cruise ship

Elisha Stout’s Traveling Daughters

One final contribution to women’s history month, as I look at the travels of four sisters, the traveling daughters of an adventurous man.

Elisha Pinkney Stout’s daughters, my 4th cousin, 3x removed, caught my eye because Ancestry showed me the passport of Edna Pinkney Stout. I thought I would write about Edna, but it turns out her sisters had stories to tell, also.

I have related the story of Elisha, as part of the story of his father Obadiah, a pioneer in Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Ohio. Elisha, born in Ohio, traveled West and played a role in founding both Omaha and Denver, as well as seeking gold on Pike’s Peak. In his later life, he returned to Cincinnati where he became rich and successful.

The four traveling daughters, Mecia, Edna, Blanche and Florence, had one brother, William Kirk Stout, called by his middle name– his mother’s maiden name. He died young. I know that three of them had adequate means to live well, attended by servants and free to cruise the world. I know less about the fourth.

When I thought I had unearthed all the surprises I could about Edna and her sister, I found the best story of all. So I definitely have to include Elisha’s grand daughter, Margaret Moore, but I will save her for a separate article.

To put these women in perspective with my closer relatives. The sisters fall in the same generation as my great-grandmother, Hattie Stout. That means that Elisha’s grand daughter, Margaret Moore Hvenor (1891-1968) fell close to my grandmother, Vera Stout Anderson‘s age (1881-1964).

Margaret “Mecia” Stout Stearns

Present day Google Street View of 320 Reilly Road where Mecia Stout Stearns and her family lived.

Edna’s older sister Margaret “Mecia” Stout Stearns (1861-1931) married and lived next door to her father’s estate in the village of Wyoming all of her life with her husband and three children. Wyoming, a northern suburb of Cincinnati presently houses about 8500 people. The Stearns family always list their address as 320 Reilly Road/Avenue and Elisha’s address continued as 420 Reilly Road/Avenue. This stability of address led me to the faulty assumption that Mecia was a stay-at-home. Her husband, William S. Stearns belonged to a family that owned a cotton mill, and Mecia and William’s household always include two or three servants.

Her traveling may have been delayed, but when she was 62, she and her husband began taking cruises every year. Although his passport lists his wife and children, I did not see their children’s names on any of the ship’s manifests, so they may not have gone along.

  • 1922: In March, they returned from Alexandria Egypt
  • 1923: They returned from Yokohama Japan. Since Edna returned on the same ship, it is possible they both were on the same lengthy cruise of the Far East. (See Edna)
  • 1924: In March, they arrived back from Bermuda
  • 1925: In September, they arrived from Southampton, England
  • 1926: In March, they arrived in New York from Southampton again.
  • 1927: in April, they arrived in New York after two months on a cruise that departed from New York and circled back.
  • 1928: in September, they arrived in New York from Southampton, England.

Mecia surprised me one more time, when I learned that she died in 1931, not in Cincinnati, but while vacationing in Atlantic City. Traveler to the end.

Edna Pinkney Stout

The second of the traveling daughters, Edna Pinckney Stout ( 1862-1957) never married. For a time, I assumed that she was mentally or physically handicapped, since according to census reports, she lived with her parents until she was in her 50s.

Other than being listed as a postmistress at the Stout Post office–not far from Cincinnati–in 1899, census reports list no occupation for Edna. She lived with both her parents on their elaborate estate in Wyoming Village, until her mother died in 1909. Her younger sister, Florence, lived there until she married at the age of 32 in 1904. But Edna stayed on after their mother died. In the 1910 census, she is the only one still living with her father on the family estate.

Edna Leaves Ohio

Father Elisha died in 1913 in Los Angeles, where he was living with his youngest daughter Florence Stout Baker in Los Angeles. I learned that Edna was also in Los Angeles. In probate papers after Florence’s death in 1914, Florence’s husband listed Florence’s siblings. Edna Stout, living in the Hotel Pepper in Los Angeles.

