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Family and Daily Life Homepage | Letters/Diaries/Newspapers, etc   | Lucy Ann Lobdell main page | 1880 Testimony from the insanity hearing for Lucy Ann Lobdell, Delaware County Court: testimony of John Lobdell

Background: Lucy Ann Lobdell was born in Westerlo, Albany County, NY in 1829.  Lured by cheap land, Lucy's family moved to Delaware County when Lucy was young.  Her father was unable to do much work.  Lucy took up hunting to provide food for her family. She felt sorry for a man by the name of George Washington Slater and married him. He mentally abused her and deserted her when their infant child was a few weeks old.  Lucy again took up hunting and spent much of the rest of her life as a man.
Delaware County Court

In the matter of Lucy Ann Slater a Supposed Lunatic

June 16th 1880

Memorandum of testimony taken in the above matter [at] the house of John F Lobdell in the town of Hancock in [said] county. The following named persons having been called and sworn, To wit, Sidney K. Lobdell, [Str...] [Spurback], Oscar Haight, Harry [Phiefer]. George H. Milk, Stephen Ryder, [Ed...] Stephens, William W Main, John Inman, John [Buckkapp], David Milk, [Amassa] Clark.

John F. Lobdell having sworn says: I reside in the town of Hancock Delaware County N.Y. I am forty seven years old. I am acquainted with Lucy Ann Slater and have known her 35 or 40 years. She is a sister of mine. She is about 51 years old. She resides here in the town of Hancock in a house here on my premises. I provide for her and her daughter and her daughters two children who live with her. Have provided for her going on two years. I should call her insane. She has been insane for more than ten years. Her mother was insane before her.

She has a habit of dressing in mens clothes. At times she has had spells when she imagines there are snakes in the room and [ ] and at such times she tears her clothes and the bedding in the room. She becomes quarrelsome and unmanageable at times and threatens to burn the buildings and runs off in the woods alone. She has a woman who she sometimes claims is her wife Ė this woman is also insane, from what I see and know of her she is of unsound mind at all times but she is at some times worse than at others. She at times uses very bad language. She has but one child a daughter whose name is now Helen Crawson.

She has spells and I [ ] each are about and in two weeks when she has [ ] [ ] spells. I know she has not sufficient understanding or ability for the government of herself or the management of her property. Nor does she have lucid intervals when she is capable of governing herself or managing her property. She has been in her present condition of mind for more than twenty years.

She has a small piece of land of four or five acres situated near Narrowsburgh in Wayne County Pennsylvania. I donít think it is worth more than $10. Is a very rocky poor place. She has no other lands or tenements. She has no personal property of any kind nor has she any interest in any real estate or personal property except the small piece of land I have mentioned. I think her insanity was to some extent caused by excitement in religious matters. She has never lost any children who died having children.

She [ ] [ ] where she now lives about March 1879.

[Subscribed] & Sworn to before me June 16th 1880 Arthur More [Commisioner]

John F Lobdell

Contemporary Sources

History of Meeker County, Minnesota. Chapter: Wild Woman's History--The Slayer of Hundreds of Bears and Wild-Cats, pp. 98 -  111.  AC Smith:  1877.
Lucy Ann migrated to Minnesota from Delaware County, teaching singing school to pay her way.  She spent several years there as a man, including some months guarding a claim with a man who slept under the same blanket with her and never realized her biological identity as a female. In 1858 her female sex was accidentally discovered and she was sent back to Delaware County.
A Modern Romance: Strange Life of Unhappy Women. New York Times, April 8, 1877, p. 7
Lucy assumed the name of Joseph Israel  Lobdell and married Marie Wilson. They lived in caves in the woods in Monroe, Co. Pennsylvania, subsisting on berries, roots, and charity.
Death of a Modern Diana: the Female Hunter of Long Eddy.  New York Times , October 7, 1879,  p 2.
This obituary was premature.  Lucy Ann Lobdell died in Binghamton, NY in 1912.
1880 June 16: Excerpts from the Delaware County Court, Delhi, NY: In the matter of Lucy Ann [Lobdell] Slater a Supposed Lunatic
Testimony of John Lobdell
Testimony of Ed. L. [Pettingill] M.D.
Testimony of William Main
Testimony of Edwin Stephens
Testimony of Harry Walsh

Wise, P. M. Case of Sexual Perversion. Alienist and neurologist: A quarterly journal of scientific, clinical and forensic psychiatry and neurology 4, no.1 (1883):  87-91.

Testimony courtesy of the Delaware County Clerk's Office, Delhi, NY.

Transcribed by Kay Benjamin. Misspellings have carefully been preserved.

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