Snell Divorce Case

October 13, 1899
Clinton Register

Particulars of the Divorce Suit That Has Stirred Bloomington Society As It Never Was Stirred.

The trouble between Thornton SNELL [James Thornton Snell, Jr.] of Bloomington, son of the late J. T. SNELL, and his wife has got into the courts and the Bloomington papers give full statements by husband and the wife. The trouble has created such a sir in Bloomington society as was never known, and promises to furnish food for gossip for many months. The wife's father, A. H. SHERWOOD, a wealthy manufacturer of Grand Rapids, Mich., has engaged legal talent and promises to fight the case as long as he has a dollar, rather than have the character of his daughter ruined. Snell has three law firms engaged and JACKMAN one firm. These with Mrs. Snell's attorneys made thirteen lawyers engaged on the case. Eleven of these must be paid by Snell, as he is responsible for those engaged by his wife.

Whether the statement of the wife or the husband is true, may be known later. The Pantagraph gives the following statements made by each of them:


Thornton Snell authorizes the following as his statement of the difficulties which led to his suit for divorce:

"I met my present wife, who was then Miss Gertrude SHERWOOD, at Macatawa, Mich., where we were both spending the summer. Our acquaintance was very brief prior to our marriage. I do not care to enter into the details of that part of the matter at this time. I am not yet 21 years old; my wife was 18 in July last. We were married in Chicago on Aug. 12 last, and came direct to Bloomington. Mr. SHERWOOD was with me when I procured the license and was present at the ceremony. The officiating clergyman was a gentleman of his acquaintance. Since our marriage we have remained here with the exception of one week during August when we visited Macatawa and my wife's parents. I had no suspicions of my wife until a week ago Wednesday. I have [paper torn] been intimate with Oscar JACKMAN from boyhood up, although he is two or three years older than I. He has been much at our house, and often called it his home, accustomed to come and go as he saw fit. He has done this since my marriage. On Wednesday of last week mother and I planned to go to Clinton to look after business affairs. My wife knew of this. That morning I went up to the writing room and found a letter lying on the table addressed to Jackman. It began, 'Dear Oscar,' and was signed, 'Gertrude.' The contents stated that I and my mother were going to Clinton the next day, and invited him to come up and take lunch with her. I kept the letter and said nothing, and the next morning mother and I went to Clinton as had been arranged. I returned on the train, arriving here at noon, walked out to the house and entered by the back way. Mother remained in Clinton. I asked the domestic if anybody was there. She said Oscar Jackman had been there to lunch, but had left a few minutes before. I passed into the front of the house and saw Jackman's hat there. I then went upstairs to the room occupied by myself and wife. The door was closed but not locked. I opened it and walked in. Jackman and my wife were there, and they were not fully dressed. Jackman jumped off the bed when I entered the room. An altercation followed. Just then Mr. Vinton E. HOWELL was thrown out of his carriage on the opposite side of the street. There was a big outcry and excitement and I and Jackman went out to see if Mr. Howell had been killed. In the excitement, Jackman disappeared, and I have not seen him since.

I returned to the house and had a talk with my wife. She asked me to forgive her, but I told her I could not live with her again, but on account of her family and my mother I would let her go away quietly. To this she agreed. I then consulted my attorneys, and they told me to have a talk with my wife. She afterwards went with me to their office, admitted her fault, said she had verbally invited Jackman to meet her, and that she was willing to enter an appearance in writing and allow a divorce to be procured without publicity. She said she wanted this done so that she could go home before the story got to the public. My mother was not informed of what had occurred until last Monday. She went to Chicago on the Illinois Central morning train Tuesday with my wife and saw her safely on board the train to Grand Rapids. Mr. Sherwood came to Bloomington on Wednesday. He first threatened me and then begged me to fix the matter up and not put his daughter away. He then went to Chicago and tried to see my mother, but failed to do so. He returned to this city with his daughter yesterday, and they are staying at W. H. PATTERSON's on North Main street. I wish to deny the statement that I left town or intend to do so. I am here to stay, and propose to fight this case to the end."

Picture of Gertrude (Sherwood) Snell.


