Legally Dead — But Not Really — Robert James Raine

Legally Dead — But Not Really —  Robert James Raine
The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
28 Sep 1906, Fri  •  Page 9

Well, this was not the first nor last time that a husband disappeared in this area. David Kerr from Innisville was away from his wife for 18 years and he didn’t think anyone would find that odd.

Of course women and children were scarcely seen on the gold fields of Alaska or Australia, as conditions were harsh, and it was not considered a place for a lady or children. In the case of Mr. Raines it was Colorado. Read more here about the Innisville incident: When Newspapers Gossiped–David Kerr Innisville and Kerr or Ennis? More about the Innisville Scoundrel

So what is the story of Mr Raine? This was all I could dig up.

When Robert James Raine was born in 1853 in Brampton, Ontario, his father, John, was 24 and his mother, Jane, was 24. Robert married Elizabeth Gardner Ewart on May 24, 1877, in Drummond, Ontario when he was 24 years old and she was 29 years old.

They had two children during their marriage. His daughter Susan was born before they were wed in 1874 in Carleton Place, Ontario and died at age 17 in 1891 in Lanark, Ontario. They had one son ‘Unknown’ who was born May 22, 1878 in Carleton Place and died two days later.

In the 1901 census Elizabeth is not listed as a widow yet and she lives in Drummond, Ontario with her sister. In 1894 the Methodist Farmer/Electrician had disappeared without a trace and she had filed papers to declare him legally dead. In 1901 she received an insurance payment officially declaring him legally dead after toughing it out for 7 years.

In 1911 Elizabeth Gardner Ewart lives in Lanark, Ontario. She is listed as age 62; and relation to Head of House was her Sister-in-law. Her marital status is now listed as Married as Robert James Raine sent a letter in 1906 (see clipping) to say he was still alive. She is no longer a widow on Canadian census as Robert James Raine lived in Las Animas, Colorado, USA, in 1910. No mention if she had to pay back the insurance company who had declared him legally dead 5 years previous.

It seems Robert managed to find his way back to Canada and died in 1922 at the age of 69, and was buried in Perth, Ontario. Elizabeth died from pneumonia on March 17, 1925, in Lanark, Ontario, at the age of 77, and was buried in Drummond, Ontario.

On the 1921 census Elizabeth Gardner Ewart is listed as NOT a widow. However on her death certificate in 1925 she finally got to say she was widowed as Robert died previously in 1922. God rest her soul. Robert James Raine– not so much.


Although marriage was invested with significant personal, ideological, economic, legal, and political importance in late-nineteenth-century America, its endings and beginnings could be more fluid than the law suggested. This study of “contesting widow” applications, where two wives applied for a single soldier’s pension, in Civil War pension files demonstrates these fluid marriage patterns among working-class couples. Some couples separated, and other individuals abandoned or deserted spouses. Short-term temporary separations sometimes lasted lifetimes. Many times the husbands and wives from these informal divorces married others, becoming bigamists

It Pays to Advertise… Classified Ad Brides

Women in Peril 1868 — Mathilda Routh

Did He or Didn’t He Commit Bigamy? Scoundrel Andrew Whitten

The Very Sad Tale of Hessie Churchill

All the Single Ladies?

I’m Every Woman?

James Watson– Bigamy and Shoes

Begging Your Husband for Forgiveness? What? What? What?

Even if it’s Convenient — You Can’t Marry Your Sister in law

  1. Sixteen Wives– What Do You Get? Another Day Older and Deeper in Debt
  2. I’m so Sick of that Same Old Love — Bigamous Relations in Lanark County
  3. James Watson– Bigamy and Shoes
  4. A Smith’s Falls “Frustrated Young Love’s Dream” Purdy vs Lenahan
  5. She Came Back! A Ghost Divorce Story
  6. One Night in Almonte or Was it Carleton Place?
  7. Bigamists? How About the Much Married Woman? One for the Murdoch Mystery Files
  8. The Wedding of Stanley Alexander Jackson and Margaret Elizabeth Forbes
  9. The Thomas Alfred Code Journal – Letters-Part 15- Code Family– Love and Runaway Marriages
  10. Odd Ironic Wedding Stories –Or it was Almost Lonely Valley
  11. Marriage Records Lanark County, Ontario, Canada– Names Names Names
  12. Till Death Do Us Part in Lanark County?
  13. Taming of the Beckwith Shrew?
  14. A Smith’s Falls “Frustrated Young Love’s Dream” Purdy vs Lenahan
  15. Going to the Chapel? Hold on– Not so Fast!
  16. Another Episode in Spinsterdom–The Armour Sisters of Perth
  17. She Came Back! A Ghost Divorce Story
  18. Slander You Say in Hopetown? Divorce in Rosetta?
  19. Go Ask Alice – The Saga of a Personal Ad Divorce
  20.  Bigamy–The Story of Ken and Anne and Debby and Cathy and…

“Sale” Fairs — Crops and Sometimes Fair Damsels

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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