Benjamin Alspaugh, also known as “Allspaugh” or “Alspauch”, was born July 22, 1842, in Sandusky, Ohio, the son of Henry and Eva (Herring).
In 1840 there was one Henry “Alspeck” living in Ballville, Sandusky County, Ohio. By 1850 Benjamin was attending school and living with the George Orr family in Ballville, Sandusky County, Ohio. (That same year a number of Alspaugh children were scattered to various other families in Ballville as well.) By early 1861 Benjamin had left Ohio and settled in western Michigan, possibly in Ionia County.
He stood 5’9” with hazel eyes, fair hair and dark complexion, and was a 18-year-old farmer possibly living in Ionia County when he enlisted with the consent of the Justice of the Peace in Company D on May 13, 1861. (Company D was composed in large part of men who came from western Ionia County and Eaton County.)
Ben was present for duty in late summer of 1861, but by the end of October was reported sick in his quarters and by the end of December was sick in a hospital in Alexandria, Virginia. He was on detached service serving as a hospital attendant as of February 28, 1862, probably in Alexandria. He remained detached through April, and by the end of June he had returned to duty and was reported as company tailor in July of 1862. He was listed as sick in the hospital in August where he also served as a nurse, and by the end of October Benjamin was in Cliffburne hospital in Washington, DC. He remained in the hospital until December 24, 1862, when he was discharged for a varicocele at Washington, DC.
It is not known if Benjamin returned to Michigan after his discharge from the army. He may in fact have returned to his family home in Ohio where he reentered the service in Company I, Forty-first Ohio infantry, on October 10, 1863, at Salem, Ohio, for three years, and was mustered on November 18.
By February of 1864, he was on recruiting duty in Ohio, but had returned to the Regiment by the end of April. He was wounded by a gunshot in the left arm and chest on May 27, 1864, while his company was engaged at Pickett’s Mills (near Dallas), Georgia. Benjamin later claimed that “the ball passed in just above his left elbow and passed through and came out on the under side of his arm about half way between his elbow and shoulder joints, fracturing the same, and destroying the use of his arm by cutting all the muscles.” He also claimed “another ball struck his breast bone fracturing the bone [and] some pieces have come away.”
He was subsequently transferred to Camp Dennison, Ohio where he remained through the summer. By the end of October, he had been transferred to a hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, where he apparently remained through April of 1865, and was quite likely transferred to Company A, Seventeenth Regiment of the Veteran’s Reserve Corps perhaps as early as January 16, 1865. (The VRC was made up of men who while ambulatory were generally incapable of performing regular military tasks due to having suffered debilitating wounds and/or diseases and were assigned to garrison the many supply depots, draft rendezvous, camps, forts, prisons, etc. scattered throughout the northern cities, thus freeing able-bodied men for regular military duty.)
Sometime after the end of April Benjamin was transferred to a hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana. Benjamin himself reported that he was treated in hospital no. 1, in Nashville, where he remained from June 16 until sometime in November, and that he was transferred to the VRC in November, after which he was sent to Indianapolis with the VRC. He very likely served as a guard at the rebel POW camp, Camp Morton just outside of Indianapolis. If so, the camp commandant was another former member of the Old Third, Colonel Ambrose Stevens.
In any event, Benjamin was reportedly discharged Indianapolis for disability on May 1, 1865. Apparently he suffered from “contraction of tendon of biceps & atrophy of muscle & arm contracted to a right angle” as a result of his wounds.
Benjamin probably returned to Ohio after his discharge, and was living in Oak Harbor, Salem Township, Ottawa County, Ohio, when he applied for pension no. 71953 (for service in the Ohio infantry), and was drawing $72.00 per month by October of 1927.
He married his first wife Ohio native Susanna or Susan Hall (b. 1845?) in Tiffin, Ohio, in 1866, and they had at least seven children: Isaac (b. 1867), Henry, Albert A. (b. 1869), Willie F. (b. 1874), Edward, Alta (b. 1877) and Myrtle (b. 1879).