Mrs. Snell is an attractive, modest appearing young woman, but impresses one as being little more than a child in experience. Her father was present during the interview. She is nearly prostrated with grief, and frequently broke down in telling her story which was as follows:

"The Snell family has not treated me kindly since I came here, and it has been evident that I was unwelcome. My real trouble began about two weeks ago when Thornton told me that he loved another woman, here in town, and would sacrifice even his mother to get her. I told him I was willing for him to get a divorce if he did not care for me, and that I would go back to my parents. My situation was not pleasant. Thornton insisted on reading all the letters I sent home and all I received. He gave me no money, and I had none except what my father sent me. He forbade me to visit Mrs. Patterson, who was the only friend I had here. I bought a hat at Wilcox Bros., and Mrs. Snell made me send it back.

When Thornton proposed a divorce he said one would be hard to get in Illinois, as the laws were very strict, and that they were granted only on one ground—that he would have to find a man in my sleeping room. I objected to that, and he then suggested that we could have a theater party in Chicago and that the matter could be arranged there. I refused to have anything to do with that plan. He suggested Jackman as the person to be used in this part of the affair. He then proposed to take his mother to Clinton and to return and find Jackman in my room at a stated time. He made me write the note which was found in the writing room, and the entire plan was carried out. We were not disrobed, and Jackman had not been in my room ten minutes when Thornton came in. He said, 'Well, I never!' The next minute he looked out the window and said, 'There's a runaway! Let's go out and see it'; and he and Jackman left the house. At 5 o'clock that afternoon I was out riding with Mrs. Patterson, and we saw Jackman and Thornton talking together in front of the former's home on East Jefferson street. They were talking together as if nothing had occurred.

Thornton told me he would have a bill for divorce prepared in some small town, that nobody would know about it, and the papers would be burned as soon as the decree was made. All I had to do was admit that a man had been found in my room. He would then take me to Chicago for two weeks, and he would then join me and take me home to Grand Rapids. He would then return home and that would end the whole matter. He said if I ever told of it, Oscar Jackman's father would prosecute me for blackmail. He also said that if I did not sign the bill I would be arrested and sent to jail. When I went to Thornton's attorneys they advised me to sign and save trouble for myself. Thornton told me to say yes to all the questions his attorneys asked me, and I did so. He also told me not to go and see the judge of the court.

Last Monday night Mrs. Snell [Thornton's mother] came to me and asked if I would like to go to Chicago on a shopping trip the next day. I told her I would and we got ready. She said we would go to the Auditorium, but instead went to the Oakland. We shopped in the afternoon and went to the hotel in the evening and retired. About 1 o'clock the next morning she received a telegram from Thornton telling her to put me on the train for Grand Rapids, as my mother wanted me. I left for Grand Rapids on the 7:45 morning train. In the meantime, father had received a telegram from Mr. Patterson. He came to Chicago and found that I had gone home and followed me on the next train. Then we came back here together. I have told you the exact truth. I have never been away from mother before and am not experienced in the ways of the world. I did not know what to do when this trouble came, as I was alone and frightened."

Submitted by Judy Simpson


November 3, 1899
Clinton Register

Snell Divorce Case Ended So Far as the Original Complaint Is Concerned.

The suit of James Thornton SNELL against Gertude Sherwood SNELL, for divorce, filed in the circuit court several weeks ago, came to an unexpected termination yesterday. Counsel for the complainant entered a motion that the case be dismissed, and it was so ordered. It was expected that the case would come to trial on Tuesday next, the opening day of the November term, but the public will be spared the details of a decidedly unpleasant piece of litigation. The dismissal of the suit acts as a bar to its renewal for a term of two years, and even then desertion would serve as a cause of action instead of the original charge, should the parties in interest continue to live apart. The decree for the payment of $500 attorneys' fees and $100 a month alimony stands. The attorneys on both sides emphatically assert that no settlement of the difficulty has been arrived at and it is not presumed that there will be. Should there be further litigation it will naturally come from the wife's side. She may file a bill for divorce or ask for separate maintenance. So long as the alimony is paid it is not likely that any further steps will be taken by Mrs. Snell.


