and had 7 kids by the time she was 29 so not like she could go anywhere even if she wanted to. A minute later, when I am looking for a tissue to blow my nose, she hands me half her packet. Children nine years old certainly do not know their own minds, and they may get married just because the idea sounded glamorous.”, Another resident, Wallace Wright, stated, “The present laws are all right, but there is no use in the people making fools of themselves and the laws to.”, Even Tennessee Governor Gordon Browning was asked for his opinion. The wedding of Peaches and Daddy, as chronicled in Nicholas L. Syrett’s new book American Child Bride, was a turning point because it was only in the early 20th century that the idea of childhood as a particular and protected stage of life became pervasive, as well as the idea of marriage as a love contract between something like equals. Kelli And if you want more about the elementary school switching, you can read another article on the same day from Time magazine here. I am currently living in Salt Lake, Utah. As for your research into Eunice Winstead, I’d definitely like to know more about the particulars, and would love to know where else (although where could be better than Filmfax? "Is he a superhero?" Was the picture of Charley and Eunice you saw in Sociology class in America or Cambodia? On January 12, 1937, in Treadway, a small town in Hancock county, a young couple asked a local minister, 53-year-old Reverend Walter Lamb, to join the two in matrimony.

This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. You see, Charlie Johns was 22 and Eunice Winstead was nine. Too many people try to analyze this marriage. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. “I like to hug,” she says. Not only was legislation quickly passed in Tennessee to outlaw 9yos being able to get married, a law was passed requiring married children to attend school. Useless? Continuing concerns about child marriage prompted another reform movement in 1920s, when the press had fun with the Peaches-and-Daddy romance. I think it was the sub-title that grabbed me: “A THROBBING DRAMA OF SHACKLED YOUTH!”, Paul Holbrook does a wonderful job talking about the making of this exploitation film from the 30s which was actually trying to cash-in on the moral panic surrounding Eunice and Charlie Johns in 1937. The second would make a county court clerk guilty of a misdemeanor if he or she knowingly issued a marriage license to anyone under the age of sixteen. We lived 1/4 mile from her post office. Your email address will not be published. All contents © 2020 The Slate Group LLC. I can’t wait to read a whole story. Many children back then did adult things, before we passed child-labor laws. And on the new state law, too. God answered at lot of prayers during this time. All rights reserved. Thanks for any consideration and action you may give to this. Yet, this did not bring a halt to child marriages in Tennessee. Advocates are working to persuade those legislators. Sometimes my Caucasian friends and wife still ask me if I speak in Cambodian with them Anyhow, long to short, I would love to read more about their story. Nationwide,it was estimated that there were 5,000 child brides under the age of fifteen back in 1937. Her sister, Ina, got married at age 13. Child Bride-Hancock County Tenn. Eunice Winstead, age 9 married to Charlie Johns age 22. And why couldn’t he marry someone his age?

She is my great Aunt. Mrs. Lewis Winstead, mother of nine-year-old Eunice Winstead Johns, the child bride, has asked me to "write a piece" to correct-errors” papers have made about ihe marriage which was performed in the middle of a country road near Treadway on Jan. 14. But what real options did she have? But at age 32 she was the valedictorian speaker at Rutgers University's commencement. The next day, both John Henry and his mother Eliza were arrested and charged with falsifying Evelyn’s age at 21 when they obtained the marriage license. Instead, she met up with her fiancé and the two walked several miles to ask Reverend Lamb to marry them. In fact, Life magazine took exclusive images of them at their home, and even featured the confrontation between Charlie Johns and Eunice’s teacher when she was switched in elementary school as part of their Private Lives series in the August 23rd, 1937 issue (you can read it by clicking on the image of Eunice to the left).

Because of her and fellow advocates, there may be fewer child brides in the future. On the morning of their marriage, Eunice told her dad that she was headed up the road to her married sister’s house to get a doll that Charlie had given to her the previous Christmas. And that's a good thing, those advocates say. Eunice Blanche Winstead Johns would live another nine years without her husband. “After all, Papa married Mama when she was only 9 years old.”, John Henry told the press that Charlie did not approve of the marriage because he wanted Evelyn to marry “another boy who was better off financially.” He added that Charlie was “just plain hard to get along with.”. The notion that a 15-year-old might not be suited for marriage, even if she thought she was, was fairly new. The couple would once again make headlines in September 1960 after their 17-year-old daughter Evelyn eloped with her boyfriend, 20-year-old John Henry Antrican. "That's not the world we're living in now," he said. As soon as a I got it I was heading directly for the article on Peter Hyams’s NASA conspiracy flick Capricorn One (1978), but I got sidetracked by Paul Holbrook’s article about an exploitation film from 1938 called Child Bride. “I like to hug,” she says. Their union was criticized not because she was so young, but because he was so old. For example: There were many more stories just like these, but I was struck by what Mrs. Jean Darnell, another Tennessee child bride, had to say. Their parents’ farms were next door to each other. Standing at a curve in the roadway, the Reverend asked the two to join hands and performed what he later described as a “Baptist ceremony.” “And what God hath joined together let no man put asunder.” He then pronounced them man and wife and the brief ceremony was over.

