A century ago, two residents of the Oklahoma Confederate Veterans Home wanted to get married. This wasn’t as unusual as it might sound because the home admitted Confederate veterans and widows of Confederate veterans.
William H. Stoneburner, 68, of Muscogee County had fallen in love with Annie Bolling, 66, of Capitol Hill.
At first there was a bit of a problem because while the home, which was in Ardmore, Okla., had separate quarters for men and women, there were no accommodations for married couples.
In addition, there was the fear that “connubial relations” between residents might lead to “improper familiarity” between men and women who weren’t married, according to the blog My Old Confederate Home.
However, both Stoneburner and Bolling claimed they were desperately in love and asked for Superintendent John J. Galt’s permission to wed.
Galt promptly punted the question to his boss, Home President D. M. Hailey.
Hailey’s response was memorable, to say the least:
I appreciate fully that ‘love at first sight’ is a heartrending malady, and many foolish young folks laboring under the apprehension that it is the real thing awake the cold gray dawn of the morning after and find that it was a mirage. In a case of this kind we must allow some latitude for youth and inexperience, and while love must have its fling, I am fully cognizant of the fact that these young folks are full of ginger and the vigor of youth and that their minds are fully made up.
Have they been properly advised by their ‘elders’? Have they been made to realize that the ‘new’ may someday wear off? Have they been told by the proper persons that affairs of this kind often result in the propagation of children which have to be raised, schooled and otherwise cared for?
If I can have your word that you will whisper good counsel in their ears, I will very cheerfully join you in bestowing my blessing on their gay young heads and wishing them many happy returns of their joyous wedding day.
I believe it would be a splendid idea not to delay the day as the suspense must be something awful to their aching young hearts. I also hereby appoint and constitute you my lawful and personal representative and authorize you to kiss the bride.
A week later in November 1912, the pair were married in a ceremony on the front porch of the Old Soldiers Home.
Immediately after the wedding, the newlyweds received a special gift, according to My Old Confederate Home.
A newspaperman from the Kansas City Post, in Ardmore to cover the nuptials, presented the couple with a gift of $100,000 in cash.
Asked about his generosity, the newspaperman laughed it off:
“Inasmuch as the bridegroom was an old Confederate soldier and the bride the widow of an old Confederate, the $100,000 given them was in Confederate currency,” he said.
The $100,000 in Confederate money may not have been worth much 100 years ago, but it would bring a pretty penny from collectors today, no doubt.
(Above: The Oklahoma Confederate Veterans Home in Ardmore, shortly after it opened in 1911.)