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My name is Eva H. Wilcox, I was sent to the Sanitorium

My Dearest Readers,

My name is Eva H. Wilcox. While I was born in New Brunswick, Canada in July of 1887. I’m not a full-blooded Canadian. My father (James Robert Wilcox) was born in Maine in 1848 and my dearest mother (Lucinda T. Plant) was born in New Brunswick in the year 1866. I was born in the small parish of Grand Manan with four other siblings (Phillip, Arnold, Victoria + Hatzell) to a Free Will Baptist family.

Even though I was married to my dear husband Raymond M. Huntley in Portland, Maine on the 13th of June 1907, it wasn’t until the birth of my second child, my daughter Myrtle, that I lived in the United States as an American again. Before I died, I had three other children, one other daughter named Phyllis and two sons, Milton and James –but we called him Jimmy.

Central Maine Sanatorium
Creator: W.H. Langley, Fairfield; Creation Date: circa 1914

Sometime around the birth of my second daughter, Phyllis, I contracted tuberculosis of the lungs. Even with this illness, I still bore two more children with my husband Raymond.

It seems around my 27th birthday that I contracted tuberculosis — I am still not sure or how this happened, but it began to affect my life and landed me at the local doctors who sent me to Central Maine Sanitorium, there was no cure for me.

I don’t know how long I spent at the sanitorium, but at the time the Central Maine Sanitorium in Fairfield, Maine was where they sent the sickest of all of us.  When I died, I was only 32 years old and left my four children in the care of my husband.

And that, my dearest readers is all I can tell you about myself at this time.

Yours truly,

Eva H. Huntley (née Wilcox)

P.S. I’ve included an artists rendition of what the Sanitorium would have looked like only about five years before I died there.


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Momma Went Missing: Carrie S. Nickles

Not much is known about Carrie S. Nickles (née Burnap), except that she died in May of 1897 — her body wasn’t found until June of 1897. Details of Carrie S. Burnap’s early life are not known, but she was the wife of Benjamin J. Nickles and the mother of two sons, on an unknown and Benjamin Harrison Nickles (the husband of my first cousin 3x’s removed).

When Benjamin Jr. was only nine years old, his mother, Carrie went missing. This was in 1897, 23 years before women got the right to vote and much before good mental health practices were developed.

On May 27, 1897, Carrie went missing from her home in Centralia, Washington — a little town just south of the state capital, Olympia,.

An article in the Morning Olympian in 1897 made mention of this incident:

Momma went Missing

The article is as follows:

Searching the Skookumchuck

Mrs. Nickles, of Centralia, Thought to Have Drowned Herself

Centralia, May 28 — Mrs. Nickles, wife of B.J. Nickles, mysteriously disappeared from her home yesterday evening. It is thought that sickness and trouble deranged her mind. she left without a wrap or head covering, after her husband and two sons had retired, and has not been heard of since.

Several theories as to her whereabouts have been set forth, the most general being that she had drowned herself in the Skookumchuck river, which flows near the Nickles resident. Giant powder and drag-hooks have been used, but as yet without avail. 

After reading this small amount of print dedicated to the life of Carrie Nickles it is a wonder what she is running from. We can assume that the remark from the article that relates to “sickness and trouble deranged her mind,” is remarking to some sort of mental illness or psychiatric condition that Carrie suffered from.

Pontiac State Hospital - Oakland, Michigan, Administrative Building (1939)
Pontiac State Hospital – Oakland, Michigan, Administrative Building (1939)

Mental illness affects 1 in 4 people across the globe, which if you think about it, is a staggering number (450 million). This can range from anxiety to depression to schizophrenia and any number of mental illnesses.

NAMI

Nearly all of us have suffered from some moment in our lives where we have fought off a depression or faced anxiety about something — and I want to let you know, you aren’t alone.  My own mental illnesses aren’t something I talk about in public too much because they are still considered a taboo topic to converse about in many circles.

I am a bipolar, ADD/ADHD, anxiety-ridden person. I’m not saying this to brag or to show off, but to let you know that you aren’t alone. You don’t have to be alone.

If you are looking for resources be sure to check out NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), a grassroots organization dedicated to helping those who suffer.


