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As It Was: Friends Run Drunken Groom Out of Town to Avoid Vows

On a warm sunny day in July, 1858, all was ready for the wedding of Miss Wagner and Mr. Pursely in Phoenix, Ore.  The Justice of the Peace had provided all the appropriate preliminaries before the 60 guests.  Miss Wagner stood before the groom in her best dress.  Pursely was a little tipsy from alcoholic fortification.
Pursely had come to Phoenix less than a year earlier as a shoemaker, or a “son of Saint Crispin” as they were often called in those days.  It had been difficult to make ends meet, but he was considered a respectable citizen.

As the couple stood before Justice Hays, he asked Pursely, “Do you take this woman to be your lawful wedded wife?” With little regard for proprieties he answered, “I don’t do nothin’ else, old hoss!”

With the guests struggling to keep from laughing out loud, Hays asked Miss Wagner the same question. She replied unequivocally, “No!” and sat down.

Pursely’s friends watched him drink even more, then took him to the millrace for a dunking, subjected him to many indignities, and sent him on his way out of town.

Thus ended the half-wedding.

Source: "The Amusing Account of a" Half Wedding"." Sacramento Daily Union, 21 July 1858, p. 1.

Alice Mullaly is a graduate of Oregon State and Stanford University, and taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York; Mill Valley, California; and Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. Alice has been an Southern Oregon Historical Society volunteer for nearly 30 years, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.