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Alias Soapy Smith

Marriage & Divorce.

The five Western Blongers were married for much of their lives,
and yet they have no known descendants.

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Simon's Marriage to Emily O'Neil (1861)

Simon Blonger, the first of the Blonger brothers to be married, was 25 when he wed Emily O'Neil in Shullsburg in 1861. Emily was the daughter of the Irishman Dennis O'Neil and his wife, Augustine Marchand. Augustine was born in Switzerland, had emigrated with her parents to the Red River Colony in Manitoba, and eventually made her way to Shullsburg with her first husband, Antoine Paquette, in the late 1820s.

While we know that Michael took up farming and remained in Shullsburg the rest of his life, nothing is yet known about Simon's married life in Wisconsin before he went west, other than the fact that at least five children were born before he left Wisconsin. The last known, twins, arrived in 1877 or 1878.


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Michael's Marriage to Mary Quinn (1864)

Not long after returning from action in the Civil War, Michael took as his bride a Shullsburg woman named Mary Quinn. Mary 's father, John Quinn, was an Irishman who worked in the mines near Shullsburg. Her mother, Julia Paquette, was an older half-sister of Emily O'Neil, giving the wives of Simon and Michael an unusual family connection: Emily Blonger was Mary Belonger's half-aunt.

In addition to French-Canadian and Swiss ancestry, Julia Paquette was also apparently part-Native American. According to the best information available, her grandfather, Antoine Paquette, was married to an Indian woman named Lisette in the Red River settlement that is now Winnipeg.


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Sam's Marriage to Ella Livingston (1866)

Lou's pension file indicates that after his return from the war, he and Sam lived in Mt. Carroll, Illinois, for a few years. How did he end up in Mt. Carroll, about 40 miles south of Shullsburg? It turns out that William Livingston of Mt. Carroll was in Lou's unit, and perhaps William persuaded Lou to follow him home, with Sam joining his younger brother at a later date. 

Sam, who was 27 by this time, took an interest in William Livingston's sister Ella, who was just 16 (one source gives the unlikely age of 13), and on December 11, 1866, they were married. One has to consider whether this may have been a shotgun wedding, but so far no record of any child born in 1867 has been found. Complicating matters, an Elijah Jacobs was married on the same day by the same minister; he likely was Ella's cousin.

Ella Livingston was the daughter of William Livingston and Laura Jacobs, who had lived in Mt. Carroll since at least 1850, the year Ella was born. William was a cooper in the town of Mt. Carroll, as was his brother John. Like oxen yoked together, the Livingstons and the Blongers would journey across the west over the next 25 years, never straying far from each other. Though Sam and Ella divorced in 1889, in 1900 four Livingston siblings, Clara, Ella, Albert, and William, still lived together in downtown Denver, not far from Lou and Sam.


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Marvin's Possible Marriage in Missouri (1873)

Marvin Blonger has so far presented a special problem. His entire family has had to be reconstructed from circumstantial evidence. His son Edward, who appears with Marvin in the 1900 census, is the only child who can be linked by census records.

No census lists Marvin Blonger and his wife together, but we do have a few clues as to her identity. An online index lists the marriage of Marian Blonger and Molley Ann Beard in Lincoln County, Missouri (north of St. Louis), on August 7, 1873. The record does clearly read "Marian," but since Marian is not a male name, the assumption is that the person transcribing the marriage into the official record misinterpreted someone's handwriting. 

The 1900 census lists an Ollie M. Blonger, 9 years old, living with family of Harold Kervin in Summit Co., Utah. Ollie is listed as Harold's "s-in-law", i.e, sister-in-law. Harold's wife, 24-year-old Abbie, and young Ollie both gave their father's birthplace as Vermont and their mother's birthplace as Missouri. And just as importantly, Abbie was born in Illinois and Ollie in Montana, where Marvin lived in 1900. This was the first evidence that linked Marvin to his two daughters, and to a mother born in Missouri — perhaps Molley Ann Beard.

An online index of California deaths provided the next clue. Abbie Kervin and Ollie Mae Buick both died in California, and in both cases their father's surname was reported as Blonger. This made their conection to Marvin virtually certain. (Marvin's death certificate, listing R. W. Buick as the informant, finally made it official.) For the mother's maiden name, Abbie's was given as Penoyer and Ollie's as Penard.

Penard — Beard. Could the same person who mistook Marvin for Marian have also mistaken Penard for Beard? It's not much of a stretch, so we hypothesize that Marvin's wife was actually named Molley Ann Penard.

