JULY 12, 1814
200 years ago today, the first divorce action was filed in the Washington Circuit Court. John Fleenor filed a libel for divorce against his wife Elizabeth Hensley Fleenor. Johannes Wilhelm Flinner was born of German descent in Frederick County, Maryland in 1771. His father was Nicholas Flinner and his mother was Maria Catherina Fulkerson/Voelkersen who were believed to be from Wurtemberg in southern Germany. Elizabeth Hensley was born of English descent in Culpepper County, Virginia in 1773. The Fleenors had been married in Washington County, Virginia on October 6, 1786. They may have lived in east Tennessee briefly. Around 1800 they moved to Kentucky living in Woodford and then Jefferson County. John Fleenor entered a claim northwest of Royse’s Lick in 1809 or 1810 and acquired title to his farm on April 27, 1813. As stated in my post of May 20, 2104, Fleenor operated one of the early distilleries in the County.
It appears that Elizabeth “Betsy” Fleenor declined to move to the uncertainties of the Indiana Territory with her husband and remained in Kentucky with their 9 children. Fleenor engaged the services of attorney George Pope to represent him in the proceedings. When John Fleenor appeared before Jonathan Lindley and Simeon Lamb as the judges of the Washington Circuit Court, they found that Elizabeth was not a resident of Indiana. Mrs. Fleenor was given until the second Monday of October 1814 to show cause as to why the divorce should not granted. Notice of filing was to be printed for 3 consecutive months in the Western Eagle which was published in Madison, Indiana. The newly appointed Prosecuting Attorney, John T. Ross, was assigned to represent Elizabeth in her absence. The divorce became final on November 24, 1814 with the newly appointed Judge of the Second Judicial Circuit, Jesse L. Holman, signing the decree. Elizabeth Hensley Fleenor eventually moved to Roane County, Tennessee where she married David Haley in 1825.
John soon thereafter married Mary Grace Grisamore near the end of 1814. The exact date is not recorded as there was no procedure for the issuance of marriage licenses in the Indiana Territory until 1816. Although John was 44 years old at the onset of his second marriage, he and Mary Grace proceeded to have another 6 children. Mary Grace Grisamore Fleenor died at the age of 60 giving birth to a child in 1831. John then married again to Rebecca Jane Puttorff/Bottorff on July 21, 1831. John and Rebecca Jane then had 7 children together during the next 13 years. John Fleenor died on September 18, 1853 having fathered at least 22 children. My stepsons are two of his 4th great grandsons. Johannes Wilhelm Fleenor/Flinner is another example of the forgotten German heritage of Washington County, Indiana.
JOHN FLEENOR LAND PATENT 1813
JOHN FLEENOR GRAVESTONE