Piney Willard, sons Bart Willard, Fred Willard, Ray Willard, daughter Flora (Willard) and Howard E. Commons, 9 North 49 West
1882 "Appeal from the Appellate Court for the Second District ; — heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Mercer county ; the Hon. John J. Glenn, Judge, presiding.
This was a bill in chancery, brought by Harriet Willetts, against Milton L. Willetts, in the Mercer circuit court, to cancel an agreement to provide separate maintenance for the complainant, a mortgage to secure the same, a lease to her for life, and a release by her of her dower in the estate of the defendant, her husband, made and entered into on July 5, 1880, and then provide separate maintenance other and different from that provided in the agreement.
The bill, after stating the marriage and good conduct of the complainant, charged in substance that the defendant is a spiritualist, and in March, 1880, one Piney Willard, a pretended medium, came and made mischief; that defendant had a bad hand, and refused to let any one else than Mrs. Willard treat it, and generally took a dislike to his wife ; that the spirit of his first wife was conjured up, and made to say that complainant and defendant must separate ; that there upon complainant became sick, and remained so a long time, by reason of the destroying of her domestic happiness, and was driven to distraction, and could not recollect what happened fully, but had a faint recollection of some one coming to the house and talking about dividing the property, and that she refused to be parted from her husband, or to make any arrangement ; that some days after some one took her to the city of New Boston ; that just before she had been locked in her room ; that when she went to New Boston she felt as if she was fleeing from some unseen power ; that she was taken to the house of a friend, where she was shown a paper which she was told she must sign ; thinks she signed it, but don't know what was in it, and does not know whether it was read to her or not ; that she is informed that her husband, on July 5, 1880, executed to her a mortgage, by which he secured to her $300 a year, payable half-yearly, but that she knows nothing about it ; that it was never delivered to her, or any one for her, and no agreement was given to her by her husband, promising to pay her any money; that she has recovered her mind and memory to some extent, and finds herself dependent upon the kindness of friends ; that all these papers were made to enable defendant to go away with Mrs. Piney Willard ; that she did not consent to the arrangement of separate living and maintenance, and does not now; that Willetts is worth $27,000, and a large amount of personal property; that whatever paper she signed she signed under duress, and that the lawyer who prepared the papers was employed by Willetts. The prayer of the bill was, that the writings be declared void, and she be decreed a reasonable sum for separate maintenance.
The release sought to be set aside recited, that in consideration that said Milton L. "Willetts had furnished her with a home, well and comfortably furnished, and bound himself to pay her $300 per annum during her life, and five cords of wood yearly, she had granted, remised, released and forever quitclaimed unto said Willetts, his heirs and assigns forever, all her dower and thirds, right of homestead, widow's award, claim for separate maintenance, and all other right, title, interest, property, claim and demand whatsoever in law and equity she might then or thereafter have in the property, both real and personal, of the said Willetts, as his wife or widow, etc.
The defendant, in his answer, said that his wife was not kind or affectionate, but unreasonable, turbulent and quarrelsome, of bad temper and abusive conduct, and that there had been no happiness in their home for years ; denied that his wife was crazy, sick, or driven to distraction, but was in a mental condition to transact business ; that she talked for many weeks about separation and dividing the property, and his making provision for her if she went away and lived separate ; that the agreement for living apart, and her separate maintenance, and the other papers, were read over and explained to her carefully, and she knowingly and voluntarily executed the same.
The evidence showed considerable domestic trouble between the parties, and that the defendant's affections were alienated from his wife for some time before their final separation. It also appeared that the wife's health was not good, and that she was very excitable, and at times not capable of transacting business ; that some time before the papers were executed between the parties she was taken sick, from which sickness she did not recover until after the agreement was made. The proof also tended to show considerable influence brought to bear on her by the defendant before the papers were executed, and that he shut her up in his house for a while, and did not allow her to see any one, and frequently told her that he would not live with her as her husband any longer, as she was not congenial to him, and urged her to make up her mind what she wanted or was going to do. The proof also showed such conduct between the defendant and Mrs. Willard as to lead to the belief of an improper intimacy between them, and that he took her to live with him after the separation. It also appeared that the defendant was a farmer in good circumstances, and that his property, mostly real estate, was worth from $25,000 to $30,000.
The circuit court granted the relief sought, setting aside all the papers relating to the contract for the separate maintenance of the wife, and her release of her rights in his property and estate, and granted a decree of separate maintenance, requiring the defendant to pay her $500 per year for that purpose. This decree was affirmed in the Appellate Court, and an appeal prosecuted to this court. "
Milton Willets is next to the Willards in 1880, 53, Hattie 47, with Clinton 22, Elias 19, and Della 16.
In 1900 Milton L. Willits age 73 is listed as a divorced boarder living with Piney Willard & her children.
Louisa County, Iowa:
"Homer A. Matthews for many years has been a resident of Jefferson township. He was born in Louisa county on the 6th of April, 1844, and is a son of Solomon B. and Emily (Bras) Matthews, natives of Ohio, from which state they migrated to Iowa in 1837. The father, who was a miller, followed his trade until he passed away in July, 1852. The mother survived for thirty years thereafter, her demise occurring in October, 1882. They were the parents of two sons, H. N., who is a resident of this county; and Homer A., our subject.
The education of Homer A. Matthews was pursued in the common schools of this county, following the completion of which he engaged in agricultural pursuits, remaining at home until the opening of the Civil war. Enlisting in September, 1862, in Company I, First Missouri Engineering Corps, he went to the front where he served for over two years, being mustered out at Chattanooga, Tennessee, November 10, 1864. He helped build the fortifications, etc., at nearly all the places where his command participated in a great battle. After receiving his discharge he returned home and again engaged in farming with which occupation he has ever since been identified.
On August 13, 1875, Mr. Matthews was united in marriage to Miss Caroline Kimble, a native of Catlin, New York, and a daughter of Nathaniel and Mary Ann (Bush) Kimble, also natives of the Empire state. They migrated from New York to Illinois, locating in Boone county in 1851, and in that state they resided for twenty three years. In 1874 they removed to Iowa, settling in Louisa county, where the mother passed away on the 16th of August, 1874, and the father on the 9th of September, 1875. Three children were born unto them: Piney, the widow of J. W. Willard, who is residing in Crook, Colorado: Caroline, now Mrs. Matthews; and Ansel W., who is living on a farm in this county."
Howard R. Commons, 77, of Central Point, died Monday — (Dec. 14, 1998) at Hearthstone. No service is planned. Memorial contributions may be made to the American Heart Association, 10 Crater Lake — Ave., Suite 10, Medford, OR 97504.
He was born March 14, 1921, in Haxtun, Colo. On Aug. 24, 1981, in Reno, Nev., he married Anna Pianka, who survives.
Mr. Commons lived in Oregon 60 years and was a Rogue Valley resident for 14 years. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1939 to 1945.
Mr. Commons owned and operated HR's Rock Hobbies and Commons Crafts in Central Point.
Survivors, in addition to his wife, include a son, Gary, Grants Pass; three daughters, — Susan Commons, St. Louis, Mo., Mari Commons, New York City, and Jeanette Sequsira, The — Woodlands, Texas; two sisters, Goldie McKenzie, Grants Pass, and Ester Edwards, Portland; — two brothers, Gil Commons and Lew Commons, both in Washington; and three grandchildren.