Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Curious Book of Genealogical Treasures

I have a rather curious book that my mother left to me. It is about 6 x 8 inches, hard covers with blank lined paper pages, a journal of sorts. It is in very poor condition, the binding broken and frayed, pieces missing. I can tell from the edges of the pages that if they were all there and still neatly postiioned one on top of each other, there would be a printed pattern on the edges in faded red and blue and beige.

My Curious cat and the Curious Book of Genealogical Treasures

Not much is written in it by hand, but there are a few notes here and there. It contains hundreds of clippings from newspaper articles mostly from Southbridge, Massachusetts. They seem to run from 1881 through 1949, but they are not pasted in the book in chronological order. I can only guess that someone pasted these articles into this journal, in most cases on both sides of the page, after discovering them in various drawers or a box, and as they came across them they were added. And, I think they were collected by more than one person over the 70 or so years they span. There are a few articles about weddings golden wedding anniversaries and even one about my great grandmother's 5th birthday party. Some stories about happenings around town and in neighboring communities. Some about career successes or changes,but,most of these articles are obituaries. Whoever collected these and then pasted them in this book must have been somewhat obsessed with death. And so, it is to me a curious thing to have such a collection, but such a treasure trove for any genealogist.

A sample of the treasures in this book.
I believe because of the notations found next to some of the articles and because some of the oldest articles are from Woburn, Massachusetts that the obituary collection may have been started by my Great Great Great Grandmother Lorena Pelsue Hyde Grammer (1835-1919). Lorena was affectionately referred to as Gramma Grammer, always causing a chuckle. I think Lorena began the collection but it was her daughter Minnie Viola Hyde Tiffany Blanchard (1865-1932) who began pasting things into the book. Then, it was continued by my Great Grandmother Ethel Marsh Tiffany Paige(1884-1974).

Gramma Grammer's death notice followed by a note written by Minnie in 1919.
I can envision Minnie finding clippings in her mother's trunk or a drawer or maybe Gramma Grammer mailed them to Minnie from Woburn to Southbridge and they began to pile up, so she eventually pasted them onto these pages. Most clippings are about a family member or close associate. But some are probably just interesting tidbits of news.

But, today's story isn't about Gramma Grammer or Minnie or any of the women in my family. It's not even an obituary. But it is an article, written in 1901 that I did find in the book.

It's a story about a woman named Jennie Lind Evans written in 1901 that either Minnie or Gramma Grammer or my Great Grandma Ethel thought worthy of including in the collection of clippings. Because I could find no connection to the family, it has been a puzzle to me why it's included there and an intriguing little mystery. Here is a transcription of the article:

Jennie Lind Lewis, Deserted by Her Husband Dr. Evans, in DakotaWell Known in Spindle City

Lowell, June 18-Jenny Lind Lewis, who was deserted recently by her husband, Dr. E. B. Evans, in North Dakota is well known here. She was born and bred in Lowell and comes of a highly respected family. From her childhood she has always been musically and dramatically inclined, and has essayed leading roles in amateur theatricals. Recently she joined the professional ranks, and before her marriage had a leading part in the “Gayest Manhattan” company. She has a soprano voice of remarkable sweetness, and for ten years back has sung in leading church choirs here.

     Little is known of her husband here. They were married by a local minister in January last at the Lewis residence on Stevens Street. The groom left for Fargo, N. D., the same evening, leaving his bride to take care of her sick father. Previously the marriage had been postponed several times on account of Mr. Lewis’s sickness.

     In April last, Mrs. Evans started for her new home at Fargo, but as an epidemic of smallpox was raging there the trip was postponed. On May 13 she finally started for Dakota and was hardly settled down when the doctor disappeared. He is still missing.

     In a letter sent to her parents recently, Mrs. Evans says she is hopeful that he will come back. Her parents are of the same mind.

     Evans has been established in Fargo two years and had an extensive medical practice. He graduated in ’97 from the Baltimore Medical College and stood seventh in a class of 140. His former home was in Rome, N. Y. where a sister and brother reside.

So this article left me with two questions: 1. Was this THE Jennie Lind that some of us have heard of over the years known as the famous Swedish Nightengale? and 2. What the heck happened to Dr. Evans?

The answer to the first question was quickly answered by a simple Googling. THE famous Jenny Lind was born in Sweden and lived from 1820-1887, and certainly never in Lowell. (Did you know that Hans Christian Anderson, who had a crush on her, gave her that nickname?) However, given the timing, it's a good bet that Jennie's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Lewis named her after the Swedish Nightengale, so popular when Jennie was born.

So, I did a little research with census records and so forth. It's really too bad the reporters back then didn't check their facts like they do now. (right.) What I found out is that Jennie Lind Lewis was born the youngest child of Sarah (Bean) and Morgan Quincy Lewis in New York, not Lowell,  in 1873. When Jennie married good old Dr. E B Evans she was single 27 year old musician living at home with her entire family in Lowell. She had an older sister Jessie who was a stenographer at the time and a brother Nathan, also a musician. Her brother and sister were both single and in their 30s but apparently Jennie was the one responsible for the care of her sick father. Her mother and father were not working so it would seem the kids brought home the bacon for the family.

Another clue in the article was that Jennie had a "leading part in the 'Gayest Manhattan' company". I started to look in New York but instead I found the family in Manhattan, Kansas in 1880 where Jennie began her career in the theater. So much for being "born and bred in Lowell...from a highly respectable family." Her family may well have been highly respectable, but I am not sure the reporter knew much about them at all and probably added the phrase to fill up space.

