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JIM: 110 years ago: A tale of love's labor lost - and found

'I will marry you or die,' the young bride from Pellyton country told her intended spouse, after an initial scheme to elope to Jeffersonville, IN, was thwarted by Louisville police at the request of her father
Click on headline for complete fascinating accounty by JIM


Around noon on a late September day in 1905, Miss Ethyl Rubarts, a resident of the Eunice community, was taken into custody as she departed a train at the 10th Street Station, Louisville, her offense being the heinous crime of wishing to marry the man she loved, Mr. Joe Thomas, a farmer of the Pellyton country.

Mr. Thomas, a lad of about 23 summers, had been paying suit to Miss Rubarts for some two years with no objection from her father, G.W. Rubarts, Jr., until a short time earlier when the young couple broached the subject of marriage. Since she was but 17, parental consent was required. Not only did Mr. Rubarts adamantly refuse to give the consent, he forbade Mr. Thomas from paying call to his only daughter, and thus came about the scheme to elope to Jeffersonville, Indiana.

After Ethyl and Joe left Adair County, however, her father caught wind of the scheme and telegraphed ahead to Louisville. Not only did he request of Acting Chief Ridge of the Louisville Police that his daughter be detained, Mr. Rubarts promised "a substantial reward if the young lady was apprehended before the ceremony was performed." When Miss Rubarts was arrested, she was "Dressed in cream colored silk and carrying a bouquet of bride's roses and incidentally a Fall jacket and fascinator."

Joe, given his freedom while the police held Ethyl pending the arrival of her father, showed his true colors -- and true devotion -- by declaring he would stay "until his sweetheart left, follow her home, and try again."

The above saga first appeared in the Louisville Times, an evening publication, on Friday, September 29th, 1905, the day these events unfolded. A week later, a piece in the Duluth (Minn.) Evening Herald added this detail:

"Young Thomas was dressed in the regulation black suit, white tie and patent leather shoes of the bridegroom. The young woman is facing the situation courageously, and on the way from the station to the central police station she declared to her lover: 'I will marry you or die.'"

The Louisville Times article subsequently was reprinted in the Wednesday, October 4th edition of the Adair County News. Two weeks later, the front page of the News announced, perhaps with a hint of glee, that on Monday morning, October 16th, "the young couple again succeeded in escaping the vigilance of the young lady's parents and up to the time of going to press [early Tuesday afternoon] their whereabouts cannot be ascertained, but it is supposed that Tennessee was their destination."

This time, the gods of fortune smiled upon the venture, and Ethyl and Joe were joined in matrimony on Thursday, October 19, 1905, in Campbell County, Tennessee, one month and two days after her 17th birthday. - JIM

This story was posted on 2015-09-20 11:20:26
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