May 2021

The Local Courtships and Marriages

Jake and Gay's relationship is attacked by the local Rumor Mill

By Bobbi Spiker-Conley

Editor’s Note for this section — The courting letters are transcribed in the shaded column on the left. Additional information that may be of interest to some genealogists is provided in the adjacent column. That info is believed to be accurate, however, it is subject to change as additional info may become available. 

Reading like a newspaper Society Section, Jake and Gay’s letters provided newsy tidbits about local courtships, breakups, and marriages. No-one’s relationship was off-limits, including those of Gay’s two younger sisters, Kate and Coe.

Kate’s romance with Roy Bee became a hot topic when he failed to show up at the Zinn home one weekend as expected. Jake wrote, “Tell Katie that I can tell her where that little Busy Bee of hers was last Saturday night and Sunday. But you know that the good book says, blessed is the peace maker.” (in Courting Letter dated September 29, 1905)

Gay replied, “Katie said that you had just as well be where this Bee was, for he was over Saturday night and got his walking papers. I can near guess where he was.” (October 5, 1905)

A couple weeks later Gay announced, “Kate had a [new] beau Sunday.” (October 20, 1905)

KATIE — aka Kate, is Gay’s youngest sister, Lucy Katriah Zinn. In 1922, she married Dr. Tharos Harlan (read more about the Harlan family here.)

BUSY BEE — is Roy Bee, the son ofSarah Melvina Law and Azariah Bee. In 1909, Roy married Theodocia “Theo” May Ward. According to the 1930 and 1940 US Federal Censuses, he was a Veterinarian. He tended to the Zinn’s horses when they were injured (more about this in a future edition.)

Gay revealed, “Coe and [her beau] Bert are having trouble. He wrote her a scorcher of a letter about going with another fellow, and Coe told him she would go with who she pleased. They are having a time. He won’t make much of Coe. (January 30, 1906)

Gay later confirmed the split when she wrote, “I think Coe and Bert have quit. She is going with Blaine Nutter now, one of my old beaus.” (February 14, 1906)

COE — aka Alco “Coe” Blanch Zinn, the second youngest of Gay’s sisters. In 1914, she married Ofa Bennett. (See pic here.)

BERT — unknown last name. Other letters mention Bert Nutter, Bert N., and Bert (Albert) Burwell, but there is nothing to positively identify the last name of Coe’s beau.

BLAINE NUTTER — unable to verify. This may be Josiah Blaine Nutter, brother of Bertie Ford Nutter (possibly Bert Nutter from above?)

Another of Gay’s former beaus? Keep in mind that the terms “boyfriend” and “dating” weren’t part of the vocabulary in the very early 1900s. Rather, a “beau” was a young man who showed interest in calling upon a young woman. If the woman accepted, and the family approved, the couple may have pursued a “courtship.” 

In those days, there was an expectation that everyone would marry. So, while Jake and Gay happily recorded the names and dates of these events in their letters, they often flirtatiously included some not-so-subtle reminders of their own unmarried statuses.

“One of my old beaus got married last Thursday,” Gay wrote. “Now isn’t that too bad? Another chance gone.” (December 1, 1905)

Jake agreed, “Oh, yes. There was two weddings out in our neighborhood Xmas. It just seems like everybody can get married but me.” (December 28, 1905)

In response to Jake’s inquiry about Otley Stay Zinn, Gay replied, “Otley is all O.K. I received a letter from her Saturday. She asked about you. She said she had a new beau but didn’t tell his name.

Had you heard that Ben Rogers and Berth Wade was married?” (January 30, 1906)

A couple weeks later, Gay wrote, “Otley and Francis Hemsworth are gliding around together, so Agnes says.” (February 7, 1906)

Jake replied, “About Otley and Francis, I’ll bet they look cute, don’t you?” (February 11, 1906)

OTLEY — aka Otley Stay Zinn, is the daughter of Wesley Worthington “Wirt” Zinn and Jemima White. (See pic here.)

FRANCIS HEMSWORTH — (may be) the son of Gilbert & Clara (Morgan) Hemsworth. He married Fannie Rebecca Trainer in 1908.

