(I apologize for the tardiness and the brevity of this week’s post. My personal life had a nuclear meltdown this weekend.)
This week’s fourth assignment is all about the consequences of a hasty marriage and a tumultuous D-I-V-O-R-C-E. We looked at the North Dakota civil court records for Hershfield-vs- Hershfield.
Della Hogan and Aaron Hershfield married in Chicago in November 1893 after a whirlwind courtship that left Della in the family way. It appears that the honeymoon did not last for long. After residing with his bride at a fancy hotel in Helena, Montana for a few months, Aaron decided that fatherhood and husbandry didn’t suit him. So he left his wife short before she was due to give birth. Aaron left Montana altogether for North Dakota and after a suitable period (mainly to establish N.D. Residency), he filed for divorce.
Aaron claimed that Della had forced him into marriage with a false pregnancy and threats of violence for the sole purpose of extorting money out of him and his family. He also claimed that his wife was of an extravagant, lewd, and licentious character and therefore his marriage to her should not be upheld as legal in a virtuous society. Della objected to Aaron’s portrayal of her person. She avidly denied his claims of immorality, admitting only to illicit sexual relations she engaged with him that resulted in their daughter. Della also had initiated a countersuit against Aaron’s brother and sister-in-law for alienation of affection to the tune of $75,000 (in 1894 dollars). She claimed that Aaron had willingly lived with her as husband and wife and was through (primarily) her sister’s -in-law negative influence that Aaron decided to rid himself of his new bride. Della maintained that Aaron had left her alone, destitute, and without means to support herself with an infant in arms.
Aaron vehemently denied his wife’s accusations, stating that he had left instructions with his bank for he distrubution of $15/week
(more to come….class is starting)