Friday, January 04, 2008

Pelham Marriage Factory

The Washington Post (Washington, D.C.) 4 December 1909 (Page 11)

Special to The Washington Post

Pelham Magistrate Forbidden to Issue Licenses or Unite Couples

Pelham, N. C. Dec 3 (1909). This village located a short distance beyond the Virginia border, and famed as a gretna green, has lost its charms. Frederick W. Brown register of deeds of Caswell County, having ordered that the practice of issuing licenses by magistrates be abolished. For years an average of 300 couples, most of them runaways, come to Pelham owing to the leniency of North Carolina laws and the ease with which a union could be effected.

The license was issued and the ceremony performed by a justice of the peace. In the future all licenses must be secured at Yanceyville the county seat. A North Carolina judge recently decided that marriages performed by a justice of the peace are not legal.

Note the following from The Heritage of Caswell County, North Carolina, Jeannine D. Whitlow, Editor (1985) at 49-50 ("Pelham" by Louise Carter):
During these early days Pelham became famous as the place where many were married. A Rev. Thomas Walker lived with his wife, Ginny, and family on the present old 29 South of the Pryor farm. Preacher Walker (as he was known) was a Circuit Rider minister who traveled from place to place in northern North Carolina and southern Virginia. Couples came from far and near by wagon, buggy and train to be married. When train connections could not be made, they were given overnight accommodations. It is said the Walker home had the figure 18 in the parlor floor over which brides who were under age stood so they could get married. William Abner Fowlkes and Ella Frances Saunders were married by him on July 24, 1887. (See separate story.) Preacher Walker kept a journal of the marriages performed. These have been recorded in the County, and the journal is owned by J. B. Blaylock.

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