In my previous post, I found Charlie Humphreys. Among the 14 ancestors that I found that day, was a young lady named Millicent Price. An older relative mentioned that she remembered talk that there was some sort of ‘scandal’ involved with her.
I had her birth and death dates from the tombstone at Cotton Cemetery. I wrote to the Kankakee Illinois County Clerk, where the death probably occurred. No death certificate was found. I tried to find her in Wales, where she would have been born. No luck. At this point, I decided to see if the newspapers had anything regarding Millie’s death.
The Kankakee Daily Gazette[i], Saturday, November 5, 1898, provided the additional information that I was looking for, but was not really prepared to find:
The article opens with “Despondent over the prospects of a separation from her lover, Millicent Price, the 17-year old daughter of a coal miner at Clarke City, drank carbolic acid Thursday night and died a half hour later suffering intense agony.”
The article goes on to state that Millicent Price was a “bright and attractive miss, well thought of in the community”. She had become involved with a young coal miner, Robert Cullen and her parents had objected to the relationship. The two continued to defy her parents’ request, until one day, Robert told her that he had decided to heed her parents’ wishes and end the relationship. She was so upset, she drank an ounce of carbolic acid that her father, Jack Price, had in the house for medicinal purposes. She died 30 minutes later.
Without the newspaper article, all I would have is the tombstone picture that gives her birth and death dates. Not a very good picture of her life at all. Instead, I can picture a teenager, fighting with her parents about seeing a boy – afterall, I was a teenage girl once, too. The only difference is Millie took it to a whole new level.
It was not a scandal after all, but more like a family tragedy.
I find that going to the places that the ancestor lived, researching newspapers, writing down any stories that were passed down, etc. has really helped me to get a better picture of how they lived. I urge you to do the same. Investigate and research newspapers that were in circulation during your ancestors’ lives. It takes them from being names and dates on a page to being human.
[i] “Young Woman’s Suicide,” Daily Gazette (Kankakee, Illinois), 5 November 1898, p.3, col. 7.