Thursday, December 1, 2016

Justin Richard Colby, His Many Wives and a Surprise

Justin Richard Colby was born on 11 September 1882 to Jeddiah "Jed" Colby and Evaline Stephenson. Some time around 1906 he began a relationship with or married Florence (Farwell) Hamlin, daughter of Thomas Farwell and Warrnetta Kronk. She was 12 years his senior and a widow with six children by previous husband, Albert Hamlin.

In 1910 Justin and Florence lived in Chicago. With them were their three oldest children and Florence's four youngest children from her first marriage. By 1918 Justin and his family, which now included four children of his own, lived in Detroit, Michigan. In 1920 his family lived with his brother-in-law, sister, and their children.

Justin and Florence must have broken up because on 28 May 1925 he married Pauline (Sinor/Shenor) Blum Dodge in Highland Park, Michigan. She said she had been married two times previously and Justin said he had never been married. Pauline immigrated from Bohemia, which was part of the Austrian Empire as a young girl. This marriage didn't last long. Pauline was awarded a divorce on 10 November 1926 for "extreme and repeated cruelty and non-support. But Justin had already married again. On 16 April 1926 he wed Florence Aetna (McElwain) Ball in Cuyahoga County, Ohio.[1] So for the first seven months of their marriage Justin was a bigamist. At the time of this marriage, Justin lived in Chicago.

Pauline (Sinor/Shenor) Colby Divorce Record; image courtesy of

In 1930 Justin and Florence lived in Pontiac, Michigan, with Justin's youngest son by the first Florence. This relationship did not last either. On 14 September 1939 Justin was in Gate City, Virginia, marrying 36-year-old widow, Millie Virginia (Hackler) Carter. When they married, Justin said he's been married two times previously. Like his other relationships, this one was destined to be short. Minnie was granted an absolute divorce on 1 August 1939 because Justin had deserted her.

When the 1940 census was enumerated Justin was married yet again to Edith Sheets, daughter of George Washington Sheets and Esther May Canbler. and lived in Pontiac. He died on 5 April 1945 in Pontiac. But this tale of the oft-married Justin Colby had one more twist...

On October 1945, barely six month's after Justin's death, Edith married his eldest son, Jeddiah Richard Colby, who was about 16 years her junior. This marriage record had me shaking my head. It's not every day you find a woman marrying her step-son.

[1] Florence Aetna McElwain was the daughter of Hiram McElwain and Mary A. Palmer. 

Florence (Farwell) Hamlin Colby died in 1948 in Lincoln Park, Michigan
Pauline (Sinor or Shenor) Bllum Dodge Colby Rhead died in 1960 and was interred in Napoleon, Michigan.
Florence Aetna (McElwain) Ball Colby died in 1968 in Ashland, Ohio.
Millie Virginia (Hackler) Carter Colby Stacy died in 1987 in Kingsport, Tennessee.
Edith (Sheets) was born about about 1889 or 1890; I do not know when she died.

Justin Richard Colby is not related to me. Millie Virginia (Hackler) Carter Colby Stacy was the wife of a third cousin once removed of my cousin's husband.

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