But what happened to Molley? We have one remaining clue. No death certificate is listed in any of the online indexes, but a Rootsweb posting for Fairmount Cemetery in Denver (1890-1906) lists Mary M. Blonger, age 34, buried on April 22, 1893. Mary — Molley. That's a good match. But if her age is right, she would have been 13 when she was married. And was Marvin ever in Denver? He is the only one of the five Western Blongers who has not been found there. And Ollie was born in Montana in 1891. That's a problem, too. But — if Mary M. Blonger isn't Marvin's wife, who is she?

Shedding more dark than light on the subject is the 1885 Colorado state census.  That document lists a couple living in Arapahoe County as Edw. Blonger, 30, born in France, and Nellie Blonger, 24, born in Germany.  Is "Edw." really Marvin, whose middle name was Edwin and was 34 years old?  Is "Nellie" actually Molley?  And who thought they were from France and Germany?  Once again, more research is needed.


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Lou's Marriage to Emma Loring (1882)

According to his pension file, Lou's first marriage took place in 1882 in San Francisco, when he wed a woman named Emma Loring (or possibly Loving). Efforts to find out more about Emma, who Lou divorced in 1889, have so far been unsuccessful. A scan of the 1885 New Mexico census, which is largely unindexed, turned up no helpful information.


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Sam's Second Marriage to Sadie Wilson (1889)

Sam and Ella were last recorded together in the same household in the 1880 census of Denver. Starting in 1882, Ella (or Mrs. Sam) appeared in the Denver city directory. At the same time, Sam disappears from the directory, presumably because he was working in New Mexico and elsewhere. Sam later returned to Denver, and the couple divorced on Oct. 10, 1889.  Sam then married Mrs. Sadie Wilson on Oct. 30, 1889, in Denver. It was to be a brief union.

In Wildest of the West, Forbes Parkhill intimates that Sam Blonger was a wife-beater. His information seems to be taken from articles from Denver newspapers, one of which appeared with commentary in the Albuquerque Daily Citizen on May 8, 1893. Sadie leveled a number of charges against Sam, detailing repeated beatings over a number of years. After a final row that occurred in the presence of friends, Sadie sued Sam for divorce on the grounds of extreme cruelty, and on June 12, 1893, her request was granted (it was her second attempt, according to Parkhill). Sadie subsequently married (in 1897) Henry J. Domedion, a local merchant. Although in the 1900 census Domedion indicated that he had been married for three years, Sadie does not appear in the listing. Since she has not yet been identified in a census, her personal information is still a mystery.  Domedion died in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1906.

And it was the Domedion connection which finally led us to connect Sadie with one of her aliases, Kate, or Kitty, Blonger. Presumably Sam's relationship with Kate went back at least to 1882, in Albuquerque. Perhaps it was his relationship with Kate that broke up his marriage to Ella.


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Lou's Second Marriage to Nola Lyons (1889)

Just five weeks after Sam got married, Lou followed him to the altar. His bride was Nola (whose birth name was apparently Cora) Lyons, age 30; Lou was 40.

According to Lou's pension file, Nola's maiden name was Morehouse and she was married twice before Lou came along. Her first marriage, to a man named Daniel Thomas, came at the age of 16 or 17 and lasted only about a year, for unexplained reasons. She then married William Lyons, divorcing him in Denver about the same time Lou obtained his dissolution. 

Cora Morehouse was born in Tallula, Illinois (near Springfield) in 1859, the daughter of Levi and Mary Jane (Thrap) Morehouse.  Her father was born in Richland County, and the family returned there, to Olney, by the time of the 1860 census.  By 1870, the family had migrated west to Cherokee Co., Kansas.  Her first two marriages, according to Lou Blonger's pension file, took place just across the border in Joplin, Missouri.

In her young adulthood Nola was a "successful variety actress, who was a high-class woman," according to Fighting the Underworld. If she really was a performer, it may be possible to find out more about her career before she met Lou. It's also possible that her "performances" were more of the type found in the saloons and dance halls owned and operated by Lou Blonger and his ilk.

Lou was notoriously unfaithful to Nola, as described in one newspaper article after his conviction. But when his death behind prison walls became inevitable, the couple reconciled and Lou transferred his fortune to Nola's name. Three months after Lou died, Nola married William McCauley. The couple lived in comfort at the Cosmopolitan Hotel until her passing in 1936.


