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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Tragedies of Samuel Guffney, Defiance

Does the Desertion Act

Charges His Wife With Infidelity – 
Leaves a Good Situation and Five Children

Mrs. Guffney Talks of the Affair

Samuel Guffney, whose family resides on East Street, East Defiance, has gone to parts unknown.  He deserted his family Sunday and left with the parting remark that he would never return.  He is the father of five children, two of them grown to men and women.  The other three are small and the family is not in the best of circumstances, to say the least.

Mrs. Guffney was seen this morning. She said her husband had threatened to leave her on several occasions. She said she had been in the habit of going to the neighbor to do washing and on several occasions he had charged her with being untrue to him, which was false in every particular.  She is now in a delicate condition and needs a husband’s care truly.  She said Guffney had a steady situation at the Turnbull Wagon works, was earning $1.16 per day.  He had scolded considerably concerning the current expenses of the household which she said was barely sufficient to live on.  Last Sunday, they had some words and he left.  She thinks he is at Bryan.

The oldest girl, Cora, is far from well, having recently returned from the Toledo asylum for the insane.  She is now able to help her mother who must do washing for the support of the family. The little home where they live is not paid for and $200 will soon be due on the last payment.  Guffney left his family with a large grocery bill to pay.

The case is a deplorable one, owing to Mrs. Guffney’s health, but she says she is satisfied the family will get along when she is able to work, if the creditors will be lenient with them.  He is a strong man capable of taking care of his family and his actions have caused the people of East Defiance to condemn him in the most emphatic terms.”

Defiance Democrat
April 26, 1894

Samuel and Cecelia Guffney began their married life in Center Township, Williams County, but at some point moved to Defiance.  William worked at the Turnbull Wagonworks as a night watchman.  Apparently, the bills became too much for him, and he also questioned his wife's fidelity when pregnant with their sixth child, so he left.  At some point however, he did returned to his family, only again to experience a tragedy in 1905, when his daughter, Bessie, died a horrific death.
The story is told in the Defiance Crescent News on January 9, 1905:

First column continues below.

Continue reading in second column on first image.

Just a few years later, in June, 1908, the world became too much for Samuel Guffney, and he committed suicide.  Perhaps because of his manner of death, he was not buried in Defiance in the sacred grounds of the Catholic church, but instead interred in Bryan.  
From the Defiance Crescent News, June 23, 1908:

Mrs. Guffney lived on until 1937.  She lost her son, Emery, in World War I when he died of scarlet fever in camp.  She had endured much in her lifetime.  She was buried in Riverside Cemetery.
From the Defiance Crescent News, March 29, 1937:

Friday, May 26, 2017

Summer Blogging Schedule

Beginning the week of Memorial Day,

this blog will have new posts once a 

week until Labor Day.  Your blogger

needs a wee vacation from researching

and writing.  Please continue to stop 

by!  Don't forget us!

In Memoriam - Cecelia M. Brown

 In Memory of Cecelia Brown

NEY — Cecelia "CC" Mary Brown, 58, of Ney, passed away after a hard fought battle with the effects of a stroke, on Saturday, May 20, 2017, at St. Luke’s Hospital, Maumee, Ohio.

Cecelia was a longtime president of the Defiance County Genealogical Society having been a member since 1991. She was a member of the Ohio Genealogical Society, the First Families of Ohio, the First Families of Defiance County and the German Bohemian Heritage Society.

She was a guiding force behind the annual Wisda and Schindler reunions having researched much of their family histories. It was important for her to share not only her family stories, but also to see that future generations would appreciate the sacrifices of their ancestors. She was very patriotic and instrumental in beginning the Defiance County Veterans Database. Being passionate about preserving history, Cecelia liked to preserve Defiance County history, including the townships, one room schoolhouses and AuGlaize Village.

She will be greatly missed by her family, friends, community, and our genealogical society.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Scandal in Sherwood - Rock's Ruin

John Rock was born in or near Sherwood, Ohio on August 10, 1861, according to online genealogies.  The son of William and Sarah Griner Rock, he had siblings, Susan, William Henry, Nancy, Elisabeth, and Ella.  On December 27, 1888, he married Martha Jane Boggs, known as "Jennie," in Kosciusko County, Indiana, and the couple settled in Sherwood.

