Plymouth County, Iowa

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Divorces and Annulments


Source: Every Woman Her Own Lawyer by George Bishop, Dick & Fitzgerald, New York, 1858, transcribed by mkk.

IOWA. - Divorces from bed and board are not granted in this State. A divorce from the bonds of matrimony will be decreed,
1. For adultery;
2. Impotency;
3. Wilful desertion for one year;
4. When either party has been convicted of an infamous crime;
5. Habitual drunkenness;
6. Cruel and inhuman treatment;
7. When it is apparent that the parties can not live in peace and happiness together, and that their welfare requires a separation.
- Suit must be brought in the District Court of the county where the petitioner resides.
- The petitioner must have resided in the State six months prior to presenting his or her petition.


Lemars Woman Sues Husband for Divorce - Member of Legislature

LEMARS, Iowa, January 6. - Declaring that while her husband attended the Iowa legislature last winter he fell in love with another woman named Mrs. A. W. Hough, the wife of Representative John C. Cottrell filed a petition for divorce. Besides being Plymouth county member of the legislature, Cottrell is mayor of Kingsley. The plaintiff alleges that she found incriminating letters and has evidence that her husband and the Des Moines woman made trips as husband and wife to Chicago and Kansas City.

Cottrell is prominent socially and politically and has been frequently mentioned as a candidate for governor on the democratic ticket. He is rich. The plaintiff demands heavy alimony. The case has created a tremendous sensation.
[evening Star - Washington D. C., Monday, January 6, 1908]

More articles . . .

Lets Her Get Divorce That She May Wed New Found Affinity.

Other Woman in Case is Accommodating and Cuts Bonds
CHICAGO, Jan. 5. - The story of an affinity, developed in the halls of law making, has come to the front in one of the most remarkable stories of human love and interest that ever came over the wires.

How a woman, married to a man who adored her, was won from him by the silver tongue of a legislator of the state of Iowa, through a speech made on the floor of the legislature advocating the passage of a 2-cent fare bill, is told in the first chapter.

How that same woman, taking to her husband the photograph of the man whose eloquence had won her heart, pleaded for a divorce that she might be free to marry him, and how the heart broken husband yielded to her pleadings, dividing his estate and going off to seek his lonely fortune elsewhere, makes up the setting for the second period of the play.

Then the lights become low and the wife of the legislator, weeping for the love that she has lost, pleads with the forsaken husband not to permit his wife to be divorced that she may marry the husband to whom she still clings with love and devotion. The two deserted people discuss their grief in solitude and the husband remains firm in his determination to permit his wife to go honorably to the man she loves.

From the pathos of this scene there comes the harsh discord of divorce and the deserted wife, unable to hold the husband against his will, files a suit for divorce.

John C. Cottrell, member of the Iowa legislature, mayor of Kingsley, Iowa, and the wealthiest man in the legislative body, is the defendant in the suit filed in the courts of Plymouth county, Iowa, Saturday, Mrs. A. W. Hough, prominent in club circles in Des Moines, and wife of a well known contractor is named as correspondent.

The suit was started on the discovery of decidedly passionate letters which Mrs. Cottrell found in her husband's pocket. She began a system of detective work and uncovered the case perfectly, which both the husband and Mrs. Hough have admitted.

"I love John Cottrell. There was a peculiar eloquence for me in the speech made by him on the 3-cent fare bill before the house of representatives last winter," said Mrs. Hough at her home last night, "and although I never had seen him before and despite the fact that I was married to another I have loved him ever since."

Cottrell was married in 1881 at Belleplaine, Iowa, to Amelia, the wife who is now seeking a divorce. Mrs. Cottrell alleges that Cottrell met Mrs. Hough in Kansas City, passing as man and wife, and at another time in Chicago. She alleges that later, when she found a letter from Mrs. Hough addressed to him in loving terms Cottrell admitted his relationship with Mrs. Hough.

"When the legislature adjourned Mr. Cottrell went back to his home at Kingsley. I wrote to him a few times, I entertained Mr. and Mrs. Cottrell at my home one evening before they left. Then we exchanged a few letters. It was one of these which fell into Mrs. Cottrell's hands," continued the affinity.

"When my husband returned I went to him and showed him Mr. Cottrell's picture. I then told him I had something very serious to tell him. I commenced at the beginning and made truthful statements to him and asked him to give me a divorce as I loved Mr. Cottrell with all my heart and could not love him. My husband did not utter a cross word.