Benjamin and Susan were living in Ohio probably from 1867 until at least 1879 when Ben moved his family to Nebraska, settling on a farm in Loup, Merrick County by 1880. He apparently returned to Michigan by 1894 when he was residing in Bertrand, Berrien County (as was another civil war veteran named Henry Alspaugh).
It is unclear what became of Susanna; one source claimed Benjamin deserted her.
In any case, Benjamin was living in Alden, Antrim County when he married Harriet “Hattie” Ritter, on June 15, 1910, in Bellaire, Antrim County. She had been married twice before. According to Hattie, “I had known Alspaugh but a short time before we were married. But I had known his people for twenty years before that even took place and had heard about him through them. When we had revival meetings at Central Lake [Antrim County] where I was living, he came there and took a great interest in the meetings and having gotten better acquainted we soon got married.”
According to Hattie’s later testimony, Benjamin deserted her sometime after they were married. In fact, in June of 1915, Benjamin left Hattie to attend a soldier’s reunion Traverse City, Grand Traverse County, for four days and from there he went to Oak Harbor, Ohio to take care of his dying sister. After she died he went to live with his nephew, John Rhineberger.
Shortly afterwards Benjamin left Michigan and returned to Ohio and was living in Ottawa County, Ohio, when his wife Hattie attempted to gain access to part of his pension. According to Hattie,
The first year after we were married my husband and I got along pretty well. The first thing that brought discord came through my daughter, Maude Ritter. . . . It was not her fault; it was no one’s fault. Alspaugh paid her way here from Central Lake, she was sick, and she was to stay here until she could get better and work out. Now what happened was this: She saw an advertisement in the newspaper where a work girl was wanted to work in a family in Harbor Springs. She answered it through the mails. About the time she thought she should have an answer she started to go to the post office. Then soldier [Alspaugh presumably] bossed her. He told he that as long as she was under his roof she had to obey him and he forbade her going to the post office. I wanted her to go because I desired that she should get the place. So she went to the post office and when she returned he put her out of the house. He did it kind of roughly but he did not throw her out. He carried her out. Then I took her to Mrs. Harpers’ house here and got her shelter and she later got a place in Bellaire. While he was putting my daughter out of the house and was about to tread on her dress, the best one she had, I tried to get the train of her dress out of her way and he threw me up against a post and hurt my arm so that I had to have it bandaged. The arm bled freely. I went away with the girl but I did not stay at Harper’s place. I went to Old Lady Tyler (dead), she bound up my arm for me. Alspaugh had made his threats what he would do to me if I came home and so I did not go home until I got Prosecuting Attorney Meggison to home with me. It seems to me it was away over a week at that time and when I did come back I came with Meggison because I was afraid to come back myself. I was always afraid of him because of his awful temper, swore at me so much, damned my soul to hell and wanted to domineer over me in all respects and show his authority. When I came back he would not let me have anything to eat for pretty nearly a week, he would go down town and buy his eatables and got into that little room and eat them and would make his coffee in the woodshed. I wrote to Meggison asking if I could buy some groceries at the store on his credit but Meggison wrote me a very saucy letter and did not tell me whether I could do this. This all occurred in 1911, latter part of July and forepart of August. I remember that it was not long afterwards that the resorters were returning to their homes. After I came back to the house we lived together thereafter until he left me June 15, 1915, but never as man and wife should live. He never took me anywhere and would not allow anyone to come and see me. He would dress up and go away to the reunions just like a single man, would never offer to take me. He would not give me any money; if I asked him for any he would say: “It is too bad about you; I have no money for you.” I asked him for ten cents to buy postage stamps with one day and he said the same thing, said he had no ten cents for me. I never refused to cohabit with him. He locked me out of his room the next night after I came back after he had put my daughter out of the house and he always kept the room locked afterwards. The night of the day we were married we slept in this house. That night at bed time he said: “No Hattie, you have been used to sleeping by yourself, you better sleep in that