  Mary Ann had a total of six children named Hudson.[20]  The divorce petition does not mention the last two children; they were apparently conceived after Jacob abandoned Mary Ann.  So Jacob was the acknowledged father of two of Mary Ann’s children; the paternity of two of her children is in doubt; and it is almost certain that Jacob was not the father of her last two children.  This presumably explains why DNA test results of a direct descendant of Mary Ann’s youngest son, Ambrose Hudson, failed to match any other known Hudson or Hutson family groups.[21]

With this in mind, let us briefly review Mary Ann’s children.  She had two children from her first marriage:

1.  Anthony Rains was born in April 1806 in Kentucky.  He married Sarah Smith 9 December 1839 in Jefferson County, Indiana.  Sarah was born 1 December 1818 in Kentucky.  They lived in Shelby County, Kentucky until 1856, when they moved to Montgomery County, Indiana.  Anthony died in Montgomery County 25 June 1862 and Sarah died there 30 January 1876.[22]

2.  Elizabeth Rains was born around 1809 in Kentucky.  She married (1st) William Foster 17 August 1829 in Switzerland County, Indiana and (2nd) Johnson or Johnston Ritchie 1 December 1844 in Shelby County, Kentucky.  Johnson and Elizabeth were living in Shelby County from 1845 to 1847.  They moved to Anderson County, Kentucky by 1853.  Johnson died 2 or 3 August 1862 in Nashville, Tennessee, while serving with the 6th Kentucky Volunteer Infantry.  Elizabeth died 26 March 1874 in Anderson County.[23]

Mary Ann’s six other children were:

1.  Tabitha Hudson was probably born between 1816 and 1818 in Kentucky.[24]  She married George Foster 5 December 1830 in Shelby County.  George Foster is listed with his brother-in-law, Christopher Newton, in the 1850 census for Henry County, but Tabitha is not found.  They were residents of Shelby County in 1851 and 1853.  They settled in Washington County, Kansas, in 1858.  George died “on or about” 9 October 1874 in Mill Creek, Kansas.  Tabitha died 20 August 1888 at Haddam, Kansas.[25]

2.  William Hudson is mentioned in his mother’s divorce papers.  He was presumably born around 1818 or 1819.  He must have been the male aged 0-10 who was listed with Jacob Hudson in the 1820 census.  There were no male children of William’s age living with Mary Ann in the 1830 census, and William was not named in Mary Ann’s 1847 will.  He probably died in childhood.[26]

3.  Sarah (Sally) Hudson was born about 1820 in Kentucky.  She married Christopher Newton 26 January 1845 in Shelby County.  They lived in Spencer County from around 1847 to around 1849.  They were listed in Henry County in the 1850 census and the 1850 tax list, but an 1851 deed describes them as residents of Jefferson County, Indiana.  They moved to Trimble County, Kentucky, by 1852 and to Jefferson County, Kentucky, by 1858.  Sarah and Christopher both apparently died before October 14, 1863, when the Jefferson County Court appointed an administrator for Christopher’s estate and gave the administrator custody of Christopher’s three youngest children.[27]

4.  Mary Hudson was also born about 1820 in Kentucky.[28]  She married John J. Fawkes in February 1842 in Shelby County.  John was born about 1820 in Delaware County, Pennsylvania.  Mary is described as “having lately died” in a codicil to her mother’s will dated 27 January 1853.  John died 4 November 1865 in Shelby County.[29]

5.  Ambrose A. Hudson was born around 1823 in Kentucky.[30]  He married Eunicy Ann Adams in December 1841 in Shelby County.  She was born 17 July 1820 in Kentucky.  They lived in Shelby County until 1853, when they moved to Brown County, Indiana.  Ambrose died December 20, 1893 in Brown County.  Eunice died 29 August 1892.[31]

6.  Susan Hudson was born in January 1825 in Shelby County.  She married George W. Fawkes (the brother of her sister Mary’s husband) on 26 May 1845 in Shelby County.  George was born in Pennsylvania about 1812.  He died in September 1869 in Shelby County.  Susan died 25 February 1901 in Shelbyville.[32]

About the Author:

Neil E Mellen pictureNeil E. Mellen describes himself as a sometime lawyer and an occasional genealogist. He has a B.A. in history from the University of Kentucky and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He lives in Louisville with his wife and stepdaughter.

[1]     Clark County, Ky., Marriage Register 1W, 168; Clark County, Ky., marriage bonds 1818.  Jacob’s surname was often spelled Hutson, particularly in the Indiana records.

[2]    Bill in Chancery, Mary Ann Hudson vs. Jacob Hudson and John Lary, Clark County, Ky., circuit court civil case files, bundle 300.

