Pioneer Women – Wife Abuse Documented

Elvira Apperson Thomas
In her own words. Edited.

“In 1851, Mother was pretty hard run to earn enough money for us to live on, so when a man named Julius Thomas,
a cook in a restaurant, offered to marry me, Mother thought I had better take him, so I did.
He was 44 and I was 14. Back in 1851 we had slavery of Negroes in the South, and we had slavery of wives all over
the United States, and saloons wherever there were enough people to make running one pay.

What could a girl of 14 do to protect herself from a man of 44, particularly if he drank most of the time, as my
husband did? I still shudder when I think of the years of my girlhood, when I had to live with that husband.

When he was drunk he often wanted to kill me, and he used to beat me until I thought I couldn’t stand it. One time
he came to my mother’s house, where I had taken refuge. I locked the door. He tried to climb in at the window, but I
held it down. This enraged him so, he took out his pistol and shot at
me. The bullet passed just above my head. The
glass fell on me and scared me so I dropped to the floor.
He looked in, saw me lying on the floor, and, thinking he had killed me, put the end of the pistol barrel into his
mouth and pulled the trigger and I was a widow.”

News Register Sep 21, 2004

Categorized as 3.5.7

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