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Pawnee Bill Ranch

Tragic Judy


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Anna: Thank you for downloading the Pawnee Bill Ranch Podcast, brought to you by the staff of the Pawnee Bill Ranch.

Erin: Welcome to the Pawnee Bill Ranch Podcast! I’m Erin Brown, Pawnee Bill Ranch curator.

Anna: And I’m Anna Davis, Pawnee Bill Ranch Historical Interpreter.

Erin: Today we are going to tell you a story about a family. Every family has a story. Every family has stories of tragedy and illness and unrequited love. But the Judy family is fascinating and compelling and sad and so central to the Pawnee Bill Ranch that we wanted to dedicate this podcast to them.

Anna: Now I think on the surface it’s a pretty straightforward story that many people know. In fact, many people in Pawnee still remember Effie Judy from the time that she lived at the Ranch. However, it was in doing research on the different branches of the Lillie family that all of these strange, and sometimes heartbreaking, stories started to appear about the Judys. There are stories of a tragic suicide, multiple strange and sudden deaths, with a visit from our old friend tuberculosis mixed in. There’s even an international pandemic that plays a part in this story. All of this combined has had us calling the family The Tragic Judys.

Erin: The Judy family has long fascinated us. Part of our mission at the Pawnee Bill Ranch includes a dedication to interpreting and preserving history as it relates to Pawnee Bill. So we really have an obligation to understand where he came from and both the family he originated from and the family that he created. His sister Effie was an important figure in his life and he no doubt loved her and her children and wanted the very best for them. The fact that Effie cared for the mansion and the entire collection as a kind of museum after Pawnee Bill died and the fact that her son Albert engineered the sale of the estate to the State of Oklahoma makes it necessary that we understand them as people.

Anna: And it’s really hard to look anywhere at the Ranch and not see something of the Judys. In the archive, in the house, it’s just really difficult to do that. And I think it’s possible that I know more about Pawnee Bill’s family than I know my own, simply because it’s our job. The people related to Pawnee Bill are more than characters or historical figures. They’re more than people you read about, or hear stories about. These people were very real and they’re very real to us. They were whole people with rich and complex lives and their stories shed light on what life was like here in Pawnee and all over the country. Their stories teach us about what life was like 100 years ago the struggles and trials and tribulations that people went through in that time.

Erin: Yeah, and more than that, too, their lives have the potential to teach us about ourselves. But before we get too much further, I think it’s beneficial to say that this family named their children after other members of the family so there are a lot of Williams, Marys, Alberts. We are going to do our best to eliminate any confusion between family members during this podcast but the potential for confusion is pretty great here.

Anna: Yes!

Erin: Effie Judy was born Effa May Lillie on April 29, 1868 in Bloomington, Illinois. She was the third of four children that would be born to Newton and Susan Lillie, the other children being Gordon William (who became our Pawnee Bill) in 1860, Albert in 1866 and Paulina Mary (known as Lena) in 1872. The family enjoyed a comfortable life in Bloomington until the flour mill which the family owned burned. After salvaging as much equipment as they could, the entire Lillie family relocated to Wellington, Kansas, which is just outside the city of Wichita, where they had relatives already living.

Anna: It was while the family was living in Wellington that Effie would meet a man named William Judy. William Henry Judy was born on October 8, 1846 in Gilmer, Illinois to William and Mary Lawless Judy. His father died when he was just a toddler and after just two years of marriage and after that tragic event, Mary and her toddler son moved to be nearer to her family. The two lived with the Lawless family on their farm in Quincy, Illinois where William would learn different farming techniques. He also began a teaching career at the age of 16 to help supplement his agricultural income and that love of teaching would continue all throughout his life. Sometime in 1886, William was advised to go to Kansas by his doctors to give his health some time to improve.

Erin: We seem to run into this a lot when we do research. There are these mysterious undisclosed illnesses that send people searching for climates that will help their health and what that is, is usually a sign of tuberculosis. We even have this running joke that when one of us gets sick at work, “it must be the TB.” But, Kansas at that time was gaining a reputation as a climate that was suitable for people suffering from the illness. Of course back then, doctors were just beginning to understand that tuberculosis was caused by bacteria. Most people believed that rest, relaxation, fresh air, and good food would cure you and prolong your life. So, we are going to assume that when Effie and William met that he was already suffering from TB.

Anna: Right and of course now we know today how to treat and cure TB and it’s not something that we here in America come into contact with regularly, but back in the late 1800s, that was a different story. Having TB wasn’t an automatic death sentence. As long as the person that was suffering from the illness stayed relatively healthy, they could live a very long life. A person would normally contract the illness through long term exposure in close quarters. If you have a good immune system and you were rarely sick, then the disease, even if you have it, will remain dormant. At that time in American history, though, nearly 10% of the deaths recorded each year in America were attributed to tuberculosis.

Erin: How Effie and William met in 1886 has not been recorded. From a family history, it states that while in Wichita William made Effie’s acquaintance and they were married on November 23, 1886 in Paloma, Illinois at William’s family residence. There was a 21 year age different between the new bride and groom, but from all sources their marriage was a very happy one. 1886 was a busy year for the Lillie family as Pawnee Bill and May had been married on August 31st and Albert married his wife Gertrude on September 1st.

