Nevertheless, She Persisted

sm-cleaned-corrected-newkirk-margaret

“Aunt Margret Newkirk” is written on the back of this cabinet card that was found in Auburn, Indiana. The sitter is Margaret (nee Warwick).  The inscription leads me to believe this photo belonged to Maud Kelley, a foster daughter, who lived in the Newkirk home for some years, and who fondly referred to the sitter as Aunt Margret (a variation of Margaret.)

Margaret Newkirk was a daughter, a wife, and a mother.  But, she wasn’t defined by the traditional roles of women in the 19th century. You see, Margaret was a suffragette!

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Killed by the Cars

blog BERGER Emma

On January 27, 1890, Emma (nee Berger) Toomey, aged 26, died after being run over by a train. Almost two years later, on December 23, 1891, her husband, Michael Toomey, was also “killed by the cars.”  It’s believed they were struck because they couldn’t hear the train coming, as both  Emma and Michael lost their hearing as the result of childhood illnesses.

1890 Jan 28 BERGER Emma Death The Fort Wayne Sentinel Pg 1
The Fort Wayne Sentinel (Indiana) Jan. 28, 1890

I wonder if anyone else thinks it’s possible Michael’s death was a suicide.  It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the idea that a deaf man whose wife was killed by a train would be walking on the tracks!

1891 Dec 24 TOOMEY Michael KILLED BY THE CARS The Daily Democrat Huntington Indiana Pg 2
The Daily Democrat (Huntington, IN) – Dec 24, 1891

The timing and circumstances of Michael’s death also make it very suspect.  He and Emma were married on December 25, 1884, so their anniversary was near, as was the anniversary of Emma’s death.  Also, Michael just remarried and it seems from the following newspaper report that he may not have had everything in order for his new bride.  Possibly the stress was too much?

1891 Dec 25 TOOMEY Michael DEATH Huntington Weekly Herald Huntington Ind Pg 5
Huntington Weekly Herald (Indiana) – Dec. 25, 1891

Nonetheless, it was a tragic event, whether Michael’s death was an unfortunate accident or suicide, Not only did it adversely affect his newlywed bride, Jennie (nee Emerling), but it left Michael and Emma’s young daughter, Grace, without either of her parents.

Note – The spelling B”a”rger was surely an error on the carte de visite. Emma’s maiden name is indeed Berger, as indicated from the 1880 census, her marriage record, as well as her daughter’s marriage record.

Sources:
Census records
Find A Grave
Indiana marriage records
Index to Digest of Obituaries Published in Newspapers of Columbia City, Whitley County, Indiana, 1856-1910, Compiled by Nellie M. Raber
U.S. Special Census on Deaf Family Marriages and Hearing Relatives, 1890
Peabody Public Library, Columbia City, Indiana
Columbia City Commercial, Columbia City, Indiana, Jan. 29, 1890
Columbia City Commercial, Columbia City, Indiana, Dec. 30, 1891
Indiana School for the Deaf
Then and Now: The Old Deaf School

 

 

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The Stitching Girl

Annie Hicks Townsend

I picked up this beautiful tintype on etsy.  Written on the back of the pink paper sleeve that houses the image is “Annie Townsend, Mother of Nelle, Henry, Roy.”

Annie Townsend

Having no information about the photographer or location, I looked closely at the sitter’s clothing and hairstyle, and with the help of the 19th Century Card Photos Kwik Guide, dated the image to around 1872.  The sitter appears to be in her early twenties, so I searched for an Annie Townsend, born about 1850, with children named Nelle, Henry and Roy.  I found Annie Hicks, and she fit the bill!

Annie, born in Nova Scotia, immigrated to the US about 1870 and began working in a shoe factory in Danvers, Massachusetts.  As many young women working in the shoe factories in Essex county, Annie came to town seeking work, and was boarding in a private family’s home.   Also living in Danvers and working in the shoe factory was Francis Henry Townsend.

Prior to 1860, stitching machines in the shoe factories required great strength to operate.  Upon the introduction of steam power, these machines could easily be run by women, and since women required a lower wage, the majority of stitchers were female.

Another shoe factory town in Essex county, just 10 miles from Danvers, was Lynn.  In 1872, a serialized novel, “The Queen City! : or Life in the Shoe Factories of Lynn,” was published in the Lynn Record.   It described the young workers who flocked to the streets on Saturday nights, where, away from the prying eyes of family, they flirted, drank beer and ran wild.

A poem, “The Stitching Girls,” published in the Lynn Transcript in 1869, captured the scene through the eyes and mind of an observer.

When walking on the crowded street,
A lovely lass attracts your eye,
And while you gaze your glances meet,
You smile – alas! you soon will sigh
For Cupid from her beaming eyes,
His shining arrows thickly hurls;
And hard indeed must be the heart –
The pleasing, teasing stitching girls.

