This Valentine’s Day while celebrating the relationships of the present, celebrate those of the past as well. Use the occasion to learn how each generation of your family came into being. How they met, their first date, their wedding day….
Getting these details first hand from your living relatives is an opportunity you don’t want to miss. Whatever the circumstances, however unique or typical the tale, it is worth understanding how your family came together.
The romance and particulars of generations long gone may seem lost, but it is possible to learn their stories with a little bit of research. The following are a few local tales of love in Greene County history, and the sources that revealed them.
Love at First Sight
Miss Frances Cook was born in Greene County in 1887, but moved as a young woman with her family to Columbiana, Ohio. Ties to Greene County remained strong though, and Frances returned for visits to friends and relatives. On one such visit Frances sang with her hostess in the church choir. When John Livingood caught sight of the visitor he turned to a friend and said, “I’m going to marry that girl.”
They married 4 March 1914 in Columbiana, then returned to Greene County to raise their family.
SOURCES: (1) Interview with Sara (Livingood) Buchanan, their daughter, 2003. (2) Columbiana County, Ohio, Marriage Book 23: 471, Livingood-Cook, 1914; Probate Court Office, Courthouse, Lisbon.
When They First Met
Joseph Warren Jacobs is best known for his Purple Martin birdhouses and the incredible ornithology research that took him to World Fairs and made him a household name among birdwatchers. The talent that first introduced him to his wife-to-be, however, was his handwriting. J. Warren was hired to compose beautiful entries in the family Bibles of local residents. One such employer was Jasper Dulaney, whose daughter Mary Emma first met J. Warren during this task for her family. A young girl at the time, it was some years later while Emma was helping her father at his grocery store in Waynesburg, that J. Warren really made an impression on her. When J. Warren walked into the store, Emma was taken aback by his good looks and in stumbling backwards she fell into a bushel basket. Fortunately, J. Warren was the one to help her out. This memorable meeting, now as two adults, resulted in a wedding on 24 March 1897.
SOURCES: (1) Interview with Anna (Fonner) Blystone, their granddaughter, 2005. (2) Greene County, Pennsylvania, Marriage License Docket 7: 106, Jacobs-Dulaney, 1897; County Clerk's Office, Courthouse, Waynesburg.
Edward Martin and Charity Scott met while students at Waynesburg College in the late 1890s. Their wedding day in 1908 was the “event that Edward Martin always described as the most important in his life.” But before there was a wedding, and even before their 1901 college graduation, Edward was sent to fight in the Spanish-American War. “As he and Charity walked along the railroad tracks before he boarded the train on which he began his journey…they talked about the future. While they were not actually engaged, they did have an 'understanding.' She promised to write, and gave him a little Bible which he always carried with him, wherever he went, for the rest of his life.”
SOURCE: "Charity Martin - Edward Martin" by Harriet Branton, undated article from unidentified newspaper, in Martin family vertical file at the Cornerstone Genealogical Society.
Weddings Gone Wrong
Nineteen year-old, Lizzie Bryan, of Richhill Township, “a rather good looking, sprightly young woman” completed her courses at Waynesburg College in September 1871. The month of her graduation, Lizzie attended the wedding of Minor Raimer and a Miss Black, in the company of fellow student Corbly Garrard. Though Mr. Garrard was not her father’s favorite suitor, Lizzie and Corbly followed Raimer and Black that day, making secret wedding vows before Rev. Campbell Jobes and the audience present. The ceremony kept a secret, Lizzie returned home, where over the next several months Silas Loller, a music professor at the college, became a frequent caller. Knowing no better and having the approval of her parents, Silas proposed to Lizzie, was accepted, and by April 1872 they were wed. About two weeks after their wedding day Silas and Lizzie, while still at her parents’ home, were called on by Corbly. Mr. Bryan would not let the young man in, but after a number of failed tries, Corbly demanded his right to speak to his “lawfully wedded wife.” Only Lizzie was not shocked. Silas immediately went to Waynesburg to seek legal council, but as the second husband to be taken he found little relief. Lizzie’s “youth and impulsive nature” were blamed for the marriage to Corbly which she alleged was only a joke.
History shows that Lizzie and Silas found a solution because they remained married, and are buried together in the Bryan family cemetery in Center Township.
SOURCES: (1) "Twice at the Altar" article, Waynesburg Republican, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 10 April 1872, page 3, column 1. (2) Elizabeth Bryan Loller obituary, Waynesburg Republican, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 10 August 1911, page 4, column 6.
