Courtship & Marriage
National Park Service
Young people in coal camps, particularly in a camp as remote as Blue Heron, had limited access to courting others from out of the Stearns Company circle.
Teenagers generally attended church and school event in groups, or were accompanied by a "chaperone" to the occasional movie in Stearns or Worley. Dating consisted mainly of walking a girl home from church, or being with a group with a favorite attending an occasional carnival in Stearns or a company picnic held in town, or in a place like Bell Farm.
Once the courtship had taken a suitable time, and an understanding had passed between the couple, the old practice of asking the father for his daughter’s "hand" was still expected in some families. In others, the father would declare, "My daughter makes her own decisions," signaling close of an era of accepted courtship ritual. In the camp, however remote, life was still more progressive and conditions more advanced than on.
Couples seldom married in the church house, and there is not a single instance that anyone remembers of a wedding in the Blue Heron Church. Typically, the actual ceremony took place in a minister’s home. A surprising number of Blue Heron miners become ministers, and some camp couples were married by neighbors and fellow miners. Others went off to Tennessee.
Having children and raising them was the primary occupation of wives in the coal camps, and families were close and large. Some families had six or eight children. One miner at Blue Heron had sixteen, though that was less typical.
Given the small number of potential "beaus" in the mining region, many who told of their lives are related to one another by marriage, and many were friends as children, fellow workers or homemakers at Blue Heron and other camps.
Come-a-courting with the folks of Mine 18.
To continue your visit through the Blue Heron Mining Community, choose the next "ghost structure" you wish to visit.
Did You Know?
Longhunters were some of the first Europeans to traverse the Big South Fork region. It is said they were called longhunters either for the long rifles they carried or because the were typically gone on hunting trips for so long, sometimes up to a year.