After a time I renewed the appeals to my husband to give me a divorce. He finally consented. He offered voluntarily to divide his property. This was done in October, my husband deeding me about $5,000 worth of property. He continued here and we lived as man and wife until a week ago, when Mrs. Cottrell one day appeared at our house. She asked for an audience with my husband. They were closeted a long time.

"Mrs. Cottrell asked him to refuse to give me a divorce and my husband said: "Mrs. Cottrell, why don't you use common sense and do as I do? They love each other and we cannot keep them apart. Let them get together honorable. Give your husband a divorce."
[Plain Dealer - Cleveland, Ohio, Monday, January 6, 1908]

Isaiah and Della Hise
Proceedings in a sensational suit were begun in the Plymouth county district court yesterday when a petition was filed in the clerk's office by Della M. Hise, asking a divorce from her husband, Isaiah C. Hise. The plaintiff in her petition states that she is and has been for the past nine years a resident of the city of LeMars and that she was married to the defendant in Plymouth county, June 10, 1898, and that they lived together until recently. That no children have been born to them, that ever since said marriage plaintiff has conducted herself towards her husband as a dutiful and loving wife. She further states that ever since marriage the defendant, unmindful of his marriage vows and his duties as a husband, has been guilty of such cruel and inhuman treatment of plaintiff as to endanger her life, for the said defendant for more than eighteen months last past has continually refused to and refrained from speaking to her, or in any manner addressing her and that during said period in their home, night or day, or at meal times, he acted surlily, never spoke, and kept her in a continued state of anxiety, worry and mental distress. The petition further states that he did not offer to take her anywhere, and if she went to places such as the Chautauqua or church picnics, where he might be present, he avoided and neglected her and treated her as of no consequence, at the same time endeavoring to make himself agreeable to any ladies of her acquaintance who might be present. Such conduct caused her great humiliation, mental distress, anguish and grief. She further alleges that he has brought into their home photographs of a description which is unfit to set forth in the petition, but which will be produced in evidence, and within the past five weeks has been busily engaged at home in developing films of the same kind, and has kept them where he knew she would see them, and the indecency of these pictures are such that she ought not present them more fully in her petition. The discovery of this bent of mind in the defendant, she says, has caused her humiliation and mental anguish, and she further adds there are other matters on the same line which she will present to the court in proper evidence, as they are not morally proper to set out in a petition.-Sentinel.
[Source: The Remsen News, Remsen, Iowa, Thursday, September 24, 1908]

"Any woman whose husband acts in such a manner is entitled to a divorce" said Judge Hutchinson in granting Mrs. Hise a divorce from her husband, Isaiah C. Hise. The case came up in court on Friday morning. The defendant retained McDuffie & Keenan and J. U. Sammis to appear for him and Attorney F. M. Roseberry and Attorney Erickson, of Elk Point, S. D., appeared for the plaintiff. There was practically no defense and Mrs. Hise was granted a divorce on the grounds of cruel and inhuman treatment. She was given the household furniture and Mr. Hise retained the library. The attorneys got together and a compromise was arrived at whereby it was agreed that only the cruelty charge should figure in the case, thereby saving the airing of a lot of salacious testimony. Mrs. Hise whose face indicated the mental suffering and strain under which she has been, told her tale of wrong to the judge in a few brief, telling sentences and her sister was placed on the witness stand to corroborate some of the facts.-Sentinel
[Source: The Remsen News, Remsen, Iowa, Thursday, October 15, 1908]


Mrs. E. W. Eddy of Sioux City Separated From Her Spouse.

Sioux City Tribune: When Mrs. Mable Eddy showed indifference to her husband's demand for a sweet kiss, just as she was starting to work one morning, while he remained at home to rest, she declared he reached over, grabbed her and bit her viciously in the cheek.

This was only one of the reasons she cited in court Monday morning as justifying her claim for divorce from E. W. Eddy, who scratched and bit to secure his caress.

Mr. Eddy was also a cigarette fiend and not long ago after they were married, a year ago he cursed her soulfully because she held out 10 cents from her weekly pay check instead of handing it over to him as all loving wives should do.

Mrs. Eddy said that with a loaded revolver in his hand he had threatened to kill her and that he also had threatened to turn on the gas while she was asleep. In other ways Eddy contrived to make their home a hell on earth, according to Mrs. Eddy's statements. She said he threw her around the room swore at her frequently and abused her work. They had been married less than a year.