In the county court yesterday, W. V. DINSMORE was appointed guardian of James Thornton Snell, who is a minor, and a nominal bond filed. An inventory of the property of young Snell was also filed by the guardian, showing his interest in real estate valued at $39,438.70 and $500 in personal property. A petition to sell real estate to pay debts was also filed by the guardian at the same time. This is done to meet the requirements of the decree entered in the circuit court a week ago.  Pantagraph, Oct. 30.

Submitted by Judy Simpson


December 1, 1899
Clinton Register

New Turn Given to the Snell Divorce Case at Bloomington—
Fun Ahead.

Interest in the sensational divorce suit of Thornton SNELL against Mrs. Gertrude Sherwood SNELL was renewed by the filing in the circuit court of a suit for separate maintenance by Mrs. Snell, the former defendant.

Thornton Snell about two months ago filed a bill for divorce against his wife, formerly Miss Gertrude SHERWOOD of Grand Rapids, Mich., to whom he was married in Chicago only a few weeks prior to the filing of the suit. The allegations in the bill upon which rested principally the claim for divorce was that Oscar JACKMAN of Bloomington, a close friend of Snell and his wife, had been found in Mrs. Snell's apartments by the husband upon his return in the afternoon from Clinton.

Mrs. Snell claimed that there was a conspiracy against her and that she was coerced and misled into signing the bill. Jackman stated that he understood that both Snell and Mrs. Snell wanted a divorce and declared that his presence in the apartment was agreed upon by both complainant and defendant, and, moreover, that Mrs. Snell's relations with him were blameless. The court allowed Mrs. Snell $100 per month alimony and $750 for attorneys' fees. Soon after this, Snell dismissed the suit for divorce.

It is stated that Snell has ceased paying the alimony allowed by the court pending the divorce suit.

The Snell family is one of the most prominent socially in Bloomington and Clinton and one of the wealthiest in Central Illinois. Mrs. Snell's family is a prominent one of Grand Rapids. Snell is still a minor and after allowance of the alimony and attorneys' fees a guardian was appointed for him in order that his property might be sold to meet the demands made upon him by this litigation. The case so far has been a succession of sensational surprises and it bids fair to develop into the most sensational case ever docketed in McLean County.

Submitted by Judy Simpson


December 8, 1899
Clinton Register

Still Another Phase Of The Society Sensation.
Thornton Snell Now Claims That He Was Forced by Mr. Sherwood to Marry His Daughter.

The apparent calm that had settled over the James T. SNELL and the Gertrude Sherwood SNELL divorce proceedings only portended the storm that has burst with increased violence and bitterness from this deplorable social contention. The latest phase, given herewith, shows explicitly that the attorneys for Snell have at last organized their legal campaign, and that it will be waged with aggressive vigor, the chief point of attack being the alleged fact that Miss SHERWOOD compromised her reputation on a sleeping car with Snell, and that Mr. SHERWOOD compelled him to marry her.


The following affidavit is from James T. Snell and is in reply to the motion of Mrs. Gertrude Snell's lawyers seeking to enjoin the guardian, W. V. DINSMORE, from disposing of Snell's property:

James T. Snell, in his answer, duly sworn to, states that he was married to the complainant on Aug. 12, 1899, in the city of Chicago, and that the marriage was not voluntary on his part, but was coerced by the father of his present wife. He first met Gertrude Sherwood at Macatawa, Mich., at a hotel. He danced with her and they had some conversation on the veranda of that hotel. He was about to leave for Chicago by boat at 8:30 that evening, and he asserts that she expressed a wish to go with him. As she was not prepared, it was agreed between them that he should wait for her in Chicago and she would come down next day. On reaching Chicago, defendant wired her not to come, as he would return to Macatawa, and this he did.

