52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #9 Oneida Tourville (née Alexander) (~1866-?)

Well, I am not done yet with the St. Louis Daily Globe-Democrat. Oneida Alexander is another one who escaped the radar of the census for the period between 1880 and 1900.

Oneida married Peter D. Tourville in St. Louis, Missouri, on May 18, 1881. We know for sure they had one child, Lillie M. Tourville, as the latter weds Julius B. Seitz in Belleville, St. Clair County, Illinois, on March 19, 1903, and that is quite all I have learned about her. As a French-Canadian, I tend to forget that divorce was allowed in those years in the United States, so I had assumed she died before 1891 as Peter D. Tourville was remarried to Lockie Wadkins (date and place unknown) and that they had a child in July 1891.

This is where the St. Louis Daily Globe-Democrat fills in the blanks. To say the least, this marriage gives the feeling of a tumultuous one. On May 3, 1886, Peter Tourville is arrested for beating his wife as indicated in the following article:

1886 05 04 p10 peter touville arested

St. Louis Daily Globe-Democrat, May 4, 1886, p. 10

Shortly thereafter, in August 1886, Oneida files for divorce. Please note that the couple was married in 1881 not 1871.

1886 st louis daily globe-democrat 7 aug 1886 p6 oneida tourville divorce

St. Louis Daily Globe-Democrat, August 7, 1886, p. 6

It seems that the two lovebirds were back together after all because it is reported that in March 1887 the police came to their house and recovered goods previously stolen by Peter Tourville who was then arrested.

1887 03 12 p8 theft

St. Louis Daily Globe-Democrat, March 12, 1887, p. 8

Then, the following month, Peter Tourville pleaded guilty and was sentenced to one year in prison and sent to the Chester Penitentiary in Illinois.

1887 04 01 p11 Peter Tourville guilty

St. Louis Daily Globe-Democrat, April 1, 1887, p. 11


1887 04 02 p15 prison tourville

St. Louis Daily Globe-Democrat, April 2, 1887, p. 15

A month later, in May 1887, Oneida filed for divorce probably for good this time as I was able to trace a marriage between Oneida Alexander and Thomas Henry Smith, in East St. Louis, Illinois, on October 25, 1888.

1887 05 05 p9 belleville oneidy tourville

St. Louis Daily Globe-Democrat, May 5, 1887, p. 9

I also discovered her parents’ names: A. Enoch Alexander and Nancy Moor which led me to the date and place of their marriage: July 14, 1859, in Franklin County, Missouri. Here is a snapshot of the family in the 1870 US Census for Central, Franklin, Missouri:

1870 US Census for Central Township, Franklin County, MO

1870 US Census for Central Township, Franklin County, MO

1880 US Census, St. Louis City, MO

1880 US Census, St. Louis City, MO

So it is credible to think she was born around 1866, meaning that in 1880, when she was in East St. Louis, Missouri working as a servant, she would have been only 14 and not 16 as declared. Unfortunately, I haven’t discovered anything more about her family. One can assume this is where she met Peter D. Tourville because they were married in St. Louis, Missouri the next year.

Oneida was nowhere to be found in the 1900 US Census under the name Smith but while searching, I remembered a newspaper article noticed years ago referring to a woman named Zelda Tourville also named Smith and I had no clue at all about who she was. Is this Zelda Tourville the first-born of Peter D. Tourville and Oneida Alexander? Again, when first reading the article I thought her former husband Peter Tourville was dead but it doesn’t say so. It is unclear if Peter is the father of all of Oneida’s children. Furthermore, we know that Lillie M. who is named Tourville also disappeared after her own marriage. Moreover, it looks that Julius Seitz married another woman before 1920. Death or divorce? So here are the two articles:

zelda part Izelda part II

St. Louis Republic, March 16, 1897, p. 6

St. Louis Republic, March 16, 1897, p. 6

St. Louis Republic, April 3, 1897, p. 6

St. Louis Republic, April 3, 1897, p. 6

I did some additional digging and found in the St. Louis Obituary Index an entry for Zelda Smith also known as Lillie Mae O’Brien for 1943. The death certificate online confirms that Lillie Mae O’Brien was born February 22, 1882 and was the daughter of Peter Tourville and Oneida Alexander, married to Thomas O’Brien. Furthermore, the informant was Mrs. Onedia McNulty. I found her in the 1920, 1930 and 1940 US Census in St. Louis, she was born in 1895.  At one point, she is living with her nephew Francis Smith, born around 1914. So can we assume that the three children mentioned in the article are Lillie Mae (or Zelda), an unknown male child and Onedia Smith, later married to William McNulty. In 1910, Onedia Smith was an inmate at the St. Louis Industrial School, a penitentiary for juvenile delinquents.

Unfortunately, no clue though as what to happened to Oneida Alexander Tourville Smith! Any ideas? Any help will be appreciated