…Again you meet her and she plys
And sings and smiles for you alone,
Charmed by her gentle, loving ways,
You hope to call her all your own,
But should you kneel and tell your love,
With cruel scorn her lip will curl:

And you’ll be left alone to sigh:
I’m jilted by a stitching girl.
The stitching girls, the witching girls –
The singing, clinging stitching girls
They break your heart and then depart
The naughty, haughty stitching girls.

Unlike the poem’s author, who it seems was cast aside by a stitching girl, Francis Townsend found love with one.  He and Annie married in 1877 and went on to raise Nelle, Henry and Roy.

Sources:
Census records
Massachusetts marriage records
Massachusetts death records
19th Century Card Photos Kwik Guide by Gary W. Clark
Men, Women and Work: Class, Gender and Protest in the New England Shoe Industry, 1780 – 1910, by Mary H. Blewett, published 1990
Women in Industry Vol. 5, published 1916

 

 

 

Unrelenting Death

Lizzie and Emma Boeckling

This cabinet card was found in a Goshen, Indiana shop and features Lizzie and Emma Boeckling during happier times; I uncovered a sad tale during my research.

Lizzie and Emma were two of six children born to John and Johanna Boeckling  of LaPorte, Indiana.  They were the middle children, with the eldest being Carrie and Albert, and Frank and Hattie, the babies of the family.  Tuberculosis, also known as consumption, took five of them to the grave.  And strangely, Carrie, Albert and Lizzie, the first three to succumb to the disease, each died when they were 30 years old.

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Mattie’s Snap Shot

blog HOLMES Mattie

Martha “Mattie” Kennedy (nee Luney) Holmes was born in Ireland in 1874 and came with her family to the United States as a young girl.  In 1894, she married Dr. William Wesley Holmes, who was 30 years her senior.  After William’s death in 1913, Mattie worked as a traveling and home nurse.

I’m not sure when Mattie died.  She was living with her sister, Edith Cole, in Yonkers, New York in 1930.  The last trace I found of her was in 1936 when she was still in Yonkers, but living on her own at 472 Hawthorne.

Sources:
Census records
The Denison Review, Denison, Iowa, February 12, 1913, – William Holmes’ obituary
Yonkers, New York City Directory 1931 and 1936

 

Alive and Well

Lora Peirce Cooper in box

Most of the time, when someone is selling or sharing photos of an antique photo brooch, it’s described as mourning jewelry.  This find is proof that not all of these pieces were mourning objects.  The sitter for the photograph encased in this Victorian pin was Lora (nee Peirce) Cooper.  Writing on the inside of the box dates the photo to 1875, when Lora was 26 years old. 1875 is also the year she was married to Morris Cooper.

Small BLog PEIRCE Lora top of box

The good news is that Lora was alive and well long after this photo was taken and after this beautiful piece of jewelry was created.  She died, aged 77, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where she lived her entire life.

A couple interesting family tidbits:  Her parents were Quakers, also known as The Religious Society of Friends.  Lora’s maternal grandfather, Asa Walton, also a Quaker, was a founding member of the Clarkson Anti-Slavery Society, and he, along with his wife, Mary Taylor, were conductors of the Underground Railroad.  In 1838, the couple aided runaway slave, James Williams, who fled from Maryland.  According to a family member on ancestry who had contact with the current owner of the Walton farm, a small hidden room behind a wall in the barn was discovered during remodeling.  The room was well disguised and only accessible via a small trap door.

Sources:
Census records
Find A Grave
History of the Underground Railroad in Chester and the Neighboring Counties of Pennsylvania, by R.C. Smedley, 1883
The Underground Railroad: An Encyclopedia of People, Places, and Operations, by Mary Ellen Snodgrass
Life and Adventures of James Williams, a Fugitive Slave, 1873

Pernicious Anemia

blog-weishan-mathilda
This cabinet card was found in the Pickers Paradise antique mall in Niles, Michigan.  Not only was the sitter identified as Mrs. Tillie Gregory, but the date of May 31, 1895 was also noted.

Mathilda, “Tillie”, spent her childhood years in Canada with her German born parents, Charles and Sophia (nee Shatz) Weishan.   In 1884, just 15 years old, she married Charles B. Gregory in Ogemaw County, Michigan and had a son, Walter, the following year.  It’s unknown how long Charles stuck around, but in 1898 Tillie filed for divorce on the grounds of desertion.  At the time, she was working as a domestic to support herself and and her son.  Soon after the divorce was granted, she married Alfonso Clark, a mechanic and shoe maker, who was 27 years older than her.  However, that union did not last and she married Henry C. Thielecke Jr. in 1906.

Tillie died, aged 45 years, of pernicious anemia, a disease in which the body lacks sufficient vitamin B12 and cannot make healthy red blood cells.  It causes fatique, muscle weakness and stomach upset, among other ailments.  Some suspect that Jane Austen and Mary Todd Lincoln suffered from pernicious anemia.

Sources:
Census records
Michigan marriage records
Michigan divorce records
“What an Affliction”: Mary Todd Lincoln’s Fatal Pernicious Anemia, by John G. Sotos
Jane Austen’s Last Illness, published in the British Medical Journal, 1964

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