Perhaps Edna had traveled to Los Angeles to help care for her father or for her sister when they were in a final illness. Edna must have returned to Ohio soon after her sister died because by 1920, she is back in Hamilton County, Ohio, living with her sister Mecia Stout Stearns and her husband. This part of her life is traditional. The unmarried sister, who lives with parents until they die, and then lives with various siblings.

In 1922, her brother-in-law, William Stearns helped her get a passport. Apparently, Edna prepared to leave on an extensive tour of the East early in 1923. Her November 1922 passport application shows she planned to visit Madeira (?), Gibraltar, Algiers, Egypt, India, Ceylon, ________Settlements, Dutch East Indies, _________ , Indonesia, Indo-China, Hong Kong, Macau, China and Japan. Even as an organized tour, or cruise, this itinerary exceeds the first-time travel of an ordinary sixty-year-old woman in the 1920s. She returned to New York, in May, 1923, making this a trip around the world. However, she may not have been traveling alone.

The Stearns returned on the same ship from Japan to New York. However, since I do not have ship’s manifests that show either Edna or her sister and brother-in-law leaving on this tour, I cannot say for sure if they all took the extensive far Eastern tour.

If Edna traveled in the next seven years, I do not have a ship’s manifest to prove where she went. But in 1930, she apparently went on another cruise. In April, the census caught her living in a boarding house/hotel in Los Angeles. She left the port of Wilmington, California (Los Angeles Port) in May, 1930, and arrived in Honolulu seven days later. Her return trip in August, 1930, brought her back to Los Angeles. I rather doubt that she was lying on a beach in Hawaii for two and a half months. Perhaps this cruise took her to some exotic Pacific locations.

Although I did not find her father Elisha’s will, I know from the information in the probate of the estate of her sister Florence, that although unmarried and unemployed, Edna had no money worries. Her father’s estate, reported to be about $80,500 (which would be worth $1, 046,500 today), had been divided three ways–Edna, her sister Florence, and her sister Mecia. (The only son in the family, William “Kirk” Stout, had died in 1890 at the age of 14.)

Blanche Stout Moore

Blanche (1865-1937) provides a different story. In 1890, at the age of 24, she married Edward E. Moore, a cotton merchant, and moved to New York. Like Mecia’s family, this family always had multiple servants. Their residence changed from Hackensack, New Jersey to finally living in the tony Scarsdale area of New York.

But the thing that puzzles me–why did Florence’s husband say his father-in-law’s estate was divided between three daughters. When Elisha died, there were four daughters. So why was the estate not divided in four? Was Blanche shunned by the family for some reason? He knew Edna, whom he listed by name, but Mecia and Blanch were “two other sisters, who live, he believes in Ohio.” He got it right for Mecia, but not for Blanch.

Edna, who lived with both her other sisters, never lived with Blanche, her husband and children which also tends to make me think Blanche separated from the family.

In 1893, Edward Moore applied for a passport–one of those that included the wife, Blanche. (See section on Passports below).

Although we do not get a photograph, Blanche’s husband is described as 6′ tall. He has a high forehead, black eyes, a prominent nose, large mouth, long chin, black hair and dark skin.

16 Apr, 1910, Blanche sailed from London to New York without any other family members.

16 Sept, 1914, Blanche arrived from visiting England again. This time she was accompanied by her daughter Margaret and son Kirk and also Emma B. Moore and Perry E. Moore. (It is a good guess that these are a sister-in-law and nephew.)

Blanche’s travel seems modest, however, taking her daughter Margaret abroad apparently had an effect. (See separate article).

Florence Stout Baker

Florence Stout Baker (1872-1914), the youngest daughter, lived with her parents until she married at the ripe old age of 32. Then she and her husband, Henry A. Baker, a pharmacist, moved to Los Angeles.

