Thursday, December 13, 2018

My Parents Married Twice!

I think we all expect that our parents were married, and married once. However, that was not the case with mine. 

My father's name was Samuel Thomas "Tom" Morgan, and he was born on 18 December 1909 in Mebane, Alamance County, North Carolina. His parents were Samuel Goodloe Morgan, born 6 April 1879, and Laura Augusta "Minnie" Wilson Murphy (widow of Jeter Earnest Murphy), born 24 January 1873. My father's parents were married on 24 December 1902 in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, My father had one older sister, Mary Allen Morgan, who was born on 14 June 1905.

My mother's name was Sara Edith Weatherly, and she was born on 10 July 1910 in Rome, Floyd County, Georgia. Her parents were Walton Carey Weatherly, born 24 September 1882, in Cleveland, Bradley County, Tennessee, and Elizabeth Holder, born 19 July 1885, in  Lindale, Floyd County, Georgia. My mother was the second of four sisters and was known by the name of Edith.

My Grandfather Weatherly moved from Rome, Georgia, to Mebane, North Carolina, in April 1914 to accept a position as treasurer of White Furniture Company and purchased a home there. His wife and three daughters followed soon after. Their fourth daughter was born there in 1917.

My grandfather was a kind man who loved his family dearly. He tried to teach them strong values, good manners, and respect for others. He very seldom lost his temper unless strongly provoked.

My parents met in Mebane in the local public school system. Tom as a teenager first dated Edith's older sister, Beth, who was in his class at school. Later, however, he got to know Edith and soon focused his attentions on her. Tom turned 21 in December of 1930. Edith, on the other hand, would not reach her twenty-first birthday until July of 1931. Twenty-one was the legal age to marry in North Carolina at that time, and my grandfather didn't think the couple was yet ready to wed. Still, Tom and Edith were in love and were eager to marry. 

Tom proposed on Christmas Eve 1930 and Edith accepted, both of them keeping their engagement a secret. On Thursday, January 15th, 1931, they eloped to Danville, Virginia, where Edith lied about her year of birth. Tom also falsified his place of birth for some reason. Here is an image from FamilySearch.

The couple returned to Mebane and acted as if nothing had happened, and they continued to live apart. Edith ultimately confided in her sister Beth about the marriage. One of them apparently let the information slip and their parents found out. My grandfather was truly angry with Edith and Tom, their deceit, their lack of respect for their families, and for flouting conventions by eloping. He was furious that Edith had ignored his wishes and that she had broken the law by misrepresenting her age. He demanded that the couple get married again - legally. Edith asked to be married in her church but her father refused, instead insisting that it be a small, private wedding at the Weatherly home. She asked her parents if she could have a traditional wedding dress and her father again refused. He demanded that she wear a tailored suit and definitely not in white.

A newspaper announcement was made, a few invitations were mailed, and the second ceremony took place on Tuesday, January 24th, Here is another image from FamilySearch showing information about the second marriage.

As a result of the clandestine elopement and marriage, my Grandfather Weatherly held a very low opinion of my father for the remainder of his life. At the time of the second marriage, the Great Depression was in full swing. Tom had earlier attended Davidson College and Duke University but withdrew from Duke when his parent's finances - which had been considerable - collapsed. Edith had finished her college education. Both were fortunate to find employment but they struggled throughout the depression.

In later years, Tom and Edith celebrated their wedding anniversary on the date of the second marriage. Unfortunately there are no photographs of either of wedding. I have obtained copies of the marriage documents from both marriages to document this unusual set of circumstances.

1 comment:

  1. Nice post! My first thought was here we have another example of where the “Official Records” of a governmental agency may or may not be telling us the true facts. As genealogists we strive for sourcing our entires and often rely on the “official records” of the appropriate agency. On the second marriage we have the bride actually giving the incorrect name when she stated her name as Weatherly when in fact it was a result of her “first marriage”. could also argue that the first “official record” was also false in that she misrepresented her age on the application. So...does the “official records” of the two governmental agencies involved really tell us the truth and provide accurate information that we can use as a source in our family tree? Obviously not...and as mindful and tedious genealogists we are left to untangle the messes often left by those that came before us. What’s the age-old saying....”Oh what a tangled web we weave.....”