Boy 16, And Girl 14, Walk Over Twenty Miles Round-Trip During Blizzard With Temperatures Hovering At Zero Degrees To Get Married
Valentines Day has come and gone. I know love can drive you to do crazy things, but I can’t recall seeing a story like this.
The date was February 16, 1904, one hundred eight years ago, the thermometer read 0° with blizzard-like conditions raging in New Jersey. Little Olive Palmer, 14 and Andrew Finner, 16, walked eight miles over hazardous roads, through snowdrifts and other obstacles from Palmerville, NJ to Mount Freedom to get to the residence of Reverend A.C. Covey.
Arriving nearly frozen, the couple thawed out and explained their desire to have the reverend marry them. Reverend Covey advised that the couple to wait three or four years. But Finner and Palmer insisted they be married right then and there. If necessary, Finner and Palmer said, if Covey would not marry them, they would “walk all the way to New York” until they found someone who would perform the ceremony. After an hour of arguing Covey remained rock solid in his refusal, so Palmer and Finner ventured out again, walking another two miles to the home of Reverend John Hillman to try their luck with him.
At first, the shocked Reverend Hillman would not perform the ceremony either. But eventually he was persuaded to wed the young couple.
The New York Times describes how Mrs. Palmer, Olive’s mother had trailed the children in the snow. Why she trailed them is not told. After the ceremony was concluded, all three walked home ten miles to Palmerville in the miserable weather.
The story was covered in The New York Times and The Evening World on February 18, 1904.
The story from The World describes details The Times didn’t get or would not print. It tells how Olive had been hot and bothered over young Andrew since he had been working on the Palmer family farm during the previous summer. The couple had planned to secretly elope during Christmas week 1903. Mrs. Palmer found evidence of the elopement plans and locked Olive in her room for two weeks. After the punishment, Mrs. Palmer thought Olive had forgotten about Andrew. She was wrong. They took their chances on that miserable February day to get married without Mrs. Palmer’s knowledge and over her objections. The description of Mrs. Palmer chasing after the couple in the snow is quite vivid. In one other discrepancy The World also places Olive’s age at 15.
Unfortunately, after February 18, 1904 I can find no mention of Andrew or Olive in any news story ever again. There are no photographs of them either. A general internet search has proven fruitless. Nor can I find any census or vital records of what became of them. I’d like to believe this is a case of true love and they remained in wedded bliss for the rest of their lives.
Palmerville (or Palmersville as The World refers to it) is as mysterious as our protaganists. As a small extinct community I was unable to locate it precisely, but it was about five miles from Morristown which is six miles away from Mount Freedom.
The original newspaper stories are reproduced below.