The Springfield News-Leader from Springfield, Missouri on April 12, 1925 · Page 34
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The Springfield News-Leader from Springfield, Missouri · Page 34

Springfield, Missouri
Issue Date:
Sunday, April 12, 1925
Page 34
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afest Oil .A. ,Y u IP on ' Socielvs War Premature Elopements, Silly Parents, Bride - Struck Girls and Other Dangers Among. Our V 243,000 "Under Age" Marriages A GROUP of grave gentlemen leaned forward in their chairs in the grand jury room, listening to the "love story" of a little girl who sat with scuffed shoes drawn close under her Bhabby skirts. "Y" see, I was only fifteen when I married Kd. I didn't know " Miles away across Jhe city, at a dainty tea - table, a group of women listened eagerly to a little girl in silks and orchids discussing her Reno divorce, just granted, "Of course, I was only fifteen when I married. I didn't know " ,f" Neither of these pictures is imaginary. They took place simultaneously in New York City, where society's microscope is being trained on society's newest problem, the child - wife. Geneva Mitchell, (Below), Eloped t Seventeen with a College Boy. Her Marriage Wat Quickly Annulled. Stores of child marriages liave been calM ' to the attention of the Commission. "Among records consulted at the Municipal Building we found one for an eleven - year - old bride. School officials ia New York report that from fifty to seven ty - five per cent of children under sixteen are exempt from school attendance because they have married. "In many cases parents are anxious and willing to consent to the marriage of their young children. This is done to enable the child to escape the requirements of the compulsory school attendance law, the child labor law and, we are sorry te ' ;8ay, in some cases child marriage is resorted to in order to cover up the immorality of the consenting parent. "From the psychological standpoint, lib - tie argument is needed to establish the necessity of permitting girls under sixteen years of age to develop physically in a normal manner before placing upon them the burdens incident to marriage and motherhood. Because of their immaturity, girls of fourteen or fifteen are '' not able to give their children the necessary care. For the sake of the taby as well as the mother, medical authorities and welfare workers more and more are advocating that child marriages should be forbidden. ' "We have concrete instances of young people marrying on an overnight acquaintance or even on the same day after meeting for the f irst time at a seaside or pleasure resort. There are many states Gloria Could as a Bride at Seventeen, with Her Husband, Henry A. Bishop, Jr. A Daughter Has Just Bean Born to Them. - X, 1 WW Si, The srirl in the grand jury room and tho girl in silks are both under the lens. For the child - wife is looming up as a problem not only nation - wide, but as serious among children of the rich and blue - blooded as it is among the harum - scarums of alley and tenement. In the United States are 84.'1,000 women who wer,e married before they were sixteen years old. The figures, furnished by the Russell Sage Foundation, do not include women married before 1 890 and they do not pretend to be complete. Women married before they were eighteen swell the total to more than a lialf million. Of tins startling num. - V ... 1 U - Ml, - V 'JJJJiX'5 seen oorn 10 i ncm. m i t ftU V7 t leT '" - 7, w ; J s x 1 4 "1 4 ? - Mathilda McCofmicU, Granddaughter of John I'. Rockefeller, Had to Exaggerate Her Age .' (era She Could Marry ' ..x Oter, Riding Matter. it r r of chiid - brides. a large rcentage came from the jtnes of the aristocratic j .( nd wealthy. The list in - udes: Mr. Ri trinald Vandcrbilt, (Gloria " - gm, who recently denied publicly siie was in I'aris for the purpose of r Z t' T divorce. i;er twin sister, Mrs. James Vail Con - averse (Thelnia Morpan), who has filed uit for divorce in California. Gloria Gould Bishop, now a mother, 9 married Henry A. Bishop, Jr., when she was only seventeen. Mathilde McCormick Oscr (living abroad), granddaughter of John 13. Rockefeller, who overstated her KC so she could marry Max User, the Swiss riding - master. All walks of life arc represented among the child - brulcs. The Manhattan flapper set of a few years back has not yet foVgotten the elopement of Constance Bennett, then sixteen, with young Chester Moorehead. Connie pave her age as twenty - one. 1 hree days later the marriage was annulled through the efforts of Richard Bennett, her father, and Adri - enne Morrison Bennett, her m o t h c r, who are now separate)!. Of the many youthful st ift and screen stars who dashed into matrimony, n tvpiial instance is Geneva Mitchell. She had just turned seventeen, a "pogo girl" in the Follies, when she eloped with Robert Savne, reputed" to lie the son of a This marriage, too, was an nulled, like no many others. Going losver in the grade of riches nnd environment, investigators have unearthed among the child - brides such an army of statistics on divorces, separations, broken homes and wrecked lives that they are gasping, "Why do these reckless marriages go on in America? And whft can we do to curb thcin?" Above, at Left, the Famous Morgan Twint, Gloria and Thelma, Both of Whom Married When Very Young. Mrs. Converse, on the Right, Is Getting a Divorce in California. Mrs. Reggie Vanderbilt, Recently a Mother, Is in Paris, Where. Sha Recently Scoffed at a Rumor of