[3]    Appraisers for Anthony Moore’s estate were appointed in October 1822.  Clark County, Ky., County Court Order Book 6 (unpaginated); Clark County, Ky., Will Book 5, 257.  The 1822 Clark County tax list, 31, valued his property at $4,700.

[4]    Bill in Chancery, Hudson vs. Hudson, supra.

[5]    Amended Bill, Hudson vs. Hudson, supra; Clark County, Ky., Circuit Court Order Book P, 499.

[6]    1850 census, Shelby Co., Ky., 283B; Hudson vs. Hudson, supra; Shelby County, Ky., deed book F-2, 176 (dividing land Mary Ann Hutson inherited from her mother, Polly Moore); Clark County, Ky., Deed Book 3, 448.  Anthony Moore first appears on the Clark County tax lists in 1799. (The 1798 tax list has not survived.)  T.L.C. Genealogy, Clark County, Kentucky Taxpayers, 1793 thru 1799 (Miami Beach, 1990).  The 1850 census says that Mary Ann was born in Kentucky, but the family may have still been in Virginia when she was born; Mary Ann’s younger sister, Elizabeth (Moore) Hudson, was born in Virginia.  Hancock County, Ind.,1850 census, 251B; 1860 census, 633; 1870 census, 354B.

[7]    Clark County, Ky., Marriage Register 1W, 46; Clark County, Ky., Marriage Bonds, 1805; 1810 census, Clark Co., Ky., 139; 1811 Clark County, Ky., Tax List, 30.  Thomas is not found in the 1812-1815 tax lists, but the 1816 tax list, 45, appears to list a “Thomas Raynes.”  The tax lists indicate that Thomas owned no real estate, which explains the absence of any probate records for him.

[8]    Clark County, Ky., Deed Book 21, 48; 1830 census, Shelby County, Ky., 257. See also Shelby County, Ky., Deed Book Y, 143; Shelby County, Ky., Deed Book B-2, 185.

[9]    Mary Ann Hutson vs. John Leary, Shelby County, Ky., Circuit Court Civil Case Files, Bundle 289, No. 6.

[10] Burks Branch Baptist Church Record Book 1, 196 (used courtesy of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Archives); Shelby County, Ky., Marriage Book 5, no. 849 and Marriage Licenses and Bonds, 1840 (the marriage records identify her as the “widow of Thomas Hudson decd,” apparently a commingling of her first two husbands’ names); Anderson County, Ky., Marriage Bond Book C, 12.  See also 1840 census, Shelby County, Ky., 127; 1850 census, Shelby County, Ky., 283B.

[11]  Burks Branch Baptist Church Record Book 1, supra, membership list following, p. 225.  Peter’s reported year of birth varies from around 1790 to 1801.  1840 and 1850 censuses for Shelby County, supra; Anderson County, Ky., Marriage Bond Book C, 12; Arnold Taylor, Suing for Freedom in Kentucky (self-published, 2010), 210; Spencer County, Ky., County Court Order Book E, 213, 237.

[12]  Beatrice Boyd, Otter Creek Township Cemeteries, 1835-1984, Ripley County, Indiana (transcript at Ripley County Historical Society), 15; photograph of tombstone at findagrave.com (site accessed 19 July 2013); 1850 census, Jennings County, Ind., 430B.  Some unsourced family trees claim that Jacob’s father was an Andrew Hudson. See, e.g., Flavius M. Foster, Seedlings of William Foster 1652-1776-1979 (typescript, 1979), vol. 2, 74-75.

[13]  Bounty land application of Jacob Hutson (warrants 51204-80-50 and 27622-80-55); Powell A. Casey, Louisiana in the War of 1812 (Baton Rouge, 1963), app. at vi.  The pension office could find no record of Jacob’s first term of service, but the timing of his claimed service is consistent with the mobilization of forces in Louisiana.  Casey, Louisiana in the War of 1812, 9-10.

[14] Clark County, Ky., Marriage Register 1W, 168; Clark County, Ky., Marriage Bonds, 1818; 1820 census, Clark County, Ky., 91.

[15] Bill in Chancery and Depositions, Hudson vs. Hudson, supra.  Richard Hudson was the husband of Mary Ann’s sister, Elizabeth Moore.  Family lore suggests that Richard may have been Jacob Hudson’s brother, but I have found no primary sources that confirm this relationship.  See, e.g., Foster, Seedlings of William Foster, supra, 74.

[16]  Hudson vs. Hudson, supra; Ripley County, Ind., Marriage Record, vol. 1, 32; Griggs Family Bible (submitted with DAR application 515024-617); Wapello County, Iowa, probate case files, box 6, no. 294.  Anna’s birthplace is assumed to be Hector township, now in Schuyler County but then in Seneca County, where her father was living in the 1810 census (1810 census, Seneca County, N.Y., 323).

