On September 29, 1881, Alice Virginia Furr married Edward Joseph Ward in Dayton. She was the daughter of Squire and Mary (Bruner) Furr. He was the son of Fenton and Mary (?) Ward. Although he lists his mother’s name as Mary Clemens in this marriage application, the 1842 La Salle County marriage of Fenting [sic] Ward lists his wife’s name as Mary Cofield. Further investigation is needed on this.
The marriage was performed in Ottawa by Charles F. W. O’Neill, Catholic Priest.
They had three children:
Mary Elizabeth, born April 28, 1883, in Dayton township; married Robert J. W. Briggs September 12, 1905, in Ottawa, Illinois; died September 24, 1948.
William Albert Ward, born April 25, 1885, in Dayton township; died August 4th, 1967, in Warm Springs, Montana. He never married.
Carrie E., born 6 May 1887, in Dayton township; married Oakley Wright Esmond December 23, 1908, in Dayton; died February 1981 in Ottawa.
After 12 years and four children, the marriage was in trouble, and in January 1893 Alice sued for divorce, as reported by the Free Trader –
Mrs. Alice V. Ward’s Case to be Tried Tomorrow Morning
The somewhat sensational divorce case of Mrs. Alice V. Ward, of Dayton, four miles northeast of Ottawa, against her husband, Edward J. Ward, will be placed on trial before Judge Blanchard and a jury at 9 o’clock tomorrow morning.
Mrs. Ward, who is the daughter of the late Justice Furr, alleges that she has been a true and dutiful wife to her husband, but that she is no longer able to bear his name because of his drunkenness and general worthlessness.1
But the next day we find the following:
CIRCUIT CIVIL CASES
The Ward divorce case, from Dayton, was not placed on trial this morning, as the defendant, Ward, withdrew his contest and allowed his wife to secure her divorce by default. Mayo & Widmer, attys.2
In 1893, divorce was available only for a very limited number of causes. Many divorces that told of cruelty or bad behavior could have been an agreement between two people who wanted to end the marriage, but had no legal grounds for divorce. The fact that Mr. Ward did not contest the action suggests that he was a willing partner to the divorce.
The divorce does appear to be amicable, as Edward and three of the children – Mary, William, and Carrie – are found in 1900, living with Alice’s mother and brothers. Alice has not been located in 1900. In 1910 both Alice and Edward are listed as divorced. In 1920 Edward claims to be a widower.
But that is not the end of the story. In 1921 the following appeared in The Free Trader:
DAYTON COUPLE ARE QUIETLY MARRIED
Miss Alice Ward and E. J. Ward, both of Dayton, were quietly married Saturday at high noon at the home of Rev. and Mrs. J. L. Vonckx at his home in this city.3
I don’t know if this time was happier. I hope so.
Note that this time they were married by a Protestant minister.
Edward died in Dayton on December 26, 1931. Alice died in Ottawa on June 24, 1935, at her daughter’s home. Both are buried in the Dayton Cemetery.
- The Ottawa Free Trader, 28 Jan 1893, p7, col 1
- ibid, 28 Jan 1893, p5, col 2
- ibid, 10 Oct 1921, p. 3, col. 4