I’ve made some money, but it’s not in a bank – I’ve got it hid away.”, Eunice had little to say, but boastfully stated, “I like to milk.” It was noted by the reporter that she was learning how to cook, to which Charlie added, “She already knows how to make biscuits.”, On the eve of their second anniversary, it didn’t seem like much had changed. Nine-year-old Eunice Winstead Johns and her 6-foot-tall husband, Charlie Johns, 22, are shown at their home in Sneedville, Tennessee, Feb. 2, 1937. He said she was delightful and had stayed married to Charley until he died in the 90s. ", Some legislators have a religious constituency, and are sincerely trying to reflect the beliefs of their constituents, Hamilton says.

I also heard about this story in my sociology text book. Aroused over the marriage of Eunice Winstead Johns, 9-year-old mountain bride, Tennessee's legislature began setting up a legal barrier Tuesday to future child marriages. If you value our work, please disable your ad blocker.

That baffled her—until some of those legislators called to ask her advice about the laws. I’d like to know more about her and her life.

Maybe Eunice is a mite young, but what of it?”, She continued, “I guess I was married at 13, and a grandmother at 30, and there ain’t nothing wrong with me.

And as Holbrook points out: Exploitation films had dealt with narcotics, perversion, sex hygiene, and all kinds of other things movies were not supposed to show but which pople secretly wanted to see anyway. He was twenty-four. You can cancel anytime. Honeymooning in a mountain cabin, 9-year-old Eunice Winstead Johns played happily today with her doll--a gift from her 22-year-old husband--while he made plans for their new farm home. On the other hand, the book’s reprint of the 1937 Life magazine photo of Eunice Winstead Johns, age 9, standing beside her 22-year-old husband, Charlie Johns, in Hancock County, Tennessee, makes the pit of your stomach drop. If one includes those who were fifteen, that number skyrockets to 20,000 young girls. Ain’t no new law goin’ to change things now.

I will be more than happy to share anything with you. The public uproar over the marriage continued to swell, forcing the young couple to take refuge in the home of Charlie’s parents. She was my dad’s sister (my aunt). He used to sit by her in school, evidently one of those one-room schools where kids of all ages attended. I have to make a living for myself and my children. Wallace Lamb. It's hard to quantify how many child brides there used to be, since record-keeping in previous centuries was spotty, and many people fudged their true youthful age. This nice, taut frame for the exploitation film circuit frames beautifully how morality can be the most subversive distribution channel. And despite the scrolling moral that starts the film to “Abolish child marriage,” by the time the film is ready for release the child marriage laws in Tennessee and other states had already been changed due to immense social pressure. It was just my random question. These roadshow films were produced quickly and exhibited in only a few theaters at a time, often accommodated by a lecturer who spoke who spoke out against whatever evil was being presented and sold educational literature warning of its dangers.Because they were made independently and never distributed through the standard theater chains, they were not under the jurisdiction of the Production Code. It turns out that Geneva had been placed in an orphanage two years prior and had little contact with her mother since. Why? A children’s advocacy organization launched a suit to stop them from getting married, but Peaches had the parental permission required for any girl over 12 to marry in New York state.

Anyway, when we presented the film in the class, everyone was amazed of how mature she was in dealing with her daily life as a wife, mother and worker. Three days after this story first broke in the news, two bills were introduced to the Tennessee Senate. A Tennessee law enacted in 1927 required that girls under the age of 18 and boys under 21 give five days notice prior to the granting of a marriage license, unless they had their parents’ approval. Charlie determined he was going to marry Eunice but didn’t tell her when. “They would have to have a court order to make me issue such a license,” he said.4, Tennessee’s state laws prohibited the issuance of a marriage license if either party were under the age of eighteen without parental permission or that of a guardian.5 However, the no-age limit rule with parental consent was also allowed in Florida, Indiana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, and Missouri. So this post inspired me to go search for more information about Eunice Winstead.

Charlie Jess Johns died on February 13, 1997 at the age of eighty-four. January 12, 1937 marriage license for Eunice Winstead and Charlie Johns. Mrs. Russell Frazell of Moline, Illinois already had a son when she was fourteen. If there is anything the P-T A. can do to prevent its recurrence, we certainly hope to do it.”, Mrs. Graeme Canning, president of the Ossoli Circle women’s club expressed support for returning to the five-day marriage rule: “If we had such a law now, that marriage could not have happened. A minute later, when I am looking for a tissue to blow my nose, she hands me half her packet.