I am speculating that not long after her mother died, Edna’s father sold the Cincinnati estate. He then moved to Los Angeles with Florence Stout Baker and her husband. But I cannot locate a records for Florence and her husband that will tell me when Florence moved to L. A. In fact every detail about Florence’s life after her marriage eludes me.

I thought she was not a traveler, until I found her probate record. I have not found any trace of Florence on ship’s manifests, and very little other information about her or her husband. However, like her sister Mecia, she did not die at home. Her probate papers and death certificate show that she died in Hammond Louisiana, north of New Orleans. Why Hammond? Who knows?

Passports

I learned a lot about passports while gathering information about the adventurous daughters. Did you know that in the mid-19th century, women traveling with their husbands did not have their own passport? The husband’s passport lists his name, hers, and if they are along–the children. A woman traveling alone, however, might have a passport listing herself and any children traveling with her.

Notice I said “might”, that’s because–surprise number two–laws did not require U. S. Citizens to have a passport until June 1941. Two exceptions–if they traveled abroad during the Civil War or during World War I, they must carry a passport.

In the mid 19th century, men made 95% of trips abroad. However, by the late 19th century, women comprised 40% of passport applicants. I got all this information about passports from the very helpful National Archives site in their section on Passport Applications.

I hope this article on the traveling Stout sisters may encourage someone else to seek out ship’s manifests and passports to track the travels of the traveling daughters in their family tree.

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Not Our First Rodeo: A Slice of My Life

The Generations

I have been trying to isolate the blog from the Covid-19 virus pandemic, (a little genealogical social distancing) but decided I should discuss the health challenges that my generation faced. After all, everyone seems convinced that we elderly who were spawned in the Silent Generation are most at risk.

If there is one lesson that the Silent Generation wants to pass on to the other generations, it is that we must work together, as a community to successfully survive these massive challenges. Our parents generation joined together in unprecedented actions and we honor them with the title The Greatest Generation. We need to learn from their actions.

Then it comes to generations, we hear a lot these days about the Millenials–everyone likes to blame them for everything. And the Baby Boomers, who believe that everything is all about them– are verging on proud of the fact that they have reached an age where they are in the most vulnerable class for infection by Covid-19. So how does the present Covid-19 virus compare with the health concerns my own older generation have faced? My inclination is to whine, “Life just hasn’t been fair.”

The Silent Generation

My Senior class at Killbuck Ohio in 1956

I am a member of the Silent Generation. People who like to categorize such things, say that people born between 1928 and 1945 belong to the Silent Generation. Before us, came the Greatest Generation (belatedly named that because of their bravery in WWII and their rebuilding spree after the war) and after us, came the Baby Boomers (1946-1964). Next came Gen X (1965-1980) and then the Millenials (1981-1996). Of course there are more, but I want to narrow the focus to these five, and particularly my own Silent Generation. My children fall on the cusp of Baby Boomer/Gen X.

Our parents had lived through the Great Depression and the beginning of World War II. Most of us arrived on the scene in time to understand and be frightened by the War. I wrote about some of my war memories here. The unfortunate children lost a parent or other close relative to the War. I was lucky and that did not happen to me.

Those two factors, Great Depression and World War, deeply affected the psyche of our generation. It also meant there were fewer of us because our parents lived in uncertain times and many were reluctant to have many children.

We inherited a sense of frugality, which helps in situations that we find ourselves in today, like avoiding excess trips to stores. Because we inherited a sense of pessimism and fear due to economic and political disaster, we coped by keeping our heads down. That is why the name Silent Generation came about. However, don’t let that fool you. We also provided the leaders and many of the workers in the Civil Rights Movement. We women were pioneers in the Women’s Rights/Equal Rights Amendment fight. And those who went into health care fields conquered many of the diseases that had plagued our earlier lives.

Diseases Faced by the Silent Generation

But today, March 2020, all eyes are focused on an enormous challenge caused by a virus called the Novel Virus, or Covid-19. We keep saying we have never seen anything like it. However, if you look at the challenges faced by our Silent Generation, you can see that we have fought such wars before.