little front bedroom.” I thought he was joking or playing a trick on me. So I went and got in bed with him and I slept with him right along until he put my daughter out of the house. After that I could not get into his room. He kept the room locked and carried the keys in his pocket. The room had two doors, one opened into another room in the house, one out onto the porch. He claims that I would not clean up his room and wash the bed clothes but I could not get into his room and even if I had been able to get into the room I had nothing with which to clean it with, no soap, nor any money to buy any. All the time we slept together (in that same room) it was kept clean and nice. But he continually smoked in bed even when I slept with him and I complained about that. Then he would damn and curse me and say “Oh, you are so nice!” There were four years I could not get into that room. It then got into a filthy condition, was full of bed-bugs, and he mashed their carcasses on the walls and the blood-stains are there yet. And he set the bed on fire and one time we had quite a conflagration, the house nearly burned up, it was in danger of burning. He went out and locked the door with his pipe in there burning, and that set it afire. He called on Hattie” that day to carry the water. I carried the water and he dashed the fire out. That was the first time I had been in that room for a long time. But as soon as the thing was over he locked it up again.
As I stated I never refused to cohabit with him but he did refuse to do so with me in the manner I have stated above.
When he locked me out the first time I rapped on the door and Called, “Ben, let me in”, but he would not answer. During all this four years I did his cooking for him and we ate at the same table. He provided well when he was there but when he would go away (and he sometimes would go to Ohio or out to work at the carpenter trade) he would leave me nothing. He went to Ohio one time and stayed seven weeks and never wrote me or sent me any money and I had a hard time getting something to eat. But his people always came to my rescue. His own people have been my main stand-by. That same fall, 1911, I was to take the Ross cottage washing in order to make a little money. Elias Alspaugh’s wife, my sister-in-law, told me I could get the wash. My husband heard what was said to me and he went and locked all the utensils up, tubs, washboards, kettles, and everything, in the shed on the back end of our lot and I could not get them. Then I appealed to Mr. Meggison to see if I could have the soldier to provide for me. But while he was here I asked him about the matter of my husband locking my washing utensils up and he said they were mine to use and that I would be justified in breaking the lock and with two witnesses present, Lena Tyler and Lena Anderson, I broke the lock.
No one can make me say I do not like the man because I do not like his ways. He is a rough, profane man, one with a very loud voice, and was always abusing me.
Q. Now it appears that he went away June 15, 1915, you and he had been living in the same house some four years just prior to that date, eating at the same table, but not sleeping together?
A. Yes, about four years that arrangement had been in effect but we lived in the same house five years to a day.
Q. State al the circumstances attending his final departure on June 15, 1915.
A. He went away on the morning train south, to Traverse City. The train goes about 9 a.m. I knew he was going to the Soldiers’ Reunion there that day. He was all dressed up and sat out on the porch until about train time. He was just as jolly that morning as he could be, talking to the neighbors, and bantering with them. The last thing he did was to bring in an armful of wood and place it in the wood box. Then he went into his little room, locked the screen door, the door covered by the screen door, then came out locked the other door form the outside, placed the keys in his pocket and went to the train. He took no grip; he took his trunk. He told Ben Holly and his wife (now in Richmond, Indiana) that he was taking his trunk so that they would not steal his blankets, that they stole them the year before [presumably at the reunion?] That was his excuse. It seems that he intended to go away and leave me because he never came back but I had no intimation that he was going to desert me, the neighbors did not know anything about it either. No, he and I had had no words about the time he went away, everything had been running on as usual. He stopped at Traverse City because other old soldiers told me they had seen him there. But from there he went to the Soldiers’ Home in Grand Rapids and stayed until just before pension day in September (1915) and then he went to Oak Harbor where he has since remained. [The Pension Bureau concluded that Benjamin in fact had never been a member of the Home in Grand Rapids.]