Continuing, defendant alleges that on the night of Aug. 11 himself and Miss Sherwood went to Grand Rapids and from there took a sleeping car to Chicago, occupying the same berth. Unknown to defendant, A. H. Sherwood, the girl's father, took a berth on the same train at Holland, Mich., but did not make his presence known until defendant had dressed himself the next morning, when the train had nearly reached Chicago. It is alleged that Sherwood then demanded that Snell marry his daughter, threatened to kill him if he did not, and said that he must not undertake to quit his sight until the license was secured and the ceremony performed. It is further alleged that when they reached Chicago the license was procured and the marriage occurred. Sherwood then returned to Grand Rapids, and Snell brought his bride to his mother's home in Bloomington. Defendant says that in order to conceal from his mother and friends the circumstances surrounding his marriage he resolved to make the best of the situation and introduced his bride to his mother and friends as the wife of his choice. He denies that he ever showed her any disrespect or told her she was unwelcome and that she was treated as a member of the family in all respects. He asserts that from Aug. 13 to Oct. 2 he gave her articles of clothing, etc., at an aggregate expense of more than $300, and that she had credit at the stores in his name. He also denies that his wife was ever treated unkindly by his mother.

Then follows the detail of the alleged affair with Oscar JACKMAN substantially as published before. He denies that there was any conspiracy with Jackman to dishonor his wife, or to make it appear that he had done so, and asserts that the charge of conspiracy was not voluntarily made by his wife, but at the instigation of others to extort money from him. The assertion that his attorneys or himself in any way took advantage of the wife in the divorce proceedings brought by him is explicitly denied, that she thoroughly understood the nature of the proceedings, and that everything was fully explained to her, including her right to secure an attorney, but that she did not want one.

The defendant states that he has paid the $100 alimony and will pay the $500 attorneys' fee as soon as his guardian can sell real estate and secure the necessary money. He states his fortune, over and above his just debts, does not exceed the sum of $24,000.

Then follows an affidavit from Mrs. Hannah SNELL, mother of the defendant, to the effect that she never mistreated or neglected her son's bride, and denying that she conspired to separate them. Another affidavit is from Harry SNELL, a young brother of J. T. Snell, testifies to an alleged compromising attitude between the young wife and Oscar Jackman. But neither this, nor the testimony of Ella CAWLEY, the domestic in the Snell home, to the effect that the bride was not mistreated, are regarded of special importance. An affidavit is entered by William V. DINSMORE, Snell's brother-in-law and guardian appointed since the trouble began, denying that the wife was denied legal advice when she was expected to consent to a divorce, and disclaiming that he desires to sell property to evade any just claim the young wife may have.

The court did not comply with the wife's petition for an injunction, but will take it up later for definite action.
—Bloomington Owl.

Submitted by Judy Simpson


December 29, 1899
Clinton Register

Affidavits From the Sherwood Side of the House.
Foundation Now Laid for a Most Sensational Case in McLean County Circuit Court.

The Pantagraph of Monday gave fifteen affidavits that were filed by Mrs. SNELL's lawyers in the divorce case that will soon be heard in that city. They are as follows:


Mrs. Snell's affidavit is dated Dec. 12, and was taken in Kent county, Mich. She states that she was first introduced to her present husband in the summer of 1898, when she was a miss in short dresses. She knew nothing derogatory to young Snell's character, but had been told that he and his mother were people of great wealth and high social standing. During 1898 she frequently met Snell at Macatawa Park, where her father had a cottage. During 1899 she often met him at Macatawa Park and Ottawa Beach. In 1899 she assumed long dresses and appeared in society. On Aug. 9 she attended a dance at Jennison Park, and danced with Snell twice. He proposed that she accompany him to Chicago, where they would be married and take a trip to Iowa. He then told her that he had admired her for three years, loved her, and wished her to become his wife. She declined to go unless the ceremony was performed there. He then said that he had a friend on the boat, could get her a separate state room, and they would marry in Chicago the next day. She still refused, but he still continued to urge her until he had to run to catch his boat.

The next day affiant's mother showed her a telegram which read as follows: "Chicago 10th. To Gertrude SHERWOOD, Sherwood Cottage: Will be in Holland on 4:20 train this afternoon. T. S." Snell did arrive as stated, and said he came to get her and take her to Chicago to be married that night. That night they attended a dance at the hotel, and he gave her a solitaire diamond ring, and again urged her to go to Chicago, and she again refused. Snell professed to be angry, and she gave him back the ring. On Aug. 11, affiant's mother showed her a second telegram, asking Gertrude to meet him at Holland at 4:20. She did not meet him as requested, but went to a dance at Ottawa Beach, when she danced with Snell, and he urged that they go to Macatawa Park by ferry, then to Grand Rapids and thence to Chicago. He threatened to have nothing more to do with her unless she consented, and finally she went. Gertrude urged him to telegraph from Grand Rapids to her mother that she was going to Chicago to marry him, but he said that would not do, as her father would stop them at Holland.

