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Courtship and Marriage

Two of the three marriages in the Ballard household in 1792 show us the differences between what was expected then and what we expect today. Marriage was a process, a series of events, not just a single, special day.

Courting took place within the confines of work and community. Interspersed with daily work, young people saw each other at school, at corn huskings, at dances after quiltings and barn raisings, at Sunday meeting, in the local tavern, or riding to visit neighbors. (Mr. Pollard's and Mr. Thomas's in these entries are two taverns in town.) Young people also went to other households to work, and might have found friends and companions there.

By law, marriage banns had to be posted in a public place for fourteen days or announced at three public religious meetings on three different days. This was called being "published." The marriage itself lacked pomp and circumstance. The honeymoon, if there was one, probably consisted of visiting friends and relatives, often in a group that travelled with the newlyweds.

Even after the wedding day, the bride did not necessarily leave her parents' house immediately. First the couple had to gather or make the goods to set up a household. Before and after the 1792 weddings, the Ballard family engaged in making and buying essential household items. Meanwhile the grooms came and went, sometimes for meals, sometimes to stay overnight. We see in the Ballard diary that finally, when they had made enough preparations, a married couple could "go to housekeeping."

Thus the rituals of courtship and marriage, under control of the community, confirmed family ties and led to a new economic relationship between two people.

For more information, see the film A Midwife's Tale and Chapter Four in the book A Midwife's Tale.

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February 25, 1788, Monday

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25 2



Clear. mr Ballard & Theophs went to Varsalboro. Revd mr Foster Came for me to See his infant; it has a Coald. I Came home at Eleven o Clok; walkd; was much fatagud. Jono & the Girls were gone to Ride in a Sleigh. [   ] Came home half aft 12.  


May 8, 1788, Thursday

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8 5



Clear. mr Josh Foster Brot his wife here. Shee had a feaver fitt while here. I have been at home. Hannah wove three yds of wail Cloath. Polly Cool here. Theophelus is Publisht to mrs Sally Rockit of OXford.


May 25, 1788, Sunday

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25 E



Clear till 1/O Clok PM, then Thunder & rain. our famely went to meeting Except Epm & my Self. I went to See mr Wilms famely, they are very unwell. mrs Pollard & mrs Porter there. I went to Bed at 10, was Calld at 11h Evinn to mr Moses Whites wife in Travil. I walkt over the String piece of ye Bridg by mr Hoveys. Ephm Cowen publisht to Hannah Wilmss.


June 15, 1788, Sunday

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15 E



Clear & Cool. I attended public worship; went to mr Westons after meeting. James Seems a little more Comfortable; at Nr Wilmss; he is poorly; his wife unwell yet. Patty much the Same. Polly Coole there. Capt Stickny & mrs Naby Jackson publishd.


October 3, 1788, Friday

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3 6



Clear. I have been at home. Wrote to Broth Jonathan Moore. Jona gone to husking. I was at home. Wrote a Letter to Broth Jona.


October 15, 1788, Wednesday

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15 4



Clear. I went over ye river as far as Charls Clearks. mr Ballard been to mr Pollards on public Business. our young people are there to a Daunce. I receivd of mr Allin 3/ which was Due for medisin & 5 lb of Chees for Cyrus A /6 pr lb. at mr Brooks. a Little Snow.


November 8, 1790, Monday

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8 2



Clear. the Girls quilted a Bed quillt. & went to mr Craggs; Spent Evng. I went to mr Westons, Bot 3dz needles, 1-1/2 lb Sugar. Calld at mr Craggs & Savages. at mr Westons. Polly Bisbe here.


November 9, 1790, Tuesday

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9 3



Clear. I have been at home. the Girls quilted two quilts. Hannah Rockwood & mrs Benjamin helpt the Evng. we Bakt mins and pumpkin pies. mrs Porter here. at home.


November 10, 1790, Wednesday

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10 4



Clear. my Girls had Some Neighbours to help ym quilt a Bed quilt. 15tn Ladies, they began to quillt at 3h pm, finisht & took it out at y Evn. there were 12 Gentlemen took Tea. they Danced a little while after Supper, behavd Exceeding Cleverly; were all returnd home before ye 11th h. at home. we had Company.


September 30, 1791, Friday

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30 6



Clear. I have been at home. my girls went to mr Pollards. mr Strattne & Lady & mrs Barton Sleep here. mrs Strattne brot me 3/4yd Cambc, cost 6/. at home. mr Strattne here.
  There are 68 entries for this theme:
1-10 | 11-20 | 21-30 | 31-40 | 41-50 | 51-60 | 61-68
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