When you think of past wars, be it the American Revolution, Civil War, or World War II, the last thing you may think of is a wedding. Armed conflicts just don’t provide the romantic backdrop young “brides to be” dream of as little girls. As for guys, they may have “played war” as children, or in today’s age, war-inspired video games such as Call of Duty, but I would wager that marriage is seldom pondered while engaged in these pursuits.
For history wonks like me, one of the best features of the Frederick News-Post is the Yesterday feature which recollects happenings here in Frederick, Maryland as they were covered in the local paper “on this date” at the intervals of 100, 50 and 20 years ago.
Some of you may have seen an entry under the 100 Years Ago heading for July 16th, 1918 which chronicled an exchange of marriage vows between a local couple separated by the Atlantic Ocean. At this time, a young US Army serviceman was tying the knot with a young lady from his hometown of Thurmont (MD).
Trans-global communication is commonplace today, and has been for decades. Anybody with a smart phone device can “video-chat” (using computer software such as Skype) with a friend anywhere on the planet, as long as there is cell signal. Many first saw this as a future possibility on the Hanna-Barbera Jetsons cartoon from the early 1960’s. Our marriage in question, however, took place in 1918.
Just think of the telegraph and telephone service of the day, requiring an intricate set of lines and operators who physically made, or recorded all the connections and communications by hand. This was the situation involved here as an elaborate choreography of communication over cables was necessary. Actual telegrams were sent via underwater cable between the two continents. These were known as cablegrams.
The Wedding Participants
Nineteen year-old Guy Vincent Lewis of Thurmont was serving in the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe during World War I. He had enlisted in the Regular Army on December 13th, 1917 and was sent to the 2nd Training Brigade at Kelly Field, Texas. He was then assigned to the 38th Reconnaissance Squadron at Camp Arthur, Texas. On February 4th (1918), Private Lewis became part of the 839th Aero Squadron, and was duly shipped overseas on April 16th, landing in England.
The lovely bride was named Goldie Anita Black, born January 20th, 1899, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William G. Black of Thurmont. The Blacks owned a farm on Apples Church Road and were proud members of Thurmont’s Methodist congregation.
On the big day, July 15th, 1918, Private Lewis married Miss Black—with the wedding taking place in two separate locations. Guy Lewis was currently stationed at an air base in Toul, France, while Goldie was in the confines of her home in Thurmont—3,000 miles across the sea from her groom. Both parties were in the company of clergymen at the hour of 8:00PM (Maryland Time), 2:00AM in France.
Rev. E.O. Pritchett, pastor of Thurmont’s Methodist Episcopal Church, administered the marriage vows on the bride’s “stateside” behalf. In France, Lewis’ religious proxy was an Army chaplain known only as Lt. Warred.
Guests of the wedding gathered at the Black family home and included the fore-mentioned bride’s parents, along with those of groom. Private Lewis’ father was J. Hooker Lewis, a renowned former resident of the area and purveyor of a successful orchard business on the eastern slope of Catoctin Mountain. You may recall the name of Charles Lewis, Guy’s older brother, who got himself in a heap of trouble during the infamous Blue Blazes (moonshine) Still Raid of 1929. Guilty or not, Charles Lewis “took the rap” for the killing of Frederick County Sheriff’s Deputy, Clyde L. Hauver, Sr. on the evening of July, 31st, 1929. Charles Lewis may have been on hand at this special occasion, but would spend much of his adult life behind bars after the bloody raid a decade later, serving out his sentence for first-degree murder in the penitentiary from 1930-1950. (See earlier Story in Stone from July 29, 2017 "The Victim of Blue Blazes")
The Lewis-Black marriage was successfully conducted "without a hitch" that mid-summer night, and it made perfect fodder for the press, especially as a rare “feel-good story” amidst the backdrop of such a terrible and lonely war. The story first appeared in the Frederick paper the following day. Soon it was picked up by papers across the nation, and printed. Spending just a few minutes in search, I found the Lewis nuptials covered in papers ranging from Massachusetts, Georgia, Minnesota, Ohio, Iowa and California. Private and Mrs. Lewis were now pseudo celebrities, perhaps in the same vain as earlier Frederick County “marriage exhibitionists,” Ella N. Graser and Jacob M. Kanode who starred in a public wedding at the Great Frederick Fair in October of 1890.
The Rest of the Story
I was delighted to find that Guy V. Lewis was buried in Mount Olivet, giving me a pass to pen this story for “Stories in Stone.” I was amazed that I hadn’t been alerted to the fascinating tale having spent years producing a comprehensive history documentary about Thurmont and its rich heritage. The name of the film (completed in 2014) is “Almost Blue Mountain City: the History of Thurmont, MD. The Lewis’ marriage story would have fit in perfectly with a portion of the project that explored local involvement in World War I. We talked about the boys who served and those lost in “the Great War,” prompting townspeople to create Thurmont’s Memorial Park on a plot of ground on East Main Street. A bronze plaque lists 119 local boys who served in the conflict, 11 of whom made the supreme sacrifice. Scarlet oak trees were planted in memory of each of those killed.
