Did Ethel Townsend Lie?

Vernie Sanborn Schlared Ethel Townsend Daniels
Photo of Vernie Sanborn Schlared and her Aunt
Ethel Townsend Daniels

Surely we should not call out our ancestors. Yet, I wonder if my 2nd great aunt Ethel May Townsend lied about being married twice.

I was playing around on my family tree on the Townsend family line. My Townsends are descendants of William James Townsend born about 1842 in Franklin County, Ohio. His wife is named Mary Clabaugh. She was the daughter of Thomas Clabaugh and Polly Nash and was born 5 September 1846 in potentially Fairfield, Ohio.

Ethel May was the tenth, and last child, of William and Mary Townsend. She was born on 10 Nov 1887 in Marion, Franklin County, Ohio. Her father was blinded from a surgery to open his swollen eyes when he became sick during his service in the Civil War. He was a blind farmer through the remainder of his life.

After her father’s death when she was two, her mother struggled to make ends meet by doing laundry and other jobs. Her mother never remarried but did eventually obtain a widow’s pensions that I will share over the coming months. I can scarcely begin to imagine how these facts impacted Ethel as she grew up. Her mother died 27 August 1916.

I believe that Ethel married R Edwin Anthony on 15 May 1916 by Pastor J E Albrecht. Who Pastor Albrecht is or what his church was, I do not know. (In actuality, I don’t know how to figure this out.) Edwin is the son of James Anthony and Louisa Davis and was born 29 August 1892 in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio. I conclude that this evidence pertains to Ethel Townsend based upon the birth date and parent’s names she provided on this marriage certificate. Additionally, it’s interesting that this marriage took place 3 months before Ethel’s mother died.

Marriage record for R Edwin Anthony and Ethel May Townsend
Family Search, “Ohio Marriages, 1800-1958″ database, (http:/www.familysearch.org) :
Entry for Edwin Anthony, 15 May 1916 (accessed 9 February 2011)

It doesn’t seem that this couple was married for very long, but I do not have access to a divorce record database at this time to search for a divorce between 1916 – 1919 in Franklin County, Ohio. I don’t know when R Edwin Anthony died or if he remarried. So, it’s possible that Ethel was a widow. These items are on my To Do list.

However, I found another marriage for Ethel May Townsend that took place three years later. Actually, I found this one first. Family memories said that Aunt Ethel Daniels did such and such. And this was remembered by her great niece-in-law Louise Long Brown. Thankfully Louise’s memory was accurate and Ethel did marry Edward Daniels, according to this marriage record.

Marriage of Edward Daniels and Ethel Townsend
Family Search, “Ohio Marriages, 1800-1958” database, (http:/www.familysearch.org) :
Entry for Edward Daniels, 26 May 1919 (accessed 9 February 2011)

Ethel married Edward W Daniels on 26 May 1919 and was married by what looks like Rev T. O. Reed. He refers to himself as a minister. (I wonder if that’s a clue to where they might have married and how to investigate the matter.) Edward is the son of W W Daniles and Alice J Jones. He was born 10 August 1889 in LeRoy, Ohio. Ethel’s information is the same on this record for her parents and birth date. The birth location has changed to Valley Crossing, Ohio. I’m not exactly sure where Valley Crossing is at this time. I wonder if that is a more specific name in Franklin County. So, based on the birth date and parent information and the family memory of Ethel’s married name of Daniel, I have concluded this is her marriage record.

In any case, notice that on this second marriage record Ethel said she was not previously married. Initially, I was going to stop my research here. However, I was doing research on Family Search where you enter in the parent’s names and no children’s names. I only found a few pertinent entries that lined up with the research that I had already done. Yet this additional marriage record appeared for Ethel Townsend.

So, did Ethel lie? Did she tell the truth because according to her faith the marriage was dissolved and didn’t count? Did the marriage not actually follow proper procedures and it didn’t ‘count’? Or did she have such a bad experience, given she married a short time later, that she didn’t want to claim the previous marriage?

I am concluding that she did, in fact, marry Mr. Anthony prior to marrying Mr. Daniels. My jury is still out on whether she fibbed or not.

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee is passionate about capturing and preserving family stories so no one alive today has to be researched, or forgotten, tomorrow. She has authored 6 how-to books, a memoir, two published family history biographies, and over 60 family scrapbooks. She's an enthusiastic speaker who energizes, encourages, and educates at the same time.

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