Several posts ago, we introduced you to John Warner, a Chicopee native who ventured west in the 1880s, to the Dakota Territory and Alaska. In this post, we introduce you to another member of the Warner family: John’s sister, Carrie.
Researching women in the 19th and early 20th centuries can be challenging. More limited in the occupations and interests they could pursue, women were often overshadowed and left out of the historical record. A woman could be well respected in her community but still difficult to trace, especially earlier in life. Sometimes, though, with a little creativity, a surprising amount of information can be found in public records and published sources. What began as a quest to find any information about Carrie L. Warner yielded some unexpected details.
With the exception of the few years preceding her death, Carrie spent her entire life in Chicopee, Massachusetts. The only daughter and oldest sibling among the four children of Julius and Mary Warner who lived to adulthood, Carrie was born on April 26, 1860. She attended Chicopee Falls High School, where she was an exemplary student; in the semester ending June 29, 1877, she earned a 9.6 out of a possible 10 in scholarship and a 10 out of 10 in deportment. After completing her own education, she went on to teach elementary school for about fifty years.1
Carrie taught at several schools in Chicopee Falls over the course of her career, starting at the Clough district school in 1880.2 Located north of the Chicopee River near Fuller Brook and the border with Ludlow, the school was so small that it was ungraded.3 According to annual school reports and municipal registers, she also taught at the Springfield Street (Broadway), Granby Street, Church Street, and Belcher schools. In 1883, she was making $340 a year at the Springfield Street school; by 1918, when she was teaching second grade at Belcher, her salary was $850.4
Coincidentally, Carrie had connections to the Bellamy House and Bellamy family. Edward Bellamy’s wife, Emma, was a schoolmate in high school, and Carrie’s brother, Frank, lived with his in-laws right next door to the Bellamys on Church Street at number 99.5 It seems that Carrie lived with the widowed Emma and her two children for several years until she sold their home to the Hanifan family; city directories from 1899 to 1905 give her address as 91 Church Street.6
Although she moved away from Church Street for some time, she returned to the neighborhood later in life and lived with her brother, Frank, at number 99.7 It is likely that she inherited the house following his death. She sold the house in 1945, but there do not appear to be any deeds recording a sale between Frank or his wife and Carrie. Her sale of 99 Church Street provides one last connection between Carrie and the Bellamy property; photographer and neighbor Daniel Hanifan was the individual who purchased the home.8
When Carrie passed away in 1947 at the age of 87, her estate was worth $56,271.80, or over $680,000 in today’s money. Her will provided for some specific individuals, but it also left bequests for several organizations that were close to her heart. Wesson Memorial Hospital and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children each received $1,000, but especially notable were the bequests to Shriners Hospital and the Chicopee Chapter of the American Red Cross; according to a newspaper article about Carrie’s estate, the $3,310.35 gifts “represented an equal division of the amount she had received when she sold her old home on Church Street in Chicopee Falls.” Carrie likely would have been pleased with how things worked out. Soon after, the Chicopee Chapter of the Red Cross purchased the Church Street home from Daniel Hanifan to use as its headquarters.9
- “Retired Teacher Died Yesterday,” Springfield Union (Massachusetts), July 11, 1947, 7; “Chicopee Falls High School Averages in Scholarship and Deportment, for the Term ending June 29, 1877,” private collection.
- “Hampden County,” Springfield Republican (Massachusetts), August 25, 1880, 6.
- The Clough district school closed in 1896 due to low enrollment; only six children were enrolled in the school that year. “Local Intelligence,” April 10, 1896, 8.
- $340 in 1883 is about $7,296 in 2021 money, and $850 in 1918 is about $15,336. Calculated using a formula on the website of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. “Consumer Price Index, 1800-,” Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, https://www.minneapolisfed.org/about-us/monetary-policy/inflation-calculator/consumer-price-index-1800- (accessed August 26, 2021)
- Emma was also in the top third of students, earning a 9.1 in scholarship and a 9.7 in deportment. “Chicopee Falls High School Averages in Scholarship and Deportment.”
- 1900 U.S. Census, Chicopee, Hampden County, Massachusetts, population schedule, Chicopee Ward 4, ED 512, p. 9, dwelling 150, family 192, Carrie Warner, NARA microfilm publication T623, Roll 650.
- 1940 U.S. Census, Chicopee, Hampden County, Massachusetts, population schedule, Chicopee Falls, ED 7-30, p. 6B, 99 Church Street, Carrie Warner, NARA microfilm publication T627, Roll 1593.
- “Real Estate Transfers,” Springfield Republican (Massachusetts), August 1, 1945, 3.
- “Carrie L. Warner Estate $56,271.80,” Springfield Union (Massachusetts), September 25, 1947, 16; “Consumer Price Index, 1800-,” Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis; “Money is Given to Chicopee Red Cross,” Springfield Union (Massachusetts), July 15, 1947, 1.