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Mary C. Scott of Edgar County

We have a road trip coming up this summer, and I plan to visit some courthouses and repositories along the way. I am looking forward to a stop in Edgar County, Illinois to learn more about the life of my second great-grandfather, Thomas Sherman (1841-1912), who lived there in the 1870’s.

According to census records, Thomas was married three times. I descend from the first wife. She disappeared from the scene shortly after my great-grandmother Anna Sherman was born in 1865. Anna then lived with her paternal grandmother Rebecca Sherman until Thomas remarried in 1872.

This marriage to this second wife will be the focus of my courthouse visit in Edgar County. She had disappeared from our family lore. From previous research, I knew a bit about about her:

  1. Her name was Mary. She was listed as the wife of Thomas Sherman on the 1880 census for Edgar County.
  2. Thomas Sherman and Mary Scott were married in the Methodist Church in Edgar County in 1872. His residence was Logan P. O., Brouiletts Creek Township.
  3. Mary Scott Sherman was my great-grandmother’s stepmother during Anna’s coming of age. Anna became a devout Methodist, influenced perhaps by the woman who raised her.
  4. Mary had disappeared from Thomas’ life by September 1881 when he married his third wife, Alice Farris (1862-1931).

Thomas and Mary’s 12-year marriage produced no children. What had happened to her?

Hoping to find more about her and her family, I resumed the search last week in the Edgar County records that are found online:

  1. Because she had married Thomas in Edgar County in 1872, I hoped she had resided there in 1870. If she did, I should be able to find her there on the 1870 U. S. census. I located five women with that name in the county that year. Three of them I could eliminate because they were already married in both 1870 and 1880. That left Mary Scott of Elbridge who was married to John Scott by 1870 but was not listed in the county in 1880, and Mary C. Scott (b. abt. 1849) of Logan P. O. Brouiletts Creek Township who lived with her parents Harriet and Matthew R. Scott. The last Mary was a single woman residing in the same community with Thomas Sherman, and I hypothesized she was his bride in 1872.
  2. In 1873, a year after the marriage, Matthew R. Scott conveyed 10 acres of land in Edgar County to Mary Sherman. It seems likely that he granted this land to his daughter Mary who was now Mary Sherman.
  3. On 15 February 1894, Mary Caroline Scott (b. abt 1849) married Franklin Nathaniel Horsley in Edgar County. It was her second marriage.
  4. In 1900, Mary Horsley of Edgar County was living apart from her husband.
  5. By 1910 and 1920, Mary Scott was single and had resumed using her maiden name.
  6. Mary Caroline Scott (1849-1921) passed away in Bruiletts Township, Edgar County. She was buried in the Scott family cemetery.

This evidence seems to indicate that Mary Caroline Scott, daughter of Matthew R. Scott, married first Thomas Sherman and second Franklin Horsley. Did both marriages end in divorce?

I will stop in the Edgar County courthouse in hopes of finding out. Divorce records for the county are not online. The Handybook for Genealogists says that the County Clerk has divorce records, but it does not specify years. A courthouse visit will allow me to search for Mary Caroline Scott’s divorce records, if any, and any other court cases involving her.

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