Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Carrie Lee Gerringer, August 11, 1979. Interview H-0077. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Courtship and marriage before reaching age of consent

Gerringer describes her marriage to William Gerringer in 1925. At the time, Gerringer was only sixteen years old and her husband-to-be was nineteen. The age of consent was eighteen for women and twenty-one for men, and as a result, their parents had to provide their own written consent for the union. Earlier in the interview, Gerringer had described her whirlwind, and secretive, courtship with her husband.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Carrie Lee Gerringer, August 11, 1979. Interview H-0077. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

DOUGLAS DENATALE:
What year was it that you were married in?
CARRIE LEE GERRINGER:
'24 or '5. I think I've got my birth certificate in here. I had to take it up yonder. Let's see when it was. I had to take it up to . They can't believe that I'm seventy-one years old. I have to take my birth certificate. Age sixteen when I got married. January tenth, 1925. Guilford County.
DOUGLAS DENATALE:
Were you married in a church?
CARRIE LEE GERRINGER:
No. We went to the courthouse at Graham and got married.
DOUGLAS DENATALE:
Did your mother come with you when you went?
CARRIE LEE GERRINGER:
Yes, she signed for us to get married.the written consent ofmother.
DOUGLAS DENATALE:
Did your family belong to a church here in Bynum?
CARRIE LEE GERRINGER:
No. I think Mama belonged to a Methodist church, so I joined when I was a young'un. But the church ain't there anymore, so I went . Did you want to look at that?
DOUGLAS DENATALE:
This is your marriage certificate from Burlington and Alamance."the Register of Deeds, January 10, 1925, I"-and that's blank- "having applied to me for a license for the marriage of William Gerringer" . . .
CARRIE LEE GERRINGER:
He would have been twenty his birthday.
DOUGLAS DENATALE:
"twenty years old, color white, son of Frederick and Minnie Gerringer, father now living and mother dead, resident of Gibsonville, and Carrie Lee Dean of Glen Raven, age sixteen years, color white, daughter of Dora Oberman and George Dean, father living and mother living." That was your real father.
CARRIE LEE GERRINGER:
Yes.
DOUGLAS DENATALE:
"Resident of Glen Raven." And she had to give consent to you, is that right? My goodness.
CARRIE LEE GERRINGER:
And his daddy did, too, because he weren't twenty-one.
DOUGLAS DENATALE:
Oh, you had to be twenty-one back then?
CARRIE LEE GERRINGER:
Eighteen for a girl.
DOUGLAS DENATALE:
And twenty-one for a man?
CARRIE LEE GERRINGER:
Yes.
DOUGLAS DENATALE:
That's really something.