BEN ROGERS — aka Benjamin Franklin Rogers is the son of Robert & Mahala (Wass) Rogers

BERTHA WADE — aka Bertha May Wade is the daughter of Andrew M & Sallie C (Bee) Wade.

Ben Rogers & Bertha Wade were married on January 5, 1906 in Ritchie County, WV.

Jake wrote, “Ona Douglass and Ralph Sommerville is married, so I read in the Standard. It just beats the band how many is getting married. It looks like hard times has set in, ha ha. The reason I talk that way is because I can’t get a woman, ha ha. But I know one little sweet girl that is going to be mine some day, or at least I think so. I am living in hope, if I die in despair.”(April 12, 1906)

ONA DOUGLASS — is the daughter of William F & Columbia (Osburn) Douglass

RALPH SOMMERVILLE — is the son of Capt. John and Elizabeth (Brannon) Sommerville

Ona and Ralph were married on April 7, 1906 at the bride’s home in Ritchie County, WV.

Gay asked, “Do you know Ernest Zinn? Him and Gay Calhoun are married.

Essie Zinn, Otley’s sister, is married also. She married someone at Buckhannon.” (June 27, 1906)

ERNEST ZINN — is Ernest Erickson Zinn, the son of Granville P & Elizabeth R (Shuckhart) Zinn.

GAY CALHOUN — aka Valley Gay Calhoun, is the daughter of John W & Emily L (Stewart) Calhoun.

Ernest & Gay were married on June 14, 1906 at the minister’s (A.J. Robinson’s) home in Ritchie County, WV.

ESSIE ZINN — is the daughter of Wirt & Jemima (White) Zinn.

BUCKHANNON MAN — is Howard Wilson Loudin, son of Porter & Emma (Messenger) Loudin

Essie & Howard were married on June 24, 1906 at the U.B. Parsonage in Buckhannon, Upshur County, WV.

“There is a wedding on Bear Run today. Gay Jett and a man by the name of Dotson,” Gay surmised. “She ran off to get married, but her father sent for her to come home and he would let them marry.” (July 11, 1906)

GAY JETT — Emma Gay Jet is the daughter of Sylvester & Julia (Gray) Jett.

DOTSON — aka Lloyd S Dotson, son of William Flavius & Jennie (Warner) Dotson.

Gay & Lloyd were married  on July 12, 1906 at the bride’s home in Ritchie County, WV.

“There is a wedding at Auburn today,” Gay wrote, “and the report is they are going to have three at Oxford in the near future. I hope everybody can get married that wants to, ha ha.”

“Oh Dear! What do you think? Charlie Debrular and Miss Gribble are married. They went to Oakland Thursday and came home last evening. [My brother] Manley was around to the serenade. They didn’t serenade much. Charlie treated them on beer and pie, ha ha. Of course, I am awful sorry that I didn’t get him.”

Then to ease Jake’s mind about her former beau, Gay added, “Ernest Zinnwrote me and was teasing me about them getting married. I wrote and I told him I supposed Miss Gribble done well to get him, but she got somebody I didn’t want and simply wouldn’t have.” (September 9, 1906)

CHARLIE DEBRULAR — aka Charles Porter “Port” DeBrular, son of John Morgan & Susan Jane (Waldo) DeBrular. Charlie was one of Gay’s former beaus. Read about more family connections to the DeBrular family here.

MISS GRIBBLE — is Josephine Mae “Dochie” Gribble, daughter of Thomas Virgil “Bird” & Leann (Osborne) Gribble.

Charlie & Dochie were married on September 6, 1906 in Oakland, Garrett County, MD.

MANLEY — is Gay’s only brother, Manley Bush Zinn (1879-1923.) He married Vada Fisher in 1907.

ERNEST ZINN — described above

Gay wrote, “Coe and Manley have got back from meeting. They was to a wedding. Lloyd Gray and Ople Husk**. They certainly were a handsome couple. He is Okey Gray’s cousin.” *(February 17, 1907)*

**Editor’s Note:  Gay 
incorrectly wrote the bride’s name as Ople Husk when, in fact, Lloyd Gray married Ocal Haught**.

LLOYD GRAY — is Lloyd Wheeler Gray Sr., son of David & Martha (Leggett) Gray

OPLE HUSK* — see Editor’s note at left.