[17] 1840 census, Ripley County, Ind., 120/238; 1850 census, Jennings County, Ind., 430B; Boyd, Otter Creek Township Cemeteries, supra.

[18] 1860 census, Jennings County, Ind., 155; 1870 census, Ripley County, Ind., 207B.  Several online family trees say that Anna Griggs Hudson died 21 March 1873 but do not cite any evidence for that date.

[19] Petition and Depositions, Hudson vs. Hudson, supra.  Mary Ann also had two children from her first marriage, see text infra.

[20]  Mary Ann’s will identifies seven children:  Anthony Rains, Elizabeth Richie, Tabitha Foster, Sallie Newton, Mary Fawkes, Ambrose Hudson, and Susan Fawkes.  Shelby County, Ky., Will Book 21, 242, Will Book 22, 207-09.  Another son, William Hudson, is identified in the divorce papers but not in the probate records.  Some unsourced accounts claim that Jacob and Mary Ann had three additional children, named Samuel, James, and George.  See, e.g., Foster, Seedlings of William Foster, supra, 75.  The 1820 and 1830 censuses do not show these additional children in the household head counts, and it is unlikely that Jacob and Mary Ann could have fit in three more children between their marriage in 1818 and the divorce petition in 1823.

[21] Email from Joan Hudson, Administrator of the Hudson/Hutson DNA Project, to the author, 30 July 2013.  See http://www.familytreedna.com/public/hudson_hutsonetc/ (site accessed 27 July 2013).

[22] Crawfordsville District Public Library cemetery database, http://history.cdpl.lib.in.us/montcocem.html (site accessed 19 July 2013); Jefferson County, Ind., Marriage Record 1839-1841, 107; 1840 census, Shelby Co., Ky., 138; 1850 census, Shelby Co., Ky., 294B, 295A; 1855 Shelby County, Ky., tax list, District 1, 15 (last year listed); Shelby County, Ky., Deed Book T-2, 154; Cline & McHaffie, The People’s Guide, a Business, Political and Religious Directory of Montgomery Co., Ind. (Indianapolis, 1874), 240; 1860 census, Montgomery Co., Ind., 429; 1870 census, Montgomery Co., Ind., 46B.  The cemetery database refers to her as Susan[sic] Rains, wife of A. Rains.

[23] 1860 census, Anderson Co., Ky., 478; Anderson County, Ky., 1874 death record, 1, line 36; Switzerland County, Ind., marriage record 1829-1837, 7; Shelby County, Ky., marriage book 6, 1363; Shelby County, Ky., tax lists for 1845 (District 1, 17), 1846 (District 1, 22), and 1847 (District 3, 17); Shelby County, Ky., deed book S-2, 15; Compiled service record, Johnson Richey, Co. D, 6th Reg’t Ky. Infantry; Civil War Widow’s Pension File of Elizabeth Ritchie, no. WC34944; Inscription from Ritchey Cemetery, Anderson County KYGenWeb Project, http://kykinfolk.org/anderson/cemeteries/RitcheyCem.html (site accessed 19 July 2013).  The service and pension records give both 2 August and 3 August as the date of Johnson Ritchie’s death; I interpret the records to mean that he died on the second and his death was recorded on the third.

[24] The censuses give birthdates between 1803 and 1819 for Tabitha.  See 1860 census, Washington County, Kan., 802; 1870 census, Washington County, Kan., 319A; 1875 Kansas state census, Washington County, Mill Creek Township, 11; 1880 census, Washington County, Kan., 484B.  But her father was in Louisiana until at least 1815, so it is unlikely that Tabitha was born before 1816.  The 1820 census, supra, lists four children under ten in Jacob Hudson’s household, so she was probably born no later than 1818.  Since Tabitha married in 1830, I suspect that she was born closer to 1816 than to 1818, even though that is well before Jacob and Mary Ann married.  The 1860 census says Tabitha was born in Kentucky (which seems most plausible); the 1870 census and the 1875 state census say she was born in Louisiana; and the 1880 census says she was born in Ohio.

[25] Shelby County, Ky., Marriage Book 2, 125; Shelby County, Ky., Loose Marriage Bonds, 1830; 1850 census, Henry County, Ky., 450B; Burks Branch Baptist Church Record Book 1, supra, 283, 294; Shelby County, Ky., Deed Book S-2, 15; 70th Anniversary Edition Supplement to the Washington County [Kansas] Register, Friday, September 16, 1938, 6, 81, images at http://www.kansasmemory.org/item/219134 (site accessed 19 July 2013); Land Entry Case File, Junction City, Kan., Land Office, Homestead certificate 169; Washington County, Kan., Probate Court Record A, 136; Haddam [Kansas] Investigator, Thursday, August 23, 1888; see also Washington County, Kan., Probate Journal A-1, 201 (October 1887 contract for the care of Tabiatha[sic] Foster).

