Echo Daily Newsletter 10

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Woman Asks Court: Whose Wife Am I?


The New York Tribune,  27th June 1913

THE MUCH complicated matrimonial affairs of Mrs Elizabeth S. Sterry have taken another turn, and she is now so uncertain about her marital status that she wants the Supreme Court to tell her whose wife she is.

Justice Newburger granted a motion yesterday for a new trial of Mrs Sterry's suit for a separation against James W. Sterry, of the drug firm of Weaver & Sterry. James Sterry's brother killed his father and then committed suicide a few years ago.

On a prior trial of the suit of Mrs Sterry, Justice Newburger dismissed the action because it appeared that when she married Sterry in Chicago she was already the wife of Albert S. Rennie, a Chicago merchant.

Sterry contended that the divorce Rennie obtained from his wife, the present Mrs Sterry, was void because they were both residents of New York, and the Chicago courts had no jurisdiction. So the decision of Justice Newburger was that Mrs Sterry was still the wife of Rennie.

And now enters the new element which may reveal that the woman never was the legal wife of Rennie, and, therefore, is the lawful wife of Sterry.

After her suit against Sterry was thrown out of court she told her lawyer about Rennie having been married in New York, and how his first wife got a divorce from him in that state.

The lawyer looked up the records and found that the first Mrs Rennie obtained a divorce in 1889 in Chenango County. She is now the wife of William Evans, a lumber merchant at Bainbridge, N.Y.

Rennie was restrained by the order of the court in his first divorce suit from remarrying in New York State during the life of his first wife. Therefore, it is now contended by Mrs Sterry that her marriage to Rennie was never legal, which left her free to marry Sterry.

Mrs Sterry said in her petition for a new trial: "As the matter now stands, I am neither the wife of Rennie nor the wife of the defendant, and it is of the highest importance to me that my status is established".

Mrs Sterry has made application for $50 a week alimony and $500 counsel fee to prosecute her new action.

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