NEWS & VIEWS OF PHILLIPS SINCE 1976
Wednesday August 23rd 2017

Keep citizen journalism alive!

Donatebutton_narrow

Archives

Deaths of entire family grieves Cora Stickney Deaths of husband and three children within 15 years grieved Cora Stickney greatly highlighted by 80 day vigil of daughter’s “trance”

Deaths of husband and three children within 15 years grieved Cora Stickney greatly highlighted by 80 day vigil of daughter’s “trance.” Husband, John Stickney died March 20, 1876; Son, John Hanson Stickney, died Sept. 8, 1876; Daughter, Cora Stickney, died between Nov. 30th, 1887 and Thursday, Feb. 17th, 1877; son, William, died August 18th, 1891. Two markers Her husband and children are buried in Lot K, Block 100 in Minneapolis Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery. There are two markers: an illegible military marker for John H. Stickney, and a family marker bearing the names of John H. Stickney and his youngest son. Cora and William’s names were never added to the marker; the burial place of Ann Stickney is unknown.

By Sue Hunter Weir

It wasn’t often that the death of someone buried in Layman’s Cemetery was reported in the New York Times, but the story of Cora Stickney’s burial was a most unusual, almost gothic, tale.

Cora was the daughter of John H. and Ann Stickney; her parents were transplanted New Englanders, who moved to Minnesota shortly after the Civil War. Mr. Stickney was a Civil War veteran who served in the 16th Maine Infantry. After arriving in Minneapolis he went into business but by the early 1870s was in poor health, and on March 20, 1876, two weeks shy of his 34th birthday, he died of “quick consumption”.

Less than six months later their youngest son and namesake, John Hanson Stickney, died from scarlet fever at the age of two.

Ann Stickney went to work as a teacher to support her two surviving children, Cora and William. The 1880 federal census shows that Cora, then age 12, was no longer in school but working as an apprentice to a hair dresser. The work must not have appealed to her because by 1885 she was working as a bookkeeper for Calhoun and Long, a dry goods company.

In November of 1886, 19-year-old Cora became sick, and on November 30, 1886, the city Health Officer determined that she had died and issued a burial permit. Cora’s grief-stricken mother refused to accept the fact that her only daughter had died and managed to persuade an undertaker to bring Cora’s body back home. Ann Stickney was convinced that Cora was not dead but was merely in a trance and that faith and prayer would bring Cora back to her.

In February 1887 the city Health Officer received reports that Cora had not yet been buried. When he went to the family’s home, Mrs. Stickney wouldn’t allow him in. A doctor, L. R. Palmer, was also convinced that Cora had not died; he offered as evidence the fact that Cora’s body did not show any signs of decomposition. He said that he had consulted with other doctors and an undertaker and that they agreed that Cora was in a trance, a fact which those doctors ultimately denied.

In any event, on February 17th, 1887, the family was finally persuaded that Cora was not coming back. Newspaper accounts offered graphic details about the condition of Cora’s body and there could no longer be any question that she was dead. It was those accounts of Cora’s death that were picked up and printed in the Times. The city Health Officer completed a second burial permit listing the cause of Cora’s death as “general debility.” Her body was returned to the vault and subsequently buried.

Sadly, Mrs. Stickney’s sorrows had not ended. On August 18, 1891, her son, William, was killed in a railroad accident. In a matter of 15 years, she had lost her entire family. Her husband and children are buried in Lot K, Block 100 in Minneapolis Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery. There are two markers: an illegible military marker for John H. Stickney, and a family marker bearing the names of John H. Stickney and his youngest son. Cora’s and William’s names were never added to the family’s marker; the burial place of Ann Stickney is unknown.

Share this with your friends:
  • email
  • Print
  • PDF
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Tumblr
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Google Bookmarks

Leave a Reply