Wednesday, August 10, 2011

New Clues to an Old Mystery

Augustus Ceaser Gruissy
16 May 1840 OH - 8 Dec 1915 OH
Son of Christian Gruissy & Mary Grorisclauss
My 3x great grandfather

My the life great great grandfather, Augustus Ceaser Gruissy  (1840 – 1915), was very foggy when I first started gathering information about it. His grandchildren, Ivy R. (Mark) Brown, Clarence W. Mark & Viola (Mark) Nothstein, were my primary source of information. From them, I learned Augustus had been married three times: to Mary Ann Everett in 1861; to my great great grandmother, Esther Barbara Wolf in 1868; and to Ellen c. 1908. 

Little was known about his first wife, Mary Ann Everett. They had three daughters: Margaret Jane (Gruissy) Morrison, Caroline Louise (Gruissy) Moore and Mary Magdalene (Gruissy) Lutz. There were stories of another daughter, Matilda Catherine (Gruissy) Stanford, but there were no facts to support her existence. This first marriage supposedly ended when Mary Ann “ran off” with someone else. This part of Augustus’ life had no ending until recently.

Thanks to our cousin Kathy (Perry) Laux and her research into old newspaper records we now know more about this part of our history. The first newspaper record she uncovered, [1] "First Trial Cases." Daily Repository May 27, 1868: 3., shows the divorce of Augustus and Mary Ann. 

The second newspaper article, "A Peculiar Case." Daily Repository September 1, 1882., is the most interesting. In 1882 the Gruissy family was back in the newspaper with a child custody problem.

A Peculiar Case: The application to the Probate court for a writ of habeas corpus, by Augustine Gruissy, of Smithville, Wayne County, to gain possession of his daughter, Tillie Gruissy, aged fifteen years, develops a most peculiar case of considerable comment and speculation. The facts in the case were hunted up a Repository reporter, and show quite a mixture in the family relations that is, to some extent, puzzling.
Fifteen years ago the man Augustine Gruissy and his wife separated, being granted a divorce. By the decree of the court the husband was given possession of the children, and taking them, thee in number, he left his wife. Sometime after the separation, a daughter was born to Mrs. Gruissy, of which her former husband, Augustine Gruissy, was the father. Mrs. Gruissy, also, shortly after the separation, married a man named John Oglethorpe. The daughter lived and stayed with her mother, up to the time of the latter’s death, which occurred two years ago, and since then has lived with her step-father, Mr. Oglethorpe. She has always been known as Tillie Gruissy, and is a bright looking little girl.
Now comes Augustine Gruissy, and asks the court that he be given possession of her. Oglethorpe, however, contests the claim, and says he has no right to her.
Deputy Sheriff Card, in company with Gruissy went to the residence in Sugar Creek township to get her. Upon arrival at the house they found she was not there, but two little boys told them she had gone to a coal bank some distance away, where Oglethorpe was. They could not find her at the place indicated, but while returning to the house saw her enter a neighbor’s house. The deputy Sheriff alighted from the buggy, and asked the woman who responded to his call, if Tillie Gruissy was there. The woman said she had been there, but had left, going out through the rear door. It appears the girl had recognized her father, and thinking he was after her endeavored to escape. They found her foot prints in a corn field, and followed them. They tracked them about the field, then through a grove, and into a third corn field, where the trail was lost. After a vigilant search they eased, and went to Oglethorpe’s house. The girl, waiting until it grew dark, thought her pursuers had left, and returned home. The deputy heard her talking and went in and secured her. She cried bitterly when taken away. She said her mother told her, when dying, never to live with the father. She was brought to the city, and given comfortable quarters.
Oglethorpe followed, determined to retain possession of her, and at once secured Messrs. Lynch & day, as attorneys. Gruissy has D. B. Smith, Esp., to represent him in the case. A hearing was appointed for yesterday, but postponed until next week.

This was followed up by "Tillie Gruissey." Daily Repository September 6, 1882.

Tillie Gruissey: The case of Tillie Gruissy, the fifteen year old girl, who was arrested at the home of her stepfather, John Oglethorpe in Sugarcreek township, upon a writ of habeas corpus, has been settled, at least for the present. When the girl was arrested by Deputy Sheriff Card, and taken before the Probate Judge on Friday last, the hearing was set for Monday the 18th. Augustine Gruissy, the father of the girl, was required to give security for costs. This was to have been done by Monday. He failed to put in an appearance at the time indicated, and accordingly the girl was discharged. Oglethorpe, her step-father, was in the city during the entire day, anxiously waiting to see the result. When Gruissy failed to appear, and the girl was discharged, he immediately started for his home with her. Tillie, the subject of the contest, is a very bright, intelligent little girl, and exhibited great joy when the result was told her, and smilingly went with her stepfather. Gruissy has not been seen, and it is not known whether he is in the city, or has returned to his home in Smithville, Wayne county, O.

Now we know there was a daughter named Matilda. A big thanks goes out to Kathy for uncovering this information and for sharing it with all of us Gruissy cousins!


  1. that's a strange story! Too bad it will have to wait for the 2nd edition of your book.

  2. Oh how sad for Tillie...imagine how she must have felt. She never knew Augustus, had been warned against him by her mother, and for at least a while, it looked as if she would be separated from the only father she ever knew.

    Now I need to know how it ends...


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