Archive for Monday, September 19, 2011

100 years ago: Injured wife of Eudora doctor goes home in silence; town abuzz with gossip

September 19, 2011


From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for Sept. 19, 1911:

"She has gone home now, has Mrs. Payne, gone to that home which she left last Monday, for good, so she said. With her two children Mrs. C. C. Payne left for her home in Eudora last night. Arriving there she did not speak to any one, but passing her neighbors and friends by on the street she went to the home that had been the scene of so much domestic trouble and there she is staying. Her wounds are doing nicely and she will suffer no ill effects physically. The body of Dr. C. C. Payne still lies at the undertaking parlors here. The Masonic lodge [of Eudora] will take charge of the body and bury it there on Sunday. This morning Mrs. Mary Smith, Dr. Payne's mother-in-law, whom he shot accidentally, was taken to Simmons' hospital for treatment. Her condition is not at all serious but the attending physician decided that she needed treatment at the hospital.... All Eudora is still talking about the Payne case, of course. It is curious to hear the comments made by the people of that place. Half of them seem to side with Dr. Payne while the other half are staunch in their friendship for his wife. Some of these say that Dr. Payne was all at fault, that he drank heavily and that he talked about his wife all the time. Others insist that Dr. Payne was a good man always. That he tried to make a happy home and a comfortable living for his family, and that Mrs. Payne was all at fault. They tell stories about her, of how she hated Eudora because it was small and life was dull. They gossip about her, do these people, but for every one who is willing to lay the blame on Mrs. Payne there are just as many others who say that her husband is to blame."


Sarah St. John 6 years, 7 months ago

Since this is probably the last follow-up for the Payne story, I thought I'd go ahead and add a few extra bits and pieces down here....

First, the family tree stuff, courtesy of my sister in Maryland. (Thanks!) (If you don't have time to read all this right now, please at least know that Mrs. Payne appears to have recovered from her injuries sufficiently to live to the year 1937. She remarried into the well-known Neis family of Eudora.)

Charles C Payne (1873-1911) was born in Kansas to Amanda J (1838-1906) and W H (1842-1914) Payne of Topeka. His parents are buried in Rochester Cemetery in Topeka. He had brothers Franklin L, Ira M, and Clem H.

In about 1896 he married Mattie A Smith. He was 23; she was 20.

Mattie A Smith (1876-1938) was born in Kansas to Mary Ann Hurley (1840-1937) and Newton Smith (1833-~1883), both born in New York. He was a farmer; they married in 1866. Mattie had siblings Marshall (1862/Indiana), George A (1868/Michigan), Nevada Aletta (1869/Michigan-1952/Kansas), Fred J (1873/Michigan), and Nellie E (1878/Kansas).

The 1870 Federal Census for Quincy, Branch County, Michigan, lists Newton (37), Mary (27), Marshall (8), George (2), Aletta (6 mos).

The 1880 Federal Census for Union, Jefferson County, Kansas, lists Newton (46), Mary A (40), Marshall (17), George A (12), Lavada (9), Fred J (7), Mattie A (5), and Nellie (2).

The 1885 Kansas State Census for Oskaloosa, Jefferson County, Kansas, lists Mary A (45/Widowed), Marshall (22), G A (16), Nevada (15), F (12), Mattie (8), Nellie (6). So Mattie's father died when she was quite young.

The 1895 Kansas State Census for Oskaloosa lists Mary A (55/NY), Fred (23/Mich), Mattie (18/KS), Nellie (16/KS).

The 1900 Federal Census for Oskaloosa, lists Fred (Oct 1871/wife & kids); Mary A (May 1841/59), Nellie E (July 1878/21), and Mary's grandchildren Mattie Smith (June 1899/11 mos), and Mary & Melvin McPherson (Nov 1895).

(Let's see if I can explain this clearly. Little Mattie is Nellie's out-of-wedlock daughter. Nellie marries George L Catlin soon, and Mattie is listed as their child thereafter.)

Vada (as she is known) married 1) McPherson, and had twins Mary & Melvin in Nov 1895; 2) Horace Mendenhall Rogers on 31 Aug 1900 (his 2nd marriage and he already had kids); and 3) Thomas; and 4) Robert Arch Sproull on 2 Sep 1941; and so is the Mrs. E. Rogers referred to by the newspaper in 1911; I think the E is a misprint. Horace's first wife was a Catlin, like Nellie's husband. I have decided Eudora was a small town.)

Charles C and Mattie had daughter Esther V (1899) and son Charles (1902), both born in Michigan. I can find no 1900 census record for them.


Sarah St. John 6 years, 7 months ago

(Part 2 of family tree)

The 1905 Kansas State Census lists Mattie Payne (28) and her two children, Esther (6) and Charles (3), living with Mary A Smith (66) in Eudora. The doctor is not listed; the newspaper implies that he did not move to Lawrence until 1907, so perhaps Mattie was just visiting her mother in 1905.

The Jayhawker Yearbook for 1908 lists Charles C Payne, MD, as a demonstrator of Massage and Hydro-Therapy.

The 1910 Federal Census for Eudora lists Charles Payne (36), Mattie (33), Esther (11) and Charles (8). They have been married 13 years, it is a first marriage for both of them, and they have only the two children. Charles is a physician & surgeon in general practice.

