Thursday, June 6, 2013

Clint and Mary's Romance

In my first blog post, I promised to tell the story of my grandparents' Clint Troutman and Mary Waggoner’s romance, but I have yet to do that. My cousin Connee’s poem, quoted in my last blog, tells some of that story. But there’s more.

I don’t know when Mary and Clint met and fell in love, but I suspect it might have been some time after October 1898 when the Waggoner family sold their farm[1] on the White Oak Branch in northeastern Smyth County and bought land in Rich Valley not far from where the Troutman family lived.[2] Clint’s family had been living on a farm in Rich Valley on the north side of Walker mountain since 1887. That’s the year when Clint’s maternal grandparents, Nicholas H. and Sarah “Sally” Pratt, deeded acreage to their daughter, America Troutman, for the grand price of $1.00.[3] Why they did this? I can only guess.

A family story may give a clue as to the reason: Clint’s parent’s home burned to the ground at some point in their marriage. Maybe America’s parents were trying to help them get back on their feet after the fire. A map of Smyth County dated 1899 shows the location of the Troutman land, but the name on the map is D. A. Troutman, not A. Troutman.[4] Whether Clint’s father Daniel Absolum Troutman owned land himself seems to be in doubt. I’ve found no records to offer evidence that he did.

For reasons unknown, Clint’s family did not approve of the romance, nor did Mary’s family. Maybe Clint’s mother, who seemed to take pride in her family heritage, thought Mary’s family was too poor, perhaps not good enough for her son. She had a sharp tongue and a hot temper, her children have said. America came from a family of landowners in the valley.

As for Mary’s parents’ objections to Clint, I don’t even have a guess on this one. According to Clint’s children, he had dropped out of school in fifth grade after an altercation with his teacher, who happened to have been a Pratt cousin of his. For whatever mischief he had done, she had slapped him across the face and left a red welt on his cheek. Some stories say, he was bleeding. He turned and fled out the door of the school and ran home. There, his mother sided with him and told him he didn’t have to go back, so he didn’t. He started working the farm with his father, instead.

According to my aunt’s memories of the letters she read (see my blog of April 3), Mary’s and Clint’s courtship involved meeting on the sly at parties of mutual friends in the valley. According to Mary’s teaching certificate dated 1907, we can reasonably say that Mary was teaching in the valley that year. One of her students was a boy named Reese DeBord, who later married Clint’s niece, Eula Troutman. For years, Reese called his aunt-in-law, Miss Mary, as that was the name the children called her at school.

In about 1909, Mary’s family decided to move to Missouri where several of Mary’s paternal uncles had moved. I’ve wondered why she left Clint and went away with her family. After all, at age 22, she was an adult. Maybe she and Clint decided it would be better for her to go, and for him to follow, than to face the rants of his mother if they stayed and married in Virginia. Whatever the case, Mary left and Clint later followed. Connee’s poem tells of Clint’s romantic exit from Virginia.

My dad added another dimension to that story: It seems that Clint’s older brother Jim dubbed Clint with the nickname Shoat as they were growing up. For those who are unfamiliar with that farm term, a shoat is a baby pig. A few days before Clint left Virginia to join Mary, he and Jim were arguing. In the heat of the moment, Clint said to Jim, “One of these days, and it won’t be long, you'll look for Shoat, and Shoat will be gone!”

A few days later, he slipped off in the night, hiked up Walker Mountain, took his last look across the valley of his home, gulped down the lump in his throat, and trudged on to Marion to catch a train to join the love of his life, his sweet Mary, in far away Missouri. He and Mary were married in Mexico, Missouri, on October 27, 1909.[5]

Walter Clinton Troutman and Mary Ann Waggoner--Wedding portrait, Oct. 1909

[1] Smyth County, Virginia, Deed Book 26, p. 182-183; Rachel Wagner and E. P. Wagner to R. M. Gaddy, 19 October 1898; County Clerk’s Office, Marion.
[2] Smyth County, Virginia, Deed Book 25, p. 492; A. J. Harris and C. C. Harris to Rachel Wagner and her children, 31 October 1898; County Clerk’s Office, Marion.
[3] Smyth County, Virginia, Deed Book 17, p. 202, Nicholas H. and Sarah Pratt to America A. Troutman, 20 November 1897; County Clerk’s Office, Marion.
[4] Chas. R. Boyd and John D. Barns, Smyth County Virginia, 1899 (Washington, D. C.: A. B. Graham Lithograph, 1899.) This is a geological and topographical map commissioned by the Smyth County Board of Supervisors; a copy is held by Zola Troutman Noble, Anderson, Indiana; an original is held at The Museum of the Middle Appalachians, Saltville, Virginia.
[5] Troutman Bible Records, 1909-1979, family pages only, photocopy held by Zola Troutman Noble [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE] Anderson, Indiana. Entries suggest that the earliest owners were Walter C. Troutman and Mary Ann Waggoner, whose marriage on Oct. 27, 1909, is the earliest record. Photocopies were sent to the author by Jill Lamson Gran who holds the original Bible.

(c) 2013 Z.T. Noble

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