Childhood Diseases of the Silent Generation

Typical Quarantine sign posted by the Public Health Service in the 1940s and 1950s.

Isolation and Quarantine. As children, our parents expected we would get the big three childhood diseases: Measles, Mumps and Chickenpox. Unlucky children might also get smallpox or scarlet fever. There were no vaccines. There was no surefire cure. You just rode it out. Mother served us jello and Vernor’s Ginger Ale. I read lots of books. I particularly liked to read a poem by Robert Louis Stephenson who had personal experience with child sickness. The Land of Counterpane comes from “A Child’s Garden of Verses.”

“When I was sick and lay a-bed,
I had two pillows at my head,
And all my toys beside me lay,
To keep me happy all the day. “

After the 1944 creation of the Public Health Service, Public Health Nurses arrived on the scene. I clearly remember when my brother and I had measles abot 1948. The Public Health Nurse came to the house and checked on us, and then put a cardboard sign on our front door announcing the quarantine of our house.

Today, instead of assuming that children will get these diseases and the household will be quarantined, the diseases are rare. Scientists developed vaccines: Chicken Pox (1964) ; Measles (1969); Mumps (1971) . Smallpox ended in the U.S. by 1980.

Temporary closing of businesses, stricter isolation in summer months. Another serious disease threatened us and frightened us even more than the 3 childhood diseases. Polio outbreaks occurred in the summer and public gatherings were limited, swimming pools closed, and newsreels at the movie theater filled with footage of children lying trapped in iron lungs. It was a frightening disease. The ban on swimming pools and gatherings created inconvenience during the summer break from school, but unlike the other diseases we had faced, we felt we could do something to beat this one. Kids in the 1950s and 1960s eagerly joined in collecting dimes for the March of Dimes to fight polio. And we all rejoiced at the work of Jonas Salk, who created a barrier in the form of a drop of liquid on a cube of sugar that would immunize against polio.

Silent Generation in College

Development of new medicines and medical decisions. When we moved on to college, the development of a birth control pill was underway. The idea caught the attention of most every woman, and throngs flocked to doctor’s offices for the pill. At first it was only available for menstrual irregularity–not birth control–and hundreds of thousands of women developed menstrual irregularity. When I got married in 1960, my doctor could prescribe the pill, but no one was sure how long it was safe to take it. Before 1960, young women went to the Planned Parenthood office for birth control pills before doctor’s offices were permitted to prescribe.

The pill, welcomed by most women, nevertheless presented challenges as we became test subjects.

Of course there was a catch. Those early pills had been scientifically tested, but now with hundreds of thousands women taking them, we began to see some problems–like increased ovarian cancer rates . So we were, in a sense, test subjects for how this new drug would work in the long term. By 1988, a new, safer, decreased dose pill became available. By then those who started taking the pill in the 60s were no longer on it, and we had no idea what the lasting effects might be.

Silent Generation Gets Married and Starts Families

Unintended consequences. Another drug for women turned out to be a worse disaster. To fight nausea, doctors gave Thalidomide to pregnant women in the early 1960s. Within a few years the doctors knew that the drug was causing horrendous birth defects, and the drug disappeared from the market. But it was the men and women of my generation who lived with this medical disaster.

Ava Gardner and Gregory Pick in The Snows of Kilimanjaro

Government messages drive behavior changes. Finally, we went to the movies and the glamorous romantic leads inevitably smoked cigarettes as they bantered with clever lines. So naturally, we decided smoking was sophisticated and romantic, and we smoked up a storm. We began play smoking with candy cigarettes when we were very small. When we got older, the tobacco companies ratcheted up the pressure. They shipped sample packs of cigarettes to colleges and handed them out at banquets, dances, sporting events. The companies hired students to stand on the Oval and pass out the small packs of cigarettes. Somebody convinced us that the correct social behavior included offering our guests cigarettes as well as booze.

