Tag Archives: Buffalo

Mother’s Death Causes Family Conflict–A Letter from Will Stout

The Cast of Characters in a Family Conflict

William Morgan Stout (1873-1944)  intrigues me. He seemed to attract family conflict.

William Stout

Ancestor Great Uncle William Morgan Stout (1938) 65 years old.

I don’t believe I ever saw Will Stout. If I did meet him on one of his brief visits to Killbuck Ohio, I was too young to remember. My great-uncle, older brother of my grandmother Vera Stout Anderson, lived in New York City during the Gilded Age.

Recently I found a letter that he wrote to my grandmother, Vera Stout Anderson in 1937. This one letter to my grandmother is the only thing that I have in his own handwriting. It nicely fills in the personality of my elusive great-uncle Will.

Will Stout’s Life

Very little factual information about Will Stout survives. For instance, it took me years to discover that he died in Palm Beach Florida rather than New York or New Jersey.  I expected to find him still near his relatives in New Jersey in the 1940s.  I only recently was able to uncover Will and Jean’s marriage record. There I learned her last name and that she was a widow rather than a divorcee.

He did not quite have the distinguished career that my mother described as “a railroad attorney”. Nevertheless Will lived in magical Manhattan. Actually, he was one of many lawyers who worked for the New York  street car company, the Interborough Rapid Transit Company.

Will left Killbuck Ohio for school in upstate New York, and then law school in New York City after his father Dr. William Stout nearly disowned him for what Doc Stout saw as dissolute living. This may have been the first of his involvement in family conflict.  His life turned far away from small town Mid Western living and values.  He married a widow several years older than he was.  She had a daughter who he reportedly adopted, but the couple never had children of their own.

  The Interborough Rapid Transit Company opened the first New York subway line in October 1904. Previously, they owned the first elevated lines (The El).  The city bought the IRT in 1940, and the IRT originally ran the subway lines that today are the numbered lines in the subway system.In 1929, Will would have been working for the company when they took a fare increase appeal to the Supreme Court. They asked to raise their fares from the 1904 rate of five cents to seven cents. They lost, which probably played into the end of the company in 1940.

When he wrote the letter in 1937, Will still struggled through the Great Depression. His company had some serious problems, which probably kept their army of attorneys quite busy.

Maude Stout Bartlett’s Life

Maude Bartlett at Stout-Anderson house, Killbuck (c.1952)

Maude Bartlett at Stout-Anderson house, Killbuck (c.1952)

No one every used my great-aunt Maude’s real name, Mary Emeline Stout (1875-1963).  From family letters and the family picture, I suspect that Hattie Stout favored Maude above her other children.  This made perfect sense because Maude was studious, well-behaved, musical–all the things that my rambunctious grandmother and rebellious great-uncle were not. In this picture you see Maude standing at Hattie’s shoulder and Vera beside her father, while Will sits alone.

 

Stout Family Home in Killbuck, Ohio

Dr. William Stout and family in front of family home, circa 1885

Maude married at the age of 23 to Carlos Bartlett, and not long after their marriage, the couple moved to Buffalo, New York. She lived a social life their, filled with books and music and entertaining.

Sadly, Carlos died in 1915 at the age of 42.  For the rest of her life, Maude mourned her “dear Carlos.”  She remained in Buffalo, took in a boarder and taught piano lessons, until in the 1950s she moved back to Killbuck, Ohio.  She and my grandmother Vera had a prickly relationship, (more family conflict).  Though as my mother said, they still cared for each other. They lived at opposite ends of the small town, about 1/2 mile apart. In their later years, they  called each other on the phone on days they could not visit.

When Will wrote the letter to Vera in 1937, Maude was still living in Buffalo with an Englishman boarding in her upstairs to supplement Carlos’ Railroad Stocks income.

Vera Stout Anderson

I have written extensively about my namesake grandmother.  In 1937 when she received Will’s letter, she and my grandfather Guy were running a restaurant in their home (see the picture at the head of this blog).  A short time before, they had been running a boarding house.  Guy may have already been showing signs of the heart trouble that forced them to close the restaurant in the early 1940s.  Her youngest son Herbert had married ten years earlier when he was 19, and he already had four children.  Her oldest child, William J. Anderson had one child. her daughter, Harriette was dating a man she did not entirely approve of.  In other words she had troubles of her own.

Harriette (Hattie) Morgan Stout

Hattie Stout in Buffalo

Hattie Stout and Maude Bartlett in Buffalo Circa 1910

I have written about Hattie Stout (1842-1928) who was a school teacher during the Civil War. She was a woman who was widely read and curious about everything.  She explored life to the fullest. My mother said that she even smoked a cigarette in the teens when women were expressing new-found freedoms, just to see what it was like. Her desire was to live long enough to vote, and she did indeed live to see Woman’s Suffrage.

