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May 22, 2019

The Bigamist in My Family Tree

Olive May Peer, born November 1898 in Port Credit Ontario, share a common Peer ancestor. Her 3rd great-grandfather Jacob Peer, who I wrote about in the book "The Peer Family of North America" is my 4th. great-grandfather. My grandmother, also named Olive Peer, was Olive May's cousin.

In February 1927 Olive May married Robert Jackson. She could not have known that her husband was using an alias, that his real name was Robert Rodgers, and that her husband would be charged with two counts of bigamy and sentenced to time in jail.

The story of Robert's arrest and sentence appeared in The Globe (1844-1936); Toronto, Ont. [Toronto, Ont] 24 Sep 1927: 16.

This was a revelation for me in my research. My Peer ancestors were always mixed up in something wild - from the tightrope walker Stephen Peer (my great-grandfather's cousin) to the first base jumper Harmon Peer (great-grandfather's brother)

According to the newspaper article Robert Rodgers married Kathie Elliott in 1914 before enlisting in the military. They separated but did not divorce in 1917. That was wife #1.

Later Robert married Cecilia Wallace. That marriage did not work out and they separated but did not divorce.

His third wife was poor Olive May.

September 1927 finds another brief article in the Toronto Daily Star (1900-1971); Toronto, Ontario [Toronto, Ontario]24 Sep 1927: 20. The judge in the case seemed to view Robert's crimes very favourably, which I find stunning.

The Toronto Daily Star (1900-1971); Toronto, Ontario [Toronto, Ontario]11 Nov 1927: 24. has more news of Robert, telling its readers that there is only one prisoner in the Brampton Jail and that is Robert. He was serving 3 months for Bigamy and apparently suffering from rheumatism, which prevented him from being transferred to Guelph.

I was curious about what happened to those three wives (and Robert) so I began my research.

I discovered more secrets including an alias that Robert used when he married Olive. I learned much more about his three wives (Jessie Cathie Elliot, Cecilia Wallace, and Olive May Peer) and the children they bore with Robert.

The stories of the abandoned wives are now told in my newly published e-book "The Bigamist in My Family Tree: Robert Rodgers 1890-1953 & His 3 Wives"  available on Amazon

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