Desertion and divorce in Arkansas
From: Joe F
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?
ARKANSAS RESEARCH OUTLINE at
www.familysearch.org we read:
Arkansas courts that have kept records of genealogical value include the
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
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
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
lists each county in Arkansas and the county records office contact info.
Happy family tree climbing!