The 1836 Jackson County Orgy

William Green married Elizabeth Brandon on December 13, 1835. They wed and lived in Jackson county, Alabama. According to William Green he did “everything in his power from his limited circumstances to make his home comfortable and a poor mans wife happy.” Elizabeth Green found little joy in eking out a sparse existence in one of north Alabama’s poorest counties.

Although William Green claimed to provide all these things, he soon learned that Elizabeth Green “about two years previously to this been delivered of a bastard child.” No further mention appeared of the child’s whereabouts or its sex. About three months after this revelation, around May 1836, William Green suspected “that her personal favours were lavished upon any person in his absence who might choose… to gratify themselves with her.” Her acts soon became notorious in the neighborhood and the subject of frequent gossip. Especially repeated visits from two men named Frazur and Childress.

He confronted her around September 1836. Elizabeth Green confessed to getting it on outside of marriage. Humiliated and confused by this seeming betrayal, William Green volunteered to join a company going to Florida to take part in the ongoing Seminole wars. Prior to his departure, William Green claimed to furnish his wife and home with whatever she might need during his sojourn in Florida, “hoping posibly by his kindness and generosity to her that she might probably repent and be reclaimed.”

He returned from Florida on May 28, 1837. Elizabeth Green failed to live up to his hopes. Wild rumors circulated of her conduct. Consistently he heard tales of her adultery, even a possible liaison with her sister’s husband. However, the worst news awaited him. Shortly after he left Elizabeth Green attended a “camp-meeting in the neighborhood [where] her conduct was that of a common prostitute, all who wished then and there had adulterous connexion with her and so open was she in it that many knew, saw, & will testify to it.”

Let me clarify. A camp-meeting, for those unfamiliar with old time religion, is a massive declaration of communal faith. A place to be seen, heard, and celebrated for your love of Jesus. Whereas most might view this as a time for reflection, Elizabeth Green decided to have an orgy. She soon left Jackson county for an undisclosed location.

In December 1839, the court denied William Green his divorce.*

*probably because he gave his wife a second chance, Alabama divorce law at the time explicitly states that any man who attempts to reconcile with an adulterous wife is complicit in her “prostitution.”

citation:

Wm. H. Green v. Elizabeth Green, Book K, 163-166 (1839).

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