A Valentine’s Day wedding – but was it romantic?

Next Friday is February 14th – Valentine’s Day – so I thought I’d see if I could find any Valentine’s Day weddings in my database of Tickles and Tickells. I drew a complete blank in my British records but I’ve recently been researching some American Tickle families. Sure enough, I found a wedding between a John Lewis Tickle and Joanna Penden that took place on 14 February 1895 in Alamance County, North Carolina.

John Lewis is one of many Tickles whose names I’ve recorded during my research, but I knew little about him, apart from a couple of census entries for him as a child. It’s a wet and extremely windy Sunday today, as Storm Ciara rages over the British Isles – so a perfect day to spend trawling online resources to see what I could find out about John Lewis and his bride! It turned out to be more complicated than I anticipated.

John was a farmer, born on 20 November 1846 to Lewis Tickle and Sarah (known as Sallie) Hughes. Most Tickles in North Carolina are descended from two brothers, Johannes and Peter Digel, who emigrated to America in the mid 18th century. Coincidentally, the next three blog posts I have planned mention these brothers and their journey to settle in North Carolina. I believe John Lewis’s ancestor was Johannes Digel but don’t yet have the paper trail to back this up.

When I first saw the wedding date, I imagined young lovers tying the knot but, on further investigation, I discovered John Lewis was 49 years old, had been married previously, and had several children, when he married Joanna. She was 32; I don’t know if she had been married before.

Twenty-one years earlier, when John Lewis was 28, he married 21-year old Leah Gerringer (or Gersinger). The marriage took place on 17 Sep 1874, also in Alamance. Unfortunately, .Leah died on 16 Jan 1894, aged 41, and is buried in Altamahaw, Alamance County. Her gravestone shows her as the wife of John L Tickel, a variant spelling of the surname. The couple had numerous children; their two youngest daughters were both under 5 years old when their mother died. It would have been difficult for John to farm his land and look after the children without a wife, so I suspect he may have remarried as much for practical reasons as romantic ones.

I’d like to think John and Joanna picked Valentine’s Day for their wedding because of the significance of the date, but I suspect it may simply have been a case of waiting for a suitably respectful time after Leah’s death before having the banns read. John Lewis’s second marriage took place a year and a month after losing his first wife.

In the 1900 census, Joanna is shown as Josie, possibly a nickname. They had been married five years, which ties in with the year of marriage. Josie (Joanna) is shown as having had one child who did not survive. However, there are six younger Tickles in the household – all children of John Lewis and Leah.

The next surprise I had was finding a further marriage for John Lewis. On 10 Aug 1911, at the age of 64, he married Minnie Wingate, a 39 year old widowed mother of four, who was a seamstress. He is shown on the 1920 census in Pitt County with Minnie and two of her children. I haven’t been able to locate a death record for Joanna Tickel in any North Carolina index I’ve looked at, so don’t know when she passed away.

As often happens when you research an individual, I am left with missing pieces of the jigsaw to add to my ToDo list. What happened to Joanna, for instance? In 1900, John’s occupation is shown as Laborer, rather than Farmer – why was that? I have found John Lewis on every census bar the 1910 one. Where was he in 1910? The Tickle surname is frequently mis-transcribed so it can be very difficult to locate, but I’ve tried various wildcard searches with no luck.

Another mystery relates to John Lewis’s burial. He died at the age of 78 in Pitt County, North Carolina. My research has led me to believe there is a story surrounding his death and burial, which I need to follow up, but I shall leave that for another day. It’s a very wet and even windier afternoon … and the Six Nations Rugby is on TV!

If you believe you are related to John Lewis Tickle, you can see the information I have on him here.

3 thoughts on “A Valentine’s Day wedding – but was it romantic?”

  1. Your Tickle research makes for very interesting reading. It might be that Valentine’s Day was specially chosen for their wedding, as it fell on a Thursday that year. I’ll be waiting to hear the story of John’s death and burial.

    1. Well done for finding out the day of the week, Linda. I intended to do that but forgot. I hope you are right – it would be nice to think it wasn’t just a marriage of convenience.

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