Judge Hutchinson granted the decree at the defendant's cost. Mrs. Eddy was formerly Miss Mabel Sevey of Remsen.
[The Remsen News, Remsen, Iowa, October 17, 1907]

Circuit court, his Honor Judge Zuver presiding, convened last Monday. There were 112 cases on the docket. There were two divorce cases, J. T. Evans vs. Mary Evans, and Harried Young vs. M. P. Young. In the former a decree was granted, the other is pending.
[Source: Le Mars Sentinel (Le Mars, IA) March 23, 1876]


DIVORCE ACTION FILED IN COURT Ivy Harris filed a divorce action in court against Frank Harris, claiming desertion. The- petition states that she is a resident of Washington township and that her husband deserted her for two years. They were married in Sioux City on December 20, 1930 and lived together as husband and wife until May 2, 1931
[Le Mars Globe Post - Le Mars, Iowa, July 12, 1943]

. . . related news:


In the District Court of Iowa in and for Plymouth County
IVY HARRIS, Plaintiff
TO: Frank Harris, the above named Defendant:
You are hereby notified that a petition of the above named plaintiff in the above entitled action is now on file in the office of the Clerk of the District Court of Plymouth County, Iowa, together with a copy of said petition, praying that she be granted a divorce from you upon the ground that since your marriage to the plaintiff you have wilfully deserted the plaintiff and have absented yourself without a reasonable cause for the space of more than two years. For further particulars you are referred to said petition. You are also hereby notified to appear before said Court at Le Mars in Plymouth County, Iowa, on or before the 17th day of August, 1943, and that unless you so appear, your default will be entered and judgment or decree will be rendered against you for the relief demanded in the petition.
Attorney for Plaintiff
208 Toy National Bank Bldg.
Sioux City, Iowa.
Pub. in LeMars Globe-Post, Monday, July 12, 19, 26, 1943.
[Le Mars Globe Post - Le Mars, Iowa, July 19, 1943]


Sues for $25,000 Charging Alienation of Preacher's Affections

Sioux City, Ia., Aug. 14. - Mrs. Lillian E. Hill, wife of Rev. E. Hill, Methodist Preacher at Merrill, Ia., until a few weeks ago when he resigned, has brought suit in district court at LeMars, Ia., demanding 25 thousand dollars from Mrs. Lillian Stinton, a widow, formerly living at Merrill, but now a resident of Sioux City, for the alienation of the affections of her husband.

Mr. Hill who is about 38 years old, recently brought suit for divorce at LeMars, and that action is still pending. Since his resignation and filing of the divorce petition he has resided in Sioux City, it is said.

Mrs. Hill's petition for damages charges that it was only in the last few months that the wealthy widow of the Plymouth county farmer and member of the Rev. Mr. Hills congregation had worked on the affections of the pastor and succeeded in entirely weaning his affections from his wife and two nearly grown daughters. Mrs. Stinton is said to be but about 30 years old.
[Omaha World Herald - Omaha, Nebraska, Friday, August 15, 1924]

. . . related news:

Evidence Largely Similar to That in Alienation Suit

Judge Hutchinson called the first case assigned immediately after the grand jury was empanelled. The case is that of Mrs. Anna Hill against her husband, J E. Hill, in which she sues for separate maintenance and the defendant has a cross petition asking divorce. A large part of the evidence is similar to that given in the alienation suit tried at the November term of court when Mrs. Hill sued Mrs. Lillian Stinton for alienating the affections of her husband, J. E. Hill, former Methodist preacher at Merrill. The jury in that case found for the defendant, Mrs. Stinton. A large number of spectators gathered in the court room to hear the evidence, some of which is salacious, T. M. Zink and Attorney Molyneaux, of Cherokee, represent Mrs. Hill and H. S. Martin and Roseberry & Roseberry appear for Hill.

Efforts are being made by the attorneys for the plaintiff, Mrs. Hill, to show that Hill and Mrs. Stinton have been seen together frequently since the notorious trial held in November in which Mrs. Hill lost her suit against Mrs. Stinton.

Le Mars hotel clerks brought registers into court Tuesday to show that on several occasions Rev. Mr. Hill had stayed at their hotels, and on this Mrs. Hill's attorneys attempted to prove that the pastor came to Le Mars to visit Mrs. Stinton in her brother's home.

