While doing research for our books, authors often stumble across information that we find interesting or unusual, which to me is one of the most exciting part of writing.
For the book I am currently working on, I needed to find out more about annulments and divorce in the United States in the 1800's. It can sometimes be hard to find out accurate information as different sources might have differing point of view and statistics.
As I was reading through documents and websites, I came to realize something that I hadn't really thought about before...
I have always had this "everyone was wonderful and people were much better behaved back then" attitude when I think of pioneer times. (Well, except of course for the famous robbers, gangsters and villains of the time!)
When I would think of a teenager back then, I would think they would be responsible at a young age, working hard alongside their families and not having the time to go through the usual teenage "angst" we see today.
During my research, I realized that sometimes this wasn't the case. Sometimes, a teenager did exactly what you would expect a teenager to do - make decisions dictated by their hormones that might not be in their best interest.
I was trying to find reasons why a couple would seek an annullment, and one of these reasons actually stated that a parent would file to dissolve the marriage on the grounds that the young son or daughter were too young and had got married without their consent.
I found this interesting because often we think that people would marry back then out of necessity, or marry young to ease the burden of caring for large families.
In today's society, a young couple might just run off and live together, perhaps even have a child while underage. They aren't as likely to marry, but back in those days, living together outside of marriage would never be considered, so they would have to actually marry.
As a parent back in the 1800's, even though children were required to grow up much faster and take on more responsibility than today, it is interesting to see that they did still have to deal with some teenage disobedience.
And, it wasn't just men. There were many women who married more than one man, and in one case I read about, the woman was married to two men. When the second husband found out, she tried to console him by saying that she only did it because she liked him better. So, even though she was already married, I would assume when she met this man, she liked him more so decided to just marry him too.
I can't imagine how they would keep the charade up, or the details of each case, but it was interesting to read about. Especially since the other partner could have them put in jail for their indiscretions.
If you would like to read more about the case, and about annulments and divorce in the 1800's, the article I found the most interesting was at http://scholarlycommons.law.hofstra.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1261&context=faculty_scholarship
Sometimes, even though we think back on "simpler times" and imagine that everyone was on their best behavior, we should try to remember that even then, people made decisions that we would be shocked to think about.
Kay P. Dawson’s first mail order bride series, Wilder West, is available on Amazon. Her new series, Oregon Sky, will feature the Wallace family who have settled in the Willamette Valley. The first book in the series, “Phoebe’s Promise”, takes place over the Oregon Trail - available now on Amazon.
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