Emily Cornelius states that she had fled from her home with her three-month-old son, for fear of the violence inflicted on her by her husband, William Cornelius, a "habitual drunkard." She contends that William treated her in a most "cruel barbarous & inhuman" manner; he inflicted "violent blows with his fists & feet;" and he menaced her with threats of "the most dreadful character" including death. On one occasion, in a drunken rage, he even struck his own mother, who lived on the plantation. Emily seeks a divorce, custody of the child, and alimony as the court "may deem meet." Cornelius is a man of considerable wealth and property, Emily explains, worth between thirty-five and forty thousand dollars. He owns more than eight hundred acres of plantation land and "about thirty five" slaves. In addition, he "has a valuable crop of Corn & Cotton growing on his said plantation & a considerable Amount of good debts due to him." In response, Cornelius admitted that he occasionally drank to excess, but denied that he ever physically abused his wife. In any event, she knew he drank from the beginning. On their wedding day in 1845 he could barely stand and suffered from one of the "worst of his paroxysms of intoxication" during his life.
Result: Partially granted; appealed.
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Repository: Madison County Public Library Archives, Huntsville, Alabama