13-Appalachian Marriage

13-Appalachian Marriage - HUMANITIES 1704 Introduction to...

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HUMANITIES 1704 Introduction to Appalachian Studies Dr. Stevan R. Jackson
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Appalachian Marriage Goals of Marriage  Like many traditional-based cultures in the  world, such as India, in Appalachia during the  18 th , 19 th  and most of the 20 th  centuries it was  important to be married by a certain age,  usually a very young age by today’s standards.  This practice is still found in many cultures  although the tradition has, by and large, died  out in Appalachia.
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Appalachian Marriage Goals of Marriage  Generally speaking it was not uncommon  throughout the 18 th,   19 th , and much of the 20 th   centuries in Appalachia that girls would marry  at 12 or 13 years of age, and occasionally  even younger. Males were usually 19 or 20 or  perhaps even into their mid-20s when they  married the young girl. 
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Appalachian Marriage Goals of Marriage  The famous country singer Loretta Lynn  married at age 12 while her husband, Oliver,  but nicknamed Mooney because he ran  moonshine, was 21.  Put your age into this equation and see how  you would feel.
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Appalachian Marriage Goals of Marriage  If you were a girl and not married by age 18  you were considered a “spinster” – and to be  called a “spinster” was not a compliment. 
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Appalachian Marriage Goals of Marriage  Being a spinster meant that the girl was not of  marriage quality, either by looks, disability, or if  the girls had already become a widow by 18,  she would be considered used goods. 
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Appalachian Marriage Goals of Marriage  By the age of 20 the girl was placed on the  “cull” list if she wasn’t married. Her chances of  finding a husband after that age goes down  exponentially.
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Appalachian Marriage Goals of Marriage  Girls often married to escape a harsh  childhood. Notice the use of girls and not boys.
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Appalachian Marriage Goals of Marriage  However, you can imagine living a childhood  and a marriage at the same time would seem  to be the epitome of harshness but it was often  preferred.
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Appalachian Marriage Goals of Marriage  Often the girl/wife had a “child”, thus becoming  a mother at age 13 or 14. Literally the phrase  “Children having children”. Today we think of  unwed teens in this kind of trouble but then it  was sanctioned marriage.
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Appalachian Marriage Goals of Marriage  There was usually a large family that resulted  from these marriages, as in double digits. This  entire system of marriage with young  wives/mothers and large families is still the  norm in some parts of the world.
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Appalachian Marriage Goals of Marriage  As a personal example, my mother, a product  of  the traditional Appalachia marriage was the  youngest of 11 children.
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This note was uploaded on 10/24/2011 for the course HUM 1704 taught by Professor Srjackson during the Fall '11 term at Virginia Tech.

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13-Appalachian Marriage - HUMANITIES 1704 Introduction to...

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