Photo of R.C. & Dollie Morrow
By: Sandy Williams Driver
In 1921, R. C. Morrow was a farmer in the Bonds Chapel community near Guntersville, Alabama. The unexpected death of his young wife, Vesti, had recently made him a widower at the young age of 28.
By September, he decided he was ready to get married again and assumed a church would be the best place to find a good, decent girl. He normally attended the Free-Holiness Church near his farm, but on impulse decided to travel to the Happy Home Baptist Church to look for new faces.
On his first visit he found exactly what he had envisioned; a beautiful 16 year old girl named Dollie Hampton with no commitments to any other young man.
It was love at first sight for both of them, but Dollie's mother strongly protested the idea of her teenaged daughter getting involved with a man 12 years her senior, and especially one who had previously been married.
Her protests had no bearing on the young couple, however, and within the next two weeks, they secretly planned their elopement.
On October 2, just before 11:00 a.m., R.C. briskly drove towards the Hampton farm. Dollie, anxiously awaiting the sound of wheels turning on the old dirt road, ran out the front door to join her fiancé as the horse drawn buggy rolled to a stop.
Her frantic parents, Tom and Manila Hampton, quickly hitched up their wagon and sped after the young couple all the way into the bustling town of Guntersville. R.C. was determined to make Dollie his bride, so he pulled up to the county jail and rushed her inside to obtain the aid of his good friend, Sheriff I.B. Hyde.
The sheriff felt sorry for the young sweethearts and quickly made a decision to help them. He put Dollie "behind bars" for safe keeping from her enraged parents while R.C. quickly rushed out to obtain a marriage license and to commission someone to perform the ceremony.
Tom and Manila were furious that Sheriff Hyde would not release their daughter, but he only smiled as he remembered his own wedding day.
Within the hour, a flustered justice-of-the-peace performed the hasty marriage ceremony and the couple was pronounced man and wife while the sheriff and his deputies looked on as witnesses.
Afterwards as she climbed onto the buggy beside her new husband, Dollie assured her still protesting mother, who had waited outside, that she had made the right decision.
"You'll be sorry!" shouted her sobbing mother as the buggy disappeared from sight.
On the long ride home, R.C. eagerly announced to his bride that he had a "big surprise" for her, but despite her pleadings, he wouldn't reveal his secret. She was hoping for a puppy because her mother had never allowed her to get one.
When the young groom opened the front door of his small, run down farm house and shouted, "Surprise!" her mother's last words resounded loud and clear in Dollie's head. Huddled around the worn kitchen table sat five, hungry, teary-eyed children!
R.C. had purposely neglected to mention to his new bride that the death of his first wife had left him alone these past few months to raise his five, young children ranging in age from eighteen months to seven years.
Four year old Raymond looked up at Dollie skeptically and asked, "Can ya' cook?"; the oldest boy, Juddy, inquired, "Are you the new ma?"; and the baby, Thomas, stretched his chubby little arms towards her wanting to be picked up.
Dollie desperately wanted to turn around and run home to her mother as fast as she could, but she knew the children's faces would haunt her for the rest of her life. So, with a glaring look at her blushing husband, and a reassuring smile towards the bashful little girls, Cuba and Lucille, she took a dusty apron down from a hook on the wall and commenced to cook supper for her new family.
R.C. let out a happy sigh and danced a little jig as he twirled his new bride around the room amidst the happy giggles of the children.
My grandparents, R.C. and Dollie Morrow, were married for 57 years and had eight more children together. And they were never bored for one minute. Grandpa saw to that.
The Big Surprise
By: Sandy Williams Driver
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