OCAL HAUGHT — Minnie Ocal Haught was born in 1888, the daughter of Sarah Rosa Belle Haught & possibly Ben Pierce. Her mother married Hezekiah Wesley Thomas in 1892.

Lloyd & Ocal were married on 17 Feb 1907

OKEY GRAY — is Lloyd’s cousin. Their paternal grandparents are William & Nancy (Watson) Gray.

Jake wrote, “It seems as though weddings is all the go these times. I would get married myself if I could get anyone to have me.” (February 20, 1907)

Gay wrote, “Another one of my old beaus was married yesterday – Jennings Law and Dulcie Post.” (February 25, 1907)

JENNINGS LAW — is the son of Newton & Deskey (Allman) Law.

DULCIE POST — is the daughter of Alpha Omega & Florinda Alice (Woodford) Post.

Jennings & Dulcie were married on February 24, 1907 in Gilmer County, WV.

The Local Rumors and Gossip

As Jake and Gay recorded the marriages of others, the others were speculating about a marriage between Gay and Jake. Or maybe Jake was already married? But not married to Gay?? And Gay was aware she was dating a married man???

It started innocently enough when Jake teasingly referred to Gay as his “wife.” That is apparently when the whispers began, both in Clarksburg and Harrisville. Add to the mix some nosy neighbors, a few fibs, and a visiting preacher, and you have the makings of a scandalous affair.

On February 4, 1906, Jake wrote:

“You just ought to have been here last night to have gone to the meeting with me over at North View (near Clarksburg, WV.) They had 11 seekers and 4 professions last night. They are nearly all French people and you never saw such a place for shouting in your life. You could not keep from laughing, or at least I can’t, and you know what a little sober fellow I am, ha ha.

“There is several young people here and they are wanting me to take a walk with them, but I told them that I had to write a letter to my wife. One of them said, you are not married, are you? And I said, why of course I am. I said a man was foolish to live in this world without a woman.

You did not know that I could lie like that, did you? I heard one of the girls say, he looks so young to be married, ha ha.”

On February 7, 1906, Gay replied:

“Them people could guess that you wasn’t married, or an awful flirt. If you are married, you ought to of told me, ha ha.”

February 11, 1906, Jake wrote:

“You said that you bet those people thought that I was an offal [sic] flirt. You know that I am not no flirt. And I’ll bet that they never thought anything of the kind. Of course, I am not married, but you know that is not my fault. You know that I would take the first woman that said yes, but it seems that they know that I am only a pet monkey, and they won’t have me now. Don’t you see the point, ho ho and ha ha.”

March 21, 1906, Gay wrote:

“I seen Lena last week. She came down toBuckner Zinn’s on a visit…Lena had bushels to tell me. She told me all about you going to get married. She didn’t know [the girl’s] name but she said it was a sure go. She said it was one of Andy Jackson’s old sweethearts. Andy sent her word to come over and they would sympathize with one another, ha ha.

Cortis [Cortez Zinn] from Clarksburg was down to Buckner’s the night I was down there. He was teasing me and said he knew you. He told me a whole lot of stuff, but I know him and I just let it go in one ear and out the other. Cortis is a dandy.”

March 25, 1906, Jake wrote:

“Lena said it was a sure go about me being married? That is one of Andrew Jackson’s big fibs, and I have got a crow to pick with them when I get to see him. You are the only girl that I have got and the only one that I expect to have as long as I can keep you.”

April 22, 1906, Gay wrote:

“I received a letter from Otley last evening…She said she had been hearing that I was going to get married. But she has been hearing things that I never think of.”

May 10, 1906, Gay wrote:

“You remember Saturday evening when you and I was sitting on the porch? About them two women going down, they went and told some of our neighbors that ‘that married man was up to see Gay again.’ It is going around that I am going with a married man and that I know [he is married.] Say, it worries me a little bit.

