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Divorce in 1915

On August 10, 1915 John DeVore was released from jail and put on probation. He had been arrested for deserting his wife and children. He had to enter a guilty plea to the charge of abandonment and promise to return to the family home.

In 1915 the courts and the law took marriage very seriously. Abandonment of family obligations was punishable by imprisonment. Men could also be forced to support their families, but only if they could be found. Only three instances of men being arrested for desertion could be found in the Pantagraph for the entire year. Twenty nine petitions for divorce based on desertion in McLean County were reported in the Pantagraph during 1915. In one separate instance, a sheriff from Iowa came to Bloomington to arrest a man for desertion.

Divorce in 1915 was truly tragic when the family had no means of support other than the father's wages. Some women would find work, but jobs such as a maid in a hotel did not allow a woman to keep a home for her children. One tragedy of the law was that the woman could not obtain a divorce until she had been deserted for two years! During those two years she would have a very difficult time keeping her family under one roof. Very often children would be housed in an orphanage or children's home until the mother was in a better position (usually a second marriage). Of course one reason for being so very hard on men who abandoned their families was to keep women out of the poorhouse and children out of the orphanages. Women could not always earn enough money to support their children and they would become a public liability.

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