Affiant further declares that Snell got her a berth and she retired to it with her clothes on; that he left her alone until 3 a.m. and then came and told her he had telegraphed to her father from Holland. She did not like his actions and threatened to ring the bell if he attempted to treat her disrespectfully. Then, she states, he desisted. Shortly after 4 o'clock the porter came and called young Snell and affiant also got up. She met her father, who asked what she meant by her conduct, and she told him of all that had occurred, and that they were to be married. Young Snell came up and repeated what she had said, and her father decided that the only way out was a wedding. On arriving in Chicago, the three breakfasted, the license procured and the ceremony performed by a Presbyterian clergyman on Jackson boulevard. When asked his business, Snell said he had none. The father then asked how he expected to support a wife, and Snell said his people were wealthy and that he had a good home to take her to. He promised Mr. Sherwood that he would go with Gertrude to Macatawa that night, but, as soon as Sherwood left, he refused to do this and instead they came to Bloomington.

Affiant declares that Snell never expended any money on her except 25 cents on two occasions, and on one of these demanded 15 cents unused returned. That her mother-in-law did not take her to her milliner's except on one occasion and the hat then selected was charged to affiant and was sent back. She went but once to the dressmaker, and then affiant purchased on her own account a few trivial articles to trim a dress skirt. On one occasion, when she had lost her only pair of gloves, she had bought another pair, which were charged to her, and her husband told her that she must not do that any more, as he would not pay for them.

The Jackman incident is then repeated, as given in a previous affidavit, which occurred on Sept. 28. Her husband, she declares, did not leave her bed until Oct. 2, and later her mother-in-law occupied the same bed with her in Chicago. Affiant declares that Mrs. SNELL, the elder, was at that time fully advised of the divorce proceedings and what had led to them, but treated her with more affection and consideration than ever before.

The details of arranging for the divorce are again rehearsed at considerable length.

Affiant declares that she was never alone with Oscar JACKMAN in her private room but twice, and one of those was when Jackman hurt his head and went up to get a bottle of witch hazel, which he called back that he could not find, and she went up and got it for him. She also denies that she told Harry SNELL not to tell his mother that Jackman had been at the house for dinner.


Frank NASCA, of Chicago, a musician at the Macatawa hotel in the summer of 1899, swears that young Snell, in the presence of two others, told him on Aug. 11, that he was to be married the next day to the girl he loved, and that they would find out all about it in the Chicago newspapers.


A. H. SHERWOOD, father of Mrs. James Thornton Snell, in his affidavit states that on Aug. 11 he missed his daughter, and searched in the neighborhood for her until midnight. Having seen the telegrams sent by Snell to his daughter, he began to fear that the two had eloped. He then went to Holland to take the train for Chicago, leaving at 3 a.m. As soon as he reached Holland he wrote the following telegram: "George McROY, Chicago: "We fear Gertrude and young Snell have eloped. Go immediately and meet Holland boat; take care of Gertrude till I come. Will be on 7:20 train. Use force if necessary." This telegram was given to A. J. DUDEK, night operator, and paid for. The operator could not get Chicago, but said he would keep trying. Sherwood told him it would be of no value unless sent by 4:30, as the boat got to Chicago about that time. Sherwood got on the train south and at the first station received the following: "Holland, 8-12. A. H. Sherwood, on No. 6. Gertrude Sherwood is on train. Have not been able to get your message off. Opr. at Holland." From the conductor he learned that a young couple had taken the sleeper at Grand Rapids, but he was not permitted to enter it until about 6 o'clock, when he went to the car and found Snell and his daughter.

The remainder of the affidavit is the same in substance as Mrs. Gertrude S. Snell's except that Mr. Sherwood states that he had no weapon when on the train, and never threatened to kill young Snell. He asserts that his daughter had never been away from home, or under any man's influence, until she met Snell. Snell swore to his marriage certificate.


