Our next Maple Hall gathering will explore the nationally scandalous breach-of-promise lawsuit involving “Miss Evelyn” Mabry and her erstwhile beau. Our guest presenter will be Patrick Hollis, historian and executive director of the Mabry-Hazen House. We can hardly describe it better than he does:
In February of 1934, Evelyn Hazen sued Ralph Scharringhaus, her former fiancé of fifteen years, for breach of promise to marry and seduction. Her heartbalm suit became the talk of the town as the former lovers aired all the dirty details of their sordid love affair. The scandal even caught the eyes of a national audience as major news outlets printed it for prying eyes. In the midst of the worst years of the Great Depression, the tea spilled between the two Southern socialites proved a welcome distraction, yet it also became a larger clash between men and women and over traditional or contemporary values. At the trial’s conclusion, Evelyn stood victorious in the courtroom, but in the court of public opinion, her victory was less clear. Reputation tarnished, family, friends, and even family Knoxville “good” society considered her a social pariah for her “unlady-like” activities. Ninety years later, the story of Evelyn Hazen and her ill-fated love affair still captures our attention, yet her experiences seem more relevant today than ever.
Join us to learn more about Evelyn’s experiences during the trial, her “ardent woo-er, but laggard groom,” and the social repercussions for a woman challenging the behavioral norms of the era.