From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Theophanis v. Theophanis

On June 24, 1932, the Court of Appeals of Kentucky affirmed the judgment and cross-appeal of the Franklin Circuit Court in the case of Theophanis v. Theophanis wherein Lillian Theophanis was given absolute divorce from George J. Theophanis. She was awarded $1,000 alimony and $100 in attorney's fees. The couple had been married in Cincinnati, OH, December 14, 1922, when George was 32 years old. Born in Elova, Greece, he came to the U.S. in 1905. He had lived in Frankfort, KY, since 1909 and became a U.S. citizen in 1914. Lillian was about 22 years old at the time of their marriage; she was previously married to Ralph Myers of Cleveland, OH. Her family was from Richmond, KY.

Lillian was the daughter of Betty Walker Foos and Edward Foos; Edward was white. Betty Walker Foos was the daughter of Joel J. Walker, who was white, and Mary Jane, a former "servant" who had belonged to Joel Walker. Joel and Mary Jane Walker had several children, some of whom had African American spouses and some white spouses. Mary Jane Walker and her children had been considered Colored by the people of Richmond.

Kentucky Statutes, Section 2097 (2) forbade marriage between a white person and a Negro or mulatto. In recognition of the law, George Theophanis had prosecuted a cross appeal to the Franklin Circuit Court judgment, stating that he and Lillian were never legally married because she was a mulatto; therefore, the courts had erred. At the same time, Lillian challenged the courts judgment by seeking to increase the alimony to $14,000 and the attorney's fees to $1,500.

The Court of Appeals of Kentucky found that there was no evidence that Lillian was of pure Negro blood. Her grandmother, Mary Jane Walker, may have had Negro blood, but she was not of pure Negro blood based on her physical traits: long straight hair, a straight nose, high cheek bones, and thin lips.

Since Mary Jane Walker was not of pure Negro blood, her granddaughter Lillian could not be considered a mulatto, so her marriage to George was deemed valid, and the Frankfort Circuit Court's judgment in the divorce case was affirmed.
The Court of Appeals of Kentucky also found that Lillian's estate was sufficient enough that the Franklin Circuit Court's allowances were justified and therefore affirmed with no increase in payments.

For more see Theophanis v Theophanis, Court of Appeals of Kentucky, 244 Ky. 689; 51 S.W.2d 957; 1932 Ky.

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“Theophanis v. Theophanis,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 20, 2024,

Last modified: 2020-10-16 17:16:47