A. J. DUDEK, operator at Holland, Mich., confirms the statements by Mr. Sherwood, and adds the following:

About 3 a.m., Aug. 12, a young man got off the train from Grand Rapids and handed him a message, which read as follows: "Mr. A. H. Sherwood, Macatawa Park, Michigan: Thornton and I were married yesterday. Will write you tomorrow. Gertrude." Dudek said he could not get the message off until 8 o'clock, which the young man said that would be early enough and paid 26 cents. He then wired Mr. Sherwood that his daughter was on the train. He did not send the message to Mr. Sherwood, but turned it and the money over to the day operator at 7 o'clock.


William DEKKER, conductor of the Chicago & West Michigan train, which passed Holland at 3 a.m. on Aug. 12. He relates Mr. Sherwood's talk with him about the elopement of his daughter, the discovery of the young people in the sleeper, and says Snell sat up until the train reached Holland when he got off apparently to send a telegram. He says he dissuaded Sherwood from going at once to the sleeper, as he appeared very much excited, and the conductor wished to avoid a scene.


Charles N. HUDSON, a merchant of Grand Rapids, had known Gertrude Snell intimately for four years. With his wife he had visited Macatawa cottage the past four summers, and until last summer Gertrude wore short dresses and was regarded as a little girl. Her reputation was that of a simple, inexperienced girl, modest and pure in thought and deed. He and his wife were at the Sherwood cottage when Gertrude and young Snell eloped. He saw the message sent to Mr. McRoy at Chicago, and knew of the search made by Mr. Sherwood for his daughter.


Oscar JACKMAN also makes an affidavit in which he asserts that James Thornton Snell, about three weeks after his marriage, offered him $100 a month if he would help him get rid of his wife in any way. Jackman told him the girl was honest, and that "none but a dirty dog would do such a trick." Snell said his grandfather would not give him a cent unless he got rid of the girl.

Then follows the incident at the Snell home, the basis for the application for divorce.

Continuing, Jackman states that Snell came to him the Saturday following the affair at the Snell home, told him he was going to get a divorce, and that Jackman would be named as correspondent. Jackman objected, but finally consented to go to Indianapolis. He declared that if the matter got into the newspapers or there was any reflection upon him or Gertrude, he would "come out and tell the straight of it." Snell gave him $10 and sent him $25 more when he was in Indianapolis.

He reiterates the statement that his relations with Mrs. G. S. Snell were always proper, and that she was modest and ladylike in his presence. He denies that he took luncheon at the Snell home on the day mentioned in Harry Snell's affidavit.


Mrs. Georgia E. PATTERSON, who had known Gertrude Sherwood four years, made an affidavit in which she states that the girl's character was of the best. After the marriage, being a near neighbor of the Snell's in this city, she talked with young Snell about the matter. He said he had won a prize, said it would make a man of him, and he was going to work at the cereal mills. She also states that Mrs. Hanna Snell told her that Thornton had brought home a wife that would be like a baby to raise and she could never be reconciled to it. Mrs. Patterson had visited the Snell residence during the time Gertrude was there and noticed that she was treated with neglect and indifference by her husband and mother-in-law.


L. D. YOUNG makes oath that he saw Snell and Jackman talking together in front of the residence of Jackman's parents on Sept. 28, between 3 and 4 in the afternoon.

William H. PATTERSON states that young Snell told him after the wedding that he loved Gertrude and wanted to marry her; that her father wanted her to go to school two years first, but they did not want to wait. He disliked the fuss of a big wedding, and was going out to Iowa to look after his grandfather's land at a salary of $1,500 a year.

Rev. Leonidas H. DAVIS, pastor of the First Presbyterian church at Grand Rapids, Mich., for eleven years, testifies to the high standing of Gertrude Sherwood, now Mrs. Snell, whom he has known well during most of that time. Her parents and herself are people of the highest character.

Charles ALDEN, a near neighbor of the Sherwoods for six years and her Sunday-school teacher, states that Gertrude was always a modest Christian girl.

Mrs. Louisa HUDSON, of Grand Rapids, has known Gertrude Sherwood Snell for four years. She was always a modest, pure-minded girl.