Hattie served as her husband Doc Stout’s assistant, keeping the house and his instruments spotless. She even took care of patients who had to stay in the Stout home in Killbuck for a brief time while they recovered from some illness.  The couple loved to travel, and Hattie accompanied her husband to medical conventions, went to the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893  and visited her son in Manhattan and rode on a double-decker bus.

When Doc Stout died in 1910, Hattie had Vera’s husband take over managing the farms she inherited. She moved into a small house so that they could occupy the large house Doc Stout had built in the center of town.

Hattie visited Maude in Buffalo after Carlos died. By 1920, her health failing at age 78, she had moved to Buffalo to live with Maude. She died in Maude’s home in 1928 at the age of 85.

Cause of Death

Hattie Stout Death Certificate Cause of Death, 1928

The family story ran that Hattie had turned away from the medicine practiced by her late husband Dr. William Stout and her belief in some alternative treatment contributed to her death. When her son Will Stout wrote a letter to her daughter Vera in 1937, Hattie had been dead ten years, but he was still angry.

I was curious about her cause of death. Because she was in New York State, I had to pay $18 and then wait about 9 months before I received the copy of the death certificate.  I have more to say about the cause of death, shown above, in a little bit.

The 1937 Letter from Will Stout to His Sister Vera

Here’s an image of the first page of the four-page letter that Will sent to his sister on April 22, 1937, revealing another family conflict involving Will. As you can see, it is not the easiest handwriting to transcribe, but I have transcribed pertinent parts of the letter below.  Here you can see the name of the company he worked for.

family letter

Letter from Will Stout to Vera Anderson, 1937, page one

…she is impossible it seems to me, & the six weeks or so that I indured (sic) during Mother’s Illness, was sufficient for a lifetime.

Dear Vera & Family,

[ He opens with a response to a recent letter and the fact Vera had not written frequently, which worried his wife. He goes on to complain about his financial circumstances. That may have seemed a bit strange to his much poorer relatives. After all, they did not live in a big city and have a job as lawyer with a large corporation!]

Fortunately for my peace of mind we have been very busy here in the office and have had little time to worry about being the under dog.

It will not be long now when we will be completing our plans for our vacation which as usual I hope to take in August. So far our idea is to drive to Ohio for a day or so & then skip back to a little cottage on a nice little lake upstate where we were for 3 wks last year. It is very unpretentious, very quiet, & cheap & the best place for complete relaxation & rest that we have found yet, so if nothing happens to disrupt our programme (sic) We will start the last Friday or Saturday in July & ought to be in Killbuck the following Monday & Tuesday Aug. 2nd or 3rd, but don’t make extra plans for us we can not stay long for which you should be thankful,

[Here Will mentions possible visits to relatives along the way]

…  the time will be short enough, in fact too short so that we will get ourselves disliked all along the line, but that seems to be the best we can do for I have engaged our cottage starting the 10th of Aug. & so what we are thinking of doing before that date means that we will have to hustle.

[Then he gets to the matter of avoiding his sister Maude. I have bolded the significant statements.]

I don’t suppose you know what Maud is going to do this summer as yet. So when you find out let me know. I have not heard from her in year and I don’t intend to have any Part of my vacation disturbed by a possible scrap, so if she is going to be at Killbuck the 1st week—Aug that will change our plans Of course if she is in Buffalo when we drive thru I will stop & say hello. But that will be all as I recall it she was not at Home the last time we stopped and I suspect she was just as pleased as we were. The last time we did see her she never asked us in the House. But that is all right by me, I am not mad about it & Jean [his wife] is very sorry for her & about the whole thing & gave me fits for not trying to placate her but she is impossible it seems to me, & the six weeks or so that I indured (sic) during Mother’s Illness, was sufficient for a lifetime. That is enough of that, So don’t fail to let me know when she will be if you learn.

Aside from a few colds & minor bellyaches we have faired (sic) very well physically, & I can think of nothing else by way of news. We are looking forward to seeing you & those wonderful kids that a doting Grandmother is crazy about.

[Vera’s son William had a son and her son Herbert had four children by April, 1937.]

Don’t wait so long in finding time to write again.

Love to all

Jean & Will

What Happened in 1928?

Particularly, what happened in Buffalo during that “six weeks or so” that Will refers to? Of course we will never know for sure. But thanks to the doctor who signed the death certificate on January 24, 1928, we know that Hattie died of Diabetes Mellitus (commonly called just diabetes). According to the certificate, she had suffered from Diabetes for twelve years. That was not a particular surprise, as diabetes crops up in several generations in my family. My grandmother (Hattie’s daughter), my sister and one of my sons all have been diagnosed and treated for diabetes.