No, I have never received a letter from him since he went away and he has not contributed to my support since he went away. I have been on the town twice since he went and they wanted to place me in the County [Poor] House but I would not go there. I hear from him indirectly through his people here.
Q. Do his people here take your side of this matter or his side?
A. Oh, they all take my side; they stand up for me and they help me. They almost kept me through the last winter. I would not wish to neighbor with better people than his people here. He has one brother here, Elias Alspaugh.
Q. Are they not unfriendly to soldier?
A. Well, when my husband went away they were not on such good terms. My husband did them a mean trick. Nobody can keep on good terms with my husband.
Q. The soldier stated in answer to your allegations that you first left him; that he put the girl out of the house because she was of bad moral character; is that a correct statement?
A. I stated that I went away with the girl when he put her out of the house and that I returned in about a week. But my daughter was not of bad character, she was a good girl.
Q. Soldier alleges that since that episode you never treated him right; never did any washing, mending, nor care for his bed room, that he had to hire his washing and mending done; what have you to say in regard to that statement?
A. Why I have explained why I could not do those things. He kept everything under lock and key. I could not get at his things, so how could I do these things? I did all my housework just as far as I could get at things. After this episode soldier phone to my daughter at Bellaire at Mr. Matthewsons [or Matthews], where she was employed, and asked her to come and stay a week with us. She came and soldier bought her a beautiful dress while she was here and the whole week she stayed there was nothing good enough on the table for her. Soldier felt sorry for what he had done, probably. This was in the spring of 1914, I believe.
Q. He alleges that you continually found fault with him, that he did not dare to take a bath in the house for fear of getting some water on the floor; that he had to bathe out in a shed; that you told the neighbors that he soiled the bed, that he was impotent, and caused a public scandal, in a word; how about that statement?
A. I deny those statements. While we were cohabiting together I washed his feet often and they smelled awful. And I would have bathed him all over all the time if he woould have allowed me to do so. There is no truth in that statement. No, I did not find fault with and nag him. I would not have dared to do so. He would have cursed and swore at me. Once when I asked him for money he said “You are always nagging”, that was what he said to me one time. I do not remember that he ever soiled the bed. I know that he made that statement. I have a photographic copy of his allegations. I did tell a neighbor woman that he was afflicted with selfabuse [masturbation?] and that was what ailed his head.
Q. Did you call your husband vile and indecent names?
A. No I never did.
Q. He states that you did so.
A. it is not so; I was not brought up to use bad language. I never swear profanely. Neither do I ever use vile or indecent language. My husband is very untruthful. He will also steal.
Q. Now, he states that the reason he went away that it was impossible for him to live with you or in the same neighborhood on account of your talk and gossip about him; is that so or not so?
A. That is not so. It was he who did the gossiping. I did not get any chance to go about and gossip about him. He did not like for me to go any place nor for anyone to come to visit me but after he went away I went about among the neighbors to learn what he had been telling on me. I was afraid of him; I was afraid he would knock me down. No, I never said that I sent my first husband to the penitentiary. Soldier heard my testimony in the Listenberger case when I made my statement before Mr. Grant sims, a pension examiner. I told Mr. Sims that my first man had been sent to jail and that under other circumstances he might have been sent to the penitentiary. Soldier lay on the lounge and heard all this and stated when I got through “The old woman has the thing down fine.” I never made the threat that I would send my last husband, Alspaugh, to the penitentiary. I never threatened to drive him away either. I would have been afraid to do so. But he put me out of the house the first September after I married him. That was over his putting up some stoves. He misconstrued a peaceable remark I made and took umbrage at it and opened the door and said “Go” and I went up to his folks but when he found out that he did not understand what I said he got me back again.
Q. If he should wish to come back here would you live with him again?
A. No, I will not live with him anymore. I am free from him and if I can get a support from him I would rather not have him about, he is too quarrelsome.
