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Archive for the ‘Bordentown’ Category

Tom Paine loved his home in bucolic, cozy Bordentown. Fellow patrons of The Washington House, Paine’s favorite local tavern, recalled, “Nothing but brandy and atheism ever passed his lips.” Had religious radical Tom still been around in 1856, he likely would have knocked a few back with his neighbors, but the topic of conversation would have veered from atheism towards what the newspapers denounced as “the blackest paganism.”

A story carried by the New York Times asked:

“Could the annals of middle-African fetish worship- could the darkest pollutions of Oriental Devil-worship- could the gloomiest delusions of the middle ages…show a more horrible picture of human madness and hallucination?”

Over 2000 residents of Bordentown and its vicinity attended the ceremony, quite likely making it the largest ceremony ever seen in the small town. The bride, just seventeen, was presumably lovely and the ceremony proceeded in the usual manner of the day, provided, of course, that you overlook the fact that the groom was a corpse.

The young man was dead before his wedding day began. To the “spiritualist” couple, the groom’s father, and a medium, the well-boxed groom presented but minor impediment, although the story is unclear about the manner in which the couple exchanged rings and vows.

Neither groom nor wedding guests who gave witness to this short circuit in the cycle of Bordentown life had to answer the question of whether they were wearing their “buryin’ or marryin’ suits.” The funeral for the groom took place immediately following his wedding.

The bride “raved and flung herself into the grave like one possessed by an evil spirit” during the funeral. She was “with great difficulty borne” from the spot, but shortly composed herself for the reception at her father-in-law’s home.

The “victims of demonism” set the groom’s spiritual body a chair at table, where he was remembered with a full place setting and all pertinent condiments.

Some time after the wedding, the bride left Bordentown. She moved to California.


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