The Runaway Bride of Sodus Center (1897)

The following story is from the Wayne County Gen Web site.

 (originally in Dec 31th, 1897 Sodus Record)


Sensational Elopement of Sodus Center Couple.

Miss Peeler Was Engaged to an Episcopalian Rector.

Became Infatuated With the Village Telegraph Operator.

Minister Arrived in Full Dress — Prospective Bride Had Flown.

A Brilliant Society Event Spoiled by Girlish Affection.

(Special Dispatch to The Herald.)

Sodus, Dec. 30 – Miss Susie Peeler, the only daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George W. Peeler, of Sodus Center, whose marriage to Rev. George Gurnell, rector of the Church of Epiphany, Bellevue, Pa., had been announced to take place at St. Luke’s Church next Sunday morning, eloped with H.O. Lyon, an extra station agent of the Northern Central Railway Co., Tuesday.

In this, Sodus society has another sensation, which is probably the most remarkable in its history. The fact that one of the society belles of the town had eloped just before she was about to be married has set society all agog, and nothing else can be heard but discussions concerning it. Nothing like it has ever occurred here before, and people with perplexed faces and bewildered looks congregate to hear the latest reports concerning the affair.

It seems that Miss Peeler dreaded the approaching marriage, it being more of a family arrangement than a love affair, which had been announced to take place Monday next. It was an open secret that while she was greatly admired the man to whom she was engaged to be married, that she did not possess the love for him that is generally expected to seal matrimony.

After her engagement had been announced to a few friends, she met H.O. Lyon, who was acting as an extra agent at the Wallington station. A strong friendship sprang up between them, which developed into pure, unadulterated love. Mr. Lyon became acquainted with the fact that she was engaged to Rev. Mr. Gurnell, but he continued to give his attention to Miss Peeler. They were seen at parties together, and friends of both saw that something stronger than friendship existed, although the young people laughed when the subject was mentioned.

Their intimacy continued after the public announcement of the approaching wedding had been made, much to the surprise of their friends. Miss Peeler’s parents had great respect for Mr. Lyon and they made no objection to his frequent calls.

Nearly four weeks ago Lyon left his duties at Wallington and started for his home in Pennsylvania. Later he came ___ to accept a position with the Northern Central.

After his return to Elmira he made frequent visits to Sodus Center, and made arrangements to attend the party which was given at that village last Friday night. It seems that Miss Peeler wrote her fiance regarding the matter, and he informed her that he was willing to sanction her going with Mr. Lyon. It is thought that at that time the two young people talked over the approaching marriage and partially decided that it would be unwise for Miss Peeler to become the wife of the Episcopalian rector. There is every reason to believe that a friend was taken into confidence and that it was arranged to leave Sodus Center and friends behind.

In the meantime Rev. Mr. Gurnell had written from his Pennsylvania home that he would like to have his prospective bride meet him in Rochester Wednesday, where he would purchase a piano and ship the same to Bellevue. He had already furnished a very nice home, which they expected to occupy after the 10th day of February, when they would be at home to their friends.

Miss Peeler wrote him that she would meet him that day as requested and that she would leave Sodus Center the day before and remain with Newark friends over night there and take the morning train the next day for the Flower City.

When Tuesday came Miss Peeler went to Wallington and remained a few hours with a friend, informing her people before leaving that she would take the afternoon train for Newark and proceed for Rochester the next day.

The train from the south, due at Wallington at 11 o’clock a.m. brought Mr. Lyon from Elmira. He was met by Miss Peeler and her friend. The lovers held a consultation and it was evident that Miss Peeler began to regret the step she had taken, as she was seen shedding tears and was visibly affected. She was calmed by Mr. Lyon and when the train going south drew out of Wallington the lovers were aboard. They remained on the train until it reached Stanley. There tickets were bought for Rochester and they were married in that city. That night the telegraph wires announced the event to Wallington friends at the station, but they kept it still until yesterday when it became rumored that something of the kind had taken place. Nothing could be verified, though, until last night, and the particularsl did not reach the public until to-day.

Mr. and Mrs. Lyon left for Elmira. A message from that city stated that they had crossed the line into Pennsylvania, but no further trace of them can be found. Last night a letter was handed a mail clerk addressed to Mrs. Lyon at Elmira, so it is probable that they will return to that city soon.

On Wednesday the Rev. Mr. Gurnell reached Rochester, but was deeply disappointed when he did not find Miss Peeler waiting for him as she had agreed. He telegraphed the friends in Newark where she was to have remained over night. He was surprised when a message announced that she had not been there. Mr. Gurnell took the next train for Sodus Center, and there he found that his fiance had eloped with Lyon. He was greatly shocked and nearly crazed. When he became satisfied that his prospective bride had flown, he took the next R.W. & O. train for New York.

The parents are nearly wild with the outcome of the affair. Her marriage with the rector promised to be such a brilliant society event that their disappointment is keen. The wedding garments were completed some time ago and everything had been prepared for the future event. Wednesday night a party was arranged for Miss Peeler and Mr. Gurnell and another was scheduled for to-night. The parties concerned are highly respectable and have always been looked upon as being society leaders.

A clipping from another day, almost verbatim reportage, had the following heading:

Miss Susie Peeler, Who Was to Have
Married Rev. George Gurnell Next
Monday, Deserts Her

The only difference is this final sentence:

It is said that Mr. Lyon has been once married and that he has a divorce, but no one seems able to show proof of the assertion.



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