Benjamin testified on April 24, 1916, that his wife left him on or about July 12, 1911. “She left me,” he added, “for the reason that I no longer would keep her daughter in my house.” Benjamin further stated that he “put her daughter out of the house because she was a woman of a ban [sic] moral character, [and] ever since that time my wife has not treated me as a wife ought to treat her husband.” Apparently Hattie went to the County prosecuting attorney, Thomas Meggison, who asked Benjamin “if I could not take Mrs. Alspaugh back.” Ben replied, “that I did not chase her out.”
Hattie returned to their home and, according to Benjamin’s statement, “began packing up her things preparing to leave the way it looked to me, but she did not leave.” He added that “from the time she came back she never done any washing, mending or took care of my” bed or bedroom and that if he “wanted any washing or mending done I had to do it either myself or hire it done.” Furthermore, they “did not cohabit together from that time on” and Hattie slept in one room and Benjamin in another. He noted that his wife continually found fault with him. “I did not even dare to take a bath in the house for fear of getting a few drops of water on the floor.” As a result, “I had to take a bath in the shed.”
He reported that one night in the fall of 1911, while suffering from diarrhea, “I could not get out of me bed soon enough [and] left a few spots on the bed sheet.” He said that Hattie went around the neighborhood telling their neighbors “I had done a job in bed.” Apparently Hattie also told their neighbors that Benjamin “was no good any more [and] that I could not get an erection.” She also called Benjamin “vile and indecent names and never did treat me with kindness and respect so that it became impossible for me to live with her any longer, or live in the same neighborhood on account of the talk and gossip of my wife.” Benjamin also testified that Hattie “told me that she sent her first husband to the penitentiary and that she would send me there also. She further said that if she could not send me to the Penn. [sic], then she would drive me away the same as she did her second husband, Martin Ritter.”
According to the statement of Thomas Meggison, Hattie contacted him in the summer of 1915. She swore to him that Benjamin threatened her with bodily harm or death. Meggison then went to their house to investigate the charges and “found that there was no foundation for the complaints” and that in fact “he was satisfied that the real instigator of the trouble was” Hattie herself. Meggison further stated that Benjamin stayed with Hattie, at his urging, longer than Meggison believed he should have, and that when he did leave her he left “her with a comfortable small house to live in.”
Benjamin testified in October of 1917, that after he and Hattie were married they lived together
In the village of Alden, Antrim County, for five years to the day after we were married, and I could not stand it any longer to live with her and then I left her June 15, 1915, and have not seen her since then and have had no correspondence with her since them and she has never written to me since I left her, not a word of correspondence either way between us since I left her.
I did not tell her the day I left, that I was going to leave her, but I had told her many times before that, that I was going to leave her if she did not stop her nagging and bullyraging me, and she had made her brags to me that she would drive off and had told our neighbor James M. Park that she was going to drive me off and he had told me she told him she would drive me off before I left her. Just as soon as I married her I took her to my little home there in Alden and she wanted to drive me off, so that she and her daughter would have my home, as that was what she told to Minerva Soper, who told me. I told the claimant a good many times that Minerva Soper had told me that she, claimant, wanted to drive me away so that she could have my home. She would shut the neighbor’s chickens up in the wood house and try and get me to kill them and she said she would cook them, and I knew she was trying to get me in a trap and would be the first one to tell it and to get me in trouble. I would let the chickens out and shoo them home, as they were Mrs. Soper’s chickens. I got afraid of claimant’s lying tattling tongue and had to leave her.
Question – why did you not tell her on June 15, 1915, or just shortly before you let [sic] her, that you were going to leave her for good and not return?
Answer – I did not, that was all. I had told her just a few days before I left her that I was going to leave her, if she did not do any better, and she did no better was the reason I left her. She would not clean my room or do my washing, as she would never give me any reason. Since I left her she has claimed she did not clean my room because I kept my door locked, but there is not a word of truth in that statement. There were two doors to my room; one an outside door that was kept locked and the other was form the dining room, and that door from my room to the dining room would shut but would not be locked as it was a warped door and could not be locked. There was a lock on that door but no key for it while I was there and never was locked while I was there.
