Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Marrying Squires

I am working on my SHELTON line again and found Thomas Shelton, 4th great grandpa. A few months back I found reference to this whole Marying Squires thing, but it sounded too funny and cool to be true, at least of my family. So I've been looking into it.

Here is an article I found:

PRESERVING THE PAST: Aberdeen Museum helping current and future generations remember , by Marla Toncray
Ledger Independent Posted: Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Highlighting the history of Aberdeen is the story of the "marrying squires", Thomas Shelton and Massie Beasley.

Between the two men, they are credited with performing more than 32,000 marriages during their terms as Justice of the Peace from 1822 through 1892. Shelton served as justice from 1822 to 1870 and is credited with more than 25,000 marriages; Beasley held the position from 1870 to 1892 and performed 7,228 marriage ceremonies.

Because of its reputation as a place for young couples to get married, Aberdeen became known as Gretna Green, after the famous town in Scotland where young couples eloped.

An interesting twist to the marrying squires story is the fact that most of the marriages performed by Shelton were illegal and many widows of the Civil War were unable to claim pension benefits from the United States government because there was no record of their marriage.

"There was no record of the marriages and it took a federal act of Congress to legalize those marriages," Kay said as she thumbed through a book housing the written history of the marrying squires.

Museum trustee Mike Faris said legend has it Shelton would "loan you a ring and take it back" after the ceremony was performed.

Now I'm off to find that book she thumbed through with the written history. And, now that I really think about my Sheltons, it does kinda fit into their wackiness. Remind me to tell you about Nana (Shelton) and her "luggage" someday...

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