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Lilly, the child bride

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I'd like to tell some stories about my best friend's grandmother, but I'm afraid her family will kill me dead! This woman is unbelievable! The stories are so irresistible that I will share them with you, but I will change the names to protect myself. As you will see, no one is innocent in these stories.

I'm not a grand storyteller. I wish I could do these justice. Use your imagination- I'll just tell you the way it was told to me.

Grandma Lilly was a child during the Great Depression. Many of the best Ozark stories have roots in the depression which had such a profound effect on the people here. She was from a large family. The boys went to work for the CCC or had run off, but the girls were younger and little more than a financial burden on the family. The crops were bad and game was scarce, there was not enough to feed them.

Lilly was a beauty, but she was only ten when her father arranged for her to marry a friend of the family. One of his hunting buddies, Henry. They drank moonshine and swapped stories more than they hunted. Her mother protested, but to no avail. Her father had spoken. Henry owned his own property and was better able to feed her. Henry was 26 and liked women and drink. Lilly's mother woke her early the next morning. She had boiled her daughter's dress the night before and hung it near the fire to dry. Lilly did not question or cry as her mother washed and dressed her.

Lilly and her younger sister May hid in the barn and played with corn husk dolls that morning. They giggled about what marriage meant. Before noon her father called her to the house. Lilly stood up and handed her doll to May. May burst into tears and sobbed “Oh no, Lilly!” Lilly smiled apologetically at May and said that she didn't want to go. They embraced. Lilly's father called again and she skipped off to the house. Henry was there with the better of his hunting dogs. Henry and Lilly left together, but the hunting dog stayed behind.

This story has always struck my heart. Lilly turns out to be a strong and self determined woman. This story is sad, but the rest are shocking and funny. I just wanted everyone to know where she came from.


  1. Virgil's Avatar
    Ten years old?? Horror. And in the 20th century. All I can say is that a lot of deals are made over moonshine, deals that should never have happened. And what exactly does a 26 year old see in a ten year old?
  2. Niamh's Avatar
    thats just wrong. that poor woman. she was only ten! what a loving father she had. *insert profanities*
  3. motherhubbard's Avatar
    12 and 13 was not uncommon in this area. It is shameful and shocking, but she managed herself. The next story is better.
  4. applepie's Avatar
    10 is so young, but to use an old excuse, if that's what you want to call it, "times were different". I know it doesn't make it right, but I suppose you do what you must when the other option is starvation...
  5. motherhubbard's Avatar
    ...or a really good hunting dog