150-year-old mystery marriage certificate headed home

BOLIVIA, NC (WWAY) — A 150-year-old marriage license found hidden in a frame at an area thrift shop is now headed home.

There was very little to go on the couple, who were married in 1872. WWAY did the story, and our viewers found the great-granddaughter of the happy couple on the license.

Monday, Irene Cornish flew all the way from New York to ensure this piece of history made it home safely. All her planning and excitement led to a very tearful reunion.

“I still can’t believe it,” Cornish teared up. “That I found out about it and that I’m going to have it for my family. I really… I’m sorry. I’m so overwhelmed.”

Karmen Smith, Hope and Hope Harbor Domestic Violence Shelter’s executive director says she often sees families at their lowest points. She’s looked forward to Monday since the day her staff found the license nailed inside a donated 19th century frame.

“To be able to help someone reunite their family and have that same family situation end in a positive note, it’s incredible,” said Smith.

Though Cornish has found a missing piece of her family’s history, she’s not stopping here. Her next stop is to York County, South Carolina, where she’ll search for her the home her parents were married in.

Cornish explained, “They were known as the marrying judges. Couples would go to York, South Carolina to get married because there wasn’t a residency requirement.”

This mystery, now solved, has put Cornish on the case. She’s renewed her desire to learn more about her family, especially after her mother’s passing.

“Having this show up now when I’ve been feeling especially lonesome for family it felt like it was a way… they were reaching out to say don’t be lonely. You have a family,” said Cornish.

Though this chapter is closed, the rest of Cornish’s family story continues.


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