In 1910, Mary (68) is living with George (36) & Nellie (31)'s family in Eudora.

Then 1911 happens.

Mattie married Carl Neis, a farmer 6 years her junior from a large Eudora family, in 1915. They lived in Eudora the rest of their lives.

In 1920, Carl (35) & Mattie (42) are living in Eudora.

In 1920, Mary (78) is living with George & Nellie's family, with her grandson Charles (18), who is working as a barber with his Uncle George. I don't know what happened to him after that.

In 1920, Esther is married to Dutch immigrant and professional musician Daniel A Muller, and they are raising a son, Felix (1919-) in Topeka.

In 1925, Mary (84) is living with George & Nellie's family in Lawrence. In 1925, Felix (6) is living with his grandparents Carl (40) & Mattie (48) in Eudora. There is no record of his parents after 1920.

In 1930, Mary (89) is living with Carl (45) & Mattie (51) Neis in Eudora, with Felix (12). Mary died in 1937 and is buried in Eudora City Cemetery.

Carl Neis (1885-1948), is buried beside Mattie in Eudora City Cemetery.

Sarah St. John 6 years, 7 months ago

And now, back to me!

I found one more follow-up of some interest: Sounds like Mrs. Payne was perhaps trying to deny the rumors that she just hated Eudora.

(headline in caps) FOR HIS SAKE SHE LEFT HIM Mrs. Payne Says Her Only Reason for leaving Eudora Was to Get Husband Away (in all caps) TIRED OF HIS 'CAROUSING' Tells Reporter That She Wanted the Doctor to Leave and Make a New Start Her Left Arm Is Paralyzed from the Wound -- Funeral Services at Eudora Tomorrow.

"'It was only for his sake that I ever wanted to leave Eudora. I wanted him to get away from this town forever, to leave this carousing crowd and make a new start. I wanted him to go somewhere else and start life over. He was a good man when he was not drinking.'

"That was Mrs. C. C. Payne talking to a reporter at her home in Eudora this morning. She is staying there now with her two children. Her plans for the future are indefinite. At present she is not able to travel much as her left arm appears to be paralyzed from the wound inflicted when her husband shot at her. Attending physicians say that she may regain the use of the arm, but it will take time to show whether the paralysis is permanent or not.

"Mrs. Payne talked freely of the case. All through the conversation she insisted that it was only because she thought it was for her husband's best that she wanted to leave Eudora. Her husband killed himself, she said, because she refused to return home with him. She was willing to go anywhere with him, she said, except back to Eudora where he would resume his old life. Friends of Mrs. Payne in Lawrence say that she has said she would live in Eudora if her mother would go there with her. Otherwise she will come to Lawrence and make her home with Mrs. Rogers.

"The funeral services for Dr. C. C. Payne will be held at one o'clock tomorrow afternoon from the English Methodist church, Eudora. The body will arrive at Eudora from here at 11 o'clock and will be taken in charge by the Masons."

(Note: In spite of this note about his funeral, my sister was unable to find a grave for Dr. Payne. Were they still not burying suicides in church cemeteries in 1911? Anyone know anything about this English Methodist Church in Eudora? Is it still there? Maybe their graveyard is not included in the Find-A-Grave database?)

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 7 months ago

People who commit suicide are very often buried in unmarked graves, that is, with no tombstone. When that occurs, sometimes there is no record of that person being buried in the cemetery at all, let alone where where the burial was.

I was once talking to a city employee of a town that is far away from Lawrence, and one of the things he used to, or maybe still does, is help do the excavations for burial in the city cemetery.

He had quite an interesting story about what happened one day! Everything was going smoothly, the funeral was about to start, and so the hole in the graveyard needed to be ready. They do not dig the hole the day before.

They dug a ways down, and there it was. There was a piece of glass from one of the old style caskets, and behind the glass was a man in a green suit, and underneath the glass he seemed to be very well preserved. But that was it, all of him that was not under the glass, along with any trace of the old style wooden casket, was simply gone, decomposed into regular dirt.

The crew was quite surprised, filled in the hole, and they had to find another grave plot really quick! And, also mark that location in the cemetery records as being occupied.

My mother worked in genealogy for a county out in western Kansas a while back, and it was astounding how many people there were that had no record of their lives at all, except for a tombstone in a small country cemetery, far away from town. She traveled all over the county gathering the records, in case anyone wanted to look up their ancestors. A few people did, and she was able to help them. But, her work was largely unappreciated.

But back to Dr. Payne, who do you think was going to pay for a tombstone for him? I'm sure no one.

There was a custom back in the Middle Ages that sounds quite odd today. The custom was to bury anyone that had committed suicide in the middle of the crossing of two roads so that everyone would walk right over them, without even knowing it.

Jewish burials of suicide victims are still supposed to be buried in a special section of the cemetery, away from everyone else. But the Jewish Law defining what exactly is an act of suicide or not is so extremely strict that just about no one ever did actually commit suicide according to Jewish Law, so that custom is totally unused in our modern times.

I'm under the impression that suicide victims were buried in a separate section of the cemetery in some Christian churches also until only about a hundred years ago, but I'm sure it wasn't done all the time. I am sure it was done on at least a few occasions, and Dr. Payne might have been one of those situations.

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