Category Archives: Bigamy

Freaky Friday’s ~ A Strange Turn of Affairs ~ # 5

 

ff imageI am related to the Willard family in Missouri in two ways. First, my paternal Great Aunt, Ida May Hayes married John Henry Willard in 1905. Secondly, my paternal Aunt, Ellie Belle Hughes married Mitchell Lee Willard in 1927. John Henry and Mitchell Lee were half brothers. No, this is not the freaky part of this story even though it does make my Aunt a niece and a sister-in-law to Ida May! Sit back, get comfortable with your favorite beverage and follow along with this freaky tale.

John Daniel Willard was the father of these two half-brothers. On January 5, 1869, mental Hosp this onehe married Evanda Decker and over the next 14 years, they had 4 sons. After the birth of her first son, Evanda began to exhibit some odd behavior. She constantly talked to herself, acting very erratic and she would wander off leaving her small children alone in the house. Her condition worsened after her fourth son was born, so John Daniel felt he had no option but to have her committed. In 1883 he had her admitted to the State Mental Hospital in Fulton, Missouri. They never got divorced.

This did not stop John from finding a new wife. On March 16, 1884, he married Willard Noble MLMiss Rosa Noble in Adair, MO. He was 36 years old and she was under the age of 18. Her father had to give permission for them to marry.  Not much is known about this marriage. What we do know is that Rosa moved into John’s house and took care of his 4 sons. All of a sudden, there are no more records of Rosa. No divorce papers, no other marriage licenses, and no death certificate. One day she is there and the next day she is gone!

Willard Pinkerton MLEnter Miss Sarah Jane Pinkerton. On December 26, 1886, John and Sarah get married and they moved the family to the mining community of Willard, MO which is just north of Springfield. A little less than 9 months later they welcomed their first child, a little girl. They went on to have a total of 6 children, 2 girls, and 4 boys. On January 25, 1914, at the age of 66, John died of liver cancer.

In the 27 years since he had Evanda committed, he never went to visit her. He never divorced any of his wives and he never revealed what happened to Rosa. This was indeed a very mysterious man. It is unknown if Rosa and Sarah knew that John had never divorced Evanda, therefore they were never really married to the man. Now that’s Freaky!!!

Evanda Willard died in the State Mental Hospital on November 15, 1925, at the age of 77.

Shirley2

The Willard Family Picture:

Back row L-R

William Albert Willard, Charles Andrew Willard, George Earnest Willard, and John Henry Willard

Front row L-R

Sarah Jane (Pinkerton), John Daniel Willard, Jim H. Willard (on lap), Mitchell Lee Willard, Benjamin Harrison Willard, and Joseph Andrew Willard.

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Ancestry, Asylum, Bigamy, Family History, Family Search, Freaky, Genealogy, Memories, Missouri, Uncategorized, Willard Family

Asylum and Bigamy and Vanishing..…Oh My!

See bottom of Blog for names of those in the picture.

See bottom of Blog for names of those in the picture.

Looking at this photo it looks like a very nice, typical 1900s era family. Here you see a husband and wife with their 8 sons. They had two daughters who ran out of the frame just before the photo was taken. Who would think, by viewing this picture, that there could be so much heartbreak and deceit behind it?

John Daniel Willard was born May 21, 1847, in Adams County, Illinois.  He met and married the beautiful Vaninet “Evanda” Decker (born in 1848 in Illinois) on January 5, 1869. Shortly after their marriage, they moved to Easley, Macon Co, Missouri. Over the next 14 years, they had 4 sons. During this time Evanda began talking to herself constantly and acting very erratic. She would just wander off leaving her young children alone. It got increasingly worse after the birth of her 4th son in August of 1883. John felt the only option was to have Evanda committed. Sometime before the end of 1883 she was admitted into the Missouri State Mental Hospital in Fulton, MO.

John Willard and Rosa Noble Marriage License.

John Willard and Rosa Noble Marriage License.

Early in 1884, John petitioned the court to be granted a divorce from Evanda but it was denied. This did not stop John from finding a new wife. On March 16, 1884, he married a Miss Rosa Noble in Adair, MO. He was 36 years old and she was under the age of 18. Her father had to give permission for them to marry.  Not much is known about this marriage. What we do know is that Rosa moved into John’s house and took care of his 4 sons. All of a sudden there are no more records of Rosa. No divorce papers, no other marriage licenses, and no death certificates. One day she is there and the next day she is gone!

John WIllard and Sarah Pinkerton Marriage License.

John Willard and Sarah Pinkerton Marriage License.

On December 26, 1886, John marries his 3rd and final wife, Sarah Jane Pinkerton born in the month of August 1863. She was 23 years old and he was 39. A little less than 9 months later they welcomed their first child, a little girl. They went on to have a total of 6 children, 2 girls, and 4 boys. After they were married they moved the family to the mining community of Willard, MO which is just north of Springfield, MO.

After Sarah died in 1910, John and the younger children moved to Lexington, MO where the older boys had moved. On January 25, 1914, at the age of 66, John died of liver cancer. He is buried in the Dover Cemetery in Dover, MO.  In the 27 years since he had Evanda committed he never went to visit her. He never divorced any of his wives and he never revealed what happened to Rosa. This was indeed a very mysterious man. It is unknown if Rosa and Sarah knew that John never divorced Evanda, therefore they were never really married to the man.

Evanda Decker Willard died in the State Mental Hospital on November 15, 1925, at the age of 77.

The Willard Family Picture:

Back row L-R

William Albert Willard, Charles Andrew Willard, George Earnest Willard, and John Henry Willard

Front row L-R

Sarah Jane (Pinkerton), John Daniel Willard, Jim H. Willard (on lap), Mitchell Lee Willard, Benjamin Harrison Willard, and Joseph Andrew Willard.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Filed under Ancestry, Asylum, Bigamy, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Missouri, Personal Stories