Volant, about ten miles up the Neshannock creek from New Castle, was a little market town that had grown up around an old grist mill. Robert Grim’s family had owned land there since before the civil war and was among the most respected in the borough. By the time he was twenty-five, with a wife and three children, Robert was the town tax collector, local auditor and high constable, and served as the catcher on Volant’s baseball team.
Robert and his wife divorced a few years later. He remarried, but the year his youngest child—his son, Francis—turned eighteen, his second wife began divorce proceedings on the grounds of cruel and barbarous treatment, indignities to her person and desertion.
When Robert was forty, he performed an abortion on Martha Thompson, the twenty-one-year-old daughter of a family friend. She died. Robert was arrested the day after her funeral and given three to six years in the Western penitentiary. He declined the opportunity to make a statement to the court.
Robert served his minimum sentence and returned to Volant. He was appointed a justice of the peace the following year. He spent all his money building an electric chicken-brooding facility, which enabled him to produce full-grown broilers in half the usual time. It was the first battery farm in Lawrence County and attracted large crowds the year it started up.
A few years later, Robert was broke. He was arrested in 1940 for passing a check while knowingly being without the funds to support it, following which he resigned from his post of justice of the peace. His finances had not improved by 1942, when he was arrested for forging a check.
Robert passed the rest of his life as a house painter in Volant. He died of a heart attack in 1953, at the age of sixty-one.Sources: New Castle News: (15 June 1898, “Mrs Adam Grim”; 8 June 1915, “Grim Resigns One Of His Offices”; 1 September 1915, “Prohibs Left Free To Vote On Judgeship”; 27 July 1921, “Lawrence County Championship Is Sought By Clays” 7 September 1921, “Volant”; 6 November 1928, “Legal Notices”; 8 February 1932, “Deaths Of The Day”; 12 February 1932, “Alderman Remands Volant Man To Jail”; 31 March 1932, “Grim Sentenced To Penitentiary”; 19 May 1933, “Volant”; 15 January 1936, “On Court House Hill”; 29 July 1936, “Speeds Up Growth Of Young Chickens”; 29 July 1940, “On Court House Hill”; 17 December 1942, “Around City Hall”; 11 April 1953, “Deaths Of The Day”).