Today is the anniversary of the marriage of my great-grandparents, Reddick Smith and Mary Ann Wolstenholme. On the 2nd of August 1866, they stood before Henry Holt, justice of the peace in Davidson County, Tennessee, and promised to “love, honor and obey” each other for the rest of their lives.
I don’t know if they were able to fulfill that promise, but I do know they lived together until Reddick passed away in Hardin County, Illinois. Reddick and Mary Ann must have met during the Civil War when he was stationed in Tennessee. He stayed there when the war ended, they married, and had two children before moving to his family home in Hardin County about 1870.
Reddick and Mary Ann had 14 children, with only about half living to adulthood. My grandmother, Beatrice Mary, was born in 1877 and lived until 1968. When I was a child, she told me that one of her younger brothers, I believe it was Earl (1883-1896), became ill suddenly and his footsteps remained in the dusty field, where he was working, after his death. Several other children in the family died as infants.
In 1902, my grandmother married Lycurgus M. Joyce and had two sons when they, along with her parents and brother Ed decided to move to Washington. Selling everything they owned, they boarded a train to an area where they hoped life would be easier. According to a story told by my father, Reddick hurt his back, didn’t like Washington, and everyone boarded the train to go back home to southern Illinois. My grandparents would later have two more children, a son and a daughter. Reddick died in Hardin County in 1913 and Mary Ann in 1933.
Oh, the stories they could tell. I would like to know about Reddick leaving the army each spring to go home to plant crops. I would like to know about the months he spent in Libby Prison before being exchanged. I would like to ask Mary Ann what her life was like in Davidson County. Why did she not keep in touch with her family after she moved to Illinois? Family legend has it that Mary Ann’s father, Hugh Wolstenholme, died on the road between her old home in Tennessee and her new home in Illinois. I bet she could tell me exactly where Hugh is buried.
Reddick and Mary Ann witnessed many changes during their lives. They saw the birth of the telephone and automobile and electricity became common. My dad used to relate the story told to him by Mary Ann about the first time Reddick heard a phonograph, which was a wind-up apparatus and was contained in a cabinet. Reddick circled the cabinet and tried to open the back to learn who was sitting inside talking.
All I have of Reddick and Mary Ann are a few documents, some stories, pictures and, my prize possession, the wedding ring Reddick made for Mary Ann. A jeweler told me a silver coin was placed on a rod and hammered until a circle of the right size appeared. Apparently, this was a common way to fashion a ring when money was scarce. I am proud to wear this ring today.
On the 143rd anniversary of their marriage, they are remembered and honored.