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French Girl Was Probably First Bride
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French Girl Was Probably First Bride
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Newspaper Article: FRENCH GIRL WAS PROBABLY FIRST BRIDE

Said William A. Grimshaw, 1833 man at Atlas, speaking at Pittsfield in the national centennial in 1876: “Weddings were few in the early days, bachelors being more numerous than belles.” The records bear out Grimshaw’s statement. In 1827, the first year in which a “Register of Marriages” was kept, there were only six marriages recorded in Pike county. The first wedding so recorded was that of Hiram Rattan and Leah Scholl, June 15, 1827. These parties were from what is now Griggsville township.

The Rattan-Scholl wedding, however, was by no means the first wedding in Pike county. Numerous weddings occurred in the county prior to the first kept record under the license laws of 1826. The identity of the first Pike county bridal couple is veiled in obscurity.

There were at least two notable weddings in the Ross family several years prior to the first kept record, that of Sheriff Leonard Ross to Roby Ross, widow of Clarendon Ross, in 1822, and the wedding of Betsy M. Ross, daughter of John Ross, to Stephen Gay in 1825. The wedding of Baptiste Belfarn to Polly Rabbonine in the month of May, 1821, may have been the first wedding in original Pike county. This early ceremony was performed by Ebenezer Smith, first Pike county justice of the peace, at Coles’ Grove, May 30, 1821.

Mistress Polly Belfarn, it appears, was a daughter of the early French in this region. Her charm enthralled all. Even the red denizens of the forest, if the relations of an early chronicler may he believed, paused in admiration as Mistress Polly passed on her way to the dance or to kneel in reverence to her Catholic faith in the weekly assembly at Cap au Gris (site of present West Point Ferry in Calhoun county). She was the spirit of the dance as it whirled over the polished punch eon floors of the hewed log cabins, “the while with deft hand she lifted her voluminous skirt’s fold upon fold to show a trim and flashing ankle.” She was the daughter of Jean Baptiste Rabbonine, who, according to the old probate record of Pike county, died early in 1821, Levi Roberts being named by Probate Judge Nicholas Hansen as administrator of his estate. He to whom Mistress Polly plighted her troth was a signer of the momentous document (reproduced elsewhere in this edition) wherein fifty-two dwellers upon the bounty lands in Illinois petitioned for a new county (which became the County of Pike), Belfarn’s signature to the petition appearing as “Bss. Belfarn.”

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Submitted: 01/26/08

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