Mrs. Emil SHERWOOD, mother of Gertrude Sherwood Snell, states that her daughter was brought up in a quiet way and knew very little of the world, and was always a pure-minded, dutiful and affectionate daughter.

Judge Richard S. TUTTLE, of Chicago, has known the Sherwoods five years, and esteems them all highly. He has never heard a word of gossip affecting any one of them.

Robert G. Gould, of Chicago, made the acquaintance of the Sherwoods at Macatawa Park last summer. He made inquiries as to their social standing, and as to the character of Gertrude, and found that both were of the best.

Submitted by Judy Simpson


August 24, 1900
Clinton Register

Sheriff Disposes of One Third Interest Saturday to A. H. Sherwood.

Another chapter was written in the many sided SNELL divorce suit Saturday when Sheriff George JOHNSON sold at public auction at the court house on South Main street, the undivided one-third interest of Thomas Thornton SNELL [should be James Thornton Snell] in the Snell homestead, known as block 3 in Major's northern addition to Bloomington for the purpose of paying off an execution which was levied at the order of the court to secure several hundred dollars worth of attorneys' fees for the young wife, which had not been paid by the plaintiff, Thornton SNELL.

The property is generally rated to be worth about $50,000, but the one-third interest brought but $1,193.99. It was bid on by A. E. DeMANGE, one of the attorneys for the wife, for A. H. SHERWOOD, of Cedar Rapids [should be Grand Rapids], the father of the young wife of Thornton Snell.

The interest which was sold yesterday must now be held for fifteen months and then, in case there is a failure to redeem, a sheriff's deed will be given for the interest so purchased. The holder of the deed can then go into court and ask for a partition and sale of the property in order to get his money share of the one-third.

The sale of the interest in the property is in a measure the culmination of a long fight in the court. Several months' alimony at $100 per month were unpaid as were the fees for the wife's attorneys in the suit brought by the husband for divorce and also in the action of the wife against the husband. The attorneys for the husband fought the sale of the property and the issuing of an execution.

Matters were complicated again by a bill for an injunction which was filed by the wife's attorneys on July 19. That action was to restrain the sale by the wife as administrator of the estate of her husband of the property to pay alleged debts of the estate. This injunction was granted by agreement. The matter will probably rest in its present form until the fall term of the circuit court when the case will be set for trial. —Bulletin.

Submitted by Judy Simpson


January 25, 1901
Clinton Register

Wife of Thornton Snell Enters Bill For Divorce in the Courts of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Mrs. Gertrude Sherwood SNELL has filed suit for divorce from Thornton SNELL, of this city. The bill was entered in the courts of Grand Rapids, Michigan, one day this week. In her bill, Mrs. Snell set forth practically the same story of her marriage with Thornton Snell and her later trouble with him as she related to the newspapers in this city at the time when proceedings were begun here by the husband.

The filing of Mrs. Snell's suit at Grand Rapids revives a case which has been dragging through the courts of Bloomington for a year and a half. It would seem to indicate that Mrs. Snell was not satisfied with the progress of the case here, and has begun action on her own account.

Mr. SHERWOOD, father of Mrs. Snell, was in Bloomington for several days at the time of the closing of the November term of the circuit court. Several long conferences were then held by the attorneys representing both sides of the case, and it was given out that negotiations were pending for a settlement between the parties. All this, however, seems to have come to naught, as the term of court closed without the entry of any orders in regard to the case.

The history of this litigation is comparatively fresh in the public mind. After a married life of only a few months, Thornton Snell filed suit for divorce against Mrs. Gertrude Sherwood Snell, and a decree was granted. Later a cross bill was filed asking the court to set aside the decree under charges of collusion and asking the court to grant separate maintenance. An order was finally entered granting Mrs. Snell $100 per month as alimony and also ordering the payment by Mr. Snell of $500 attorneys' fees. Considerable time was then passed in legal wrangles over the property of Mr. Snell and some of these questions are still pending in the Bloomington courts. Efforts at settlement having failed, Mrs. Snell files her bill for divorce at Grand Rapids. —Pantagraph.

Submitted by Judy Simpson

(Thornton later remarried and divorced his second wife as well. See related articles).