Seizing the Moment: Obtaining Grandma Grace’s Divorce Record

by , under Andover, Ashtabula County, Finnish, Florida, My Family History, Oklahoma

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the Juhannus Celebration Potluck dinner at the Finnish-American Heritage Association (FAHA) Museum in Ashtabula, Ohio (FYI, Juhannus is the Finnish name for St. John, the disciple, and Juhannus Holiday is a national holiday in Finland celebrating the Summer Solstice, the start of summer. I am a member of FAHA because my paternal grandparents immigrated from Finland).

I sat at a table across from Carol, who I recognized from an earlier FAHA gathering as the retired Clerk of Courts in Ashtabula County, the county where I grew up. I ventured to ask her about divorce records in the Clerk’s office. She volunteered to forward my interest in obtaining the divorce record of Grace Tripp, my maternal grandmother, from John Tripp to her former colleagues. I provided what I knew: that both were living in Andover, in Ashtabula County, and that they were divorced sometime in the early 1940s. In the 1940 Census of Andover, both Grace and John were listed as married, but living separately. Further, I knew that Grace remarried in 1943, to Don A. Stafford of Cleveland.

Carol did forward the information to the Clerk’s office in Jefferson, the Ashtabula County seat. On July 1, I received an email from a staff member there with the divorce record as a PDF attachment. It turned out that the divorce was granted during the “January 1942 Term,” which was a bit earlier than I guessed.

Receiving the email when I did was quite a coincidence because my sister Viena and her husband Jim were planning to visit me the next day, on July 2. They had traveled from Florida to Ohio for an Andover high school reunion and to visit their daughter Lara and her family in Bowling Green, Ohio. I was able to hand off a copy of the divorce to my sister, adding one more bit of information about our Grandma Grace. I then sent off copies to my brother Walfrid in Oklahoma, and first cousins in New York and Florida.

Sometimes it pays to “seize the moment.”

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