Saturday, March 19, 2011

19 March 1914: "Want a Baby?"

On this day in 1914, the Athens Banner asked the following question of its readership:

The baby was the daughter of Mrs. Nancy Rosser, 19, who had died not long after giving birth. She was buried at Oconee Hill Cemetery on March 18th, 1914, in a lot owned by her aunt, Mrs. Temperance Parks. She is buried near her cousin, Cleaveland Levrett, who died at age 17 in 1911, and her grandmother, Rebecca Burns, who died at age 90 in 1912.

In June, the Banner ran a story about Mrs. Parks' attempt to gain custody of her niece's baby, by then called Ethel Luena by the hospital staff and "the young women of the neighborhood" who devoted time and care to her, and held the sleeping infant during the court proceeding. According to reports from the court, Mrs. Parks had gone to claim the child from the hospital and was turned away by the head nurse, who Mrs. Parks believed was planning to take the baby out of state. 

The attorneys for the head nurse admitted that Mrs. Parks was a blood relative of the child, and that the head nurse had denied Mrs. Parks custody. Their argument was that "for the health, the care, the progress and general food of the little one," Ethel Luena would be better off in an orphanage. There were no orphanages in Athens, so the child would be sent to another town that would have a place for her. Augusta, Hapeville, and Macon all had orphanages that took girls at this time.

The newspaper noted that Mrs. Parks lived near the Southern Mill, which indicates she and her husband were not wealthy people. Judge Charles Brand presided over the case, and ruled in favor of the head nurse, Miss Elizabeth Slaughter. 

The fate of the child is unknown, but by 1921, Mrs. Parks had left Athens and moved to Macon.  She appears as a patient at Central State Hospital in Milledgeville in the 1930 U.S. Census, and though she has a joint marker with her son at Oconee Hill Cemetery, she is not buried on the lot he shares with his cousin and grandmother.

Learn More:

No comments:

Post a Comment