Amanuensis Monday: Fail to Find Mother of Abandoned Child

(Copyright (c) 2010 Cynthia Shenette)

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

Thanks to John Newmark at
Transylvanian Dutch for providing the idea for Amanuensis Monday.

I will admit I am something of a newspaper junkie. Back in my working days B.C. (Before Child), I use to read three newspapers a day. For several years when I worked in the serials department of a university library, I read many of the magazines, journals, and newspapers that came in each week while I was on my lunch hour. I was very well read and could converse on a variety of topics, not in great depth of course, but just enough to be popular at cocktail parties. I read anything that looked interesting, from the news of the day to Time magazine's cover story to the report of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission. If you want to rivet cocktail party goers just start chatting about the latest findings in Scientific American or Nature or Sex Roles or Psychology Today. If you really want to wow 'em chat up your tuna knowledge. You WILL be the life of the party. Trust me. Now I'm lucky to have time to glance at the headlines and obits online on a daily basis. Such is the life of the busy stay-at-home suburban mom.

That said, I love old newspapers. I love the news, what's perceived as the news, the editorials, the letters to the editor, the social news, the gossip, the advertisements, and the classifieds. I go to the library to look up one obit on microfilm, and I am sucked into a newsy vortex. Last week as I was preparing my nun post for the 99th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy, I was hoping to find some information on the opening of St. Mary's School in Worcester, MA in 1915. I didn't find a word about the school opening, but I did find some fascinating reading. On one page alone the headlines shouted out, "Fail to Find Mother of Abandoned Baby" and "German Alien Women to Register June 17" and "Man Kills Woman and Kills Self" and my favorite, "Sewer Committee Hosts at Luncheon Yesterday." I can't find an article about a school opening, but I can find out the Worcester Sewer Committee entertained 40 members of the sanitary section of the Boston Society of Civil Engineers. Apparently lunch was followed by a tour of the sewer plant and system. Oh boy, lunch and a show. Digest on that.

Given my fascination with old newspapers I've decided to post occasional transcriptions of local stories, well, periodically.

Worcester Daily Telegram. June 5, 1918.

Fail to Find Mother of Abandoned Child

All the efforts of the police department to find the mother of the three-hours-old girl discovered in the woods in the rear of 390 Lovell street, yesterday forenoon had failed up to an early hour, this morning. From the time the police were notified they worked on the case without result.

The baby was found by August Andrew, 18 Southbridge street: Joseph Menchette, Shrewsbury, and Francis Rawson, 574 Pleasant street, yesterday forenoon.

The cries of the infant attracted the attention of three men who were working in their gardens close by. They found the baby resting on a pillow of leaves and moss, and partially covered with leaves.

The men notified police headquarters, and the ambulance with Police surgeon Robert J. Northridge, was sent to the scene. Dr. Northridge said the baby was only a few hours old and would have died of exposure in a short time. The baby was wrapped in blankets and taken to city hospital.

A whisky bottle, freshly emptied, was found near the spot.

This story really touches me on so many levels. What happened to the baby? Who was the mother, and what happened to her? What were the circumstances of the mother's life that made her think this act was her only option? Sadly, I'm guessing the bottle of whiskey was the desperate mother's choice of anesthesia. Or maybe she just had a drinking problem. We'll never know.

There are hundreds of stories in the city and this is just one of them...

Other Posts You Might Like:
Madness Monday: The Stuff We Throw Away, and...
Amanuensis Monday: Frank L. Naramore Obituary
COG 97: Researching "The Coldbrook Tragedy" (Part 1 of 4)
Tuesday's Tip: A Tale of Two Indexers


Greta Koehl said...

A very touching post. You're right about all the interesting articles you can find in old newspapers; getting distracted by those was the reason it took me so long to transcribe the obituaries for one of my family branches.

Cynthia Shenette said...

Greta - It is so easy to get distracted. I always want to read a little more or learn a little more which takes me away from the task at hand. I think that's okay sometimes. I do wonder what impact this event had on the lives of all involved though.

Thanks so much for your comment.