In this excerpt from her 1979 autobiography “What My Heart Wants to Tell,” Kentuckian Verna Mae Slone (1914-2009) relates the story of how her father Isom ‘Kitteneye’ Slone proposed to her mother, Sarah Owens Slone.
Kitteneye finished his breakfast real fast, then, pushing his chair from the table, he hurried for the door.
“Wait, son, I want to talk to you,” his mother said.
“I am in sort of a hurry. Be back in a minute,” he answered. He sure did not want her to ask him [where he was going] now, for he had never told her a lie in his life and he did not want to talk before the whole family.
As he went toward the barn, he thought, “I will just go on now.” He was still wearing his best clothes and the piece of paper was in his pocket. So he caught his mule and put the saddle on it. No one had come outside. He turned the mule and started up the road.
When he got to Vince Owens’ house he stopped and got off his mule, tied the bridle to a fence post, and went in.
He knocked at the door and a voice from within told him to “Come in, if your nose is clean.” He pushed the door open. Sarah and her mother were sitting before the fireplace. The young girl’s lap was full of wool, with a full basket by her side. They were carding the wool, which would later be spun into yarn.
When Sarah saw who had entered the room, she put her hand up to her mouth, then dumping all the wool into the basket, she got up and made a fast retreat for the kitchen.
“Well, well,” laughed Cindy, “you sure have plagued Sarah. She thought it was one of the young’uns a’ foolin’ us. She never dreamt it was someone a’ comin’ in. she would never a’ said that to you. Well, git a chair and sit a spell,” she finished. Kitteneye sat down in the chair, now vacated by Sarah.
“Where is ye old man, Cindy?” he asked. He did not really want to know, but good manners demanded that he ask.
“He took a turn of corn to the mill,” she answered, still working away with her wool and wooden cards.
“Yeah, I fergit it was mill day.”
“Isom,” she asked in a very concerned voice, “what fer are ye all dressed up in your Sunday go to meetin’ clothes and it be a weekday?”
“Well,” he said, “that’s why I stopped. I wanted to tell ye I am git’n married today.”
“Kitteneye, are ye goin’ to marry Jane Hughes?” she exclaimed.
“Yeah, I went to town and got my license yesterday. I am on my way to her house now.”
“But son, do you like her a whole lot?” she asked. They had always been real good friends and Cindy knew she could speak freely with him.
“Well,” he mused, “I ‘spect it is more for [his and Jane’s illegitimate son] Cleveland’s sake, and I am twenty-four years old. Most everybody else has been married a long time, agin they are that old. You know she lays Cleveland to me.” He blushed when he said this.
“Yeah, I jest about know he is your’n. If ever a child daddied itself, he shore does. He is jest the spittin’ image of ye. But I shore hate to see ye marry her.”
They sat there for a while, both lost in their own thoughts. Finally, Cindy began to laugh.
“Anyway, I thought I had been raisin’ ye a good girl. I have teased Sarah about you and told her that I fergit her that time, and went off and left her at ye maw’s house. You shore had made mind up to keep her then.”
“Well, it’s not altogether been a joke with me, but I just got mixed up with Jane, and anyway there’s Cleveland. Sarah would not want to be bothered with him.”
“Well, Kitteneye, I told ye I was raisin’ ye a good girl. If ye want to wait a few more months, I believe everything will work itself out. Lay them license there in the fire.”
“Alright,” he said, and taking the paper from his pocket, he slowly placed it in the fire and watched as it curled, then caught, and soon became ashes.
“A long trip to town and two dollars all went for nothing’,” he laughed, “but less ways I won’t haf’n to tell Maw after all.”
Then he turned to Cindy and said, “Well, ye are willin’, the preacher is, and I am. I guess I will just have to talk Sarah into being willin’.”
Sarah, who had been eavesdropping during all this talk, whispered to herself, “That’s not goin’ to be as hard a job as you suspect, Kitteneye.”
And it must not have been too much trouble. In the year 1887, and on the twenty-eighth day of July, John L. Slone, an Old Regular Baptist minister, pronounced them man and wife. And they loved each other until they were separated by death.