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Crabbed Age and Youth

Updated: Sep 13, 2021

This week’s news article comes from the Thursday, June 4, 1874 publication of the Miami County Sentinel-- published in Peru, Indiana.

Asahel Mix, a wealthy farmer who owned quite a few boarding homes, had been married to Amna Judd since 1820. Together they had six children and had carved out a comfortable lifestyle for their family in Bristol, Connecticut. 1870 census records show they owned $29,000 in real estate and $20,000 in personal-- which adds up to over $1,000,000 today. The Mixes’ large farm encompassed 700 acres, along with 700 acres of woodlands. In 1870 they owned 9 horses, 10 cows, 40 oxen, 30 cattle, and 24 sheep, and grew rye, corn, and oats.

Asahel’s wife Amna died on January 10, 1874 in the family home. A mere six months later, Asahel was marrying a fourteen year old girl: Ruth Isabella London, also of Bristol, Connecticut.

Although it was not uncommon for women to marry much older men, it was fairly uncommon for a woman to marry someone 66 years her senior. Additionally, it was uncommon to be wed at such a young age. A large misconception about those living in the 19th century is that they would be married as soon as possible. Instead, the average age of a bride in 1870 was 27 years old-- 13 years older than Ruth at the time of her marriage to Asahel. In some states, the minimum age required to be married was 12. In others it was 18. Those under the mandated age required parental approval.

Typically, in the late 19th century, women were married off at young ages due to pregnancy. Although it was common for young women to be pregnant before marriage in the past (one in three brides was pregnant as she walked down the aisle in the late 1700’s), as time went on it became more and more taboo. To “protect the family name” girls who became pregnant would immediately be married off. However, there is no record of a child being born to Ruth in the time surrounding her marriage to Asahel.

The obvious reason for Ruth’s marriage to Asahel is wealth. With over $1,000,000 in assets, Asahel was far wealthier than most. In his probate record, much of his property is willed to Ruth.

After Asahel’s death, Ruth went on to marry William Clarence Bramhall, a mechanical engineer, in 1882. They had six children together. Ruth died on October 18, 1900 at the age of 38. It is unclear how she passed.

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