Forbidden Love at Co-Educational Elon

Julia Mueller
February 14, 2013

HeartsFor Valentine’s Day this year, we have a story of forbidden love at Elon.

In the early years of Elon College, being a co-educational higher learning institution was relatively rare.  Elon, however, offered education to both males and females, though strict conditions accompanied the interactions.  In 1907, faculty minutes expose the story of Marie Winn and L.I. Gay and their disobedience toward the college’s social rules.  The minutes are as follows:

8 March 1907 – Marie Winn and L.I. Gay got 5 demerits for passing notes.

15 March 1907 – L.I. Gay and Marie Winn were denied all social privileges for a month for walking and talking on Lebanon Avenue on March 12.

1 April 1907 – Mr. Gay is permitted to call on young ladies today from 3:00 to 5:30 p.m., and Marie Winn may receive company for the same hours.

1 May 1907 – [L.I. Gay and Marie Winn were given demerits and denied social privileges for a “clandestine meeting” on March 12 (see Minutes dated 15 March 1907).  The couple made repeated attempts to have the punishment mitigated, and met at least one more time.]                                    It is rumored that L.I. Gay and Marie Winn are expecting to marry against her father’s wishes.  The faculty decided to inform her father of conditions and to take precautions against their elopement.

17 May 1907 – F.J. Winn wrote that he did not want his daughter Marie to marry Mr. Gay, so the faculty sent him word to come and take his daughter home at once.

22 May 1907 – Information given to the faculty was that Marie Winn had received a letter from her father charging her not to marry L.I. Gay without his consent.  The President was asked to telegraph F.J. Winn (the father) to come at once for his daughter.

24 May 1907 – The President’s wire to F.J. Winn, Portsmouth, Va., was terse: “Come to Elon tomorrow without fail.”  Winn’s reply: “Your telegram received late this morning.  Utterly impossible for me to come to Elon at this time.  Be easy.  NO marriage will take place between Mr. Gay and my daughter before my consent is given.”

27 May 1907 – The President reported a rumor that L.I. Gay and Marie Winn intended to elope on the night of May 28 via the 9:00 p.m. train, and that he (the President) had telegraphed F.J. Winn to come at once without fail and remove his daughter Marie from the college.  The faculty voted to employ a guard for West Dormitory for at least two nights until Mr. Winn can come.

31 May 1907 – Marie Winn has been kept under surveillance until her father was heard from.  A woman from Baltimore came, stating that she was Marie Winn’s aunt, and proposed taking the girl to Baltimore.  The President wired Mr. Winn who replied that Marie should go.  Marie and her aunt departed for Baltimore at 5:00 p.m. on May 29.

Unfortunately, that is the last of the information regarding Marie Winn and L.I. Gay. One’s imagination can continue the story and possible love between Marie and L.I.


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