So here we have poor Jennie  left on the very night they were wed, now out in Fargo all by herself, married to an established doctor who couldn't wait to get back to his "practice" for some reason and then just up and disappeared. She must have thought her world had come to an end. How would she go on? Did she go on?

I couldn't find Jennie in Fargo in the 1910 census. But I was pretty sure she had no reason to stick around there. So, I switched gears and started researching Dr. Evans. I couldn't find him in Fargo in 1910, either. But I sure did find something!

In a 1901 publication called the Northwestern Lancet, a semi-monthly medical journal, that seems to give a lot more than medical information, we read:


Dr Edward B Evans of Fargo was married at Lowell Mass Jan 7 
Then, in June 1901:

Dr E B Evans, assistant county physician at Fargo ND has furnished the public a sensation by deserting his bride of ten days and disappearing. His marriage to a member of well known theatrical troupe was announced in these columns last month.

Followed by this entry in July:

Dr EB Evans the Fargo physician who disappeared from Fargo last summer shortly after his marriage has been located in Cleveland Ohio. The waitress with whom he eloped is also in Cleveland and his wife is singing in a Minneapolis church.

Well! This would explain why I was unable to find him or Jennie in Fargo in 1910. Going back, I did find him listed in the 1900 census. Just prior to his marriage to Jennie Lind Lewis, good old EB was living as a 25 year old single physician, just down the street from what looks to be a boarding house full of single women from Norway, Sweden, France working as waitresses for a hotel. Hmmm...

So, there we have it. We know she was Jennie Lind Lewis, from New York, Lowell, Kansas Minneapolis, and briefly Fargo but not from Sweden. We know the Doc may have been tired of waiting for Jennie to marry him and maybe was distracted by the local gals or the foreign imports. His waitress must have been quite a dish to tempt him to leave his bride and an established medical practice in Fargo and run away to Cleveland.

Just as I was about to close this posting, saying that I didn't know what became of either of them, I received a reply from a woman named Maryanna whom I found on who  I had written to. She is Jennie's GGGrandniece. She told me that Jennie came from a very musical family who traveled all over performing. Maryanna's ggGrandfather Nathan, who was Jennie's brother, was involved in teaching and performing music in St. Lawrence, NY for many years.

Maryanna told me that Jennie remarried a man named Satterthwaite in 1902, just a year after the dasterdly doctor left her in Fargo.
Also found in the Northwestern Lancet:

The marriage of Mrs Jennie Lind Lewis Evans known in Fargo and Minneapolis to Dr ST Satterthwaite is announced at Fargo.

Well, Jennie's new love was also a physician from Fargo. His full name was Samuel T. Satterthwaite and in 1905 Jennie and Dr. Sam returned from a voyage abroad on the ship the Saxonia. Perhaps she was performing there and he accompanied her.

Maryanna turned me onto a fabulous Web site called: Dead Fred  People can post their old photos and then you and I can search by surnames. (I will be going back to visit that site soon.) has a picture of a program for a musical performance in Chicago and Jennie's photo is on the cover. This is by far a better photo than from the newspaper article I had.

Program found on
From other things Maryanna told me about Jennie I was able to find her in Worcester, MA where she lived with her mother and sister as recently as 1920 and 930. Her sister Jessie  was a teacher of "Expression". Jennie was using the name Jane L. Satterthwaite, perhaps thinking it was a little more sophisticated than Jennie for a 60 year old widow who was listed in the City of Worcester Annual Report as one of the Directors of the Free Public Library there.

Miss Jenny Lind Lewis

 Worcester if not far from Southbridge where my Great Grandmother Ethel grew up. Ethel was also a singer, the same age as Jennie whose performances are mentioned in several articles in the Curious Book. Perhaps they knew each other, but I am sure if nothing else, Great Grandmother Ethel had seen Jennie Lind Lewis perform.

Great Grandma Ethel Marsh Tiffany Paige, age 14
in 1899.

We don't know yet what happened to Dr. Evans, the cad. Who knows, he might have gone on to be a respected physician at the Cleveland Clinic. If that's the case, I bet the folks who hired him didn't know what we know now!


Greta Koehl said...

What a fascinating story - your instincts that there was an interesting story behind the article were right on target.

Anonymous said...

Hi, again, Suzanne: Since reading your blog, and using the info you have, I've discovered that Dr. Edward B Evans married his runaway sweetie, Isabelle Quackenbush of Wisconsin. In the 1900 census of Fargo, ND she was living down the street from the doctor, and, yes, she was a waitress. There were a great many railroad workers rooming in town and the merchants needed a lot of help to serve their needs. That might also be why Jenny was there. Programs like the ones she was involved with would have kept them entertained and happy. Dr. & Mrs. Evans apparently went on to have three children (as of 1930 census) and died in Santa Clara, California. He in 1964 and she in 1958.

Nancy said...

This post is interesting to me for several reasons. First of all, excellent work sleuthing out the background info on Jennie, her family, and the doctor. I think you must have spent quite a lot of time finding all this out.

Second, the newspaper articles.... My mom clipped newspaper articles, also mostly obituaries and always of family members. However, she didn't note the newspaper or date of publication. I hope the compilers of your curious book did!

Thanks for sharing all of this with us.