May 13, 1906, Jake replied:

“Gay, it hurts my feelings for people to talk that way about me, but you know that I cannot help it. They have got to talk about someone, and I reckon it just as well be me as anyone.

“You know that it is not so. You know that someone has tried to cause us to fall out ever since we have been friends, but I think that they will fail. Don’t you, Gay? I know if some of those people don’t keep their mouth shut, they will get to hear from me in a pretty rough way. I am getting just a little tired of someone telling something every time that I come to see you.

You can tell one of your neighbors, if I hear anything more from them that I will make that nose strater [sic] than it is. I wish you would tell some of them people to tend to their own business and we will tend to ours.”

May 16, 1906, Gay wrote:

“Of course, it is no disgrace on you to be called a married man, but the way I look at it is them reporting about me going with a married man and knowing it. If that would get about in the neighborhood where I am now known, people would make something awful out of it, and you know it worries me.

May 18, 1906, Jake responded:

“You said that I need not to care for being called a married man. I don’t care for that, but don’t you know, what worries my little love, worries me too. If it was not for you, I would not care a snap, but the way it is, I do care. Some of those good people over there are going to keep on till they get my Irish up. And when it is up, it is not so easy to get down as you would think.”

September 7, 1906, Gay wrote:

“Oh yes! It is going around here that you and I was married Sunday. You remember that Rev. McGregor passed by our house while you was here. And of course, that was all that was necessary. But we won’t have a Methodist preacher to say the words for us, will we?

It certainly would be dangerous for a preacher to pass a house where a young man has gone to see his sweetheart if they didn’t want to get married. Some people around here hasn’t nothing else to amuse themselves with, only to start something of that kind.”

The full truth of Jake and Gay’s relationship would not be revealed for nearly a year. However, it is around this time, in 1906, that we begin to see snippets of their potential wedding plans.

We’ll tell you all about it. Next month.

Click here: to return to the previous post or to advance to the next post in this series.

Or go back to the very beginning of the series — turn to the November 2020 edition of the Spiker Family Gazette.


Patrick Cloughessy’s employer announced in January 2017 that their New York plant would be shutting down by April 2021. As part of their commitment to their employees, it was announced that “any employee who was willing to relocate would be provided a job for which they were qualified.” According to one source, approximately 170 employees have accepted the offer. 

Patrick is one of them, having accepted a position at the company’s Arkansas location.

Pat and Haley purchased a home, held a yard sale, completed their move, and celebrated the boys’ seventh birthday (twice) in just a few weeks. They are understandably exhausted.

Contact Haley or me for the Cloughessy family’s new mailing address in Dover, Arkansas.


Larry Allen Gregis, 74, of West Union, WV departed this life Tuesday, May 4, 2021 at his residence surrounded by loving family.

Larry worked as an Inspector for the West Virginia Department of Weights and Measures. He was a proud member of the Fraternal Order of the Police. He was also a longtime member of the South Fork Baptist Church. Larry enjoyed fishing, hunting, gardening, camping, and spending time with his grandchildren. He was known for being a devoted husband, father, and grandfather.

In addition to his parents, he is preceded in death by his sister, Deloris Brown; and brothers, LeRoy Gregis and Junior Gregis.

In accordance with Larry’s wishes, he will be cremated. A graveside service will be held at the South Fork Baptist Church Cemetery in Doddridge County, WV, on Saturday, May 15 at 2:00 PM, immediately followed by a funeral repast in the church basement. 

Raiguel Funeral Home in Harrisville, WV is assisting the family with the arrangements. You may share a memory or send condolences to the family at their website, here.

Submitted by Bobbi Spiker-Conley:  We are also remembering the wives of ZINN brothers Virgil Darrell and Charles Clyde (both deceased) who passed away this month, Sylvia Lee (Greer) Zinn and Myra J (Garner) Zinn, respectively.

Virgil & Clyde are the sons of Wilbur Roy Zinn
s/o Preston Granville Zinn
s/o James I Zinn
s/o George Wesley Zinn
s/o John W Zinn - our 3rd great-grandfather