You can find The Hipster Historian on Facebook & on Instagram. #onfleekfamilyhistory

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Forgotten Women of History Friday: Lulu Marie Sayer

As this blog has evolved and grown over the past couple of months, I’ve tried to consolidate all of my genealogical-type posts in one place, here at The Hipster Historian. One of these types of posts was my feminist-centered blog on Tumblr called Forgotten Women of History, which I am reviving here at The Hipster Historian.  You can check out a former post about Philena Mae Fairbanks here.

Forgotten Women of History

Today we are bringing you the story of Lulu Marie Sayer.

Lulu Marie Sayer

Lulu Marie Sayer (1892 – 1968) ~~ The Mother Who Abandoned Her Child

It is hard to imagine that any mother would ever abandon their child, but in the time before reproductive rights for women, this was very common for many reasons. It was during this troubled time of rights for women, just a year before the 19th amendment was passed that a young mother by the name of Lulu Marie had a child in the city of Rome in upstate New York.

Ms. Sayer had already give been birth two children to her first husband, Arthur J. Tanner before he died in October 1917 from a freak accident after being hit by a passenger train, breaking his leg. Only being married seven years, Lulu was widowed at age 25 with two small children in the early 20th century where she had no rights.

Working in Rome while she tried to figure out how to support her small family, Lulu became pregnant by an unnamed man, the only clue we have is the newspaper clippings at the time. The authorities had identified him (through Lulu) as a man residing in Whitesboro, New York.

At this time we will never know if the child produced from this meeting was one of consent or not, but during the early 1900′s rape was not widely reported due to the stigma in our culture.

After she became pregnant with her son, Lulu gave birth to him in May of 1919 and left him at the House of the Good Shepherd in Utica, New York at their home on 1700 Genesee Street.

The young boy remained there until Lulu came back for him after she married her second husband, Theodore D. Spencer on the 24th of September of 1919.

After she brought back the infant back home the story complicates a tad – depending on who you talked to, it certainly made headlines in the Syracuse Post-Standard.

image

Lulu was quoted by the Watertown Daily Times in 1919  as saying that she loved the baby, but that her new husband, Theodore would not accept another man’s baby around, even though he accepted her as his wife. She insisted that she had told her husband everything about the origins.

Theodore has another story to tell. According to the report from the Daily Times, Theodore told authorities that Lulu was lying and he assumed the child to be from an illegitimate union of one of his new bride’s sisters.

Either way, it went, the couple decided to get rid of the infant in the best way they could deem possible – by leaving him in the woods near Parish, New York, hoping the child would be found by someone willing to take care of it.

Luckily, to hunters in the area found the baby boy and were able to take him to get greatly needed medical care. The only reason they were able to identify Lulu as the mother was a hand embroidered handkerchief left with the child.

image
What would have happened at any other time in history? It is hard to really say, but one thing is for certain – the rights that Lulu possessed not only to be in charge of her reproductive choices and what to do when faced when faced with what seems like an insurmountable problem was challenged.

Back in the day, we didn’t have anything like Planned Parenthood or access to birth control, which would have helped Lulu. I greatly encourage all of you to support reproductive rights by donating to Planned Parenthood and click here.
Sources Cited:

  • Year: 1900; Census Place: Richland, Oswego, New York; Roll: 1144; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 0141; FHL microfilm: 1241144
  • Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.
  • Spencer Couple Who Abandoned Baby Say They Didn’t Want Tiny Thing to Die. (1919, November 13). Syracuse Post-Standard, p. 1.
Interviews

Genealogy in the Works: What it Means to be a Genealogist

Genealogy. When you hear it most often images of older folks or Mormons come to mind, but put that aside for a moment. Genealogy is so much more than dates and places. It is people, it is lives, it is stories that we shouldn’t forget.

In this series, Genealogy in the Works we will be interviewing genealogist of every background. This includes gay and queer genealogists. What it means for the family tree when you are a transgender individual or how to approach issues of sensitivity like slavery and indigenous tribes. All of this comes together to create an intersectional view of genealogy and family history.

This series really wouldn’t make sense without explaining who I am first, so here goes:

Becks Campbell
Becks Campbell, 2016

Who are you?

I’m Becks Campbell. I run The Hipster Historian blog and am the sole owner of Life Stories Transcription Services.  I’ve been an amateur genealogist for most of my life and in the last year have decided to go into my favorite hobby professionally.  I’ve been married to my college sweetheart for 12 years and live in the Pacific Northwest.

Becks Campbell and Spouse
Becks Campbell and her Husband, 2016

 

Why genealogy?

