Friday From the History Files: SCANDAL

Some folks begin a study of their history and wonder if they’ll find anything bad. I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll ever find anything good! The story this week is terrible by 2015 standards, but it’s positively scandalous for the 1800’s. Andrew Halfacre vs Rhoda Anderson provides a lot of documentation, and most of it is of the BORN, and DIED kind. My mother and my Aunt Gay have done a great job researching a little deeper, which is how they found the divorce petition of Rhoda and Andrew Halfacre. From the official court petition we learn these juicy tidbits:

CHANCERY, 1876. THE BILL OF COMPLAINT OF RHODA HALFACRE AGAINST ANDREW HALFACRE, John P. Murray and William Lamburt, all of Jackson Co. TN. 31 Oct. 1874. . . . she and defendant Andrew Halfacre were married in Jackson Co. TN upwards of twenty years, the exact time not known, but she thinks it about 24-5 years ago that she was married to said Andrew Halfacre . . . She charges that her said husband about the year 18[blank] was guilty of divers lewd acts of adultery with one Nancy Petty, sometimes called Nancy Simon, with whom he left the county and stayed several months . . . Some time afterward, about the year 1861, her said husband was guilty of adultery with a lewd woman by the name of Em Reeves and then or thereabouts with another lewd woman by the name of Liz Putty and with divers other lewd women whose names [are] not known to complainant. Two others of which she remembers now as Betha Denson and Nance Smith . . . Complainant charges [further adultery at this time]. Complainant further charges that several years ago said Andrew Halfacre beat and abused her very badly on three different occasions . . . [He has threatened to kill her] . . . Her said husband was nearly always drunk when he abused her as aforesaid . . .

So basically my great, great grandfather was a murderous drunk who ran around with lewd women, of which there were many! It’s a good think for Nancy Petty/Smith and Betha Denson that they were born before social media. Rhoda doesn’t seem like she’d be above posting details on Facebook. Rhoda also asked for custody of their five children, but it was all for naught. The divorce never happened and they actually went on to have two more kids! So either Andrew straightened up or Rhoda couldn’t bring herself to leave the no-good cheater. With what I’ve read about my family so far, I’m going to guess it was that second one. In REBELS, Lou finds out some bad stuff about her own family history, but also some GOOD. I’ll keep looking! wpsignature


  1. Margie Lewis said:

    My grandmother (who married her second cousin son of Rhoda ) said that Rhoda was just jealous and he was a good old man. I think he just quit drinking and changed when he got too old or that the divorce petition scared him.

    April 10, 2015
    • Lisa Lewis Tyre said:

      You could have left out the part where she married her second cousin! 🙂 Let’s hope you’re right and he cleaned up his act.

      April 10, 2015

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