Saturday, June 28, 2008

A Melungeon Romance

Many years ago, when Tennessee was being settled by white people, there came to this section from Virginia a wealthy man with his family and his slaves. He bought a large and valuable tract of land a cleared it up and converted it into a farm. This tract was situated in the bend of the river, now called Moccasin bend and much of it was very rich and fertile river bottom land, where vegetation of all sorts grew in rich and luxuriant abundance.

The man died after awhile, leaving a widow and three sons, the widow married again and raised a family of three girls. The young men grew up to be good business men, and each of them had a fine farm inherited from his father. Two of them died without having been married, and their estates were inherited by the survivor. The survivor, the hero of this story, rented his land and hired out his slaves, and he himself entered into the mercantile business in the town which grew up on the south side of the river. It was at first Rossville, but is now the flourishing city of Chattanooga.

After several years of life in the town he was attacked with severe spell of fever; he recovered but the disease affected his mind to such an extent that he was temporarily deranged. He recovered his mental faculties about the year 1848 and thereafter, for several years, managed his property very successfully.

Old Soldier’s Beautiful Daughter

He had on his farm a tenant who had been a United States soldier in the War of 1812, having joined the army in South Carolina, where he lived at the time. This old soldier had a daughter who was famed for her beauty, her grace of manner and modesty. She was a dark brunette. She had a suit of black hair, which was coveted by all the girls who knew her. Her form was petite, and yet withal was so plump and so well developed as to make her an irresistibly charming young woman. She was most beautiful of face, and had a rich, black eye, in whose depths the sunbeams seemed to gather. When she loosed her locks they fell, almost reaching the ground, and shone in the sunlight or quivered like the glamour which the full moon throws on the placid water. She was the essence of grace and loveliness.Our hero fell in love with this delightful young woman;’ she reciprocated his affection, and they obtained the consent of their parents to be married.

His mother and half sisters heard of his attachment and engagement — to which they were much opposed. They knew if he married, their prospects of some time falling heir to his property would be destroyed. They notified the clerk and his deputy, whose duty it was to issue marriage licenses not to issue a license, claiming that our hero was incompetent to contract a marriage, and that there was a legal disability to his inter-marriage with this girl and they threatened to bring suit for damages against him and his bondsmen if he issued him a license to wed this young woman.

Love Laughs at Obstacles

When our hero, several days afterward applied to the clerk he was refused a license. He was a young man of resources and was not to be outwitted in this way. He took his bride elect and crossed over the river and secured the aid of Ab Carroll and John Cummings, both of whom were young men, and they entered joyfully into the plot. They were fond of fun, and they readily agreed to promote the marriage, since there was a romantic feature connected with it. They took the young people desperately bent on getting married to the house of squire Clark in Dade county, Georgia, and sent to Trenton and secured a marriage license. Squire Clark performed the marriage ceremony in due and proper form, and made return of the license, properly indorsed by him under the law of Georgia, the proper court in Trenton, the county seat of Dade county.

The happy bridegroom, with his charming bride, returned to his home that afternoon, duly and legally married, much to the discomfort of his relatives who had tried to thwart the marriage, it never having occurred to them that a Georgia court would grant a license and a Georgia judge perform the ceremony.

They immediately went to housekeeping on the bridegroom’s plantation in a comfortable home which he had previously furnished and prepared for his bride, and they started out in life happily and auspiciously. The marriage took place on June 14, 1856, as shown by Squire Clark’s return on the license.

To be cont.

No comments: