Grandmother Terry Was (Barely) 14 When She Married

My paternal grandmother: Harriet Charline Mull, born on  23 Oct 1917.
My paternal grandfather:  James Arthur Terry, born on 07 Jun 1908.
They were married on 26 October 1931, plus or minus a day.
My grandmother would have been 14 years and 4 days old.
My grandfather would have been 23 years, 4 months and 20 days old.
If you enlarge the picture of their marriage license, below, you will note that it erroneously indicates that she was 15 years old at the time, for whatever reason.  She wasn’t. She had just turned 14.  There is also a signed affidavit above the license, indicating that grandmother’s parents gave consent for the marriage, although their signature isn’t on the document.


We can further pinpoint her age, even if oral accounts differ. The 1920 census page for my grandmother’s family is above. The census sheet is dated 06 February 1920. This means that she was 2 years, 3 months and 15 days old on the day the census sheet was completed. If you look closely, the census sheet has her at around 2 6/12, which is close.
Her social security index and tombstone also all agree with these dates.
The purpose of this post isn’t to attempt to draw attention to her marrying “too young” or anything of that sort. It’s to document that people should stop and look deeply into their family trees to see how their ancestors lived and not only ask about the superficial details.
All of the interesting stuff lies much deeper than the superficial details found in the average family tree.
Why did grandmother marry so young?
Why was grandfather so much older?
Was a pregnancy involved or some other factor?

I’m assuming that my grandfather well knew that she had just turned 14 instead of the 15 indicated on the signed affidavit. Maybe another family member knows and would perhaps share the ‘story’ of this with me. But probably not. I have a lot of dates, facts, and sources for her life but not too many stories which enrich the story of her life. Her memory is fading as people inevitably take their own places in the inescapable hall of memories. It doesn’t have to be that way, but most people aren’t forthcoming with their own genealogy efforts or with their stories.