“They had a little job they wanted me to do:” A wedding story: 1870s

unknown artist; Newlyweds; The American Museum in Britain; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/newlyweds-40963



By a Frontier Missionary

He was of Quaker extraction and education. But during the border troubles he had “fallen from the grace” of non-resistance, and had been “dropped from the roll.” He was therefore no longer in “good and regular standing” in that communion—if that can be called a “communion” where they do not observe the communion. He retained, however, very much of the plainness and bluntness and downright honesty for which that people are proverbial. Everybody knew him and everybody respected him, as an industrious, plain-spoken, honest man. He owned a fine farm three miles from town, where he lived with a family who helped him to carry it on. His farm was devoted mostly to the dairy business. He also had an ice house, and supplied the heated denizens of the city with that luxury. He was a bachelor, and it was the general opinion that whatever else he fell from he would surely illustrate the “ perseverance of the saints” in this. But his friends were reckoning without their host in this matter, or rather without their hostess. In fact, they did not know that there was a hostess to be counted in.

One day he drove up to my door on his way home. He wanted to know “if I still kept up my Sabbath afternoon appointment at the schoolhouse west of his place, and, if so, at what time I should pass his house on my way home.” I replied that “I still kept up the appointment, and should return past his house about five o’clock.” “He did not want to put me to any trouble, but if I could as well as not, he wished I would call in as I passed. They had a little job they wanted me to do.” I guessed at once what was wanted, and told him I would surely call.

So the next Sabbath, about five o’clock, I turned up the lane that led to his house, tied my horse to the fence, and went to the door. I was admitted by the housekeeper and seated. The house-work was going on just as usual—just as in any farmhouse—and I was received just as any stranger would be. There were evidently no unusual preparations going on. I asked for my friend.

“He was out in the yard milking. Should they call him?” I replied “I could wait, but I wanted to see him.” I began to feel a little cheap about the blunder I had made in supposing it was a wedding I was called to. Had it been some men, I should have suspected it was a hoax. But I knew my friend had too much respect for me to play a joke on me in such a matter, so I supposed it must be something he wanted to consult me about and I had entirely misunderstood him. In a few minutes he came in. He was in his shirt sleeves and overalls, and was carrying a brimming pail of milk. He set the milk in the pantry, and the “women folks” proceeded to strain it. He greeted me very heartily, “was sorry to detain me, but would soon be ready.” He then introduced me to a bright looking young woman whom I had noticed before, and presented her as the expectant bride. With that they two disappeared in different directions, and I was alone again. In a few minutes they returned, neatly dressed, and announced themselves as “ready.” I stripped the ceremony of all needless ornament, and made it as businesslike as possible, so as to correspond with the surroundings. The house was quiet during the service, but there was no gathering of the family in the room, and the interruption to the regular course of affairs was very brief indeed. I caught the business-like spirit of the occasion, and excused myself and departed. As I mounted my horse and turned down the lane I saw the new made bridegroom emerge from the house, reclad in the overalls before mentioned, and carrying the aforesaid milk pail, and going out towards the barn to finish “that milking.” The cows had probably never known such an interruption before. They had been kept waiting not less than twenty minutes. No doubt they wanted “dreadfully” to ask him what the matter was. But I doubt if ever there was a wedding in which less precious time was wasted, and where the regular course of events was less disturbed.

The coolest part of the proceedings is yet to be mentioned. After the ceremony the bridegroom came up, and in a frank, business-like way spoke of the fee. He said “if it would be just as satisfactory to me, he would like to give me my summer’s ice.” This was “perfectly satisfactory to me,” as it was quite a liberal sum, and the coolness of the operation was quite refreshing. No artist could have finished the picture better. There would have been an incompleteness without this final touch. With this added, the whole scene seems like an inspiration of genius.

New Outlook, Volume 14, edited by Alfred Emanuel Smith, Francis Walton, 1876: p. 196

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Such insouciant nuptials were more the exception than the rule, but here is another:


Man Hadn’t Time to Come to Surface, So Bride Descends and Ceremony Is Performed.

South Paris, Me., “Come up out of the pit and be married,” shouted Miss Alena Wantman to Andrew Lakestrom, who was drilling at the bottom of a stone quarry, 200 feet below the earth’s surface.

“I can’t spare the time,” the man shouted back. “I need the money.”

The couple had been engaged a long time. Miss Wantman sent a messenger to Rev. W.M. Strout, and when he arrived the two went to the bottom of the quarry. Lakestrom slipped a sweater over his working jacket, and while the other workmen stood around as witnesses, the ceremony was performed.

“Nothing like making a man do as he agrees,” said Mrs. Lakestrom, as she and the preacher got back to the top of the earth. Lakestrom continued work during the night.

The News-Herald [Hillsboro, OH] 1 June 1905: p. 6

Mrs Daffodil can only wish the couples much joy. It seems a case of exalting “sense” over “sensibility,” but costly and sentimental ceremonies do not necessarily make for happy unions. Our worthy  Vicar has stated (in confidence) that he has observed that the larger the wedding party, the shorter the marriage.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.



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