Luetta ACKER: A child bride

1800s_brideIn doing genealogical research, I sometimes come across a finding that gives me pause. This happened for me this week with Luetta Acker.[1]

Luetta was a daughter of Susannah Climenhaga/e and Andrew Acker. On September 26th 1894[2]—her twelfth birthday[3]—she was wed to George Hiles who was 41 years old.[4] Up until 1890 age of consent in Canada was 12 years old. After 1890 age of consent was raised to 14 although 12 year olds could still legally give consent if married.[5]

Luetta Acker was born September 26th 1882 in Wainfleet, Welland County, Ontario.[6] She was the 9th of 11 children born into a poor family.[7] Her parents were of the Tunker faith and Ettie’s father Andrew worked as a day labourer to make ends meet. Tragically, Andrew died on June 13th 1889 at Wainfleet of dyspepsia (stomach troubles)[8] leaving Susannah with many small children to feed.

Shortly thereafter Luetta went to live with her older sister Anna and husband George Hiles.[9] George and Anna had a newborn baby named Stella May who was born July 7th 1889.[10] Again tragedy struck when on August 31st 1893 Anna was hit and killed by an automobile.[11] Stella, only 4-years-old, was now in need of a mother and her 11-year-old aunt Ettie fit the bill.

Although Luetta and George were married a year later in 1894, their first child Percy did not come along until late in 1901,[12] which suggests that intimacy between the couple may have been non-existent until Ettie was in her late teens.

Although not unheard of, marriage at such a young age in the 1800s was uncommon as most women tended to marry in their mid to late teens. This situation seems to have been a marriage of necessity—a necessity for Ettie’s mother due to poverty and too many mouths to feed, and a necessity for George Hiles who needed a mother for his infant daughter.


Footnotes    ((↵) returns to text)

  1. Some members of the family also went by Ecker.(↵)
  2. Ancestry.com, Ontario, Canada Births, 1869-1909 (Online publication – Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.Original data – Archives of Ontario. Registrations of Births and Stillbirths – 1869-1909. MS 929, 206 reels. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Archives of Ontario.Archives of Ontario. Delayed R), Ancestry.com, http:/www.Ancestry.com, MS932_82.(↵)
  3. Ibid. [On her marriage registration she lied about her age saying she was 16](↵)
  4. Ancestry.com, Ontario, Canada Deaths, 1869-1934 (Online publication – Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.Original data – Archives of Ontario. Registrations of Deaths, 1869-1934. MS 935, 496 reels. Archives of Ontario, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.Archives of Ontario. Registrations of Ontario O), Ancestry.com, http:/www.Ancestry.com, Roll: MS935_295. [Although George’s age on the marriage registration is 30 years old (1864), his death registration indicates he was born abt 1853.](↵)
  5. MacKay Robin. “Bill C-22: An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (age of Protection) and to Make Consequential Amendments to the Criminal Records Act*.” Bill C-22: An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (age of Protection) and to Make Consequential Amendments to the Criminal Records Act (LS-550E). Accessed May 03, 2014. http://www.parl.gc.ca, 2007 (↵)
  6. Ancestry.com, Ontario, Canada Births, 1869-1909 (Online publication – Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.Original data – Archives of Ontario. Registrations of Births and Stillbirths – 1869-1909. MS 929, 206 reels. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Archives of Ontario.Archives of Ontario. Delayed R), Ancestry.com, http:/www.Ancestry.com, MS929_57.(↵)
  7. Ecker, Levi. My life’s story: From drunken lime-kiln burner to gospel pulpit (n.p.), n.d.(↵)
  8. Ancestry.com, Ontario, Canada Deaths, 1869-1934 (Online publication – Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.Original data – Archives of Ontario. Registrations of Deaths, 1869-1934. MS 935, 496 reels. Archives of Ontario, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.Archives of Ontario. Registrations of Ontario O), Ancestry.com, http:/www.Ancestry.com, MS935_56.(↵)
  9. Ancestry.com, 1891 Census of Canada (Online publication – Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008. .Original data – Library and Archives Canada. Census of Canada, 1891. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: Library and Archives Canada, 2009. http:/www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/databases/census-18), Ancestry.com, http:/www.Ancestry.com, T-6376_147.(↵)
  10. Ancestry.com, Ontario, Canada Births, 1869-1909 (Online publication – Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.Original data – Archives of Ontario. Registrations of Births and Stillbirths – 1869-1909. MS 929, 206 reels. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Archives of Ontario.Archives of Ontario. Delayed R), Ancestry.com, http:/www.Ancestry.com, MS 929_96.(↵)
  11. Ancestry.com, Ontario, Canada Deaths, 1869-1934 (Online publication – Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.Original data – Archives of Ontario. Registrations of Deaths, 1869-1934. MS 935, 496 reels. Archives of Ontario, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.Archives of Ontario. Registrations of Ontario O), Ancestry.com, http:/www.Ancestry.com, MS935_69.(↵)
  12. Ancestry.com, Ontario, Canada Births, 1869-1909 (Online publication – Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.Original data – Archives of Ontario. Registrations of Births and Stillbirths – 1869-1909. MS 929, 206 reels. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Archives of Ontario.Archives of Ontario. Delayed R), Ancestry.com, http:/www.Ancestry.com, MS929_156(↵)
This entry was posted in Acker, Climenhaga, Hiles. Bookmark the permalink.

Please leave a Reply