J.J. Cruikshank’s first daughter: Mary Bacon Cruikshank




The parlor of the Cruikshank home, 301 S. Fifth, Hannibal, Mo. Photo donated to the permanent Archives of Rockcliffe Mansion by the gracious gift of Louise Lloyd Loosbrock, Great Granddaughter of J.J. Cruikshank, Jr., and Annie Louise (“Lulie”) Cruikshank. Shared by Warren Bittner.


MARY LOU MONTGOMERY


The hallways and staircases, parlors, sleeping quarters and formal entertaining areas, all contained within the manse built by John J. Cruikshank Jr., for his young family circa 1870, undoubtedly provided the scene of unbridled imagination and exploration for young Mary Bacon Cruikshank, born in 1875, the only daughter of the lumber dealer and his first wife, Mary Ellen Bacon Cruikshank.


In that grand house, located at 301 S. Fifth, young Mary joined her brothers, John L. Cruikshank (born circa 1862) and Charles A. Cruikshank (born circa 1870). They lived across the street from their maternal grandparents, George and Catharine Bacon, (at 217 S. Fifth) and a block away, as the crow flies, from their paternal grandparents, John J. and Martha Cruikshank, at 116 S. Sixth Street.


It was an innocent and rather idyllic era in which to be a young girl of means in a small river town which, some years later, would become famous through the writings of another child of Hannibal, Sam Clemens.


But an idyllic life in Hannibal wasn’t to be young Mary Cruikshank’s destiny.


She was barely a toddler when whispers began in Hannibal, centered around and between members of the Congregational Church. There was much finger pointing and tongue wagging, and random tales about people peering through undraped windows and the comings and goings at all hours of certain people in the homes of other people when spouses were away. Mrs. Cruikshank went to the extreme of having detectives stationed in a room near her husband’s office, where they kept track of his comings and goings via a peep hole drilled by an augur.


Stories intensified when Hannibal husbands and wives of social standing turned against each other; a prominent preacher’s ethics were brought into question, and when best lady friends became heated rivals.


In February 1880, Thomas H. Bacon, Mary Ellen Cruikshank’s older brother, himself a noted Hannibal attorney and a man of high scruples and intellect, spat upon a church board member he encountered on Main Street, who had challenged Mrs. Cruikshank’s role in the scandal.


The spitting incident, and Mr. Bacon’s subsequent call for a duel, made headlines across the land, doubtless causing great embarrassment for the scholarly man of integrity.


Divorce

By mid-January, 1884, the Cruikshank divorce case, which had been described as “filthy and nasty in the extreme” by the St. Joseph (Mo.) Weekly Gazette, was finally settled. Mrs. Cruikshank would have custody of their daughter, a house of some value, furnishings, and $30,000 alimony. Mr. Cruikshank settled for custody of their minor son and the manse on South Fifth Street.


Young Mary Cruikshank, now about 9 years old, left Hannibal with her mother, settling in Denver, Colo., and later Boston, Mass.


During their residency in Denver, Mary E. Cruikshank and her daughter lived at 8 La Veta Place, in 1889, and at The Vallejo, 1420 Logan Avenue, in 1891.


Lasell at Auburndale

Circa 1893, Mary Bacon Cruikshank, by then about 18, enrolled in the Lasell Seminary in Auburndale, Mass. The three-year school, according to its literature, was vital in developing girls into women “who are at once well-educated, true-minded, noble-hearted and thoroughly strong.”

Boston Evening Transcript, July 10, 1897, newspapers.com:

“Lasell claims, and has very much to back up its claim, that its course is as well suited to the needs of women as Harvard and Yale are for men. That this belief is shared by a great many men, is shown by the fact that over two-thirds of Lasell’s graduates have married.”


Harvard, incidentally, was a mere 10 miles from Auburdale.

Mary Bacon Cruikshank graduated from Lasell with the class of 1896.

A young Boston man by the name of David Townsend graduated from Harvard University with a bachelor of arts degree that same year.


A new century

By the turn of the century, Mary and her mother had relocated to the Boston area, making their home at “The Hollis” on Center Street, Newton, Mass. On Sept. 27, 1900, both Mary Bacon Cruikshank and her mother, Mary Ellen Cruikshank, obtained passports.


Mary Bacon Cruikshank and David Townsend, (who earned his medical doctorate degree from Harvard Medical School in 1901), were married Nov. 1, 1902, at St. George, Bloomsbury, Camden, England.


Back in the United States, Dr. Townsend specialized in the treatment of tuberculosis, and served as physician in charge of the Mattapan Day Camp for Consumptives in Boston, 1907-1908. This clinic was unique in that patients were treated during the day, and went back to their own homes at night. It was the first such treatment facility in the United States, and was watched with interest by the medical community.


Illness

Mary Bacon Cruikshank Townsend was diagnosed with mitral stenosis and insufficiency circa 1914. She was admitted to Boston’s Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in April 1916, where she died seven days later, on May 4, 1916, at the age of 41.

The funeral took place at the Townsend family home, 9 Irving St., Brookline, Mass. Burial reportedly was in Forest Hills Cemetery.

Dr. and Mrs. Townsend were childless.

Mrs. Townsend’s mother, Mary Ellen Cruikshank, continued to live in Brookline, where she died June 27, 1928. Her remains were brought back to Hannibal for burial in Mt. Olivet Cemetery.


Family woes

Thomas H. Bacon, Mrs. Cruikshank’s brother, died in 1908. His death notice in the Quincy Daily Whig on Sept. 2, 1908, mentions his only immediate survivors as one daughter, and his brother, Robert. The omission of Mrs. Cruikshank as a survivor could be indicative of the strain on their sibling relationship resulting over the aforementioned scandal.


Note: 301 S. Fifth Street has been home to the O’Donnell Funeral Home since circa 1910.



The parlor of the Cruikshank home, 301 S. Fifth, Hannibal, Mo. Photo donated to the permanent Archives of Rockcliffe Mansion by the gracious gift of Louise Lloyd Loosbrock, Great Granddaughter of J.J. Cruikshank, Jr., and Annie Louise (“Lulie”) Cruikshank. Shared by Warren Bittner.

The parlor of the Cruikshank home, 301 S. Fifth, Hannibal, Mo. Photo donated to the permanent Archives of Rockcliffe Mansion by the gracious gift of Louise Lloyd Loosbrock, Great Granddaughter of J.J. Cruikshank, Jr., and Annie Louise (“Lulie”) Cruikshank. Shared by Warren Bittner.

Copyright, Mary Lou Montgomery

Mary Lou Montgomery, retired as editor of the Hannibal (Mo.) Courier-Post in 2014. She researches and writes narrative-style stories about the people who served as building blocks for this region’s foundation. Books available on Amazon.com by this author: "The Notorious Madam Shaw," "Pioneers in Medicine from Northeast Missouri," and "The Historic Murphy House, Hannibal, Mo., Circa 1870." She can be reached at Montgomery.editor@yahoo.com Her collective works can be found at www.maryloumontgomery.com

 Recent Posts