The first trouble I had with my wife was a little over a year after we were married, over her daughter Maud Ritter. [She] came to our house sick and was there ten months. While she was sick I paid the doctor bill and for some clothes for her, and after the doctor told me she was well and able to support herself, I told her I wanted her to leave and support herself. I did not want here around there, as she was not what she ought to be anyway, and the claimant told me that Maud could stay there as long as she pleased. The first time I told Maud to leave she went away and was gone seven days and came back and I found her there when I came home at noon, and told her she could not stay there and if she was there when I came home to supper I would put her out. When I came home to supper Maud was still there and I told her she would have to leave, and she said she would not as she was sick and her mother told her she could stay there if she wanted to, and I then put my hands under Maud’s arms and dragged her out in the yard, and all the time I was taking her out her mother kept fighting me and struck me and nearly tore my shirt off and called me an old brute. I said brute or not I did not want her there. I took Maud out in the yard and sat her down on the ground and she got up and went down town and her mother went with her, and claimant was then gone a month, and twice while she was away she brought atty. Meggison there to the house. The last time she brought Meggison there she told him I had threatened to kill her, and I asked him if he believed any such stuff as that and he said he did not, right before her. Meggison asked me if I would take her back, and I said I did not chaise [sic] here away, was all the answer I made. Then the next morning she came back and said she was going to leave and commenced packing her things and was three weeks packing up her things, but she never left. For the first week after she came back I did my own cooking and I do not know where she ate her meals, and then she got to cooking and setting things on the table for me to eat, and I told her if she could not sit down and eat with me she need not cook for me and after that she would sit down and eat with me. I would not eat the food she cooked for me unless she would eat the same food, as I was afraid she would dope me, as she was up to all kinds of tricks.
Up to the time I put Maud out we occupied the same bed, but when she came back after I put Maud out she took the room where Maud had been. I asked her three nights . . . to come on and go to bed in my room and she told me to shut my mouth, as she would go to bed when she got ready. After I asked her three times to come to my room to bed, I made up my mind I would not ask her any more and I never did. She left my house and my bed on her own hook when I put Maud out, and she came back on her own hook as I never asked her, but when she did come back I did ask her to come on and go to bed in my room, but she sat up all night in a big chair the first night after she came back, and after I asked her three nights to come to bed in my room I never asked here again. Sometimes after that she would be gone for 3 or 4 days at a time, but I did not know where she would go as I did not bother about her. Sometimes she would ask me for money and I would give it to her and sometimes I would not. I gave her money for clothes and what ever she needed as long as I was with her. I did everything in my power to try and get along with her, but it was no use, as there was not a day but what she would find fault with me in way or another so I could not stand it any longer. Maud never came back to my home and stay over night after I put her out of the house. I would allow her to come back to visit her mother when she wanted to but to stay any length of time. I left her because she was all the time finding fault with me and lying about me. She would tell the neighbors I would steal, and went with another woman and would take things out of the house and give them away, and the she would tell dirty stories about me, that I had lost my manhood, such dirty stories about that, around to the neighbors, and I could not stand it any longer. I stood it as long as I could and then got out.
I have never applied for a divorce from her, and never expect to, as I would not spend another cent for her. When I left the claimant, I went to the soldier’s reunion at Traverse City, Mich., four days, and then I went to my sister at Oak Harbor, Ohio, as she was helpless, and took care of her until she died last August, and since then I have been making my home with my nephew, John Rhineberger. I never expect to live with my wife again and never expect to have any thing further to do with her.
I admit my wife is of good moral character and in needy circumstances, but she left me in the first place and when she came back she did not come back as my wife as she never occupied the same room with me as my wife and did not treat me the way a wife ought to. She got whatever she wanted at the store of C. H. Coy, for three months after I left her and I paid the bill and then notified Mr. Coy not to sell her anything more on my account.
