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stevenpiziks ([personal profile] stevenpiziks) wrote2017-07-18 04:54 pm
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Ypsilanti Dirt

Today I visited the Ypsilanti Historical Library for the Work in Progress.  I needed to verify a few facts.  To do so, I needed to check the history of the First Presbyterian Church of Ypsilanti, which was founded in the early 1800s.  They first met in a frame house, then built a brick church with one spire, then rebuilt the church so it had two spires.  I've been trying to find out exactly when the two spires version was done.  I have three different dates, and can't seem to verify any of them.

Anyway, the Historical Library archives has a file on the FSCoY, and the archivist cheerfully handed it over to me for perusal.  It's a hanging file about four inches thick, stuffed with a pile of papers, transcripts, orders of service, century-old pamphlets, and other memorabilia.  One object in the file is a heavy, punch-bound book of transcripts.  I paged through it and realized someone had typed up all the hand-written notes from weekly church meetings from 1832 until 1875.  This had to be a monumental task--the original pages were included in the file, and the handwriting old-fashioned, spidery stuff done with a dip pen, barely legible.  This historian had meticulously read and typed up hundreds of pages, and for this I was grateful.

The church meetings were mostly records of who had joined the church (lots of people moved to Ypsilanti from other areas, and they seem to have brought with them letters of recommendation from their previous ministers, which helped matters), who had been baptized, and who had left the church, either by moving away or dying.

There were several references, incidentally, to the church calling various members up in front of the council to defend themselves for drinking, either beer or hard liquor.  (Temperance was a hot social topic in Michigan during this time period, and apparently the First Presbies landed on the "alcohol is evil" side.)  One member confessed to the drinking, but said it was "for his health."  The council rejected this argument and banned him from attending church until he could prove he had made proper penance (which wasn't specified).  This sort of thing seemed to happen fairly often, and you would think the church would give it up as a lost cause, but the council showed continued enthusiasm for alcohol's punishment and penance.

The last page truly caught my eye.  It seemed to be random notes. It said:

Mr. Hammond's Testimony - that Mrs. G. admitted he got in a passion - was sorry that it had happened - cross examined - Mrs. Hammond - Talking hard of her Mother Octavia - could live in this way -
Mrs. Hyde - choked - threw potatoes -
  -   - pushing his wife
  -   - pushing his Motherinlaw [sic] - ordering her out the door -
William Glover -

What the heck?  "Got in a passion"?  Was this anger?  Sex?  Who threw potatoes?

I paged through more of the book.  In entries dated April, 1835, my eye flitted across another reference to Samuel Glover.  There were several references to him and to Mrs. Hyde over several weeks.  Eagerly, I paged over them, flipping backward until I found the earliest one--and the beginning of the story.

From what I could gather from Church Clerk Ezra Carpenter's cryptic notes, Samuel Glover was married to Virena Glover, and they had a son William.  Virena's mother Lucy Hyde lived with them, and she and Samuel did NOT get along.

According to Virena, the two of them fought quite often, mostly because Samuel beat Virena.  One day, Virena was carrying in a heavy basket of potatoes, and she asked Samuel to help her.  He refused, and she became upset with him.  He shouted and cursed at her and threw several potatoes at her head, until Lucy intervened and told him to stop.  This didn't make Samuel very happy.

Another time, Samuel was arguing with Virena and shouting at her in the front yard.  A neighbor saw Lucy trying to get him to stop.

Another tidbit says Samuel called a neighbor a "God damned Frenchman."  Someone else testified to him shouting "J___ C____" in public.  (Ezra Carpenter refused to put "Jesus Christ" into a transcript as a curse, though he readily put the word "god" down as one.)  Someone else testified to hearing Samuel use the word "devilish" to describe his children, and also calling them "little devils."

Another time, Lucy Hyde testified that Samuel whirled an ox whip over Virena's head and swore he would beat Virena "by J____ C____."  She also said she saw Samuel choke Virena and push her to the floor more than once.

Then Samuel got really mad at Lucy and one day literally shoved her out the door, ordering her to never "darken his doorstep" again and "if I rotted above ground he would never bury me."  She went to a friend's house, and the next day various people persuaded her to return.  Samuel allowed that she could as long as she was nice to him.  Lucy reluctantly returned.

The pastor asked if Samuel was nice to Lucy after that, but (according to Mr. Carpenter's terse prose), Lucy wouldn't answer directly, which speaks volumes.

Samuel claimed he had witnesses who would speak to his good character, but none of them showed up at any of the hearings, which also speaks volumes.

In the end, the council rendered its unanimous, terrifying verdict: Samuel was guilty of violating the church's covenant in multiple ways.

His sentence?

No church for three months.

That's it.  And there were no more references to Samuel Glover or Lucy Hyde in the rest of the book.

I doubt Samuel stopped abusing Virena and Lucy.  I suspect he just got better at hiding it--or of terrifying them into silence.  Lucy was already uncertain about testifying this time.  I hope they eventually left him, or threw him out, but I doubt it.  The church couldn't even bring itself to censure Samuel for more than 90 days, let alone grant a divorce.

And you'll notice that despite several people testifying that Samuel was guilty of assault many times over, there was no mention of legal involvement.  None.  Virena and Lucy went to the church for help, and barely got any.  (The testimony took place over several weeks.)

Domestic abuse.  It ain't a new idea.

Incidentally, I did find the date of the spire, but it was from a secondary source, and it's still unconfirmed for me.  Sigh.


A little digging turned up a bit more information elsewhere.  Samuel and Virena (whose name may have been Vinera--records disagree) had a total of twelve children.  The last two were twins, born on February 14, 1847 in Osceola, Michigan, which means the Glovers moved.  The twins died two weeks later.  Virena died the following March at age 44.  So Virena stayed with Samuel another 11 years and died, worn out from giving birth over and over, and from the beatings he gave her.  (Another Glover child, Sarah, died two years later, by the way, at age 24.)

And Samuel?  He left Ypsilanti and slunk back to New York, where his parents originally came from.  By 1850, he was married to a woman named Maria, who had five children of her own.  Only TWO of Samuel and Virena's children came with him--Alanson and Daniel.  What happened to the others?

Three--Sarah and the twins--had died.

Four were adults by 1850 and didn't need to live with their families.  None were living in Ypsilanti.  It's telling that they moved away from their father.

Samuel Glover, Jr. (age 15) went to live with a merchant named John Cody and his family.

Vinera Josephine Glover (age 10) is unaccounted for.  She is not with her father or any of her adult brothers or sisters.  Where did she go?  She marries William P. Paine in 1857 in Ionia County, Michigan.  She would have been about 17 then, though the question is, how did she get all the way up to Ionia and meet him?

George W. Glover (age 8) vanishes entirely. No records of what happened to him exist.

The 1860 censucs shows Maria Glover (Samuel's second wife) Census living in Webster, New York as a widow, but Samuel is still alive at this time and living a little ways away in Rochester, New York.  He died in 1870.  Did Maria divorce him and lie about her marital status?  What happened there?

Having a blended family that's a hot mess isn't anything new!