Taking the witness stand in her own behalf, Mrs. Hill again told of the alleged “kissing parson's" joy ride of love which his wife claimed he took in Sioux City with a pretty widow. Mrs. Hill told of seeing her husband and the widow leave the Methodist hospital, where the two had been staying with sick parents, and go for a ride through Sioux City streets, finally parking the auto, with lights out, on a dark side street.

Mrs. Hill claimed she saw the pastor and the widow kiss six times as she trailed them in her brother's car. The first kiss occurred as the couple were about to get into the auto, Mrs. Hill testified. She claimed she saw her husband and Mrs. Stinton kiss three times as they drove down Pierce street and then as she rode by their parked car she saw them kiss a couple more times. Mrs. Hill also told of her domestic troubles before she and Hill separated. The biggest quarrel appeared to be that which occurred one day when Hill fixed Mrs. Stinton's auto while he wore his Sunday clothes.

Other witnesses were called by the plaintiff and told of seeing Hill and Mrs. Stinton together on various occasions. In the alienation suit Hill denied the kissing charges and explained the fact of Mrs. Stinton leaning his arm by stating that she felt badly over the fact that her father was near death.

Walter Hammond, on the stand, testified that he was a brother of Mrs. Lillian Stinton and that she visited at his home frequently, came and went when she felt like it. He said he never saw Hill at his house. He stated the only time he had seen Hill speak to his sister was one day recently when he and his sister were returning from an auto trip to Storm Lake. Passing through Aurelia they spoke to Hill, who was in front of the house where he is living. The motorists did not get out of their car.

Mrs. Hammill, who operates a rooming house in Sioux City, was on the stand Tuesday afternoon and gave evidence as to Mr. Hill engaging a room at her house for Mrs. Lillian Stinton. This was last August when Mrs. Stinton's father, N. Hammond, was lying at death's door in the Sioux City Methodist hospital., and Hill's mother was also there in her last illness. Mrs. Hammill emphatically denied that she had ever seen any familiarities between Hill and Mrs. Stinton.

J. McCarthy, a Le Mars printer, was called as a witness, said that he roomed at the home of Walter Hammond, a brother of Mrs. Stinton. On question of attorneys he admitted that on several occasions he had been visited at his rooms by a friend of his and stated that the man, whom detectives had shadowed, might have been his friend instead of Rev. Mr. Hill. He denied that he had ever gone from his room in the Hammond home to the Union hotel at 3 o'clock in the morning, but admitted that he was accustomed to keeping late hours. The defense had contended that it was McCarthy who had been followed by detectives from the Hammond home to the hotel at early morning hours.

The witness declared that he had paid no attention to other visitors in the house and could not state whether or not Rev. Hill had ever visited Mrs. Lillian Stinton at the Hammond home.

The plaintiff contended that Rev. Mr. Hill had paid considerable attention to Mrs. Stinton and had spent some time visiting with her at intervals in the Hammond household where she was often a guest.

Mrs. Lottie Kilker, of Merrill, testified that she had seen Rev. Mr. Hill and Mrs. Stinton riding together in an automobile on Jackson street in Sioux City. Mrs. Fred Hammond, of Merrill, and Mrs. Grace Stinton, gave testimony similar to that given during the damage suit trial.

Two detectives were placed on the witness stand by Mrs. Hill's attorneys. They testified they had watched Rev. Mr. Hill on his visits to Le Mars and had often seen him in the home of Walter Hammond late at night.

Denials of improper relations with Rev. J. Hill, defendant in the suit for separate maintenance, featured the testimony of Mrs. Lillian Stinton, who took the witness stand for Rev. Mr. Hill, Wednesday afternoon, to refute testimony given by witnesses for Mrs. Hill, plaintiff in the action. Mrs. Stinton admitted that she had been a visitor at the Walter Hammond home in Le Mars on several occasions. She emphatically denied however, that on any of the visits at the home of her brother, Mr. Hammond, had she been visited by Rev. Mr. Hill. She also inferred that she had not visited with Rev. Mr. Hill at any other place in Le Mars.

Mrs. Stinton's testimony concerning her relations with Rev. Mr. Hill while both were in Sioux City during the illness of relatives was similar to that given at the damage suit trial. She stated that her conduct, as well as that of Rev. Mr. Hill, had never been anything but proper.

During the morning session of court several witnesses gave testimony of minor importance, for the most part substantiating testimony given by previous witnesses.

The cross examination of Mrs. Lillian Stinton occupied the time of the court Thursday morning when the attorney for Mrs. Hill conducted a grilling series of questions. Alvin Hill, father of J. E. Hill, was also on the stand and his testimony fared badly on cross examination.

