Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A to Z April Challenge: B is for Buss




My theme for the A to Z April Challenge is “In-Laws and Out-Laws – Friends of the Family.”  I will be researching friends, colleagues, neighbors - those people who came and went touching my family’s lives in both small and large ways. 


is for Buss.  E.E. Buss. 

She was not exactly a “friend” of the family.  In fact, she qualifies as an “out-law.”  She was one of several “other women” whose love letters provided evidence in an ancestor’s divorce case.  (I do know her name, but in case there are descendants out there unaware of this chapter in her life, I’ll refrain from posting too many revealing specifics.)

Because the divorce proceedings are among the Chancery Causes available online through Virginia Memory at the Library of Virginia, anyone can read the whole sordid tale of Ms. Buss’s clandestine relationship with George, the husband of my 2nd grandaunt Sally.

 
George traveled as part of his job with the railroad.  He lived in Virginia but boarded awhile in Andover, New Jersey.  E.E. lived in Pennsylvania.  When apart, they wrote letters, several of which reveal how they arranged secret meetings in Netcong, New Jersey. 

Lucky for me, E.E. included her address in some of the letters, so she was easy to find in the 1910 census.  She was there along with her two sons.  Apparently she was separated or divorced because no husband was listed.  Working backwards, I found that E.E. married “Mr. Buss” in 1895.  By 1900, they had had two children, only one of whom survived.  In 1910, there were two sons. 

Most of E.E.’s letters are not very juicey, often writing about the weather or complaining about work, and almost always apologizing for her handwriting.  Whether she signed her name or not, she typically closed with something like “Your Devoted Little Girl.”  She must have been committed to the affair as the letters span several years beginning in 1907 and lasting well past 1911.

George and Sally’s divorce wasn’t finalized until 1914, but E.E. was not around.  The story of who dumped whom is unknown.  E.E. eventually moved on and married again.  She was widowed in 1932.  Nine years later she died and was buried alongside her husband in a cemetery in the town where she had always lived. 

Be brave beholding a bounty of blogs at the A to Z April Challenge.



© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

41 comments:

  1. What a fascinating story - I have not come across such an incident in an ordinary (i.e. not high society) family history before.

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    1. Oh, this family is anything but high society. Had the Chancery Causes for Page County not been digitized and available online, I would never have thought to seek out divorce proceedings.

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  2. I bet you have discovered many interesting stories like this in your research.

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    1. Sensational stories, yes, but this collection of love letters really makes other stories pale in comparison.

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  3. WHAT AN AWESOME THEME! I think this is my favorite theme so far.... fascinating stuff is going to come up I bet!

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    1. If I were devoting my blog to these love letters, then yes. Not all my stories are this eye-popping, sorry to say.

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  4. Amazing that those love notes are still around.

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    1. They're in a folder wherever originals of the court proceedings are kept. There's a lesson there!

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  5. Your devoted little girl...yeah. She and George deserved one another. Go Sally for being so strong!
    Great theme!

    Your devoted sister,
    Jollette

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    1. HA HA -- Thanks, Dear Pet, for stopping by and commenting.
      Your devoted big sister,
      Blue Eyes

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  6. Wow, Wendy, the name of the 'other woman' was Buss? Truth really is stranger than fiction, isn't it?

    Great post. Good luck with A to Z!

    Laura
    For the Love of Storytelling

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    1. You can't make this stuff up! Thanks for the visit ~

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  7. I'm wondering who's the father of the second son.

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    1. Oh, I hadn't thought of that. Hmm ~

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    1. Thanks -- and thanks for the visit.

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  9. What a great find! Never mind TV: People's real lives are so intriguing.

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    1. Oh Dana, this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg!

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  10. Wendy, this is such a fascinating A to Z! I love genealogy myself, but I haven't found such intriguing information in my family.

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    1. Thanks Donna. If you dig around enough, you'll eventually reach the dirt. Thanks for the visit.