Divorce. Below, Jessie Webb, Aged Fifteen, Who Discovered After Her Hasty Marriage to Edward ' Reynolds That He Was a Convicted Criminal. millionaire. Fourteen states, thev have found, have a minimum legal age for marriage of only twelve for girls and fourteen for boys. The Russell Sage Foundation lists these states as New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Louisiana, Virginia, Florida, Maryland, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Colorado, Idaho, Maine and Mississippi. New York is now trying to correct the child - wife problem by the passage of laws raising the minimum nge limit. State Senator Antin, thief advocate of this legislation, cites hundreds of shocking cases which he attributes to New York's lax marriage laws. They include not only - headlong elopements by youngsters who had knawn each other only a few days, and sometimes only a few hours, but daughters sold to old men by their mothers as - flagrantly as child - brides are bartered in the Orient. Mrs. Ray Oppenheimer, a child - wife of the Bronx, was completely dazzled by the attentions of Lamont Oppenheimer when she firit nlut him. lie told her he was the nephew of a lich butcher, that he owned real estate and an automobile, that he had money in fo ;r banks and a suite at a Broadway hotel. She married him. Then the disillusion. According to Mrs. Oppenheimer, she found immediately after the ceremony that her new husband's en - tiro fortune consisted of fifty cents. She learned this, she said, after he had sold and pawned ' the wedding presents and deserted her. Madeline Smith, of 342 East 143rd Street, was sixteen years old when she married Joe Smith. She believed he was an honest workingman. He turned out to be a professional gambler who had been convicted of robbery and had served eighteen months in jail under another name. Edward Reynolds, a youth of eighteen, eloped with Jesste Webb, three years his junior. Jessie's parents, of No. 618 East 22nd Street, Brooklyn, had Edward arrested and charged him with abduction. His trial revealed that the bridegroom had been co n v i c t e d twice for crime with grand lar - cony charged against him. Commenting on such cases as these, Senator Antin, who is chairman of the State Child Welfare Commission, declared: 1 "Almost everybody can get a marriage license at any of the New York bureaus and be married on the spot, without any 'adequate inquiry. Children may marry at any age provided parental consent is obtained. . - ' . .;' v. ' ." " : " v I ui 'v - V I - O 1 ' 1 r. ?' I V , ). ( : - now that have the provision In the law requiring a waiting period. Not only - have hasty marriages been prevented in these states, but during the interval officials have discovered some startling facts such as a previous marriage, false statement of age and the presence of insanity. "Frequently the hip flask is to blame. Many young people today think it smart to carry hip flasks. They have a spirit of bravado in breaking the law. And where the hip flask is part of the party, it too frequently happens that gaiety ends with a "wild and unconsidered maf riage that is bound to come to disaster." The cure of the child'wif e problem: ha been worked out by the Russell Sag Foundation in, ten recommendations, as follows: 1: Work toward A reasonable and forccable minimum marriageable aga law. The minimum for girls should be at least sixteen; in many states it is still twelve. 2. Procure, in states which now are without it, a law requiring five days' advance notice of intention to nmrzjfr Such a law operates in'eight states, 3. Put the marriage market towrt feat of business. There are at least forty; notorious Gretna Greens where the exploitation and commercialization of mam riage are responsible for numerous ctula marriages. 4. Through eo - operatlon wltK adjoining states discourage hasty marriages across the state border, where out - of - town marriages are railroaded through either at the license office or tho Justice of the peace's office, or both. 6. Know the work of your license issuers, so that the difficulties with which 'they are now contending single - handed may be brought to light and that they may be encouraged to use the discretion - which the. laws of many states now: empower them to exercise. 6. Destroy the fee system, fn so far al the system of fees in lieu of salaries t license issuers survives. It interferes with the disinterested character of, their service. 7. Strengthen requirements as to proof of age of applicants fqr marriage licenses. At present no proof of age is required in most marriage license offices, and the - practice of' accepting affidavits leads t falsification by applicants, and otnetnaei by their parents, making possible the marriage of children eleven, twelve, thirteen and fourteen years of age.' 8. Substitute better evidence of age for affidavits; no other form of evidence Is so unsatisfactory.' Aside from birth and baptismal certificates, sixteen other forms of . documentary evidence of age are suggested in the report. !). Require both applicants for a mar - , riage license to appear in person before the license issuer. 10. Harmonire the different state lawg . in which a minimum age is required; the) . minimum marriageable age should not he .lower than the minimum working age, and the compulsory school attendance agf should fit into both these others, . Copjrltht. IKS, tijr lmwnMloiiil Jnturc Srrto. Inc. Crrtt Brlttla Klchti BitJ. : s I e.

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