Early Indiana divorces may have been granted by the Indiana General Assembly and recorded as private laws. The divorce of Nancy and Benjamin Whitford of Dearborn County, Indiana in 1814 is one example. Due to the Dearborn County Courthouse fire in March 1826 that destroyed all of the county’s records, this marriage and divorce are preserved within the state’s records. Discover more laws in the Historic Indiana Law Project.
Fifth General Assembly of the State of Indiana, First Session, 1814.
AN ACT for the relief of Nancy Whitford.
Whereas it has been represented to this Legislature, That Nancy Whitford, of Dearborn County, in this Territory, was formerly married to one Benjamin Whitford, who not only refused to provide food and apparel for her, but likewise deserted her—And whereas it has likewise been represented that the said Nancy Whitford, but now Nancy Ives, being herself deserted by her husband Benjamin Whitford, and being in a forlorn and distressed situation, and being informed of the said Benjamin Whitford’s having contracted a second marriage, she was induced to contract on her part a marriage, with one Nehemiah Ives, and as some doubts have arisen with respect to the legality of her marriage with the said Nehemiah Ives, Therefore
Be it enacted by the Legislative Council & House of Representatives, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That the said Nancy shall from the said Benjamin be and she is hereby divorced from the bands of matrimony contracted between them; and the marriage which was contracted by the said Nancy with the said Nehemiah is hereby legalized to all intents and purposes, and shall be so taken & esteemed, as well within as without all courts of Judicature, & Tribunals whatsoever—any law, usage or custom to the contrary hereof notwithstanding.
Approved 2d September 1814