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  11. "I remain as ever your little girl". That must have been the sign of the times - I have a gazillion letters that my grandparents (thank goodness it wasn't a clandestine relationship) wrote back and forth to each other from 1917-1919. My grandmother often signed her letters "Your own little girl" and many times she addressed it to "My dearest boy". Such a different time.

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    1. I think you're right about that. The letters are full of "Darling" and "Pet" and those sappy closings. Barry and I only call each other Darling when we're trying to be funny.

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  12. Fascinating insights into the times and of your family.

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  13. Wow. How amazing it must be to have handwritten notes from ancestors. I appreciate you sharing them in the A to Z challenge. I'd love to get my hands on something like that. I've often wondered what sort of story I could tell if I were to move in to a house and find something left behind. Relative or not!

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    1. A family in Greene County, Virginia found a daybook from a general store dated 1855. It's full of people's names and what they purchased and if they paid on time. Now THAT is some revealing stuff. You can tell when people were sick. You can figure a wedding or some special occasion was coming soon based on the material and jewelry being purchased. You see people buying lead paint and what is now an illegal drug. I wonder what future generations will say about our Kroger receipts and purchases from QVC.

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  14. OMG...my clicker has gone haywire...couldn't be the finger attached to the brain...naw...sorry for the TWO removals.

    Yep, I'd say you got an 'Outlaw' ancestor going on here. Amazing that George kept those letters...those are what I'd call a shoebox full of skeletons in the closet. Great job on sleuthing out E.E. Buss. Bless her heart...wonder what else she apologized for...other than her handwriting....there's a 'fiction story waiting to happen'.
    Sue at CollectInTexas Gal

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    1. I'm sure George didn't keep the letters for his descendants. In fact, he tried to hide them. Sallie saw him hide them, and then when he was gone for the day she retrieved them and read them. She went to the girlfriend's house (not EE - a different girl) and demanded the letters he wrote to her. The girlfriend gave Sallie the letters on the condition that Sallie not tell her parents. HA HA. But that girl was married -- wonder why she didn't ask Sallie not to tell her husband (well, maybe he already knew). Anyway, the letters were presented as evidence of George's serial infidelity over 10 years. And now they're in a folder wherever court proceedings are stored.

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  15. What a treasure to hold those letters. It's hard to imagine people living back then enjoying such a scandalous life.

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    1. And yet they did! Thanks for stopping by.

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  16. I absolutely am fascinated with your theme. WOW... You got the goods on your relatives. I had thought of writing a story about the loves and affairs of my early relatives. (Not for A-Z) I really think there was more hanky panky going on back then .

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    1. I think there was way more hanky panky than we ever thought given the Victorian morals and attitudes we thought were in force.
      Thanks for visiting.

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  17. It's so neat that you have those personal letters to refer to. It would be interesting to find out who dumped who, and why.

    MJ, A to Z Challenge Co-Host
    Writing Tips
    Effectively Human
    Lots of Crochet Stitches

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    1. Hey MJ, nice to see you! Thanks for stopping by.

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  18. Wow. I love the personal letters. And the details. How long did it take to find it all out? I could spend hours doing my family tree. My mother law found out some juicy details for her family. Very interesting stuff.

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    1. Trying to read over 30 love letters multiple pages long was exhausting, mainly because of the handwriting. Once I discovered a name, it wasn't terribly difficult to check Ancestry since I had a name and location.
      Thanks for visiting~

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  19. hey there. i'm one of tina's minions. just checking in.

    this was REALLY interesting. i love reading about things like this. and the pictures... good post. :]

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  20. Isn't it fascinating what we can find in court records? I discovered some interesting items I didn't know about before when I ordered the divorce case of an ancestor of mine.

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  21. Wendy,

    I want you to know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2014/04/follow-friday-fab-finds-for-april-4-2014.html

    Have a wonderful weekend!

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  22. I missed this one the first time around. Quite a different bunch of letters then the ones my grandparents were exchanging during about this same time :P

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