Giving Up His Girl

I never had the opportunity to meet my great-grandmother, Laura Grim.  In fact, my father never met his grandmother either; she died twenty-four years before he was even born, after suffering many years with tuberculosis.¹ There isn’t anyone alive in my family who knew her. There are no stories, no pictures… nothing of her at all. In documenting my father’s side, I seriously started with practically no information beyond my grandparent’s names and death dates so every discovery I find is new to all of us in the family.  

Being that I started with no information on my great-grandmother at all, I didn’t realize she was married prior to marrying my great-grandfather. I’d been searching for Laura’s marriage license to William Arby Lemaster, when I stumbled over a record to her first husband, Louis Borders.²  And if it wasn’t thrilling enough to find to a record (and person) I didn’t even know existed, there was a special bonus to it.  On the left hand page, opposite the actual marriage record, was a handwritten note from her father, Wallace Grim, dated 9-3-1902 which reads:

This is to cirty
that i, walace grim
hav given up my girl
to wit, Laura Grim
to bee married to
lewis borders
this given under my
hand walace grim

I grinned from ear to ear finding this gem.  The phrase “given up my girl” just touched me.  I know some women today might find it derogatory to be called “girl” or take the viewpoint that he could be seen as giving her away like a piece of property. I rather want to believe that this is a phrase of endearment and that he’s perhaps somewhat sad to be giving her away in marriage.

Maybe I’m just foolishly trying to give personality to a name on a piece of paper.  But, really, don’t we all try to read more into their stories? Wallace Grim just came to life in the most vivid way and burst off the page when I found this note.  I wasn’t looking at a clerk’s notation in the margins. No… it was his note, in his hand with his misspellings.  I found it as a sweet and touching last “love note” from a father to his little girl as she leaves her home to begin a new life as a woman and wife.



¹ “Mrs. Lemaster Dies on Saturday,” Ashland Independent Newspaper (Kentucky), 8 March 1926, p.1; database, Ashland Daily Independent Obituary Index, Boyd County (Kentucky), ( : accessed 25 November 2016).
² “Kentucky, County Marriages, 1783-1965,” database with images, (http://www. : accessed 19 February 2017), entry for Laura Grim, 3 October 1902.

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