In 1802, Andrew Buchanan, 22 years old, left his home in eastern Pennsylvania, with plans to travel to Kentucky or Tennessee to practice law. He had made it as far as Greene County when his plans suddenly changed. While taking a room at a Waynesburg inn, he caught the eye of a young lady who convinced him to stay. Miss Rhoda Stevenson had come from New Jersey to stay with her relatives in Waynesburg – the innkeepers. Family tales say Rhoda had “been engaged to a seafaring man” who was killed when his ship exploded just off the New Jersey shore. The stay in Greene County was intended to remove Rhoda from the memory. Supposedly, as she recovered, Rhoda agreed to accompany a friend to visit “one of the many fortune tellers who abounded in every community in those days.” Rhoda was told she would meet and marry a man with a wart on his nose – Andrew fit the description. They were married in 1804 and raised 9 children to adulthood. Their grandchildren spoke of them as storytellers, so whether myth or truth, this tale likely was passed down straight from the source.
SOURCES: (1) John L. O’Hara, Fact & Folklore (Waynesburg, Pennsylvania: Mary Churney Eagon, 1989), 133. (2) “One Pioneer” article, Waynesburg Independent, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 27 August 1896, page 8, column 1-2.
A Civil War Soldier Finds His Match
"Adams-Robinson December 10, 1876, in Beverly, Ohio, by Rev. Chapman, Mr. Robert Adams, of Leavenworth, Kas., to Miss Mary Robinson, of the former place….Robert is a son of Mr. Elijah Adams, steward of the Poor House, and the bride is a graduate of Waynesburg College, a bright and intelligent lady. Robert carries an empty coat sleeve, having lost an arm at Fredericksburg, but he now has two arms for the one he lost. May their arms never be less."
SOURCE: Adams-Robinson marriage announcement article, Waynesburg Republican, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 17 January 1877, page 3, column 6.
Roy Buchanan and Sara Livingood were classmates, a common method of meeting for many of our relative pairs, but they did not become a couple until a school field trip threw them together. On the way back to Rogersville after a day in Pittsburgh, one of the two school busses broke down. The students were combined onto one bus to finish the trip home, and to make the fit Sara rode the rest of the way sitting on Roy’s lap….and so began the relationship. They graduated from Center Township Vocational High School in 1934, and were married in 1938 after Sara graduated from Waynesburg College.
SOURCE: Interview with Sara (Livingood) Buchanan, 2003.
Parental Consent Not Required
“[Sarah Throckmorton] was decidedly attractive girl of much more than ordinary intellectuality. Her laugh lay very near her lips, and to her keen sense of humor she added a gift of putting amusing things in words that made her marry company. Among her many ardent admirers was Joseph M. Milligan, a handsome, witty young student of Irish descent, – courteous in manner, entertaining in conversation, a sweet singer, but poor in purse. They became engaged, but the engagement met with opposition from the young lady’s parents. So they hied themselves to the Waynesburg M. E. Parsonage and were secretly married by Rev. M. J. Pierce, 15 Aug., 1861. Several weeks later, during the minister’s vacation, two students glancing over his books discovered the marriage record and noised it abroad. Mrs. Throckmorton, while shopping in Waynesburg, heard the report and was properly scandalized. Hurrying home the lively Sarah was promptly interviewed, and then and there received such a severe, old-fashioned Puritanic scolding that the memory lingered long, and surreptitious marriages were never popular among her descendants.”
It should be noted that Joseph and Sarah did remain wed and went on to raise a family of five children despite their rough welcome to married life.
SOURCE: Frances Grimes Sitherwood, Throckmorton Family History: Being the Record of the Throckmortons in the United States of America with Cognate Branches (Bloomington, Illinois: Pantagraph Printing & Stationary Co., 1929), 178.
Love Me As I Am
“Dale, tall, dark wavy hair, brown eyes and the son of a preacher man, met Ruth, very attractive, blue eyes, beautiful smile and the stepdaughter of a farmer. It was love at first sight. He had brought his mother, Minnie to the farm to buy milk. Ruth was ironing and her mother Bertha told her to wash her face and comb her hair because the preacher’s wife and son had come. She told her mother, she really didn’t care, she wasn’t wanting to impress anyone. So the story goes and the following December, they announced their engagement. On 26 June l937 they were married in the Kuhntown Methodist Church. Dale’s father Rev. Watts solemnized a large wedding with several attendants, who had made their own gowns and bouquets.”
SOURCE: Written by Marilyn (Watts) Kerr in 2005 for her parents’ Memory Medallion.
(Originally published by Candice Buchanan in Greene Speak, in two parts appearing February 2005 and February 2006. Updated February 2013 for www.GreeneConnections.com).