It wasn’t until 1964 when the first Surgeon General’s report on the effect of smoking came out, that society began to act. I remember my father , a smoker, teasing my husband and me. He and my mother had bought me a car, and he drove it from Ohio to Arizona to deliver it in 1964.

“You notice it has no ashtray,” he said. “I figured you two would read and follow the Surgeon General’s report.”

We did not immediately follow that no smoking guidance, but within the next dozen years, we had both quit smoking. The unprecedented national campaign, pushed forward by the government, meant that everyone knew the risks of smoking. Whether they followed advice or not.

Misinformation and behavior changes. In the eighties, another particularly frightening health threat emerged–AIDS. Within the wider population, authorities and organizations battled misinformation. Medical researchers got to work and today instead of being a death sentence, AIDS is a disease that people live with. But the existence of AIDS led to many direct and indirect societal changes from recognition of the gay community to more caution in sexually active adults.

The Silent Generation, a Retrospective

So while some pretty wonderful things happened during the Silent Generation’s adulthood (roughly 1948 to the present), we lived through World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and what somebody recently dubbed our present crisis, World War C. We also faced Senator McCarthy, race riots, Anti-War demonstrations, and many threats to our physical health. ( I have not even mentioned the many virus and bacterial-caused diseases that continue to threaten humankind in addition to Covid-19.)

It seems unfair that we were in the correct age range to suffer through those early childhood diseases, land smack in the middle of the polio epidemic and then served as guinea pigs for women’s medications. If we survived all that, we find ourselves a target again. Most of those earlier health threats have disappeared because of brilliant researchers, awareness of the public health system, and community action. We just hope that all those other generations will take seriously the needed community action to defeat the present challenge. Thanks.

P.S. I belatedly realized that I should add this note. We are very fortunate during the present virus pandemic, despite the fact that we are targeted. That is because our lives are very little disrupted. Even our income stream stays pretty much the same (provided the stock market returns to normal–which hits some people hard). But we feel much compassion for the younger generations–our children and grandchildren–who are faced with abrupt changes in life style and income. And we are so grateful to those who are checking up on us, running errands for us, and just staying in touch. Thanks again.

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Emily Dickinson–Hello Cousin!

Daguerreotype of Emily Dickinson from Wiki Media, in the public domain.

I cannot think of a more exciting announcement to make during the month of Women. As the title indicates–I can now call poet Emily Dickinson, cousin.

The Belle of Amherst and Black Cake

Of course I had known the poetry of this premier American Poet since I started reading. But my close attraction with Emily really developed when I played the role of Emily in the one-woman play, Belle of Amherst at the Invisible Theater in Tucson, Arizona. Emily’s opening lines of that play:

This is my introduction. Black cake. My own special recipe.

(After some digressions and introducing herself, she proceeds to share her recipe.)

“Black Cake: two pounds of flour, two pounds of sugar, two pounds of butter, nineteen eggs, five pounds of raisins, one and a half pounds of currants, one and a half pounds of citron, one half pint of brandy–I never use Father’s best–one half pint of molasses, two nutmegs, five teaspoons of cloves, mace, and cinnamon, and–oh, yes, two teaspoons of soda, and one and a half teaspoons of salt.”

“Just beat the butter and sugar together, add the nineteen eggs one at a time–now this is very important–without beating. Then beat the mixture again adding the brandy alternately with the flour, soda, spices, and salt that you’ve sifted together. Then the molasses. Now, take your five pounds of raisins, and three pounds of currants and citron, and gently sprinkle in all eight pounds–slowly now–as you stir. Bake it for three hours if you use cake pans. If you use a milk pan, as I do, you’d better leave it in the oven six or seven hours.”

Now does that remind you of anyone? Someone who loves to cook and share recipes? Although she gained fame posthumously as a poet, during her lifetime, she was well known around Amherst for her skill at baking.

