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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Louise Riggsbee Jones, October 13, 1976. Interview H-0085-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Courtship and marriage in a working community

Jones describes her courtship and marriage at the age of 25 in Bynum, North Carolina. According to Bynum, most people in her community were married in their early or mid-twenties. Moreover, she does not recall that parental acceptance of courtship and marriage was a paramount issue, although her husband did speak to her mother beforehand as a sign of respect. Choosing a simple wedding at the county courthouse in Hillsborough, rather than an elaborate church wedding, Jones's experiences reveal the ways in which courtship and marriage operated in a small southern working community.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Louise Riggsbee Jones, October 13, 1976. Interview H-0085-2. 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

MARY FREDERICKSON:
When young people met each other and started seeing each other, did anyone like your parents or your mother or your husband's parents or the minister set rules about how often you could see each other?
LOUISE JONES:
No. On most every weekend, if there were ballgames. They had a right good baseball team here then, and they had one at Pittsboro, and he and I and his sister would go to the ballgames a lot when we weren't working.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
But no one said, "You're seeing too much of this young guy" or anything like that. [Laughter]
LOUISE JONES:
No, there wasn't anything like that. I was old enough, I reckon my mother thought, to behave myself, and I didn't start dating too young, and I was twenty-five when I married. And so I was old enough to know a little something about what marriage meant.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did people tend to marry in their mid-twenties, or did a lot of women marry earlier?
LOUISE JONES:
I just don't remember too much about it; I didn't pay attention. Mostly being about twenty or twenty-one, something like that. The summer that we married, there was two or three couples married. Mrs. Louise Durham over yonder that lives with Miss Flossie, she and her husband were young. My husband had a brother, and he wasn't near twenty when he and his wife married. But there was two or three couples that summer that were real young, younger than usual, that got married the same year we did.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did people frown on that or say that they shouldn't get married that young or they should wait or something like that?
LOUISE JONES:
They didn't have any trouble. I guess the families would rather they would wait a little longer, but they got along all right, most of them did, I think, and had good lives.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did people have to ask someone if they could get married? Was it traditional to ask your parents if you could get married?
LOUISE JONES:
Not altogether, I don't think. My husband talked it over with my mother. I think he did it through respect. I wanted him to. And we didn't have a big wedding. I had a sister living in Mebane, and we went up there on weekends some just on Sundays. But my mother and I were the only ones at home then; I was the only one living at home with her. and I told him I wanted him to tell her. And we decided we'd go up there. So we stopped at Hillsborough and got married in Hillsborough; we didn't have a church wedding. We just stopped and went on and spent the night with my sister up there, and my mother was there, too. And it was all right with all the family. I never did think that I'd want a big wedding if I could have had it. Of course, we didn't make enough to spend much on anything like that then.