Anna: The newlyweds settled in Honey Creek Township, Illinois. It was there that they would have four children: Ethyl Mary was born on January 6, 1888, Inez Kate (otherwise known as Ina Kate) was born on August 28, 1889, William Blaine (known as Blaine) was born on October 18, 1892, and lastly was Albert Schley born on July 25, 1899. In 1901 the family moved from their farm in Honey Creek to a home in Coatsburg, Illinois where they lived with William’s mother, Mary Lawless.

Erin: William Judy was very active in politics, helping many of his Republican friends run for office while he never held political office for himself. He owned a hay and grain business which was extremely successful and he was the Coatsburg School Director for many years, which was truly his biggest passion in life. It seemed that he was a very likable man, well respected in the Coatsburg community. Sadly, he passed away on January 16, 1905 at the age of 58. He left behind Effie a young widow and four small children. By the time William would die in 1905, they had been married for 19 years and there is no evidence that any of the Judy children or Effie herself ever contracted tuberculosis. His death would be the first of many tragedies that would fall upon the Judys in the coming years.

Anna: Right and the next tragedy would happen fairly quickly for the family and there’s nothing like the next devastating tragedy in this family’s story that puts the last one in perspective. After the death of her husband, Effie sent her three oldest children to live in Oklahoma. Albert was very young at the time and she felt that it was best if he stayed with her in Illinois while she sorted out her husband’s estate. So, Ethyl, Ina Kate, and Blaine moved to Pawnee in February of 1905 so that they could start school and get settled into what would become their new home. What happened on October 27, 1905 would shock the entire town of Pawnee. In fact, it made front page news that day. In fact, people still tell the story today.

Erin: I don’t think anyone described the incident better than the writer for the Pawnee Courier-Dispatch. The headline read “Inez Judy, a 16 Year Old School Girl, Takes Carbolic Acid and Death Ensues.” How much more dramatic can you get? Ten months after the death of her father, Ina Kate took her own life. The paper stated that the death was “the result of deliberate self-destruction.” She was described in this article as “a child that was bright far beyond her years, high strung, with a strong religious turn and almost perfect courtesy and manners, and tender hearted to the extreme.”

Anna: Wow.

Erin: Yeah.

Anna: At the time the children were living with their grandparents, Susan and Newton Lillie, at their home here in Pawnee. Susan and Ina Kate shared an extremely close bond and it was assumed that the children were all adjusting to their new home with little problem. However, on the afternoon of October 27th, Ina Kate came home from school and joined the family for dinner. With them that evening was Lena Lillie Driesbach, the youngest Lillie child, and her husband, Charles, who was a doctor for the Pawnee Tribe.

Erin: Ina Kate finished dinner before the other members of the family and excused herself presumably to do work for school the next day, which was nothing out of the ordinary. The family continued their meal and conversation when Ina Kate entered the room a short time later and stood calmly next to Susan until the adults finished speaking. It was then that she made the announcement “Grandma, I have taken carbolic acid.” Susan apparently asked “Ina, did you make a mistake?” to which Ina Kate replied “No, I want to die, as I can’t get my lessons at school.”

Anna: Now, just let that sink in for a second because I know there are probably people wondering how she got carbolic acid in the first place. Carbolic acid is known today as phenol. We still use it in modern medicine, particularly in chloroseptics which you would take for a sore throat or in lip balm like Carmex. Back in 1905, carbolic acid was used as an antiseptic for minor wounds. In fact, some companies advertised it as a way to get rid of common colds.

Erin: In small doses.

Anna: Small doses. So, it wasn’t at all uncommon the carbolic acid would have been in the household. Death by carbolic acid is particularly gruesome. It affects the central nervous system causing seizures, comas, and dysrhythmia and can actually cause chemical burning if used in large enough quantities.

Erin: It’s definitely not a good way to die. As soon as Ina Kate made her statement to her grandmother, Dr. Driesbach knew how dire the situation was. The newspaper describes what followed…”Dr. Driesbach glanced at her and instantly saw her condition, sprang to her and over her strong protest laid her down and forced a glass of medicine down her. In less than a minute from the time she first spoke, she became unconscious and perhaps would have died instantly if not for the medicine Dr. Driesbach gave. She had taken about an ounce of carbolic acid that was in the bottle on a shelf in the kitchen.” We are going to assume that Dr. Driesbach probably gave her ipecac syrup, which was commonly used to induce vomiting, but in Ina Kate’s case, obviously it was too late.

Anna: I love these old newspapers because they don’t leave anything out.

Erin: No, it’s all in there.

Anna: Now, despite Dr. Driesbach’s best efforts, Ina Kate passed away shortly after the incident. A note was later found on her dresser which she had written after she left the kitchen table. It was addressed to her grandmother, Susan, and said “Tell mother that Ina is alright. I am in Heaven with Papa.” It was a painful event for all involved, and we do plan to do a later episode on the life of Lena Lillie, but I think it is worth noting that shortly after the death of Ina Kate, Charles and Lena Driesbach divorced. Now, this tragic situation understandably put a strain on the entire family.