John was appointed as postmaster in Sherwood on June 17, 1889, and he also ran a general store for awhile in town.
U. S. Appointments of Postmasters - line shows Sherwood, with John Rock as the last entry on the right.

When his store failed, John became involved in selling insurance and that's where the trouble began.  

Defiance Daily Crescent - June 27, 1892


Career of A Well Known Defiance County Man
Who Last Week Absconded With $7000 of His Firm's Money and
Has Not Since Been Heard From.

...A former well known and highly respected citizen of Defiance county, a man who at one time was looked upon as one who would surely make his mark in the world, is a fugitive from justice.  The story of his downfall, so far as can be learned, may be attributed almost totally to what has been the ruination of many even better men than he, a woman.

When any man falls from an eminence to which he has attained, it is always said that there is
and it appears so in this case, where the principal personage is John Rock, formerly of Sherwood...  A young man of scholarly attainments, highly connected, good looking and having agreeable ways and good address, he was popular among men and prominent in business and political circles.

Melvin Morella Boothman, Bryan, OH
When Major Boothman was elected to congress, Rock was running a general store at Sherwood and was a Republican central committeeman.  In that capacity, he did much for Boothman, and when the latter was elected, he reciprocated and used to influence to such an extent that Rock was appointed postmaster, during the early period of President Harrison's term of office.  In the general store business, Rock was not a success and after running the store for about two months, or in fact until bills commenced to fall due, he failed in business.

...When Rock failed in business, he at once looked around for another place, being satisfied that he could not do well in Sherwood.  He left his wife and baby, and armed with the best of references, started for Detroit, Mich., to get an audience with C. C. Kelso, Michigan state agent for the Union Central Life Insurance company, the main offices of which company are located in Cincinnati, the main Michigan office being at Detroit."

Mr. Kelso liked John Rock, was impressed by the references provided, and hired him.  Rock was sent to Flint, Michigan to set up an office as an agent there.  Then he made a good salary with commissions, and he also became quite a big spender and ladies' man while his wife was back in Sherwood.  Finally, in February, 1892, Rock moved his family from Sherwood to Port Huron, about thirty miles from Flint.  Rock seemed to be doing well, and he was making some big loans for the company.

"It is stated that the company learned of his excesses, however, and decided to remove him.  At the time this decision was made, Rock was negotiating a big loan, so the company decided to let him go ahead with it.

The story as told by the Pinkerton (detective) man is to the effect that Rock secured the money for the loan through forgery and intrigue, and with the assistance of one or two other parties, succeeded in getting a draft from the company for $7,000 which was appropriated and the parties decamped."

The Pinkerton detective came from Flint to Sherwood to investigate was interviewed by the Defiance reporter.  It seemed that John Rock was on "intimate terms" with several different women in Flint, posing as an unmarried man.  He had told his secretary that the letters coming in from Jennie Rock were from his sister.  Then came the mistake...

"One day after writing to her husband, Mrs. Rock sealed the letter, it is said, and did not mail it at once.  Afterwards she was in doubt as to whether she had mentioned anything about the baby, hence she took up the envelope and was about to open it.  As it was already stamped, she did not care to open it, so she just picked up a pen and wrote on the outside of the envelope, 'Baby sends a kiss to papa.'

The firm's secretary, who was one of Rock's sweethearts, discovered the letter and the gig was up, at least in the office.  He, however, kept seeing other women outside of the office.  Mrs. Rock suspected his infidelities while still in Sherwood when he kept addressing her letters to Miss Jennie Rock.  Things must have been even more clear after she reached Michigan because soon she was headed back to her father's home via train with the Defiance reporter right behind!  The reporter caught up with Mrs. Jennie Rock at her father's home in Leesburg, Indiana and finally gained access to interview her.

"...Mrs. Rock entered carrying her child in her arms.  She is not strictly a handsome woman, but is by no means unprepossessing.  It is hardly fair to discuss the personal appearance of a woman who has just tumbled out of bed and appears wrapped in a loose gown, shoes unbuttoned and hair disheveled...The child is two years of age, is bright and healthy, and bears his father's name, John.

