Race and Slavery Petitions Project

Petition 20486103 Details

State:District of Columbia
Location:Washington
Location Type:County
Salutation:To the Judges of the Circuit Court of the District of Columbia
Filing Date:1861-January-19
Ending Date:1861-May-27

General Petition Information

Abstract:Rhoda Strother seeks a divorce from her husband, Dr. Robert Strother, on the grounds of adultery. She states that shortly after their marriage in 1856, she suspected him of adulterous activities. At one point, she "saw him kiss a woman of bad reputation at a public hotel in the City of St. Louis." Shortly thereafter, she received a letter from another woman, telling her that Dr. Strother "sought her company, and that she repulsed him, because, bad as she was, she did not wish to take a husband from a young wife." Mrs. Strother then contracted a serious illness and was forced to leave their home in the District of Columbia to recuperate in Virginia. When she returned, Mrs. Strother received an anonymous letter stating that Dr. Strother planned to meet a "negro woman" at the petitioner's house. Mrs. Strother "concealed herself in a closet, and at nearly the time named, the woman came into the room in Mrs. Gaines' house, used by Dr Strother as an office, attached to which was the said closet. Dr Strother met the woman as Your Petitioner plainly saw, took her into the parlor and was seen sitting with her upon the sofa with her hand in his for a long time." When the woman left, Mrs. Strother followed her and confronted her. She states that the woman "informed your Petitioner that Dr Strother had threatened to kill her if she betrayed their criminal intercourse to his wife." The woman further informed the petitioner that she was supposed to meet Dr. Strother later that evening. The petitioner then "obtained a white witness" and concealed herself and the witness in the closet. When the "negress" arrived, "your Petitioner heard him tell her what to say the next morning when she was to be brought before your Petitioner, and threatened her with violence if she should confess to your Petitioner their Criminal intercourse." Mrs. Strother revealed herself from her hiding place, confronted her husband, and left the house. The petitioner states that Dr. Strother moved to Kansas Territory. He filed for and obtained a divorce on the grounds of desertion. She avers that these charges are false and requests a divorce on the grounds of adultery. In addition, the petitioner seeks custody of her son and wishes to maintain control of her property.
Result:granted
# of Petition Pages:9
Related Documents:Decree, 27 May 1861; Newspaper Article, Robert Strother, 20 February 1860
Pages of Related Documents:2

People Associated with Petition 20486103

Slaves:0
Free Persons of Color:0
Defendants:1
Petitioners:1
Other People:0

Citation Information

Repository: National Archives, Washington, D. C.

  • Records of the United States District Court, Chancery Records, Old Divorces
  • Box: 1
  • Book: Case #4

Processing Information

Record Created:7/12/1996
Record Final Edited:12/9/1999
Record Last Updated on:1/9/2006 3:29:00 PM