Pioneer Weddings

          The pioneer wedding, which was one of the interesting features of pioneer life, is described by one who often attended the festivities in the following language:  For a long time after the first settlement the people married young.  There was no distinction of rank and but little of fortune, consequently the first impression of love generally resulted in marriage.  The marriage was generally celebrated at the house of the bride.  In the morning of the wedding day, the groom and his intimate friends would assemble at the house of his father, and after due preparation departed for the mansion of the bride. The journey was sometimes made on horseback, sometimes on foot and sometimes in a farm wagon or cart.  It was always a merry journey, and to insure merriment the bottle was taken along.  After the marriage ceremonies were performed, supper eaten, dancing commenced and usually last til morning.
          At the proper time for retiring a deputation of young ladies would steal off the bride and put her to bed. This done, a deputation of young men would escort the groom to the same apartment and place him snugly by the side of his bride.  A romantic incident of a marriage of pioneer days as written by Rev. George Sluter, is of sufficient interest to be inserted here:
          "Abel Summers, who built the first mill at Marion, in 1823, employed a man by the name of Cory, from Fayette County, to frame his mill. This millwright brought with him his three sons,  Whitman,  Stephen and  Alman.  Now, it so happened that at the time, on Samuel Endsley lived just across the river from where the mill was in process of construction.  His family consisted of a wife and six children, the oldest of whom was an unmarried daughter of eighteen.  It seems that Alman Cory soon became enamored of  this young lady and determined to marry her.  His suit being successful, he obtained leave of absence from his father to go home after clothing suitable for the occasion.  There he was detained several days longer than he had intended, without being able to explain the matter.
          His brother, Whitman Cory, who had been his rival, thought this the time for him to speak.  So he told the young lady that Alman had no intention of returning, and that he himself was very much in need of a wife.  He artfully insinuated that as he was a widower and had known what wedded bliss was, he was far more lonely than one who had never been married. He put the case so strongly that Polly told him, if those things were so, they the sooner he got his license, the better.
          Of course, Whitman was in great haste for fear his brother should return before he had secured his prize. So having borrowed a suit of clothing from James Carr, who lived in Marion, late in the evening, he crossed the river in a canoe, accompanied by Carr and Squire Kennedy.  Mrs. Carr had kindly agreed to set her house in order for the reception of the bridal party, as soon as the two were made one.  They arrived at the bride's residence in due time. The ceremony was soon over.  And, after partaking of some ginger and whisky to keep out the cold, the bridal party started for Marion.  But, upon reaching the river, the canoe was gone.  They searched diligently, but it could not be found.  Their embarrassment was great.  It was no laughing matter to them.  They were compelled to return to the log cabin they had left but a short time before.  It was a rude structure, only sixteen feet square, with round poles for joists, so low that a man of ordinary size could hardly stand erect under them, and two-thirds of the space of one end taken up by the huge fireplace.  This would be considered a scanty accommodation in our day, for so large a number as were now beneath that roof.  No supper had been prepared for the unexpected guests.  But the crisis was only momentary, for the father of bride came to the rescue.  He seized his mattock, made an opening in the turnip-hole, and said: "Come, gentlemen, help yourselves; here is plenty."
          The next day the canoe was discovered, and the wedding party brought over to Marion, it is said, "with shouting and great joy."  And some time afterward it was found out that William Wilson  and  William Michael, two young bloods of the neighborhood, had actually swam the river through the mush ice in order to bring the canoe to the opposite band, and concealed it about half a mile above the landing in the bushes.
History of Shelby County, Indiana,  Chicago:  Brant & Fuller, 1887, pp 315-316.

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