January 28, 1948: “Back from Gypsy Elopement”

Valentine’s Day is almost here so it seems appropriate to share this little snippet I found among the many newspaper articles my grandmother Fannie Woodruff Brodhead clipped and set aside for safekeeping.

The clipping is about her great niece’s elopement at age 16, to William Bull, 20, in Cape Charles, Northampton County, Virginia. I found the marriage record, which shows the lovebirds got hitched on January 28, 1948. They gave their ages as 21 and 22, respectively. A Newark newspaper picked up on the story with its photo “Back from Gypsy Engagement”.

Obviously this fun-loving couple had a wonderful sense of humor:

Back in Newark NJ] after elopement to Cape Charles, Va., are Abby Sommer Bull, 16, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George Sommer of 156 Heller parkway, and William Bull, 20, son of Dr. and Mrs. Louis M. Bull of 92 Heller Parkway. Bridegroom still wears earrings which helped them tell gypsy fortunes to finance trip home after they ran out of cash.

Abby and William were neighbors as you can see from the addresses, so perhaps the families knew that something like this was afoot.

Funny enough, when “googling” William’s name, I happened upon a small article in the January 24, 1914, issue of Horticulture reporting the January 13, 1914, elopement of William’s father Louis M. Bull!

Horticulture by Massachusetts Horticultural Society; Horticultural Society of New York; Pennsylvania Horticultural Society magazine, January 24, 1914

Louis and his bride Gertrude Siebrecht, the daughter of a New York florist (which explains the article’s appearance in Horticulture), were the exact same ages as Abby and William at the time of their elopement–16 and 20. So something tells me that “family tradition” may have also been on young William’s mind as he planned his elopement with his young sweetheart.

And good news: Both marriages lasted a very long time!

Happy Valentines Day, all!

PS: A marriage ban was put into place in June 2018 in New Jersey that prohibited previously allowed marriages at age 16 with parental consent. In Virginia, until 2016, no minimum age for marriage had ever been set.

Another PS for family who may be wondering: Abby was a descendant of James and Wealthy Angus:

  • Her parents: Abigail Van Horn and George Sommer
  • Grandparents: Cecelia Russum Woodruff and Robert Osborne Van Horn
  • Great-grandparents: Wealthy Ann Angus and William Earl Woodruff
  • Great-great-grandparents:  Wealthy Ann Jaques and James W. Angus
  • Categories: Bull, New Jersey, Newark, Essex Co., Sommer, Virginia, Weddings | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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    2 thoughts on “January 28, 1948: “Back from Gypsy Elopement”

    1. I like this story very much. However today the outcome would be very different as I am sure the groom would be arrested and his life in ruin. While I understand this it is with a little sadness that stories like this are a thing of the past.

      Like

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