Monday, February 27, 2006

Desertion and divorce in Arkansas

From: Joe F
DearMYRTLE,

We thoroughly enjoyed seeing you at the St. George Jamboree.

Question: A relative in
Arkansas reportedly deserted his wife and family
around 1895 and is found in the 1900 Census in
Indian Territory with a
wife and two children. the children could not be his biological
children because of their ages. His deserted wife remarries in 1897 in
Arkansas.

Would desertion be a cause of the marriage being "null and void"? Would
there have to have been a divorce? Where would such records be found?

DearJOE,

From the ARKANSAS RESEARCH OUTLINE at www.familysearch.org we read

"Major Arkansas courts that have kept records of genealogical value
include the following:

Circuit courts have countywide jurisdiction over criminal cases,
naturalization, and major civil cases. The Family History Library has
copies of many circuit court records.

Chancery courts have countywide jurisdiction over equity, divorce,
probates, and adoptions. The Family History Library has some chancery
court records. For
Pulaski County, for example, the library has copies
of the records from 1839 to 1877.

Courts of common pleas have countywide jurisdiction over non-real estate
civil matters. The Family History Library has some courts of common
pleas records.

County courts have countywide jurisdiction over juvenile matters, taxes,
claims, and county expenditures. The Family History Library has some
county court records, including
Pulaski County files from 1846 to 1878.

Justice of the peace courts have countywide jurisdiction over
preliminary hearings of criminal cases and minor contract matters. The
Family History Library has some justice of the peace records, such as
the
Pulaski County files from 1873 to 1917.

Original court records are kept by the clerks in each county courthouse.
Copies of records at the Family History Library often date from the
creation of a county to about 1900, and some indexes are available
through the 1970s. Court records are also available at the
Southwest
Arkansas
Regional Archives."

So the answer is YES, there were divorce records. I do not know if
desertion was considered a reason for divorce in 1897, as each state
had peculiar laws that changed over time. Your best bet is to look in
the county courthouse records, first through microfilm and failing
that, by writing to the courthouse in question. THE HANDYBOOK FOR
GENEALOGISTS which II received from www.myancestorsfound.com lists each
county in
Arkansas and the county records office contact info.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
DearMYRTLE,
Your friend in genealogy
www.DearMYRTLE.com

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