Harriette (Hattie) E. Morgan Stout (1842-1928)
Married William C. Stout in 1872
And who was that girl on the bridge that captured the newly minted Doctor Stout‘s attention when he rode into Killbuck for the first time? She was a school teacher who had been raised by a single parent–Mary Morgan. What happened to her father is definitely one of the more interesting of our family stories, so do keep on reading for the next few weeks until we get to Jesse Morgan.
Although I keep calling Hattie “the girl”, she was well past girlhood–in fact probably considered an old maid. Unfortunately, my mother’s many stories about Hattie Morgan Stout did not include any information about the part of her life between childhood and when she married Dr. Stout at the age of 30. So I’m left wondering if she had loved and lost–perhaps in the Civil War? Or had she been so engrossed in her teaching that she did not have time for courting? Or, more likely, was there no one who came around that met her rigorous intellectual expectations?
Who was this woman of quick intellect who loved to read and travel, worked hard to keep a proper house and yet yearned to try new things? (She smoked a cigarette in the 20s just to see what all the fuss was about. She cut her hair short when others still wore theirs long.) She became a shrewd businesswoman managing farm and urban property.
Here are some of my mother’s stories about her Grandmother, Hattie. Hattie grew up in Killbuck and went to Keene Academy to study because there was no public high school in Killbuck. Her mother had attended and taught at Keene.
She worked as a teacher from about 1858 until she was married, teaching spelling, reading (we still have a McGuffey Reader), algebra and Latin among other things, from the time she was as young as 15. (You only had to pass eighth grade to become a teacher.) As a very young girl and standing about five feet tall, Hattie Morgan had to maintain discipline and teach classes that included hulking farm boys as old as 21. (You can tell how short she was, in this picture taken in her older years.)
Hattie liked to say that none of the boys she taught died in the Civil War. She taught roughly from 1860 to 1871, and when the war started in 1861, thirteen boys went straight from her classes to the army. The school janitor, who never learned to read, was one of the boys that went to war, and my mother and uncles teased their grandmother that he was her “best pupil”.
Teachers were highly respected in those days, and part of their payment was lodging in the home of a pupil. Hattie probably boarded out with some of the farm families. She taught at Stillwell, somewhere outside Clark, Dowdy Creek, and in Killbuck and in the area of Coshocton.
After she married Doc Stout, he set up his office in Killbuck with their apartment over the office and all three children (William M, Maude and Vera) were born there. Two or three years later, they were able to build the big house on the site of Mary and Jesse Morgan’s old house.
Wherever he was seeing patients in the little office next door, Hattie was Doc Stout’s assistant. She kept not only their house, but his office clean, including all of his equipment. Unusual for his day, he insisted that everything be sterilized. She read all his medical books and journals so she would understand what he was doing. And as I mentioned in my article about Doc Stout, she cooked and made up beds for patients who came and spent the night. At times, particularly in the winter, Doc Stout, bear skin rug tucked over his knees, would drive his horses off into the countryside to see a patient and might not come back for days, leaving her to manage at home.
When people could not afford to pay the doctor in cash, they would give him food. Grandma Hattie told my mother that many times she had to cook things she didn’t want because people had paid in produce.
Doc Stout was firmly against liquor, but Grandma Hattie kept a jar of fruit marinated in wine. He ate it happily and did not catch on. Mother told a story about the “medicine” Grandma Hattie’s gave her for a stomach ache. It warmed her stomach and made her feel better, and she told her brother Bill about the yummy medicine that Grandma was spooning out. Bill started moaning that he had a tummy ache. He came back to his sister and said, “That stuff was AWFUL!” Grandma had given Harriette a little brandy, but fearful of turning the little boy into an alcoholic, she gave him castor oil instead. It definitely cured his “tummy ache.”
Hattie read everything she could get her hands on. Just like her mother, Mary, she subscribed to Eastern magazines. When her son, William Morgan Stout, settled in New York City I’m sure she was sorry to see him go, but on the other hand–she could visit New York. And he could send her copies of the New York Times. She liked to work the crossword puzzles ( an addiction that my mother inherited). She also subscribed to the Literary Digest, founded in 1890 and famous for its political polls in the early 20th century. People in Killbuck, including the postmistress, waited for her magazine to come in so that they could borrow it when she was through.
Hattie also liked to travel, and accompanied the doctor on many of his trips to conferences. They even lived “out West” to Kansas City for six months before returning to Killbuck.
When Maude’s husband died, Hattie went to Buffalo to live with her daughter for some time, but returned to Killbuck. She traveled to New York City to visit with her son. Hattie may have gone to Colorado Springs to visit her half-sister Malvinia. The family took expeditions by car to Guernsey County to visit the Stout relatives after Doc Stout died. When Vera and her husband Guy moved to Columbus and Harriette started at Ohio State University,
“Grandmother Stout came to visit. She wanted to do two things—get her hair done and go to an Ohio State football game. She had never gone to a football game before, and she was the kind of person who always wanted to try new things. So Vera talked the beauty shop into giving her an early appointment on Saturday so that she could get to the game afterwards.”
Hattie often told my mother that she wanted to live long enough to see women get the vote. “If she had lived in a big city, she would have been marching with the Suffragettes,” my mother said.
The Nineteenth Amendment, giving women the vote, was ratified in August 1920. Although she had to wait until she was 78 years old, I have not doubt that Hattie Stout proudly cast her vote for Ohio’s candidate for President, Warren Harding, in November. (Nor do I doubt she railed at him as his administration turned corrupt).
My Uncle Bill (her grandson) was a dedicated radio builder and operator in the early days of build-your-own radios. So I can imagine the family clustered around a static-filled radio listening as the presidential election results were broadcast for the first time in history.
What a lot she saw in her lifetime! From horse and buggy to cars and motorized streetcars. From debating politics in her own home, to reading the New York Times and exercising her right to vote and hearing the results on the radio. And she never missed an election until she died in 1928.
A woman who loves to read and loves to travel and try new things.
A woman who is fascinated by politics.
A woman who believes women should have equality.
That’s Harriett E. Morgan Stout–but it could also describe the women who follow her. In fact, I combine the loves of reading and travel in my web site A Traveler’s Library, which I think Hattie would have enjoyed. Yep. We’re related.
I have confirmed birth, death and marriate dates from the family Bible with census records from Ancestry.com. The rich anecdotal history comes from various conversations with my mother, Harriette Kaser Anderson as she identified family photos and told me family stories, particularly during the 1980’s and 1990’s.