Getting a Marriage License

Updated on September 6, 2019

Mendell and Sevilla

Sevilla Mae Cooper

H. Mendell Smith

Mendell and Sevilla were in LOVE

SEVILLA AND I WERE IN LOVE. We were both in college. We were engaged and planned to get married after I graduated from college. But then on December 7, 1941, we heard President Roosevelt declaring on the radio that we were in war with Japan. Japan had just bombed Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. A few days later, Sevilla and I decided not to wait, and set the wedding date for December 25th. This didn’t leave much time to mail announcements and make all the other necessary preparations. I didn’t think of the required license until Christmas day was drawing near.

Sevilla, and her sister, Vivian, went home for the Christmas holidays, and I planned to follow on the bus on December 24th. Dad and Mother and my brother, Merle, would drive over the morning of the 25th. Dad would perform the ceremony.

Well, I started out on the bus, but along the way it turned off the highway at every little town to let people off and to pick up new passengers. I was beginning to fear it wouldn’t get to Anadarko in time. For, you see, I still had to get the marriage license after I got there. So at the next stop, I got off the bus and hitch hiked the rest of the way hoping to get there more quickly.

Even so, it was beginning to get dark when I was left in front of the Courthouse. I went up the steps and found the doors locked. Then I went around to the back and found that door locked too. What could I do? The wedding was to be tomorrow, and I knew the Courthouse would be closed on Christmas day. Everyone would be at home with their families for their Christmas dinner. All the announcements had been mailed. People would be arriving, the pianist and singer would be there, the preacher and my best man, Merle, would be there. Vivian, the bride’s maid, would be there, and Sevilla, my lovely bride, would be there waiting too. And if I were to arrive without a license, what would I do? I was in a horrible fix. Of course I should have gotten to Anadarko by some means days ago, but now it was too late. Or was it?

Walking farther around the Courthouse, I saw a light in a basement window. There was still someone there! I knocked on the window again and again, and finally heard a voice from within asking what I wanted. He must have thought I was crazy, when I told him I was getting married the next day and needed to get a license.

However he said if I would return to the back door, he would let me in. It didn’t help the pounding of my heart much, when he told me he was the jailer and the jail was right there in the basement of the Courthouse. After listening to my sad tale, he said he knew where the marriage licenses were kept, if he could just find the right keys. He turned on some lights, and we started up the stairs to the Court Clerk’s office, and there he was able to unlock the door. After searching for a while, he found the key to the vault and produced a marriage license form. While I was anxiously waiting, he took his time in filling out the form.


Finally it was done...

Finally it was done, and he signed it as Deputy Court Clerk. I paid him the required fee and thanked him for his trouble. Then I breathed a sigh of relief and went happily on my way. Christmas morning we were married at the church and the marriage license was signed.


The Wedding Party

That was in 1941

NOTE: That was in 1941 and they were happily married for 60 years.

Mendell and Sevilla celebrate their 60th Anniversary.

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