JOHNS-L ArchivesArchiver > JOHNS > 2006-06 > 1150994934
Subject: Re: [JOHNS] Charlie Johns married Eunice Winstead, age 9
Date: Thu, 22 Jun 2006 12:48:54 EDT
I found this on the web about the marriage Estelle
From Times Archives Feb 15 1937
¶ In Wichita, Kans., Viola McFeeters, 13, was sued for divorce by Raymond
McFeeters who married her a year ago when she escaped from a girls' industrial
¶ In Columbus, Ohio, spindle-legged, undernourished Isabel Carter, 13, was
revealed to be the bride of three weeks of Harry Monroe, 37, a paralytic. Her
parents were considering annulment action.
¶ In Washington, D. C., the American Youth Commission declared that a survey
made in Maryland showed that, of 6,642 young women questioned, one had been
married at 10, one at 11, two at 12, 12 at 13. 36 at 14. Census records of 1930
listed 4.241 U. S. married women under 15, with ten States recognizing the old
Anglo-U.S. common law marriage ages: 12 for females, 14 for males.
These facts came to light and U. S. preachers, welfare workers and lawmakers
beat their breasts last week because, on a backwoods road near Treadway.
Tenn., a hillbilly parson named Walter Lamb had joined in wedlock Hillbilly Charlie
Johns, 22, and Eunice Winstead, 9 (TIME, Feb. 8). Newshawks sought out Parson
Lamb, a husky, red-headed Baptist living with his wife in a two-room cabin in
Hancock County, only county in Tennessee which has no telephones, no
telegraph, not a foot of paved highway. Said Preacher Lamb, who for some years has
lived only a mile away from the Winstead family: "I didn't know she was so young.
Nine's a little early. Anyway, they had a license and she told me she was old
enough to know her own mind. . . . It's hard to get bread and meat in this
section, so I thought so long as some other one was going to marry them, I might
as well do it. I just told them to join hands and stand in the middle of the
road. It was outdoors. I didn't even take my hat off. I just stood in the
middle of the road, said the marriage ceremony, and it was over. I don't charge
anything for marrying people, but they gave me a dollar, which was all right,
considering they got value received, I guess."
"Winsteads marry young," said Mrs. Lamb, cracking hickory nuts by her
In his cabin where he had taken his elfin, impubic bride "so's I can raise
her up right," gangling Groom Johns declined $500 for newsreel poses, oiled his
shotgun, muttered about "furriners" coming into the mountains, exploded:
"They're a-sayin' they're goin' to take Eunice away from me. They're a-sayin' the
law-makin' men in Nashville is makin' a law sayin' my marriage ain't legal.
They've scared Eunice to death talkin' about sendin' her to reform school. I'm
that pestered I can't plant my tobacco crop nor git no work done. All I know is
they ain't goin' to take Eunice away 'thout it's over my dead body." Eunice's
mother—a grandmother at 33 —explained that a neighboring family had "put the
peep" on. her 16-year-old son Herbie who wished to marry Clarey Johns, 24,
that "Charlie was afeered we would do the same on Eunice." But, said she, "This
thing is all right with God. I know. A man who has God's word married my
daughter. . . . They don't actually live as man and wife. Why, she's still my child,
just my little baby. He treats her just like always, except they sleep in the
same room now." Said Father Winstead: "What God hath joined together let no
man put asunder. I wouldn't put my soul in danger of hell fire to bust up the
marriage of a couple of young 'uns that love each other."
Said Father Johns: "These two youngsters sort of put one over on the old
As Tennessee officials discovered after hunting for legal means to void the
marriage, the youngsters had put one over on the State. Since the parents
approved, nothing could be done about it. Hastily drafted and passed by the State
Senate was a bill setting the marriageable age for Tennessee females at 14.