Olden Times Wedding
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Olden Times Wedding

Port Royal Times
Thursday, March 7, 1889


It is believed by some that the inhabitants of these valleys, eighty or ninety years ago, were larger and stronger and more enduring than at the present time, and that the girls, as well as the boys, of the families were stouter and robust. I will recall a few names, and you will see there are grounds for the belief. Consider the first generation of the McCoys, Millikens, Beales, McClures, of whom it was said (to puzzle you) there were eleven brothers and every brother had two sisters. How many were in the family? Some guessed thirty-three, but the true answer is thirteen. Then, add to these the Brices, Dowlings, Thompsons, Van Swerigens and very many others inside of a small township. I could mention the names of many more such wonderfully stout men that you would almost doubt whether the people of this generation were their descendants or not if you were not sure of it; and I may here say that the mothers, wives and sisters, in a certain sense, were the equal of the men. I will give you the opinion of equality by one of their number, John Dowling, who gave it to me, as follows: "The woman was not taken out of the head, sir, to govern and rule over man: she was not taken out of the feet, sir, to be trampled upon by man; but she was taken out of the side, sir, and made a helpmate for man, and united together the man is the top of the tree."

Now it is not to be wondered at that the lapse of so many years has wrought many great changes in the people, as well as in the country, ways and customs, which to us may now appear singular, and in nothing perhaps more than their customs at marriages and wedding parties.

When a wedding party was to come off in the olden time, the first great demand was for horses and sidesaddles, for it was understood that there was to be as many mounted ladies in the procession as gentlemen, and the line was not complete until the second day, when the whole party started from the bride's house to the residence of the bridegroom for the infare. They move off with the groomsman and bridesmaid in front, the bride and groom following, and then the whole party in order. But there is a larger party collected, composed of men and boys, who are bent on mischief and fun as they call it. Nothing is left untried to make their horses run off. Some with old muskets, charged with powder only, and others with feathers, shoot above and among the horses, enveloping them in fire and smoke. Who and where are the women and girls who came up through and endorsed such a custom. They were your grand and great- grandmothers; they were the mothers and sisters of Washington's army. They lived in an age that tried women's souls. Let us have a word with the girls. Ain't you afraid you'll be hurt? "Only one thing I fear--if my horse misses his feet. But if he keeps his feet I am in this saddle to stay. I can't be dislodged if the horse don't fall."

Now here comes a wedding party from McCulloch's Mills, with John McCoy and the bridesmaid at its head. John McCoy was a powerful man, and one of five brothers, of whom Neal, the proprietor of McCoysville, was the least. The party above must pass on the Waterford road, between the stone quarry and the creek. The stone quarry was on an almost perpendicular hill and the creek ran near its base. Here the lovers of fun, or mischief-makers, collected their forces to annoy the wedding party. The plan they adopted was to put a few loose stones in an empty barrel and place it high up in the quarry, to be held there by a trigger, which, if pulled by a rope, would let the barrel come thundering down among the horses. The first pair of horses was to let off the barrel with their feet, and a large amount of fun was expected, and a large amount was realized; but it did not come as they expected it would. When the rope was called for none was to be found, except Jemmy Given's six-horse leather line.

Given was McCulloch's wagoner, and so honest and faithful was he in freighting for McCulloch between the mills and Baltimore that he became a necessity to McCulloch and drew high wages. Though a small man, but very stout, Given wanted to see the fun, too and lent his line, the best article on his team. All in readiness, the land party hid themselves and the wedding party came on. McCoy saw the line across the road, alighted at once and commenced to cut it in small bits. Given saw his mistake and rushed from his hiding place and clinched McCoy, who soon threw him, but Given turned him, and the big man would throw the little man every time but couldn't keep him under. It was also observable that every turn-over the little man gave, the big man went down the hill toward the creek, and another turn or two would put him into the muddy water. But McCoy by this time had a short but very lively experience of the unmanageableness of Jemmy Given. McCoy learned for the first time in his life that some men are harder to manage on the ground than in the air. McCoy, taking in a view of the whole situation, showed some signs of being tired, which Given noticed, and feeling nearly out of breath, mutually stepped apart. Here ended the wedding party, something of the fun of the jokes of a hundred years ago. If the little man had rolled the big man into the creek in his wedding garments, it would have been more than a joke. George Noss.

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