By Bessie Spell Shirk.

I am indebted to Amy Miller and Ann Miller-Neilsen of Indianapolis, Indiana for contributing this sketch written by their great grandmother. This story may not be used, reproduced, or published without the consent of AMY.

A note from Amy about this story:
This story, the Elopement, is one of my personal favorites. It is about Nancy Crandall (daughter of Robert and Elcy Crandall) born June 15, 1825 in Montgomery Co., VA. Died November 13, 1902 in New Castle, Henry Co., Indiana. William Spell was born Abt 1818 in VA and died October 1855 in Sulphur Springs, Henry Co., Indiana. Their son, Robert Crandall Spell served in the 121st Regiment, 9th Indiana Volunteer Calvary, Company E, along with his mother's brothers, Wyatt, James, John and Andrew Crandall. Robert died of starvation and diarreah in Andersonville prison, 1865.

Busy, happy days followed the building of the first home and Robert and Elcy's family grew by leaps and bounds. In the seventeen years that they had lived in Jefferson township, eleven children had been born to them.

Their home became the gathering place for all the youg folks for miles around and little Davey's death had become a sad memory. What mother does not notice when her growing daughter is changing from a tall, awkard girl into a beautiful woman, and now Elcy was measuring the merits and the drawbacks of the young males who came to pay the Sunday visits.

But Nancy seemed to have no favorites. She treated them all alike and the neighborhood boys were as welcome as her cousins, the Sanders boys. So while the subject was never brought up in the presence of the young folks concerned, the two sisters often talked it over and decided that some day Nancy and her cousin Jasper should marry.

Girls were rather scarce in that community but at church in Honey Creek Nancy had taken quite a fancy to a dark-haired, dark browed girl named Arabella Gohn, whose parents were of Welsh descent. It was nothing unusual when on meeting day Nancy asked her mother if she might invite Arabella home with her for dinner. Elcy joined in the invitation and Arabella accepted, adding that she would have to ask her young man to join her as he had brought her in his buggy.

Now meeting did not occur every Sunday, only at such times when a minister was available, and in June the good man announced he would not be with them until Fall. Nancy's invitation was unusually cordial that day and of course included Arabella's young man, William Spell.

When dinner was over the young folks went to the yard to play games. After a while it was noticed that Nancy and young William were not with them. Of course it must be some kind of a practical joke. It became more serious when one of the boys went to the barn and found that William's horse and buggy were gone. Black-eyed Arabella did not take it was a joke and refused to take part in any more games.

Toward evening a messenger came with the news that William and Nancy had been married that afternoon by the departing minister. Tears and reproaches filled the house and it seemed as though the beautiful friendship was ended.

When Arabella's parents died a few years later, she sold the farm and built a cottage for herself in New Castle where she devoted the remainder of her life to charitable work. She was a charter member of the First Christian Church.

Her little home on Vine Street sat below street level. I wonder how many of the old residents can remember that pretty, clean yard with its old fashioned flowers.

I can see my grandmother Nancy yet, when it would come long Sunday afternoons and she would sit rocking and looking far off, then suddenly she would say "Bessie, will you take me to see Arabella?" It was no short walk and there were few ways to travel across town unless you did walk, but despite her 70 years or more, she never complained.

Arabella was always glad to see her and after a long chat and a cup of tea, she would pick a nice bouquet of flowers and give them to us. They scarcely ever spoke of the past but no doubt it was all there in the minds of both.

By Bessie Spell Shirk born Alberta Lee "Bessie" Spell on July 29, 1876 in Mt. Summit, Henry County, Indiana. She was daughter of Mahala Susan Dunbar and Allen Crandall Spell. She married Charles Rosco Shirk on January 4, 1899 in New Castle, Henry County, Indiana. Bessie died on March 24, 1952 in New Castle,Henry County, Indiana.

More Stories of Henry County by Bessie Spell Shirk

THE PIONEERS - Biography of Bessie's gr-grandparents
JOHN WESLEY DUNBAR - Family group sheet of the John Wesley Dunbar family.
BIO OF J.W. DUNBAR - From the History of Henry County, Indiana 1822-1906

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