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Sam's Third Marriage to Virginia Pierrepont (1894)

Not long after Sam's divorce from Sadie, he married Virginia Pierrepont in Denver. Virginia was the widow of Fred Pierrepont, a fireman who had died while fighting a warehouse fire a couple of years earlier.

Sam's third marriage seemed to work better than the previous attempts, and Sam and Virginia were still married when he died in 1914. This much is known about Virginia: She was born in Illinois, her parents were born in Pennsylvania (or perhaps her father was born in Germany), and according to the 1910 census, this was her second marriage.

After Sam's death, Virginia apparently lived the rest of her life in the swank Cosmopolitan Hotel in downtown Denver (Lou's wife Nola joined her there after he died). She is interred in the mausoleum at Denver's Fairmount Cemetery.

Rocky Mountain News, February 27, 1894

BLONGER-PIERREPONT
Widow of a Fireman Marries S. H. Blonger
Sam H. Blonger, the well known sporting man, is once more a benedict, having been married on Sunday last to Mrs. F. O. Pierrepont, the widow of fireman Fred Pierrepont, who was killed by a wall falling during the burning of the Summit Fuel and Feed warehouse over a year ago. The announcement of this event will be in the nature of a surprise to the friends of both, as it was not generally known that Cupid had been at work in that direction. On Saturday a license was issued to the blushing Blonger by the county clerk and on Sunday, in the presence of a few intimate friends of the contracting parties, Justice Cater tied the nuptial knot. It was the new justice's first effort in the field of matrimony and it is said that he bore himself with the same becoming dignity which fits so easily on his shoulders while dispensing justice to those who break the law. Sam Blonger thinks Mr. Cater can dispense bliss as well as he can justice.

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Joe's Marriage to Carrie A. Viles (1902)

Joe was the last Blonger brother to marry, finally tying the knot in Santa Fe on April 10, 1902, when he was 54 years old. The bride was Mrs. Carrie A. Viles, the widow of Charles A. Viles, 46, who in the 1900 census lived in the Matcho (El Macho) area of San Miguel County, about 15 miles east of Santa Fe.  It is not known where Joe lived at this time, or if he was still mining.

Carrie Viles was born in 1855 at Cavendish, Vermont, the daughter of Henry Winsor, a lumberman, and his wife Fanny.  The Winsor family left Vermont sometime between 1860 and 1870 and settled in Muscotah, Kansas, which is presumably where she met and married Charley Viles, a drayman from Wisconsin. The couple set up their household in nearby Onaga.  An article that appeared in the Onaga Journal on Sept. 13, 1883 foreshadows a future move: 

C. A. Viles, one of Onaga's pioneers, but now at Garrison, has recently returned from New Mexico. He don't think much of the country, and is satisfied with Kansas. Charley is a business boy, and if there were so many opportunities to make money in that country, he would have found it. Money in New Mexico is not free, but like everyplace else, one must work for it.

In 1885, the newspaper reported that Viles, now a successful hardware merchant, was about to move from the state.  His destination was not named, so it's not clear if this was the family's exodus to New Mexico. What is known is that Charley died in New Mexico, probably in Las Vegas, in 1895.  By the time of 1900 census, Carrie still lived in Matcho with three children, ages 12 to 22.

Joe's marriage to Carrie was apparently short. This article about sums it up:

Albuquerque Daily Citizen, July 16, 1902

UNLUCKY NUMBER
Couple Were Married in Room Thirteen of a Hotel.
The Pecos Valley Correspondent of the Las Vegas Optic says:
Thirteen is a sure unlucky number. Some time about the middle of April Joseph Blonger, an old miner and a Grand Army man of Santa Fe, led to the hymeneal altar in the Plaza hotel at Santa Fe, Mrs. C. A. Viles. The solemn obligation that bound them together as man and wife was performed in room 13.
Hardly two moons had passed over the fair contracting parties till Blonger concluded it was a good deal more economical and not near so hard work to hold down a miner’s cabin, so he gathered up his bed, bid the fair bride of less than sixty days good by and again picked up the pick and shovel, departed for Cerrillos and gave all his right, title, and “herediments” back to the fair one, shook the dust of the Pecos from his feet anl [sic] left.

Six years after Joe and Carrie were married, Joe was admitted to Pacific Branch of the National Home for Disabled Veterans (Sawtelle) in Los Angeles. In 1915, when he responded to a military pension survey, Joe listed his marital status as "separation divorce."

Carrie died in 1916.  She is buried in the Masonic Cemetery of Las Vegas, New Mexico, next to her first husband.


 

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