I did not forbit Maud Ritter to go to the post office for any mail of her own., Why should I? I did forbid them from getting my mail. When I put Maud out of the house claimant claimed I hurt her arm, and had her arm bandaged and made a great fuss over it, and had Dr. Hoag look at it and he just laughed and said it was not hurt. There was not a scratch on it. That is just one of her lies. I did not lay a hand on her, and never did, I would not be guilty of such a thing. After I put Maud out I did not take the claimant any places, as I did not care to, but she went places wherever she wanted to and could have anyone come and see her she wanted to. I did not swear at her, because I am not a swearing man and never was. I am a member of the church, and not a swearing man. I did not lock her out of my room the night after she came back after I had put Maud out as I never locked her out of my room. She never was without soap, and all things that a woman needed to keep house with, as she always had plenty of everything, as can be proven at Mr. Coy’s store. I never did smoke in bed. One day when I was in my room the corner of the mattress caught afire and half a wash basin put it out, and that was as near as the house came to burning down. I never did know what caused that fire, but had my own idea about it.
The seven weeks she speaks of when I was in Ohio, was when I was called to Ohio, at the time my sister was sick and I was then with my sister until she died, and claimant knew where I was at that time and I had made arrangements at the grocery store for her to have whatever she wanted before I left, and she always had what ever she wanted from the store whenever I was away. I did not write to her because I never had much education and cannot write much besides my name and it is difficult for me to write.
I did lock my wash tub and wash board in my shop shed, because my tub was a large tub and she did not use it as she had a tub and wash board of her own that she used, and I did not want mine standing out to the weather if it was not to be used. I did tell her she could take in washing, because if she could not do my washing for me she could not take in washing for some one else. The lock to that shed never was broken while I lived there. I never went to the Soldiers’ Home at Grand Rapids after I left her. I never went to any Soldier’s Home.
I did think claimant’s daughter, Maud, was of bad moral character, because some man telephoned my house, and I answered the phone, when the man wanted her to come to Traverse City and stay with him.
After I put Maud out of my house, about the spring of 1911, Maud did come to my home while I was away for 2 or 3 days. I did not telephone or ask her to come, but when I came back she was there, as she had been working for Mr. Matthews in Bellaire, and he had given her some cloth for a dress but there was not enough of it and I got her some more to finish it as she was nearly naked and needed the dress, and I had enough of a heart in me to give her a dress when she needed it. Maud was there maybe a week at that time, as I would not have her there any longer, but I did not want to keep her away from coming to see her mother, but I did not want her, and she was not in my home overnight while I was there after the time I put her out. The time she was there nearly a week, after I had put her out, I was away at work and got home only about once a week. She never washed my feet but one time and that was in hot water when I was sick in bed. She would not let me bathe myself in the house for fear I would splash the floor, and I did have to go out in my shop to bathe myself.
She has called me vile and indecent names lots of times, all kinds of names. (Here deponent repeats the names she called him some of which are so indecent they are not fit to make a record of.)
The first September after we were married we did have some words and she said she would go away, and I said well then go if you want to, and she did got to my brother, to my brother Elias, but I did not open the door and tell her to go.
She went out herself, and came back that same evening, and said she had not said she was going to go, and I said well then I did not understand her, and that was all there was to that. Some things she did not talk plain any way as her upper teeth were all gone.
I never had any words nor any trouble with my brother Elias before she got in the family and then I had trouble with him and all kinds of trouble.
Lena Tyler is a gossip and so is the whole family of my brother Elias. If she was present when the lock of the door to my shop was broken, it has been since I left there, as it was never broken before I left.
As to the disposition of Hannah Alspaugh, I do not want to hear it as I would not believe her under oath, and do not want any thing to do with her.
I never did smoke in bed while I lived in the house of my brother Elias. I would lie on the lounger and smoke sometimes, and he did that himself.
