Saturday, October 29, 2011

Emma and Elmer Eloped

Emma Ewers Taylor and Elmer Dennis Hopkins eloped from Mt. Vernon, Kentucky to Jellico, Tennessee on 11 Oct 1920 but this story doesn't really start there. It starts nine years earlier.

When Emma was almost eleven years old, her sister, Susie, married August Krueger on 7 Sep 1911 at the Taylor family home in Mt. Vernon, Kentucky. This is how she remembered the wedding. 
"They had a home wedding and they all cried so I decided then if I ever married, I would elope and I did."
She didn't elaborate on exactly who cried at Susie's wedding. Most likely Emma's mother (Susie's step-mother), Emmie Jane. Probably also Emma and Susie's older sister, Gracie. Maybe even their father, John. Possibly assorted other relatives in attendance.

At any rate, the crying made a big impression on young Emma - enough that she eloped to avoid it and still vividly remembered it when she wrote about Susie's wedding and her own decades later.

Emma was born and raised in Rockcastle County, Kentucky. Elmer's family moved there from Harlan County when he was about six years old. Emma lived in Mt. Vernon and Elmer lived near Brodhead. Mutual friend, Ester Staverson, introduced them.   

By the fall of 1920, Emma had been working for 18 months as assistant cashier and bookkeeper at Peoples Bank in Mt. Vernon. Even though she wasn't yet 20 years old, this was her third job. She worked at the Mt. Vernon Post Office while waiting until she was old enough to take the teacher's examination after graduating from high school in 1916 at age 16. Her first and only year of teaching ended when the schools closed in Feb 1919 due to the flu epidemic. After that, she returned to the Post Office for a short time before going to work at the bank. 

Elmer, who was six years older than Emma, served in the U. S. Army from 4 Dec 1911 - 3 Dec 1914. He went to work for L & N Railroad on 15 Dec 1915 but took a break from his employment to serve a 2nd tour with the army during World War I from 24 May 1918 - 12 Jun 1919. After his discharge, Elmer returned to work for the railroad and bought a house in Corbin, Kentucky where he was stationed with L & N.

Emma wrote about their wedding in 1977:
"On Oct 11, 1920, I married Elmer Dennis Hopkins. When I was 11 at my sister's wedding I decided to elope. This I did. I went home from work at noon and Elmer and I left in a taxi as I went back to work. We went to Wildie. Got on the train and road to Jellico, Tenn. We were married by a Justice of the Peace in a furniture store with 1 witness which was all the state of Tenn required. We went to a hotel and ate supper then caught the train to Corbin. We got there about 11 P.M. and went to our house Elmer had bought and furnished. I fixed a special delivery letter to be delivered to Mama about the time I would get home from work telling her I would be married by the time she got it. My brother told me later there was weeping and wailing. She wrote me a letter the next day for us to come home. So we went to Mt. Vernon the third day of our honeymoon and spent the night and on to his home at Crab Orchard the next day. Mama had a good supper and a real nice cake. They didn't cry for which I was glad."
I had bought sheets, linens, etc. and had them at the bank so I bought a trunk and took all my things home. Later, I moved my piano."
"We had a bed, dresser, dining table, 6 chairs, rocker, kitchen cabinet and cook stove to start. I then bought a couch, another living room chair, rugs, wash stand and several other things for the house. I still have the round oak dining table after 57 years." 
The Mt. Vernon Signal published their wedding announcement on 15 Oct 1920: 
"TAYLOR-HOPKINS: Miss Emma Taylor and Mr. Elmer Hopkins were married in Jellico, Tenn Oct. 11, 1920.
Miss Taylor is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. C. Taylor of this city and was the Asst. Cashier of the Peoples Bank. She was one of Mount Vernon's most popular girls and was liked by everyone. Mr. Hopkins is the son of Mr. J. A.  Hopkins of near Brodhead and is a fine young man. Mr. Hopkins is a conductor for the L & N with headquarters at Corbin, Ky. where they will make their home.
[1st part of the last sentence is unreadable on newspaper microfilm] .  .  . host of friends in wishing them a long and happy married life."
Elmer and Emma on their 50th Anniversary

Autumn Weddings is the topic for the 111th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy hosted by Creative Gene.

Emma and Elmer were my maternal grandparents. The information written by Emma is from her Notebook that I have written about in the past.


  1. A notebook?? And, great photos. Total family history envy! Nice post. Wonderful details.

  2. The notebook is wonderful. But, I don't have one single photo of the two of them together before the mid 1930s - and I've been through everyone's pictures.

  3. It's wonderful that she wrote her memory of her wedding. I think so few of our ancestors did that. Wish mine had!

    It's interesting to look at their early pictures and compare them to the more recent ones. Imagine how many changes happened in the world during their lifetimes!

  4. Linda, I find it amusing (??? maybe appalling) that in the newspaper clipping about their wedding, she is referred to in the past tense, as if she had died instead of married. But he is referred to in the present tense! Different times! How wonderful for you to have her notebook!

  5. Great story, Linda. She sounds like a smart and lively young woman who knew what she wanted (and didn't want). It's interesting-both sets of my grandparents eloped, and both went on to celebrate 50+ years, just like Emma and Elmer. That notebook of hers is a real treasure - wish I had something like that!

  6. Liz - Good point! She had quit her job at the bank so "was" is correct there. I guess he could continue to be "a fine young man" but she could no longer be "one of Mt. Vernon's most popular girls" once she got married. But it seems like she should still be allowed to be "liked by everyone."

    Thanks Nancy and Shelley.

  7. They sound like they started off married life very comfortably. They are a fine looking couple and it's so wonderful you have her notebook! Nothing beats "in their own words".

  8. A lovely story, Linda. I really like that you began it with details about their lives leading up to the big day. Tears are such a personal/emotion response, aren't they? And you wrote a fitting personal/emotional tribute to the bride and groom. Thanks for sharing it in the COG!

  9. What a lovely story! And I'm also jealous that you have the notebook and have read her own words about a special event in her life.

  10. This is wonderful. Thank you for sharing.