Mrs. Rock was not disinclined to talk and when asked regarding her husband's whereabouts, stated that she knew nothing about where he had gone and had not heard from him.

'When John moved to Flint and secured his position there,' said Mrs. Rock, 'I remained in Sherwood.  It was not very pleasant for me as his family and relatives did not like me.  I sewed for them and as long as I sewed and charged nothing for it, I was all right, but as soon as I commenced charging for making their dresses, they did not like me any more.  We never got along well together, though a couple of the girls and I were good friends.  I became dissatisfied in Sherwood and John made arrangements to take me to Port Huron which is quite a nice summer resort, and John was at home nearly all the time.  We lived nicely there and John always treated me and the baby very well.  We did not have any trouble at all.'"

Further questioning revealed that John did not come home Monday through Saturday, but would appear at home on Saturday evening, returning again Monday morning.  Jennie said she knew that people were telling bad stories about him and some money trouble, too, but she thought he was faithful to her.

The newspaper story continued:

"'Two weeks ago today,' continued the deserted wife, 'John came home to spend Sunday as usual. He remained until Tuesday, then kissed the baby and me, as was his custom.  He said that he would be back Saturday evening.  I got letters from him during the week, just short notes sending love to me and the baby.  Saturday night he did not come home, but there came instead a note which read, 'Pack up the things and you and the baby go home to Pap's at once.' We always called father "Pap" so I understood that he wanted me to come home here and he would meet me here in a few days.  I expected to get a letter explaining everything when I got here, but I have received no word from him and have not the slightest idea where he is, though he would probably go to Canada.

'John was not used right by his relatives,' said Mrs. Rock, or he would not have been in this trouble.  He was negotiating a loan of $7000 to a man named J. L. Goodrich.  The loan was refused at one time as it was thought that the security was not sufficient.  Mr. Kelso came to our house in Port Huron and brought his wife and family along.  The latter remained there while John and Kelso went out to see about the loan.  When they came back from the trip, Kelso said that the loan was all right and that John should close the deal.  John was to receive $300 as his commission for the work.  

Of course, when he went into the office,he had to give a bond, and his brother, Dr. Rock, who lives at Sherwood, went on his bond.  About two months ago, Dr. Rock took his name off the bond and Kelso did not inform John about it, simply allowing him to go ahead and close up this deal for $7,000.  John must have been informed that no one was on his bond and that he would probably lose his position as soon as the deal went through, hence when the draft for $7000 came, he got it, cashed and instead of turning over the money to Goodrich, he put it in his pocket and left the country.'"
Jennie's father felt sure that he could use his influence to get John to pay back the money, but if refused, then he ought to be in the penitentiary, his father-in-law opined.  The Pinkerton Detectives were on the case, interviewing Sherwood citizens, who were following the case closely.  

A July 12th paper noted that a circular with John Rock's photo and the following (condensed) description was circulated in Detroit:

27 years old, smooth face, 5' 10", dark complexion, hair dark brown - almost black, eyes - black, end of nose spherical, has a habit of looking down when he walks, hence is somewhat stoop shouldered, swinging gait, impressive and emphatic in speech, always dresses well, has assumed the name James Haven at least once.  

By August, 1892, John Rock had still not been found. The Defiance Democrat of August 4 headlined: 


"The detective told a gentleman whom he took into his confidence that Rock had for several days been followed and shadowed by the detective force, and that he was seen in Canada where a detective had ample opportunity to arrest him, but owing to a fear of the extradition papers not being perfect, did not make Rock a prisoner when the opportunity offered, preferring to wait (until) a later date, when it was learned Rock would again come to the states where he was expected to be captured and legal technicalities of his extradition dispensed with.
Rock had in his company, at that time, according to the detective's story, a woman of unenviable reputation and was traveling under an assumed name."  

On August 25th, the headlines read:

Extradition Papers Can Not Be Procured - Rock is Safe From Justice."   

And John Rock disappeared into history.  No further information could be found on him.  Maybe you know what happened to him?  If so, please comment!