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Sheboygan County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History

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This article was contributed by Kay Reitberger

Source: Sheboygan Press - September 12, 1917

Allegations In Divorce Suit Strong

Mrs. Sarah R. LAING has sued John R. LAING for divorce in the circuit court, alleging cruel and inhuman treatment for herself and their four children, ranging in age from 9 to 2 years. LAING is asserted to be in charge of a cheese business at Plymouth and to make $125 a month.

Mrs. LAING asserts that on April 12 last, without provocation, he attempted to kill her with a butcher knife and kicked and beat their son, John, age 9. On previous occasions too numerous to mention, she says, he called her names such as liar, fool, jackass, sneak, dirty skunk, and loafer.

Since January 1, 1917, she alleges, he has been in the constant habit of applying abusive epithets to her, threatening her with violence, accusing her of attempting to poison him and beating the children. Since April 12, the date above mentioned as marking the butcher knife episode, she says he has refused to provide for the family and she further accuses him of threatening to not permit her to have their children, and to take them from her by force.

LAING's answer asserts that the wife has been guilty of cruel and inhuman treatment, has heaped vile abuse upon him and threatened to take his life. Once when he was ill in bed with heart and lung trouble, in care of a nurse, his mother came from Illinois to visit them, he says, and Mrs. LAING threatened her with violence and said she would kick her out of the house, in consequence of which the mother returned home.

Mrs. LAING has at times smashed and destroyed dishes, threatened her own life and those of their children, it is asserted. On May 12, the answer says, she and the children went to her sister's home in Wilmette, Ill., and he believes she has refused to return to live with him, although he says he has made repeated requests of her to do so.

The LAINGS were married October 9, 1917 at Wilmette.

Sheboygan Press October 5, 1917


Hearing Divorce Cases Now

If Mrs. Sarah R. LAING is granted a divorce from John R. LAING and gets the custody of the four children the probability is that the allowance of alimony will be $60 per month. Mr. LAING wants the two older children.

It developed in circuit court yesterday before Judge Michael KIRWAN, in testimony by George LAING, brother of the defendant, that the release of claim to his father's property which John R. LAING testified he had signed in favor of his mother, was only a waiver of notice of probate of the will. This instrument was made with Mrs. Barbara LAING, the widow, as sole beneficiary. The divorce case was concluded yesterday, Judge KIRWAN taking it under advisement.

John R. LAING, on the stand, identified a letter which he said had been written May 26, 1917, to his brother asking what allowance she would have, the husband at that time being ill in bed at his mother's home at River Forest, a suburb of Chicago, and a trained nurse attending him. He said he paid her $10 a week part of the time and $20 the rest of the time.

"What is your condition now?" asked his attorney, M. C. MEAD.

"I am still in a serious condition," said the defendant. "I have a weak heart. I would be pleased to have my wife come back and be glad to do the best I could for her and the children. I tried in a nice way by letter and telephone, to get her to return, but when I talked to her by telephone she hung up the receiver and would not listen to me."

On cross examination Attorney A. C. PRESCOTT brought out that in August the husband had written the wife a letter telling her to be ready to return to Plymouth by a certain train and date and that if she did not comply he "would take other steps to see that she was brought back." A later letter told her if she did not come peaceably he would get a court order to bring her back as "he had the right to do."

Evidence was adduced to show that N. F. WEBB, 427 Ninth street, Wilmette, had sent a bill for $135 for board for Mrs. LAING and the children and that on June 26 LAING wrote a letter saying the bill had not been contracted with his consent nor by his request and that he therefore did not owe WEBB, who is husband of Mrs. LAING's sister. It is at the WEBB home that Mrs. LAING has been living since leaving her husband, as she says, by his order.

The above correspondence, Mr. PRESCOTT drew from the witness, were all the efforts he had made toward getting his wife to return to him.

He denied trying to choke his wife and said he was holding her by the shoulder "as far as he knew." He said she was always jealous and that he was always trying to protect here from doing harm to herself. LAING asserted that he loved his wife and children and said he asked custody of the two older children because they could get good schooling at his mother's the school being within a block of the home. He denied ever kicking the child and said the "bruise" on the hip was a birthmark.

Mrs. Barbara LAING testified she was always welcome at her son's home except the last time, that she had done all she could for the children at various times, sending them clothing and food. One child was named for her and the love between the children and her was mutual, she stated.

She was at the son's home every time a child was born, she said.

"Were you welcome?" Mr. MEAD asked.

"Yes, Mrs. LAING always said, 'I knew you'd come.' "When my husband was in his last illness she and the children were not at our home for we could not have any noise in the house and it was impossible to have the children there. Even I was not allowed in the sick room - only the nurse and the physician."

"At the time at Plymouth which has been testified to she called me a 'dirty dog' and a 'snake in the grass' and when her husband told her to sit down she told him he was getting as 'bad as his d_____d old mother.' When I was going to leave I told her I supposed she would be glad when she heard the train coming. She said, 'You bet I will.' I never called her any names."

"If the divorce is granted I will give a home to as many children as the court awards my son and see to their education and bringing up to the best of my ability."

"She was impatient after my husband died and the son did not get any of my husband's property. We didn't get the letters from her the same as before."

"You were opposed to the son marrying her."

"Only that we wanted them to wait until my son had more funds. She said if she had to wait longer she would have to go to work and she couldn't stay any longer at her sister's because it was getting disagreeable there for her. So we went ahead with everything and helped all we could."

Mrs. Florence LAING, sister of the defendant, said the relations between the families had always been pleasant prior to the breaking up.

George LAING was called to the stand and Mr. MEAD said it was only for corroborative evidence.

"If you show anything it will only go to show there is not much use trying to keep these two people together," said Judge KIRWAN. So LAING was allowed to leave the stand after answering only preliminary questions.

Mr.MEAD said his client had no idea of ever marrying again. The papers asking divorce from bed and board, it was announced, would be changed to provide absolute divorce.

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