Sunday, December 13, 2009

13 December 1834 - "Has Left Me Without Any Provocation"

On this day in 1834, this Notice by Thomas J. Rawlins of Pulaski County appeared on page 3 of the weekly Athens newspaper The Southern Banner:
"This is to certify that my wife, Sarah Rawlins, has left me without any provocation; therefore I forewarn all persons from trading with her with the expectation that I will be accountable for her contracts, as I design to pay off none of her debts contracted since she left my house in April last."
While such a notice seems surprising today, they do occur occasionally in 19th century newspapers. Divorce in Georgia in the early 1800s was no easy proposition. Originally, a couple would have to appeal to the state legislature after they had already had a trial by jury in the Superior Court. After 1833, the Superior Court was given the power to grant final divorce decrees, but only after "two concurrent verdicts of two special juries."

It doesn't appear that Thomas married Sarah in Pulaski County. What happened to Sarah, or what would cause her to leave is unknown. Thomas's name is listed as a winner in the 1832 Land Lottery, and by 1840, he had remarried in Pulaski County, a Miss Elender Davis.

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