Emily Dickinson Black Cake
Emily Dickinson Black Cake

You can see my modernized version of Emily’s Black Cake here. In fact, Emily’s recipe intrigued me from the first time I read the play. And while I was rehearsing, I experimented with baking the cake. Then I made some to be sold during intermissions at my performance of Belle of Amherst. I have also made her ginger bread and her coconut cake. All delicious.

My Connection to Emily Dickinson

You don’t work so long on the development of a one-woman show without feeling very close to the subject, and I certainly felt close to Emily. As I’m sure you know, she was born, lived and died in Amherst, Massachusetts, where her family had been leaders in the community and the college of Amherst. When I did that play so many years ago, I never dreamed that I had more than just the connection that comes with acting.

A few years ago, as I was tracing my great-great-etc-grandparents from New England, I came across 6th great-grandmother Elizabeth Dickinson Belding. She came from Amherst. Surely she must have been related to Emily Dickinson and her family.

The Dickinson Family seemed to be bewilderingly large and spread out over New England, and I was at that time pursuing another line of ancestors, so I set aside the notion that I might be related to Emily. But I did not forget.

Today I looked for a family tree for Emily and compared her ancestors to the ancestors of my (much earlier) 6th great-grandmother, Elizabeth Dickinson Belding and her father (my 7th great-grandfather). II only had to go back one more generation to find my connection to Emily. Here is what I found, starting with our MRCA (Most Recent Common Ancestor), Nathaniel Dickinson– my 8th great-grandfather, and Emily’s 5th great -grandfather.

My Tree

  • Nathaniel Dickinson 1601-1676
  • Hezekiah Dickinson 1646-1707
  • Elizabeth Dickinson Belding 1693-1797
  • Samuel Belding 1719-1793
  • Martha Belding Bassett 1756-1842
  • William Bassett 1779-1833
  • Mary Bassett Morgan 1810-1890
  • Harriette Morgan Stout 1842-1928
  • Vera Stout Anderson 1881-1964
  • Harriette Anderson Kaser 1906-2003
  • Vera Marie Badertscher

Emily Dickinson Tree

  • Nathaniel DIckinson 1601-1676
  • Samuel Dickinson 1638-1711
  • Ebenezer Dickinson 1690-?
  • Nathan Dickinson SR 1712-1796
  • Nathan Dickison Jr. 1735-1825
  • Samuel Dickinson 1775-1838
  • Edward DIckinson 1803-1874
  • Emily Dickinson 1830-1886

You will notice that my line comes down through the women in the tree, starting with Elizabeth Dickinson, the daughter of Hezekiah Dickinson. The only exception is William Bassett (1779-1833). Emily’s line, on the other hand, follows the male Dickinson line all the way. My 7th great-grandfather is the brother of her 4th great grandfather, Samuel DIckinson (1638-1711). Samuel is my 8x great uncle.

Emily’s family started in North America in Connecticut, but for four generations before Emily, they had lived in Amherst, Massachusetts.

How appropriate that my bookworm great-great grandmother turns out to be the same generation as Emily DIckinson! And had Emily, instead of being a recluse, had been married and had children, her great-great grandchildren would be in my generation.

The conclusion? Emily Dickinson is my 6th cousin, 3 times removed. Don’t get confused by the “removed”. The three times removed simply means that once you find our MRCA you look at how many generations difference there are between that person in my line and in her line. In this case it is 8x great grandfather and 5x great grandfather–so, 3x removed.

Emily Dickinson Has a Poem For It

How better to end this little tribute to my new-found cousin than with one of her poems. This one is used as the foreword to the printed Belle of Amherst.

Me--come! My dazzled face
In such a shining place!
Me--hear! My foreign Ear
The sounds of Welcome--there!

The Saints forget
Our bashful feet--

My Holiday, shall be
That They--remember me--
My Paradise--the fame
That They--pronounce my name--

Emily Dickinson

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