Jon Crispin's Notebook

Anna Lucille Earley, Willard Nurse

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

I got a call a few weeks ago from Craig Williams telling me that a trunk had been discovered in the attic of the Covert Funeral Home in Ovid, NY that belonged to a woman who was a nurse at Willard in the early part of the 20th Century.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

At that time Craig wasn’t too sure of many of the details but thought I might be interested if anything came of it.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

Craig has been working at the Romulus Historical Society with Peggy Ellsworth who worked at Willard and has been a great friend to the suitcases project.  Peg has been the go-to person for all things Willard since the institution closed in 1995.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

Last Friday Paul McPherson who is the current director of the funeral home brought the trunk to the historical society for Craig and Peg to have a look.  They were really enthused and Craig called to see if I could take a few photos as he unpacked the items and started to conserve and catalogue the collection.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

The contents of the trunk are in great shape, and it is amazing to see how well preserved the items are.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

I love seeing these old commercial products in their early packaging.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

There were several mounted photographs in the trunk, as well as this envelope which contain a large number of photographic negatives.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

Craig scanned a few and the quality is amazing.

photo baseball rs

The Willard baseball team was almost certainly made up of staff, and not patients.  But one has to wonder if any of the patients ever made it onto the diamond.

photo nurses rs

I think this scan was from a print.  In addition to having worked at Willard as a nurse, she was a graduate of the institution’s school of nursing.  Craig and Peg are looking at the images to try to figure out which one in the photos is Anna.  None are identified on the back, so it might be quite a job.

earley neg 05s

The above photo is especially exciting, as the building in the background is the sheltered workshop where the suitcases were stored in the attic and were rediscovered in 1995.  The collection of cases dates from 1910 to 1965 and Anna was at Willard starting in the late teens, so it is very likely that she worked with some of the owners.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

As we found in many of the suitcases there is a broad range of items in Anna’s trunk; she had saved things that can tell a fairly complete story of her life, and more broadly, what life at Willard was like in the 1920s.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

This box contains a lot of personal correspondence, including some very interesting postcards.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

It took a minute to figure out this one.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

It became clear once we saw the “soldier’s mail” postmark.  Let’s hope H. C. Norris made it through the war safely.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

As a nurse at Willard, she would have lived on the grounds and received her mail there.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

This inscription is especially touching and a bit mysterious.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

Craig and I didn’t have much time to go through the notebooks, but this is a huge trove of original source material that will be interesting to study once everything is catalogued.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

Perhaps the most intriguing is this small diary from 1918 which contains day to day accounts of Anna’s life at Willard.  To the left is a playbill for “Farmer’s Daughter” which played at Hadley Hall on the Willard grounds.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

Anna’s Student’s Note Book is pretty interesting.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

Her hand writing is very readable.   I didn’t see any crossed out sections as I flipped through the pages.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

This small brooch is pretty.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

The trunk itself is is great shape.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

Anna is buried in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Ovid.  Craig took this photo of her gravestone.

_DSC8853es

The Romulus Historical Society will be putting an exhibit together of the trunk and contents sometime soon.  The museum is located in the town of Willard and is only open until the end of September.  It is not clear if anything will happen before then, but Peggy is eager for the collection to see the light of day.  I’ll update here when I know details.  There is obviously a ton of work to be done researching Anna’s life, but this is really an amazing find.

Special thanks go to Paul McPherson for contacting the historical society with this incredible look into the life of Anna.  A find like this really brings history alive.  It will be interesting to see what develops once everything is conserved and catalogued.  And as always thanks to Peggy Ellsworth for her tireless work in remembering the patients and staff at Willard, and to Craig Williams for keeping me in the loop.

 

 

11 Responses

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  1. bradedmondson said, on 07/09/2017 at 10:52 am

    great find, can’t wait to see it

  2. Zoe Crossland said, on 07/09/2017 at 11:00 am

    Wow, this is amazing – thanks for sharing!

  3. debsinsouthtexas said, on 07/09/2017 at 12:48 pm

    Looking forward to learning more about this lady. As a retired RN who trained in the the 1970’s her notebooks would be a treasure trove to me. Thanks for sharing all of these wonderful artifacts and stories.

    • joncrispin said, on 07/09/2017 at 12:50 pm

      Thanks Deb, I hope you made it through Harvey unscathed. Such a tragedy.

      • debsinsouthtexas said, on 09/09/2017 at 9:34 am

        Yes Jon, we got lucky a few minor leaks and we need a new kitchen door. Otherwise unscathed.
        Thank you.
        Debs

  4. Karen said, on 07/09/2017 at 1:41 pm

    This is fabulous. Makes the whole section of my brain marked “Willard” light up! Thanks, Jon and Craig and Peg!

  5. Dhyan Atkinson said, on 07/09/2017 at 3:03 pm

    Wonderful find! I would like to know what the Pergatorian Society was! Wouldn’t you? : ) Dhyan in Boulder

  6. wpc155william said, on 11/09/2017 at 8:40 pm

    I wonder if Anna Earley was any relation to the prior owners of the funeral home. It was the Earley Funeral Home , then the Earley- Covert Funeral Home, then the John D Covert Funeral Home and now Covert Funeral Home. Marilyn Maleski RN WPC

    Sent from Outlook

    ________________________________

    • joncrispin said, on 11/09/2017 at 8:42 pm

      Yes she was directly related. I hadn’t mentioned it in my post as I don’t have all the facts. But thanks for noticing and your comment. Best. Jon

  7. Tania M said, on 13/09/2017 at 7:33 pm

    I can’t wait to learn more details. This is an amazing find.

  8. Julie R. said, on 18/09/2017 at 6:12 pm

    This is a wonderful addition to the story of Willard and its residents, patients and employees alike. I hope you continue to keep us updated! I find it so fascinating.


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