Bits of the Odd, "Corny," Unusual, Funny, or Tall Tales


Submitted by Wilma J. Vande Berg of the Greater Sioux County Genealogical Society


Alton Democrat of March 20, 1886. 


(names changed to VanBrown and VanSmith)

John VanBrown and Anna Smith Elope and are Married Despite Stern Parents.

John VanBrown and Miss Anna VanderSmith are 'Two Souls with but a single thought, two hearts that beat as one.' John VanBrown is a young farmer, who together with his married brother, rented a farm six miles north-east of Alton, where they reside. Miss VanderSmith is a sixteen-year old daughter of Wouter VanderSmith, living but half a mile north of town. Long weeks ago, John became pretty badly mashed on the charming girl and had been paying most assiduous attention to the fair young maiden ever since. Mr. VanBrown is a young man of good repute, being sober, honest and industrious, but for some reason failing to impress Miss VanderSmith's 'pa and ma' favorably, and when it was whispered about that John and Anna were about to become of one flesh, Mr. and Mrs. VanderSmith kicked like bay steers, metaphorically speaking and forebode the bans.

John was in a dilemma for a week or two as the one earnest wish of his existence, the blissful joy of clasping the voluptuous Anna to his throbbing heart and proudly calling her his own was denied him, and dark spectral thoughts flitted thought his brain. One day, while bewailing his unhappy lot, it occurred to him that it would be an excellent scheme to do the young Lockinvor act, and with new hope born in his breast, he girded up his loins and held a clandestine conference with Anna.

He proposed to elope with her, going to LeMars, taking a friend along to furnish identification, and there obtain a license, and do the great double act and become firmly spliced. The young girl caught on to the project very enthusiastically and with alacrity, and soon on last Wednesday morning, a week ago, she very modestly informed her mother that her uncle John wanted her to come and wash for them and with a happy little twit of joy, she flitted into her bedroom, with the ostensible purpose of dressing in her washing clothes.

A long time transpired and Anna still remained in the room, when her mother impatiently asked her why it took so long to dress, Anna replied that she was changing clothes throughout. The facts in the matter are, Anna put on three or four of her best dresses, bedsides a liberal supply of underclothing, fearing that her parents would not allow her to return. She soon came out with an old wrapper on, which looked as if it had been through the war, kissed her mother, and struck out for her uncle's house, half a mile away. Had her mother watched she would have observed her daughter meeting a gentleman about half way, who helped Anna into a carriage and drove rapidly in the direction of Alton. They took John Van Laar along as a witness, drove to LeMars and were married.

In a very short space of time they drove back and stopped at Mr. Spelberg's residing north of town, and requested him to inform Mr. & Mrs. VanderSmith of their marriage, but Mr. Spelberg, fearing an explosion of wrath, respectfully declined, as he considered discretion the better part of valor. They then went to John DeKruif's and requested him to break the news gently to her parents, but John allowed his daughter to do the informing.

Mr. and Mrs. VanderSmith did not believe the news, but sent one of the boys over to uncle John's to find out if Anna had been there, and quickly reported that she had not. An examination of Anna wardrobe quickly disclosed the true facts, and we don't know exactly what did happen then.

The happy Mr. and Mrs. John VanBrown were living on the rented farm, six miles north-east of Alton a few days ago, but ere this, we suppose they have called on the parents of the bride, craved their pardon for the rash act, and received the reluctant "God bless you, my children' from both.