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John Leeper and Child Bride


Posted By: Cathy Labath (email)
Date: 10/1/2006 at 09:05:17

Emmetsburg Democrat; Emmetsburg, Palo Alto, IA; Wednesday, April 13, 1904.


Child Wife of John Leeper Seeks to Have Marriage Annulled.

Gertie Trust, eleven years old, has filed a petition before Judge Scott at Washington, Ia., for the annulment of her marriage with John Leeper, sixty years old, a resident of Brighton, Ia., whom she declared, she had been forced to wed when she was nine years old.

Two years ago, according to her story, she lived with her mother in one of the most inaccessible regions of the Ozark mountains near Lebanon, Mo. She was then scarcely more than nine years old. It was there that she first met Leeper. He made a contract, the details of which she is ignorant, with her mother. Then a traveling preacher named Buck married Leeper and the child, and she was told that she was Leeper’s wife. More than that, her mother told her that she was Leeper’s slave and must obey him I all things as long as he lived.

Leeper was bent and crippled with age. He had already been married three times, the girl said, and she hated him but did not disobey. Sometime after the marriage Leeper returned to his home in Iowa. The child put off the long dresses her mother had forced her to wear for the ceremony and was a child again.

About a month ago the old man sent for his child bride, and her mother had sent her to him. Since then she has lived with a family near his home in Brighton, who refused to give the girl up to Leeper, even though he threatened to send her to a reform school, and the family notified the authorities with the result that action was brought to annul the marriage.

[FYI- not related. Just transcribing the Emmetsburg Democrat, 1904]


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