Pauline Eng

Robert Jackman and Pauline Eng, from Eileen ODonnell’s collection

Pauline Eng Jackman Mirrielees Eschenbrenner is the subject of this post.  She was our maternal grandmother’s maternal grandmother (so, for members of the family, she was Great-Grandma Ritter’s mother).  There are many mysteries in Pauline’s life, starting with the year of her birth.  She was born in 1860, 1861, or 1865, in Cincinnati, Ohio, to Frederick Eng and Charlotte Schmidt Eng, who both emigrated to the U. S. from Germany around 1850. Pauline’s first marriage, to R. W. Jackman, took place in 1880, and they quickly had two sons, Robert in 1881 and Charles in 1883.

Sometime before 1887, R. W. either left the family or died, and Pauline married Archibald O. Mirrielees.  Charlotte Violet (Great-Grandma Ritter) was born in 1894, and Pauline Catherine was born in 1896. Archibald Mirrielees died in 1905.

This is where it gets murky.  Archibald’s death date of March 3, 1905 is recorded in the Spring Grove Cemetery archives. But on the 12th of May 1904, there is a Hamilton County, Ohio marriage license for George Eschenbrenner, age 26 (according to census records, he was actually 21), and Pauline Jackman, widow, age 34 (she was between 40-44).

Confirming the fact of the marriage is a Cincinnati Post article in December 1904, reporting a bizarre tale of marital discord.  ‘Carried Off Young Husband’ is the headline, and the story was that Eschenbrenner left his wife and went back to his mother’s house, only to be pursued by Pauline and her two sons, Robert and Charles Jackman, and forcibly taken back to his marital home.  The story notes Pauline’s age as 50. A few days later in the paper’s Police Court Docket, Pauline Eschenbrenner and Charles Jackman are listed as having been charged with disorderly conduct, with the charges dismissed.

The Bellingham (Washington) Herald picked up the story on December 21, 1904, and wildly exaggerated it.  “Twenty Year Old Lad, Married to Sixty-Year-Old Widow, Went Home to Mother, But Was Not Allowed to Stay.” The tone of the story was humorous, so it is difficult to know how much of it to believe. But the article indicates that Pauline had an estate worth $150,000 and that may have been the attraction for Eschenbrenner. Be that as it may, in November of 1919, a divorce was granted to Pauline from George Eschenbrenner, on the grounds of his absence since 1912.

Family historyPauline died two years later, in 1921. Many questions remain: What happened to Pauline’s first husband, R. W. Jackman?  Were Pauline and Archibald Mirrielees divorced before his death in 1905, freeing her to marry George Eschenbrenner in 1904? How did the domestic disturbances in 1904-05 affect Charlotte and Pauline Mirrielees, who were 10 and 8 years old at the time?

About Pat Tully

Librarian exploring effective leadership, local history and community service.
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