The most common modern treatment for diabetes, insulin, began to be used in the early 1920s, so would have been available to Hattie.  Read History of treatment of diabetes here.  Did she feel that insulin injections were unnatural?  Did she prefer to use some alternative treatment, like the treatment with high fat diet, which had some supporters at that time? Was she afraid of needles? Or did she, as my family suspected, join a religion that forbade medical treatment?

When I saw on this death certificate “Contributory” [cause of death] as gangrene of the foot I thought of another possibility.  The most common recommendation to deal with the gangrene would be amputation of the foot. She might, understandably, be reluctant to lose her foot, and refused treatment. So perhaps it was the infection that killed her.

The Death Certificate

A minor point: her birth date is given as August 4, 1842 on the death certificate, and date of death is January 24, 1928.  The calculation that she was 85 year, 4 months and 20 days old therefore is slightly off.

One more mystery popped up when I read the death certificate.  I mentioned earlier that Hattie had been living with Maude in 1920.  However, he death certificate says that she has only lived at that address for four months.  Either she had changed her address back and forth from Buffalo to Killbuck, or the census had caught her just visiting in 1920. In that case, she didn’t actually live with Maude until later.  So why would she go to Buffalo in October of 1927?

Presumably Hattie was quite ill by that time. Travel away from home would be difficult, even though she was fleeing to be with her favorite daughter. The only logical reason I can think of for the trip would be to receive some kind of alternative treatment not available in Ohio.

Whatever reason she had, it is clear from Will Stout’s letter that he was present in Buffalo when his mother died. He argued with Maude (and presumably his mother) about Hattie’s treatment.  I can picture the New York attorney descending upon the two ladies at 16 Robie Avenue, ready to take charge.  He was, after all, an attorney–used to arguing.  However, from what I know of Maude, she could be very determined. She may have decided to go along with their mother’s decision about her illness. If so, she would dig her heels in and her older brother would hold no sway. And as we can clearly see, Will lost the argument. His mother lost her life. However, William M. Stout signed the death certificate, listing his address as 537 West 149th Street, NY City.

I am glad to have this glimpse into the personality of William Morgan Stout. However, I am sorry that it is a letter that reveals a family conflict. Despite his wife’s gentle admonitions, Will did not seem to be one to easily forgive.  On the other hand, judging from her refusing to  invite him into her house, neither was his sister Maude.

The Girl on the Bridge: Hattie Stout, Teacher, Traveler, Suffragette

Harriette (Hattie) E. Morgan Stout (1842-1928)

Married William C. Stout in 1872

Hattie Stout

Harriett Emeline Morgan Stout

And who was that girl on the bridge that captured the newly minted Doctor Stouts 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 Stout at church picnic

Hattie Stout center, to the right of the woman with arm resting on stomach. Killbuck church picnic. That’s Maude on the far right in black, probably in 1910, the year Carlos died.

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 in her mother’s house, with their apartment over the office and all three children (William M, Maude and Vera) were born there.

Mary Morgan's house

Mary Morgan’s Killbuck house with Doc Stout office on right. Circa 1880

Two or three years later, they were able to build the big house on the site of Mary and Jesse Morgan’s old house.  Update:  According to plats of the time, Marry and Jesse did not own the property where Doc Stout built his house. This erroneous information came from a quote from Bill Anderson at the time the Doc Stout house was moved.

Wherever Doc Stout 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 Stout

Dr. George Stout, Maude Bartlett, Hattie Stout, Mrs. Geo, Carlos Circa 1890 Florida (?)

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.  

 

Hattie Stout in Buffalo

Hattie Stout and Maude Bartlett in Buffalo Circa 1910

When Maude’s husband died, Hattie went to Buffalo to live with her daughter for some time, but returned to Killbuck.  She also 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.

UPDATE:  Hattie died in Buffalo New York on January 24, 1928 where she had been staying with her daughter Maud Bartlett.  She was ill for at least six years (mentioned in a letter from her son Will) and a family feud developed over her treatment. Apparently she refused regular medical treatment, and Will blamed Maude for influencing her to use alternative approaches.  I wonder what her husband Doc William Stout would have thought.  According to an obituary, her body was transported back to Killbuck for burial, and that is where her tombstone stands today.

Hattie Stout 1921

Harriette Morgan Stout, January 1921, two months after she voted for the first time.

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.

How I Am Related

  • Vera Marie Kaser (Badertscher) is the daughter of
  • Harriette Anderson (Kaser), who is the daughter of
  • Vera Stout (Anderson), who is the daughter of
  • Harriet “Hattie” Morgan (Stout).

Notes on Sources

 

I have confirmed birth, death and marriage 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.