Friday, August 4, 2017

Divorce: Grandison D. Nevill and Minerva Peterson

© Kathy Duncan, 2017

Finally, the divorce record of Minerva and Grandison D. Nevill has surfaced.

It turned up online in a PDF entitled "Landowners From Lost Circuit Court Minutes, 1807 - 1855" from the notes of Matt G. Lyle (1872 - 1950), compiled by Irene M. Griffey. This document is located on the tngenweb site. As an attorney, Lyle spent a large portion of his career researching Montgomery County Circuit Court records to establish land ownership titles. These records come from his private notes. They are important because courthouse fires in 1878 and 1900 supposedly destroyed the circuit court records. However, there are an astounding number of Montgomery County, Tennessee records that are available. It is more likely that the circuit court records were lost in a fire in 1895:


The Roof Fell In and the Building Was Wrecked by Fire.

Clarksville, Tenn., Feb. 8. -- During a trial in the Circuit Court room at Court House this morning the roof of the structure fell, causing a panic among the crowd in attendance at the trial. The building instantly caught fire, and in the rush for safety William Joslyn's leg was broken and a number of other persons sustained serious injuries. Judge Wilson jumped from a window to the ground, a distance of thirty feet, and was slightly hurt. Owing to the intense cold the firemen had hard work fighting the flames. The loss is probably $15,000.
 [Source: The New York Times, New York, NY 9 Feb 1895]

But I digress. In Lyle's notes was the following record:

NEVEILL, MINERVA vs GRANDISON NEVILLE. Sep Term 1836. Divorce. And doth accordingly order adjudge and decree and that the Complt. be and she is hereby divorced from the bonds of matrimony heretofore solemnized between her and the said defendant and restored to all the rights of a femme sole. The Court doth further order, adjudge and decree that she had the entire and sole right to all the property of every kind to which she is entitled free from the claim of her husband.

Circuit Court Minute Book 1836-1840, page 19

This final decree is just a few months after Minerva Nevill ran her divorce notice in June 1836.

Lyle's additional notes reveal that in 1838 and 1839, there was a dispute between Minerva's mother Nancy Peterson and her children, including new son-in-law Meredith Howard (Minerva's second husband) over the land they had inherited from father Roland/Rowland Peterson. The upshot was that the land would have to be sold. Lyle must have been researching this to establish a title for a later landowner or for one of the Petersons. Minerva's divorce from Grandison Nevill would have been important because they were married at the time Minerva's father Rowland Peterson died in 1835. It would have been important to establish that Grandison D. Nevill had no claim to her property.

Roland Peterson's 1820 will names only his wife Nancy and son Isaac. All the other children are unnamed. It is a very brief will, lacking in specifics. It can be found in Montgomery County, Tennessee Wills 1834-1836, vol G, beginning on page 209.

Rowland Peterson's property sale was held on 23 December 1835, but was not recorded until April 1836. This record is in Montgomery County, Tennessee Wills 1834-1836, vol G, beginning on page 306. The Nevills purchased several items at the sale, but due to the handwriting it is very difficult to tell when the purchase is made by Mr. Nevill or Mrs. Nevill. This is a list of the items purchased by the couple:

Mr. Nevil 1 mare 51.37 1/2
Mrs. Nevil 1 set of window curtains .50
ditto 1 Table 6.75
Mr. Nevill 1 Lot of glass 2.50
ditto 1 set of cups & saucers .50
ditto sugar Bowl & ? .25
Mrs. Nevil 2 candlesticks .25
ditto 1 Beareau 17.00
ditto 1 looking glass 2.50
Mr. Nevill 1 dozen plates .75
Mrs. Nevill 1? .25
Mrs. Nevill 1 Basket .25
Mrs. Nevill 2 ars .56 1/4
Mr. Nevill 1 smoothing iron .12 1/2
Mr. Nevill 1/2 doz chairs 3.00
Mr. Nevill 1 set ? for curtain .34
Mrs. Nevill 1 Bed of furniture 10.00
Mr. Nevill 1 oil cloth 1.00
Mr. Nevill 1 set of Knives & forks 1.50
Mrs. Nevill 1 ? iron .13
ditto 1 tea Kettle & ? .50
ditto 1 pair andirons & shovell 37 1/2

From the sale total of $1,407.74, $61.37 was deducted because it was for the sale of a horse and bed that belonged to Minerva Nevill. Minerva and Grandison Nevill had purchased her property to keep it from being sold to someone else, and then had the amount of the sale credited to them.

This is the record that ties Minerva Nevill to the Peterson family.

If any Howard or Peterson researchers have any additional information, I would love to hear from you.

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