[26] Hudson vs. Hudson, supra; 1820 census, Clark County, Ky., 91; 1830 census, Shelby County, Ky., 257.

[27] 1850 census, Henry County, Ky., 450B; 1860 census, Jefferson County, Ky., 890; Shelby County, Ky., Marriage Book 6, 1385; Shelby County, Ky., Marriages Licenses and Bonds, 1845; 1845 Shelby County, Ky., tax list, Dist. 3, 15; Spencer County, Ky., tax lists for 1847 (Dist. 2, 8), 1848 (Dist. 1, 8), and1849 (Dist. 1, 8); 1850 Henry County, Ky., tax list, 27; Spencer County, Ky., deed book I, 259; 1852 Trimble County birth record, 1, line 48; 1853 Trimble County, Ky., tax list, 20; Shelby County, Ky., deed book R-2, 217, 398; 1858 Jefferson County, Ky., tax list, vol. 4 (E.D. Louisville), 124; Louisville Daily Courier, Wednesday, Sep. 15, 1858, 1; Hurd & Burrows, Louisville City Directory and Business Mirror for 1858-59 (Louisville, n.d.), 130; Jefferson County, Ky., County Court Minute Book 24, 439, 440.

[28] Some researchers have concluded that Mary and her sister Sarah were twins.  The surviving primary sources are not sufficiently precise to confirm or disprove this.

[29] 1850 census, Shelby County, Ky., 373B; Shelby County, Ky., Marriage Book 5, 1080 (the bond is dated 5 February 1842; the return was not completed); Shelby County, Ky., Marriage Licenses and Bonds 1842; Compiled service record, John J. Fawkes, Co. B, 15th Reg’t Ky. Infantry; Shelby County, Ky., will book 21, 242; Grove Hill cemetery records, http://www.grovehillcemetery.net/ (site accessed 19 July 2013).  The marriage bond gives her name as Mary Ann, but most records refer to her simply as Mary.  Online family trees say that she died 25 December 1852 but do not cite any source for that date.

[30] His death record says he was seventy-five years old, suggesting a birth date around 1818, but (a) the 1820, 1830, and 1840 censuses indicate that he was born between 1820 and 1825, (b) the 1850, 1860, and 1880 censuses show a birth date around 1823, (c) Mary Ann Hudson’s divorce petition mentions only four Hudson children as of 20 November 1823, and (d) Ambrose does not appear in the Shelby County tax list until 1844.  A.A. Hutson certificate of death, Brown County, Ind., Health Department; 1820, 1830, and 1840 censuses, supra; 1850 census, Shelby County, Ky., 283B; 1860 census, Brown County, Ind., 90; 1870 census, Brown County, Ind., 295B; 1880 census, Brown County, Ind., 280A; Hudson vs.  Hudson, supra; 1844 Shelby County, Ky., tax list, District 3, 12.

[31] Shelby County, Ky., Marriage Book 5, 1058 (the bond is dated 15 December 1841; the return was not completed); Helen H. Reeve and Kenneth J. Reeve, Brown County, Indiana Cemeteries (Nashville, Ind., 1977), 38; 1850-1880 censuses, supra; Shelby County, Ky., Deed Book S-2, 15; 1853 Shelby County, Ky., tax list, District 2, 8 (last year listed); A.A. Hutson certificate of death, supra; Ruth M. Slevin, Brown County, Indiana Will Records 1845-1914 (self-published, 1972).

[32] 1900 census, Shelby County, Ky., E.D. 80, 16A; “Death of Mrs. Susan Fawkes,” The Shelby Sentinel, Thursday, February 28, 1901, 5; “Death of Mrs. Fawkes,” The Shelby News, Thursday, February 28, 1901, 7; Shelby County, Ky. Marriage Book 6, 1410; 1850 census, Shelby County, Ky., 373B; 1860 census, Shelby County, Ky., 117; 1870 census mortality schedule, 1st District, Shelby County, Ky., line 19.  See also George W. Fawkes vs. Calvin Sanders, Shelby County, Ky., Circuit Court Civil Case Files, Bundle 541, No. 3 (George Fawkes is brother of John Fawkes).

hard Hudson was the husband of Mary Ann’s sister%

After realizing what occurred free sample barely need to think that the that nix would betray.

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