Thursday, June 19, 2014

Gretna Green

There really was a place called Gretna Green. It was a town in southern Scotland that became popular as a destination for underage residents from England to run off and unite themselves in matrimony. The phrase "Gretna Green" later became popular as a term for any town where runaway couples went to marry, usually because of having fewer restrictions.

Numerous sections of the United States had their own Gretna Greens and it is beneficial for genealogists  to know the locations when searching for marriage records.  For example, Shawneetown, Gallatin County, Illinois was one such Gretna Green for those living in western Kentucky and southwestern Indiana. The marriage record books of Pope and Hardin County, Illinois are full of marriages of western Kentucky folks. Still another Gretna Green for those living in western Kentucky and southeastern Illinois was Evansville, Vanderburgh County, Indiana.

Under the headline of "Evansville Becomes the Gretna Green for a Couple of Kentuckians" in the 15 March 1885 issue of the Evansville Journal, an account is given of John Phillips and Amanda Driver of Sebree, Webster County, Kentucky running off to Evansville after the father of the bride refused to give permission for the couple to marry. Not to be foiled in their plans, the bridegroom made all arrangements for the ceremony at the St. Cloud Hotel in Evansville. "There in the parlors of the hotel in the presence of the guests of the house, the two lovers were made one, and notwithstanding the vow of her father that his daughter should never become Mrs. John Phillips, she is now the happy wife of that gentleman ... This evening the newly married couple will return to the place from whence they fled, and the wrath of the irate father will be showered on their heads, after which all will go well, as usual in such similar cases."

I hope it turned out as well as predicted in the news article.

Published 19 June 2014, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

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