Looking at our cemetery records, I noticed both a glaring omission, and a strange addition. First the omission—there was no sign of wife Goldie A. (Black) Lewis. Well, this simply could have been due to a burial elsewhere, perhaps back home in Thurmont in the Black family lot at Wellers Methodist Church Cemetery. Now that’s where Goldie’s parents reside, but she’s not in the plot. However, I did find her at the adjacent Blue Ridge Cemetery. She was buried alone, but wore a new surname—Goldie A. Cook.
“Oh no, I thought!” What a shame, as the “marriage over cable” story was so romantic and newsworthy, even more so during a war. I quickly checked our cemetery records and saw that Guy, unlike his former wife, was indeed buried here at Mount Olivet but with a second wife, Lottie Maude Mainhart (Lewis). I scoured old newspapers and found a brief article relating to Guy’s return from war in December 1918. Sadly, a year later in January, 1920, I found another article announcing Goldie filing for divorce from Guy in 1920. When I began looking for the couple in census records, I noticed the presence of a daughter named Ruth Lewis. More interesting was the fact that Ruth was born on August 15th, 1918—exactly one month after the wedding “heard ‘round the world.” So I guess the irony here is that the “romantic, long-distance” wedding was definitely military-related, being a classic “shotgun-wedding.”
Well at least I am comforted in knowing that both young lovers found love again, even though their own did not last. Guy Lewis was living back home in Thurmont with his parents in the 1920 US Census. His fortunes would change five years later as he married Lottie M. Mainhart on the 1st of January, 1925. The nuptials took place in Washington, DC, however I couldn't find out if it was a traditional church ceremony, a "justice of the peace" simple deal, or something unique like he did six-and-a-half years earlier. He moved to Lottie's family farm located in Beallsville, between Poolesville and Darnestown, where he would reside up to his death in 1957. I found that Guy and Lottie were responsible for planting fruit trees on the Mainhart's farm which had been founded in 1888. Not only did Guy understand the orchard business, having grown up on one in Thurmont, he was one of the first people in the area with a flatbed truck. His key job consisted of hauling the family’s fruit, mainly peaches, to local canneries. The operation would eventually become the wildly successful Lewis Orchards operation that continues today, located at the intersection of MD28 and Peach Tree Road.
Goldie Anita (Black) Lewis lived in Thurmont over the next two decades and raised daughter Ruth into adulthood. She remarried a gentleman named Roger A. Cook (1892-1957), sometime after 1940, and took up residence in downtown Frederick at 129 W. Fourth Street. I would discover an article announcing a proposed suit of divorce in April, 1942, but the couple apparently made amends sometime after. Roger would enlist in the US Army six months later, participating in World War II. Maybe there was a “re-connection” while both were separated by the Atlantic Ocean, who knows? Roger went on to become the Superintendent of Frederick City’s Street system, and at the time of his death in May, 1957, was the municipality’s oldest working employee. Goldie remained in Frederick, dying in 1991.
As for the Lewis’ child, baby Ruth grew up fine and would one day marry Claude S. Humerick. Ruth spent her life in Thurmont, working at the Claire Frock Company and later Thurmont High School before passing in 2004. She had four children (although two died young) and our grandchildren. She is buried in Blue Ridge Cemetery, the same as her mother.
I looked again at our cemetery records and found a gravesite of one, Guy V. Lewis, Jr. (1925-2003). Guy, Jr. was a product of his father’s second marriage and one of six children. I noticed a message on this tombstone, along with his obituary) recognizing him as a beloved “Pop-Pop” to his four grandchildren. In total, Guy Sr. had 12 grandkids via his remarriage. So regardless of the divorce of Guy V. Lewis and Goldie A. Black, the relationship, and subsequent ones, continued to bear fruit as future generations were positively affected and impacted. I’m sure there is much more to the story (and pictures of the participants out there as well), but what a nice takeaway, proving that everything happens or a reason.
And one more thing. Goldie Black Lewis Cook had a brother named Willis Glen Black (1896-1937). Willis’ sons (and Goldie’s nephew) Elmer “Lee”(1923-2015) and Harry (1921-1998) would enter into the fruit industry as well. In 1950, Elmer “Lee” Black bought J. Hooker Lewis’ (Guy V. Lewis’ father) Strawberry Field and started Blacks Hilltop Orchard. Four years prior (or should I say Pryor as Pryor’s Orchard was opened by a son-in-law of J. Hooker Lewis), Harry Black was responsible for starting an orchard business in 1946 with the help of his wife Helen. This venture, located along US15, just north of Thurmont, is still in operation today. It’s being run by Harry’s children Bob and Pat, and a slew of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I guess it’s fair to say that the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree.