Voice of the People: Daily Life in the Antebellum Rural Delaware County New York Area
Family and Daily Life
A Strange Story.
In Jackson township, Monroe county, Pennsylvania, there appeared, in the fall of 1867, a man and woman styling themselves Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Israel Lobdell. The woman was eighteen or nineteen years of age, and quite handsome. The man was tall and gaunt, and at times acted as if he were insane. They lived there in abject poverty for some time, having no visible means of support, but roaming about the county and eating where and what they could, and sleeping in eaves and barns.
At last they became a nuisance, and were twice arrested and lodged in Stroudsburg jail. While thus confined, in the early part of the month, a letter came to a neighboring postoffice addressed to Lucy Ann Lobdell and post marked “Long Eddy, N.Y.” this, with other suspicious circumstances, let the authorities to believe that Joseph Israel Lobdell was not a man, and investigation proved that he was of the other sex, and had successfully concealed the fact for nearly four years. The letter in questions was from Basket station, N.Y., stating that Lucy Ann Lobdell’s mother needed her support, and that she should come to her at once. When the true sex of the woman was ascertained, the “wife” stated that her name was Ada Perry, and that she was the daughter of Daniel Perry of South Abbington, Plymouth county, Massachusetts. On learning these facts, the authorities of Monroe county decided to take the women to Basket station and learn more about them. The two at first refused to go, but were finally induced to accompany the officer, “Joe” being furnished with woman’s clothing.
On arriving at Basket station, last week, the officers were directed to the residence of old Mr. Lobdell, but they failed to get rid of their charge there, as the old people were helpless, living by charity, and Lucy refused to stay with them. The women were consequently brought back to the station, where it was ascertained that they were runaway paupers from the Delaware county poor house, at Delhi whether they were taken. The histories of those two women are very strange.
About five years ago, there was put off a train one night, at this station, a girl of about seventeen years of age, who gave the name to the depot agent as Ada Perry. She was very handsome but rather scantily dressed. Her story was that she had run away from her home in Massachusetts, a few months before, with James Wright, a young man, with whom she had since lived in Jersey City. The night before her arrival at Basket station this man had deserted her, and she had every reason to think that he had gone away with another girl to Buffalo. She was following him when her money gave out and the conductor on the train would allow her to go no further. She refused to be sent back to her parents, and placed herself in the poor house at Delhi.
In the poor house at that time was Lucy Ann Lobdell, or rather Lucy Ann Slater, as she had married a man by the name of Slater about six years before. She was thirty two years old when Ada Perry first met her, and notwithstanding the hard life she had led, was rather prepossessing in appearance. Between her and the young girl a singular attachment rose, and after remaining in the poor house about a year and a half, the two disappeared on night and nothing was heard of them until they were brought back last week.
The history of Lucy Ann Lobdell is equally singular. Twenty one years ago she was a young girl living with her parents at Basket station, which is a settlement mostly composed of people engaged in lumbering. She was handsome, but possessed few, if any, of the characteristics of her sex. Her tastes were masculine and she hunted, fished and worked in the woods with the men. She had offers of marriage from respectable lumbermen, but always refused. She finally married Henry Slater, a worthless fellow, from Hancock. For two years they lived together, when he deserted his wife, leaving her with an infant two months old. Soon after her husband left her she donned men’s apparel, and, leaving her child in charge of her parents, followed the wild life of a hunter in the region, then a dense forest, in the counties of Delaware and Sullivan in this State, and Pike, Wayne and Susquehanna in Pennsylvania. For several years she roamed the hills and valleys, and wrote in the meantime a history of her life. She became known in the country as the “Female Hunter of Long Eddy.” In her “history” she recounted her adventures as a hunter and trapper, and stated that in two years she had killed five bears, a large number of deer, and much small game, and had trapped many of the fur bearing animals of the region, including mink, otter and foxes. In 1860 her mood suddenly changed and she again assumed the garb of her sex, and saddled herself upon the community, begging from door to door, and finally becoming an inmate of the almshouse of Delaware county. Here this singular person remained until she and Ada Perry disappeared together in 1867.
Mary Slater, the child that was born to Henry and Lucy Ann Slater, was taken
out of the poor house about the time the mother applied for admittance, and was
placed in the family of Daniel Fortman, at Tyler hill, Wayne county, Pa. There
she has since lived, claiming no kith or friends but the family of Mr. Fortman.
On the night of the 16th of July last, she was forcibly abducted from Mr.
Fortman’s by a gang of fiends, and after being chloroformed, was thrown into the
Delaware river to drown. She was rescued, however, by a farmer living near, but
she again disappeared, and was not found for four days. She had lost her mind
through the fearful events of the night through which she had passed and had
been wandering through the woods all that time. The cause of her attempted
murder was her repeated rejection of proposals made to her by Thompson Keats,
and a suit having been commenced against him from slander and threats made
against the girl, in which she was to be principal witness, he had her abducted
and thrown in the river. – At least strong suspicions exist against him, and he
is now in jail at Honedale, Pa., awaiting trial. The girl has not recovered
entirely from the shock and the consequences of her wanderings.
The Herald & Torch Light, Hagerstown, Maryland, September 13, 1871
Transcribed by Terri Nan Treibits.All materials on this website are for non-profit, educational use.