Clock Tower

Out of the Clock Tower



Hello and welcome to the Greene County Archives' blog, "Out of the Clock Tower".  Please join us as we share information on archival issues, news, special events, and highlights from our collection.

Before the archives program began in Greene County in 1996, permanent records were stored in every conceivable space, in basements, garages, and closets. Usually they were in boxes of various shapes and sizes, although seldom adequately labeled, but occasionally they were just in loose piles of books and papers. Most notable were the old records stuffed into the clock tower of the County Courthouse, where they shared their home with pigeon droppings.

Now, there is a clean, environmentally controlled, well appointed location for the county archives, where our historical records are housed in standard sized boxes on steel shelves. We have taken note of their journey in the name for our blog.

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Jul 20

The Curse of Friday the 13th

Posted on July 20, 2018 at 1:17 PM by Melissa Dalton

Historically, Western cultures have viewed Friday the 13th as unlucky. This superstition dates back to biblical times, having ties to the Last Supper, as well as the arrest and murder of the Knights Templar (to learn more about the history of the date and superstition, a simple Google search will provide ample reading material). Our story this week focuses on a Mr. John (Jack) M. Irwin and his new wife, Estella, and Mr. Irwin’s claim of bad luck.

John Irwin and Stella Fauver married in Montgomery County, Ohio on Friday, February 13, 1935 (I think you see where this is going). John was 38 years old and had never been married, whereas his soon to be wife, Stella, was 48 years old and, supposedly, had been married three times (Fig 1). However, it was not a happy ever after marriage. An article from the Xenia Evening Gazette, dated Friday, May 8, 1942, headlines, “Wedding on Friday, 13th Unlucky for Him, Husband Says” (Fig 2). The article claims that John Irwin filed suit against his wife for divorce (which was granted) (Fig 3), charging she was abusive and had “five living husbands”. This last claim was the one that caught my attention, and I went on a quest to find the five living husbands.

Montgomery County Marriage Record 131, Page 425 (JPG)
Fig 1. Marriage Record Vol. 131, p. 425, Jack M. Irwin and Stella Fauver (Montgomery County Records Center & Archives)

Article from Xenia Evening Gazette, dated Friday, May 9, 1942 (JPG)
Fig 2. Article from Xenia Evening Gazette, dated Friday, May 8, 1942 (NewspaperARCHIVES.com)

Final Record Vol 83, p 300 (JPG)Final Record Vol 83, p 301 (JPG)
Fig 3. Final Record Vol 83, pgs. 300-301 (Greene County Archives)


To find Estella, we had to work backwards. We were able to obtain the marriage record to John (Jack) Irwin from Montgomery County (thanks, Tina!) and from there, we were able to do some research using her former last name, Fauver. On the record, Stella claimed her former spouse, George Fauver, was deceased. I’ve been unable to find a marriage record, but I did find Estella on the 1930 U.S. Census, listed as an inmate at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Dayton, Ohio (Fig. 4).

1930 U.S. Census with Estella Fauver outlined in red (JPG)
Fig 4. 1930 U.S. Census with Estella Fauver outlined in red (FamilySearch.org)


The Census indicates that she was married, and the right age, but at this point, I’m not sure what happened to her husband. There are two records of death for a George Fauver in Ohio, with one date in 1933 and another in 1940.

However, the marriage record to John provides a wealth of information. It indicates the names of her parents, date and location of birth, and name of previous spouses (well, in her case, at least one of them). With this information, I was able to find Estella’s birth record (Fig 5) in Clermont County, Ohio. It is from there that I was able to trace her. Estella was on the 1900 U.S. Census record still living in Clermont County (Fig 6), but in 1908, she married Jeames A. Owens in Butler County (Fig 7). Additionally, they appear on the 1910 U.S. Census as living in Butler County (Fig 8).

1886 Birth Record of Estella Cooper in Clermont County, Ohio (JPG)
Fig 5. Birth Record of Estella Cooper in Clermont County, Ohio (FamilySearch.org)

1900 U.S. Census with Cooper family outlined in red (JPG)
Fig 6. 1900 U.S. Census with the Cooper family outlined in red (FamilySearch.org)

Marriage Record of Jeames Owens and Estella Cooper in Butler County, Ohio (JPG)
Fig 7. Marriage Record of Jeames Owens and Estella Cooper in Butler County, Ohio (FamilySearch.org)

1910 U.S. Census showing Jeames and Estella Owens living in Butler County, Ohio (JPG)
Fig 8. 1910 U.S. Census showing Jeames and Estella Owens living in Butler County, Ohio (FamilySearch.org)


I did find a J.A. and Estella May Owens living in Kentucky on the 1920 Census (Fig 9), but nothing else until the 1930 Census, where Estelle Fauver is found as being in St. Elizabeth’s Hospital.

1920 U.S. Census showing J.A. and Estella Owens living in Estill County, Kentucky (JPG)
Fig 9. 1920 U.S. Census showing J.A. and Estella May Owens living in Estill County, Kentucky (FamilySearch.org)

It’s here that things get fuzzy. We have proof of three husbands, but I am not sure about the claim of five living husbands. However, John Irwin must have had enough evidence against Estella to be granted the divorce. I might add that although it sounds like Estella might have been going from one husband to another, it appears John was looking for a new wife himself. I found a notice in the Xenia Evening Gazette, dated July 30, 1942 (just three short weeks after his divorce was granted), indicating John M. Irwin and Clara Reck received a marriage license in Cincinnati, Ohio (Fig 10).

Notice in Xenia Evening Gazette, dated July 30, 1942 (JPG)
Fig 10. Notice in Xenia Daily Gazette, dated July 30, 1942 (Newspapers.com)

There are many questions that remain unanswered in this story. When did Estella and Jeames separate? Who was Estella’s third husband and where did they live? When did she marry George Fauver? What happened to George? Did Estella have any children? What ever became of Estella? Did she marry again? Unfortunately, we may never know.

UNTIL NEXT TIME…

Sources:
FamilySearch.org
Greene County Archives
Montgomery County Records Center & Archives, Marriage Record Vol. 131, p. 425
NewspaperARCHIVE.com
Newspapers.com

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