Sunday, October 5, 2014

Polygamy and Divorce

Found something interesting while I was checking out the changes at Family Search. I was following one of my lines and I found an ancestor named Winthrop Farley. I wanted to know more about him so I Googled him and found out he had 5 wives. Polygamy is not unusual in a Mormon family but 5 is a lot! I found a paper written by Diane Stokoe saying that one of his wives divorced him - Mary Ellen Reed. Mary Ellen Reed was my 3rd great grandmother! I don't really care one way or another if people have polygamous marriages but I feel like she must have really been strong willed to have decided she wanted no part in it. And imagine asking for a divorce in 1859! I am amazed. I can't wait to tell my mom.

The sad part is she had to leave her children behind - they were raised by Winthrop's first wife Angelina Calkins. Here is a portrait of Angelina:

Isn't that a beautiful painting? You can read more about Angelina here. I'm going to try to find out if Mary Ellen Reed lived near Winthrop so she could see her children. I wonder what all the arrangements were like? Although Mary Ellen Reed married again soon after her divorce, to another Mormon, he did not take other wives. Here is a photograph of Mary Ellen Farley, my 2nd great grandmother who was raised by Angelina Calkins:

Now that I know about the divorce and I am figuring out which children go with which wife - I am going to use this family to explore how polygamy was reflected in the census records. More on that later...

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