in 52 Weeks
Luella Pressell, 1861-1910
Just when you think you know everything about an ancestor, surprise! I thought I knew most everything about my paternal great grandfather David L. Osborne, 1848-1942. My father, my aunt and grandmother often told stories about him and I have many of his vital documents. Then, a couple years ago while researching the particulars of a family story regarding my great grandfather, his first wife and their two sons, I discovered something I did not expect: another wife!
As far as I knew my great grandfather had married twice, his first wife died in 1883 leaving him with two very young sons. Then, in 1886, he married my great grandmother and they had three daughters together. The family story was the two boys were in an orphanage after their mother died, my great grandmother worked at the orphanage and my great grandfather met her there while visiting the boys. This was the story I was researching when I found a marriage record from February 1884 for David L. Osborne to Luella Pressell. At first I thought it must be another man of the same name, but the record clearly lists my great grandfather’s parents names: William and Harriet Osborne. At that point I had to accept this was not another man, but my great grandfather married to a woman whose name I had never heard mentioned before. Surprise!
So what happened to Luella? I knew my great grandparents married in 1886. I found my answers in the “Town Notes” section of the newspaper. It was reported Mrs. Luella Osborne was seeking a divorce in May 1885. Then, in December 1885 in the “Divorce Matters” section it was reported a judge had partly heard the request for a divorce from Luella Osborne and it mentions two boys being in the ‘orphan asylum'. Finally, in February 1886 in the “City News” section is an item stating a divorce was granted to Luella Osborne and David L. Osborne. This freed David to marry my great grandmother, Jenny Warbington, in May 1886.
I’ll never know what happened, but I do know Luella was at least 13 years younger than my great grandfather and that just prior to their marriage she was living in her parents’ home with four or five siblings. Luella’s father, William Pressell was a carpenter and Civil War veteran and it seems possible he knew David Osborne professionally or socially. It seems likely my great grandfather wanted a mother for his young sons, but perhaps Luella was not ready to be a full time mother. Luella later married a man her own age in 1891 and they had one child in 1900. Luella died in 1910, she lived less than 4 miles from my great grandparents.
I feel certain my great grandmother knew of Luella’s existence given the timing of their marriage and her proximity to my great uncles at the orphanage. However, I am not sure my grandmother knew her father had this previous marriage and I am nearly certain my father (who knew his grandfather very well) did not know anything of the marriage to Luella Pressell. Genealogy can be full of surprises, some good, some not and some are just surprising.
2. Entry for David L. Osborne and Luella B. Pressell, Indiana, Select Marriages Index, 1748-1993 [database on-line]. Ancestry.com, Provo, UT, USA
3. “The Indianapolis News” 18 May 1885, p4, col2, above fold https://www.newspapers.com/image/35058691/?xid=637
4. “The Indianapolis News” 25 December 1885, p3, col3, below fold https://www.newspapers.com/image/34593647/?terms=luella&xid=637
5. “The Indianapolis News” 4 February 1886, p3, col1, above fold https://www.newspapers.com/image/34274931/?terms=luella&xid=637
6. Entry for Luella Pressel, U. S. Federal Census, Year: 1880; Census Place: Indianapolis, Marion, Indiana; Roll: 295; Page: 421C; Enumeration District: 119
7. Entry for Lulu B. Miller, U. S. Federal Census, Year: 1900; Census Place: Indianapolis, Marion, Indiana; Page: 6; Enumeration District: 0050; FHL microfilm: 1240388
8. Indiana Archives and Records Administration; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Death Certificates; Year: 1910; Roll: 10; Ancestry.com. Indiana, Death Certificates, 1899-2011 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA