Frank Topliff Sapp and Carl Bryan Shuman were Wetzel County politicians, both having been Democratic County Chair, were best friends, and cousins. They had decided early on to consolidate their political power and wealth by entering their children into courtship and marry. Not necessarily an arranged marriage but situations that were arranged. Fate had it that they did not have to worry if their plans were to work or not or how their children would react when they found out later in life what they had hoped would happen.
My Grandpa Ollie and Grandma Maxine have known each other their whole lives. The families would visit one another as often as they could. They would also run into each other at family events, like gatherings at Minerva (Moore) Jackson’s.
Grandpa, being older than Grandma by only a few years, has only a few memories of life before he met her and she has none before him. They were always good friends and loved to play together. Grandma Maxine told me a story of them that I need to tell.
Her first and dearest memory of Grandpa was when she was a little girl. It also happens to be the day she knew she wanted to be with him forever. His family was visiting and she was wearing a dress with apron. They went outside to play together. Grandpa untied her apron strings and swished them in the air, pretending she was a horse. That was it for her. Playing giddy up on the hillside was all it took to capture her heart.
Love is Elementary
They also went to school together. The reader has to understand that in their time and place there was only one school, one room large, for all students from first grade to eighth. Eighth was the highest anyone then and there could attain.
After Grandpa graduated in 1933 he would still go back to class as often as his father Frank would allow. He completed that grade many times hoping to learn more and to court Grandma. In time he was needed full time at his dad’s farm and my grandparents saw less of each other.
The connection they formed lasted through the times of seeing each other less until they could court. Though Grandma’s telling of it was a lifelong courtship. She was right.
Courtship and Marriage
It is hard to tell the difference between the courtship and the friendship of my grandparents. They grew in both and grew up together, much to the pleasure of Frank and Bryan, their dads. Grandpa Ollie asked Bryan for Grandma Maxine’s hand. Bryan gave it. Bryan loved Ollie like his own already and knew how happy my Grandpa made Grandma.
On January 9th, 1942 Helen Maxine Shuman and Ollie W. Sapp were wed. Then they had the Second Great War to contend with. That part is always hard to write about. That chapter of the romance will be the next post. Come back for more.