Domestic sadness made public, Act 2

As some of you will recall, we recently discussed the use of serial newspaper advertisements to avoid financial liability for an estranged wife in 1840s Nauvoo. I have discovered a few more of them, all fairly rote, as if newspaper editors had boilerplate to provide in the event of the fateful grimace/nod. I have seen one exception, whether a function of poverty, editorial oversight, or idiosyncracy, I’m not sure, though I’m grateful for the delightful image.


For whatever reason, this particular announcement was not repeated (I suspect Norman did not find William Smith’s typo particularly funny, though again I have no evidence; perhaps Norman’s savings were sewn into the purloined mattress). On the same day, I encountered a much sadder version, as we might expect for historical reasons, from an abandoned woman. I felt to grieve for the seemingly endless parade of wronged women as represented by the bereaved Laura Ann. The man wants his pocketbook protected, the woman wants to know whether her missing partner is still alive. (Both are from The Wasp, and I am aware that Mr. Damon may actually have died, though something in my gut tells me he had vanished of his own volition.)



  1. Tragic and heart breaking. It is almost impossible to comprehend from today’s perspective. We travel across the world in hours and are so interconnected (email, cell phones)…I can’t imagine what such and extended absence would exact.

  2. It may be coincidence, but I found an online record of a divorce petition filed by a Laura Ann Damon vs. a Marcus Flint Damon on September 1, 1843. Also a marriage between a Jacob Ogle and a Laura Ann Damon in Jo Daviess County, IL, on November 20, 1843.

  3. I have a friend who has raised three children on his own after his spouse abandoned them. (She just walked out on them.) He put two of his girls through College, and the third through real estate training. That makes him a hero in my book.

  4. Justin–thanks, that’s fascinating and could explain why, after three years, she was prepared to look for him again. i looked in Easton Black’s membership records for early Mormons and don’t see a reference to any of these people. (By various estimates around 10% of the Nauvoo population was not Mormon.)

    Maybe one of the legal scholars remembers, but I have a vague memory that if you couldn’t prove the death of a spouse you might need to divorce them even if you suspected them dead (ie Marcus may not have been found).

    Matt W–he’s a hero in my book too.

  5. Oh boy!! I get to look stupid to complete strangers!

    Please indulge a confused person and point out the typo in the first article. I know it must have something to with her taking his beds, which is a funny visual. However, I’m clueless at what it actually should have said.

  6. the link at the top (the prior post on the topic) shows a more canonical example. she should have “left his bed and board”

  7. a random John says:


    Thanks for being the first to ask. I had the same question.

  8. I think she could have also obtained a divorce by showing that her husband willfully deserted her without just cause for two years.

    Sam MB, are you working on a paper or project of some type?

  9. Justin, many projects. Lately I’ve kept half an eye open for material for “Lived Religion in Mormon Nauvoo,” though I have not yet started writing in any sense on this project. This material is part of that effort. (That and I am trying to meet domestic quotas for reading Church periodicals.)

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