*Two* Woman to Know: Charity Bryant and Sylvia Drake

This union, no less sacred to them than the tie of marriage, has subsisted, in uninterrupted harmony, for more than forty years. — Willem Cullen Bryant

(image via Henry Sheldon Museum)

In the 19th century, in the tiny town of Weybridge, Vt., Sylvia Drake and Charity Bryant shared a house, a bank account, a tailoring business and a Sunday school class -- and, according to their letters, their diaries, even the headstone over their shared grave -- a love deeper than that of business partners and friends.

Many historians consider Bryant and Drake's common law "marriage" as the first documented same-sex union -- recognized two decades before the Supreme Court would legalize it. As Jan Albers of the Henry Sheldon Museum wrote:

The love story of Charity and Sylvia .... shows us that there were couples of the same sex long before our time, "married" in their love if not in their rights. And by their example we see that it was possible for some such people to live quiet, respectable lives as members of their communities. There is nothing new under the sun.

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