I do not care to hear the testimony of Victor F. Tyler, as he has been in the insane asylum at one time and I do not think he is now responsible for any thing he says. He is my brother’s son-in-law, and he is as big a gossip as his wife Lena. He is not a willful liar, and I always liked him, but I do not think he is responsible.
As to the final statement of my wife, that she knocked at my door and call[ed] out to get in my room after she came back to my house after I put her daughter out, when she went away for a month, I will say it is false as she never did knock at my door and never called to me. She was gone a month before she came back. I never did keep her locked out of my room, and I never had a key for that door. I did tell the neighbors she would not wash my room and would not wash my clothes or keep my room clean, and she took neighbors in there herself to show them how dirty the room was when I was not there and how could she do that if it was locked?
I did keep my washing utensils locked up as I have stated, as she used her own. She did keep the rest of the house clean, except my room, as she is a good house keeper and a good cook, but she would never clean my room and never would do my washing after I put her daughter out of the house. She would never give me any reason why she would not clean my room or do my washing.
I did have Mrs. Carruthers do some washing for me, and had others do my washings for me.
It was shortly before I put Maud out of the house that she went to the preacher, John Priestly, who now lives in Kewagan, about seven miles from there, and complained to Priestly that I did not provide enough for them to eat, so Mr. Priestly went to the dep. Sheriff, Leonard Armstrong, to go with him to my house to investigate, and they walked in while I was at home, but I did not know they were coming. I sat still in my chair and told them to go through the house and they went where they pleased, and they looked in the pantry, and when they left, Mr. Priestly said he was satisfied they had both lied, meaning my wife and her daughter. My tool chest never had a lock on it. I never did ask Maud to come to my home after I put her out, I did not want her there.
As to the testimony of claimant’s daughter, Maud or May, she did visit at my home for 3 days in July 1910, and in November she came again for over night and December 1910 she came again just after her still born child was born, and she stayed at my home continuously for ten months until I carried her out, as I have described. I did not throw here out through the screen door. She knew why I put her out. I never did request her to return to my home after I put her out, and when she did return, it was when I was away at work. She never bought me a Christmas present. She had nothing to buy anything with.
At the time I left claimant to go to Traverse City, to the reunion, June, 1915, I had decided to leave her at that time, for good, before I left home. It was premeditated, as I thought that was a good time and a good excuse to get away without any wrangle or saying any thing about it and I never intended to go back to claimant when I left her as I thought the easiest way to get away from her was the best without any more words with her.
According to the report of the special investigator examining the case for the Pension Bureau, Hattie had been “divorced from two former soldier husbands.” Still, Hattie and Benjamin reportedly “lived harmoniously together form the date of their marriage until June, 1911, when the pension forcibly put the [Hattie’s] daughter out of his house, and from [that] time until [Ben] left [Hattie], June 15, 1915, the situation” was, as one of the witnesses reported, “’a rough house’.”
The evidence clearly shows that from the date the pensioner drove the claimant’s daughter from his house the claimant did all in her power to make the pensioner’s home life unbearable; and that on account of such treatment and her stories about the pensioner (unfit to print) he was justified in leaving. The claimant’s witnesses, although relatives of the pensioner, are prejudiced against him, and their knowledge of the facts is not so good as that of his witnesses who live in the immediate neighborhood.
By December of 1916 Benjamin was living in Oak Harbor, Ohio, reportedly taking care of one of his sisters who was dying of cancer. By 1918 he was living in Green Spring, Sandusky County, Ohio. By 1920 he was living in the Ohio State Soldiers’ Home in Perkins Township, Erie County, and in August of 1925 was living in the Home suffering from near-blindness, deafness and senile dementia.
Benjamin was probably living at 4124 Vermont Avenue in Detroit, when he died on October 25, 1927. He was presumably buried in Detroit although it is also possible that his body was returned to Ohio for interment.