J. E. Hill went on the stand after dinner yesterday and told how he and his wife had bickered and quarreled. He told how she criticized his work and that of members of his congregations while at Salix and Merrill and then told of the loving letters he wrote while in France on Y. M. C. A. work which were featured in the alienation suit.
[Le Mars Weekly Sentinel - Le Mars, Iowa, Friday, April 3, 1925]


DIVORCE FILED Alfred L. Knecht has filed suit against Marylee W. Knecht, asking for a divorce on charges of cruel and inhumane treatment. The petition states that the couple are residents of near Akron and were married at Dakota City, Neb., on October 9, 1942. There are no children.
[Le Mars Globe Post - Le Mars, Iowa, July 15, 1943]

Mrs. Margaret Levin of Remsen has filed suit for divorce from her husband, James E. Levin, on the ground of cruelty and drunkenness and general ill treatment. In her petititon she states she was married to James Levins on November 23, 1892 and lived with him until March 10, 1908. She alleges that at various times he struck and beat her and that he got drunk. She asks custody of the three children born to them, Florence, aged thirteen, Clifford aged seven and Lilly, aged two years. Kass Bros. of Remsen are her attorneys.-Sentinel.
[The Remsen News (Remsen, IA) November 26, 1908]


In the District Court of Iowa, in and for Plymouth County.
LILLIAN McKOWN, Defendant.
You are hereby notified that a petition of the above named plaintiff in the above entitled action is now on file at the office of the Clerk of the District Court of Iowa, in and for Plymouth County. That said petition prays and asks for a decree of divorce from you on the grounds of cruel and inhuman treatment.

Said petition alleges that since your marriage to the plaintiff you have been guilty of such cruel and inhuman treatment of him as to entitle him to decree of divorce, that the bonds of matrimony be dissolved.
You are also hereby notified to appear before said court at Le Mars, Plymouth County, Iowa, on or before the 10th day of August, A. D. 1943, being more than twenty days after the service of this original notice, and that unless you so appear your default will be entered and judgment and decree will be rendered against you for the relief demanded in the petition.
ROSEBERRY & PITTS, whose address is LeMars, Iowa
Attorneys for Plaintiff
Pub. In LeMars Globe-Post Monday, July 5, 12, 19, 1943.
[Le Mars Globe Post - Le Mars, Iowa, July 19, 1943]



Given on Statutory Grounds
Plymouth County
Special to The Journal. Sioux City, Iowa, May 11. - A sensational divorce was granted in Plymouth county district court, Mrs. Catherine McNamara being freed from ties to William C. McNamara, president of the Eastern Nebraska & Gulf railway and a man of considerable wealth and brother of millionaire O. J. McNamara of Montana. It is learned that Mrs. McNamara found her husband at the Vendome Hotel in this city in company with a beautiful young woman, daughter of a prominent lawyer and former district attorney of Dakota county, Nebraska. She had had her husband followed, and when she learned he was in a certain room with the paramour, she smashed the window and thrust her arm in, throwing aside the curtains and exposing the couple to her daughter, son-in-law and an officer.
[Minneapolis Journal - Minneapolis, Minnesota, Friday, May 11, 1900]


Fred J. Parker was granted a divorce from Adeline Parker on the grounds of cruel and inhuman treatment.
[Le Mars Weekly Sentinel - Le Mars, Iowa, Friday, April 3, 1925]

Lena and Elbert Sewick
Elbert E. Sewick married Lena Johnson December 21, 1922, divorced December 21, 1941, custody of Neva Jean (18) and Shirley Ann 14 to Lena, no alimony.


Mrs. Rebecca Stevenson was granted a divorce from W. H. Stevenson, of Kingsley, at this term of court. She claimed non-support.
[The Remsen News, Remsen, Iowa, May 7, 1908]

Mr. and Mrs. J. P. Whitmer

Judge Gaynor held court for Judge Oliver this week. Mrs. Whitmer of Remsen was granted a divorce from her husband, J. P. Whitmer on the grounds of drunkenness and cruelty. They have five children and Mrs. Whitmer was given the custody of the minor children. The two youngest are twins 17 years old. Kass Bros. of Remsen were Mrs. Whitmer attoneys.
[The Remsen News, Remsen, Iowa, June 4, 1908]

Transcribed and submitted by Mary Kay Krogman unless otherwise indicated.

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