On July 24, 1937, my grandparents Orville W. Garrison & Naomi E. Carman were married in Elkton, Maryland. My grandmother told me this, but unfortunately I did not know enough about Elkton to ask for more of the story. It turns out that Elkton was known as the place Philadelphians went to when they eloped or otherwise wanted a quick marriage. Unlike neighboring states, Maryland did not have a waiting period for marriage at the time.
The Boundary Stones blog has a brief overview of Elkton as the place for quickie marriages. According to that article “couples didnâ€™t have to wait to use their marriage license in Maryland, but they did have to have a church service as part of the ceremony,” which might explain why my (as far as I know) irreligious grandparents were married by a Baptist minister. (My grandfather’s family were mostly Methodists. My grandmother’s were a mish-mash of various Protestant denominations, none of which were Baptist, and Catholics.)
I do know that my grandparents had waited to get married because they had both been out of work due to the Depression. So, perhaps after they got jobs, they just couldn’t wait? I do know it was not a “shotgun wedding,” as my mother was born a little less than a year later. It was also not due to the rashness of youth as described in the blog article above. My grandmother was 32 and my grandfather was 29, both had worked since adolescence and my grandfather had already been out west and returned, so they were not young people “first experiencing freedom.” I will probably never know why my grandparents ran off to Elkton to get married instead of waiting 48 hours to get married in Philadelphia, but it’s interesting to know they were a part of east coast history.
Maryland. Cecil County. Marriage Certificates. Clerk of the Circuit Court, Elkton. Orville W. Garrison & Naomi E. Carman, 1937.
“Elkton, Maryland: The Quickie Wedding Capital of the East Coast,” by Krystle Kline. Boundary Stones: WETA’s Local History Blog, https://blogs.weta.org/boundarystones/.