My mother is a professional genealogist and has been for well over twenty years. As a child growing up in the Mormon Church family ties and genealogy was emphasized heavily to me and after I left the church the passion for genealogy still stuck around. I’m completely obsessed with the stories of the past and who we were and who we will become.

Donna Mae Blocher
Becks late paternal grandmother, Donna Mae Blocher

What does it mean to be a genealogist?

Loaded question. Genealogy, by definition, is the study and research of ancestral lines. But in reality, it is so much more than that. We as genealogists are tasked with finding long-lost loved ones, records that may not exist and people that don’t want to be found. We pour through years of directories and censuses, and in some cases, it can be quite sobering what you’ve found.

In my narrative writing project Forgotten Women of History I’ve found stories of domestic abuse, child abandonment, and murder, just to name a few. We need to be aware that when we are researching a family line either for ourselves, for friends or for clients that there needs to be sensitivity and ethics involved.

What is your favorite genealogy blog to follow?

Right now there are so many amazing blogs to follow but I would highly suggest checking out Geneabloggers by Thomas MacEntee. It is the biggest source of networking and genealogy related blogs on the web right now.

What is your current field of study or research?

After several friends with Italian heritage asked me to research their history, I got hooked. I’m currently researching the Sorrentino‘s, Serago‘s, Pescatore‘s and Bugni‘s. In addition, because most of my work has been coming from that area I am slowly (but surely!) learning Italian. It is a big task, but I’m ready for it.

Where else can we find you?

I’m all over the web, but my favorite places to hang out are here at The Hipster Historian, working on transcriptions at my business Life Stories Transcription Services and my narrative writing project, Forgotten Women of History.

Thanks for reading and be sure to check by next week for our next Genealogy in the Works interview!


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Forgotten Women of History

I’m a sucker for history, especially history that focuses on women. Generally speaking, women have not had it easy for most, if not all of our written and recorded history. I’ve always wondered about the stories of the women behind the Roman generals or the grandmother of famous painters. Who were they and what made them tick. And, this is why I’ve created the historical narrative writing project called: Forgotten Women of History.

Forgotten Women of History

Forgotten Women of History or FWOH for short is a blog dedicated to these women. Whether it is your grandmother who became the first female sheriff in rural Arkansas like Thelma Jewel Sanders or Lulu Marie Sayer, your great aunt who abandoned her child in the forest on commands from her new husband, FWOH is telling all the stories of these women.

One the favorite stories I’ve come across while researching genealogy has been that of Philena Mae Fairbanks who was generally considered a beautiful young woman at the turn of the 20th century (see picture below). So much so, that her new husband became jealous of her beauty and locked her in their home while he was away on business trips. As the years progressed and they had more children (eight to be exact), her husband became more and more verbally and emotionally violent. Philena knew what might happen next and told her husband “If you ever hit me, I will get a divorce.”

Philena Mae Fairbanks

This sorry excuse for a man didn’t listen and gave Philena a black eye after being angry about something or another. Philena went straight to the judge and demanded an immediate divorce from her abuser, which was granted. The story goes on to say that she told one of her daughters that by the time she died she would have a diamond ring for every finger on her left hand for all the travails she had to endure in her life. And wouldn’t you know it, by the time she passed away she had four big diamond rings she had purchased herself.

Forgotten Women of History Banner

Since launching this project late last fall, I’ve been able to write about the lives of several women, but I don’t want to stop there. Here is where you come in. I want to write about your grandmother who entered STEM fields in the early 1900’s or your great-great-great aunt who traveled around the world in search for a better life.

Since launching this project late last fall, I’ve been able to write about the lives of several women, but I don’t want to stop there. Here is where you come in. I want to write about your grandmother who entered STEM fields in the early 1900’s or your great-great-great aunt who traveled around the world in search for a better life.

If you are interested in me telling your families stories, send an email to  thehipsterhistorian (at) gmail (dot) com

GUIDELINES FOR SUBMISSION:

  1. Only females and female-identified individuals will be considered for FWOH.
  2.  This individual must no longer be living. This is important as we do not want to invade the privacy of any living individuals without consent.
  3.  Stories need to be kept to around 1800 words (at max). The more citations and information you can provide, the easier the editing process will be.
  4. The more pictures and records you have available, the better.

 

Find The Hipster Historian on Facebook & on Instagram. #onfleekfamilyhistory