Voice of the People: Daily Life in the Antebellum Rural Delaware
County New York Area
Family and Daily Life
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
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
- History of Meeker County, Minnesota. Chapter:
History--The Slayer of Hundreds of Bears and Wild-Cats, pp. 98 - 111. AC
- 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.
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,
Transcribed by Kay Benjamin.
Misspellings have carefully been preserved.
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