Thursday, February 17, 2011

Did J.P. and Lena Elope?

I am preparing a one-line study of my Brenton ancestors, to prepare for my BCG certification. I am confident that my great-grandfather was Everett Brenton, through the personal statements of my grandmother, Helen (Brenton) Fritzley, as well as other secondary evidence, which I will detail as I go further into this study.

Recently, I was searching for marriage records for my great-great-grandparents, Johnston Playford "J.P" Brenton and Lena Leotta Wright. They were Everett's parents. Johnston is (I believe) an interesting example of a child receiving his mother's maiden name as his first name, although he is sometimes referred to in census records, etc. as Johnson. Through FamilySearch, I found that the West Virginia Division of Culture and History had Johnston and Lena's marriage record, in the West Virginia Archives and History's Vital Records database. They were married 1 Oct 1896, in Marion County, West Virginia.

This raises some interesting questions in my research. Both J.P. and Lena were born and raised in Washington County, Pennsylvania. Their parents (as far as I can tell) lived in Pennsylvania for all or most their lives. Why would two people get married in West Virginia when they had no connections there? Did they elope? What other reasons could there be?


  1. In the recesses of my brain, I recall in the 1960's you had to be 21 to marry in PA but you could go to WV and be married at 18. I can't swear by it but that is what I remember because a friend of mine did just that.

  2. @Claudia - Oops, I really should have mentioned: when they were married, J.P. was about 37 and Lena was about 27. Interestingly enough, their son Everett eloped with my great-grandmother Gertrude to Maryland, because she was only 17 and they could get married there without parental consent. I'm thinking that maybe they had some connections in the area that I don't know about yet.