Erin: Ina Kate’s story is so unbelievably heartbreaking.   I can only imagine being 16 and being so far from home after the death of a father that she was obviously very close to. Ina Kate was adored by her family. She was beautiful – in the pictures we have of her she is blond with this really sweet face. What drove her to kill herself in one of the most horrific ways is unknowable really. But at the same time, her story has threads in it that weave itself into almost all stories of teen suicide. She thought her situation was hopeless. She was depressed, she was away from her mother, her father had been sick a long time, and now he was dead. She had to move far away from her friends. Her grades were suffering. She was sensitive and probably a perfectionist. All of that combined must have seemed overwhelming to her and I just wish that we could go back and tell her that it would have all been alright if she had just given herself what she needed most and ultimately could not and that was time.

Anna: Now, Ina Kate’s story really sheds some insight into a problem that’s really as old as time itself. We tend to think of teen suicide as being a new phenomenon, but it really isn’t. Approximately 8500 people committed suicide ca. 1910. We don’t know how many of them were teenagers, but it’s safe to say that a fair number of them were. In 2010, there were approximately 4,000 suicides by teenagers. And poisoning was the most popular method of suicide by women. For some reason around the time of Ina Kate’s death, October was a month plagued by a disproportionate number of suicides. Her story represents two really sad statistical truths. Now, there is always a lot of embellishment and lore that surrounds tragedies like this, and I remember when I first started working here at the Ranch I would hear rumors of a girl who had killed herself inside Pawnee Bill’s mansion. Supposedly she died in the sitting room upstairs on the fainting couch after drinking poison. Of course after doing research on the subject, we know that’s not true. Ina Kate died at her grandparent’s home in Pawnee and the mansion itself wasn’t built until 1910.

Erin: We don’t know how the death of Ina Kate affected Effie Judy – but we can assume she was traumatized by the shocking death of her beautiful smart daughter. We can assume she never fully recovered. And she no doubt suffered from guilt and depression herself. But it does seem that between 1905 and 1920, there was a period of relative calm that came to the family. Effie officially made her home in Pawnee and the surviving children seemed to be adjusting and happy in the town. Ethyl became a school teacher in Quay, Oklahoma and married a man named Glen Dickey sometime around 1913. They lived in the area for a while before moving to Colorado and later on to the Pacific Northwest. The Dickey family did suffer a few tragedies along the way though. Family history relates that the first child of Ethyl and Glen, a girl named Alfrada died in infancy in 1914 however; there are no records that we can find of this little girl’s birth or death. Ethyl and Glen would also lose a son named Frank in 1942 at the age of 20 in a car accident. Their remaining three children all survived to adulthood and have living decedents.

Anna: Now that leads us to the eldest Judy son, and my personal favorite, Blaine. I have always been drawn to Blaine’s story and his life has so many dramatic and compelling turns in it.  Blaine was very active in Pawnee social circles in the 1910s. Whenever there was a social gathering of young people, Blaine was usually front and center. After graduating from Pawnee High School, Blaine attended the University of Oklahoma. He graduated on June 10, 1915 with a Bachelor degree in Zoology. He was also an active member of the Sigma Nu fraternity during his time at the university. He then moved to Hazelton, Pennsylvania to study medicine at the Hazelton General Hospital.

Erin: After the outbreak of WWI, Blaine joined the Army as a nurse in 1917. He never served overseas, but he helped soldiers at bases in both Pennsylvania and New York City. It was in these Army hospitals that he would come into direct contact with one of the worst pandemics the world had seen since the outbreak of the Black Death in the Middle Ages. By the time the Spanish Flu was finished, nearly 6% of the world’s population was dead.

Anna: Now the Spanish Flu, despite its name, actually began here in America at Ft. Riley, Kansas. Because of troop movements during WWI, the disease hit pandemic levels very quickly. Within seven days the flu had spread from Kansas all the way to New York City and beyond. The illness was particularly devastating for young men and women that had healthy immune systems like the soldiers that had been training for war. It would cause what is called a cytokine storm or an overreaction of the body’s immune system which was actually surprisingly fatal. The illness started out like a regular flu with general aches and pains and fever, but when black spots would start to appear on the sufferer’s cheeks, people automatically knew that it was the extremely violent strain that was killing so many people. Interestingly enough, it was this same strain, the H1N1 virus, which would be the cause of the 2009 flu pandemic, which would kill 18,000 people worldwide. We know it today as the swine flu or the bird flu. And interestingly enough, as well, it was said that it started at Ft. Riley because they were raising pigs and chickens for the soldiers to eat.

Erin: That’s crazy. For a young medical student like Blaine being exposed to this kind of situation was like a trial by fire. Strong young men, soldiers like him, were dying around him and there was the very real threat that he himself would catch the illness. He would have played an integral part in supporting the medical staff at Mount Vernon Hospital in Mount Vernon, New York. In this teaching hospital, Blaine would complete his studies and finally become a doctor in 1920. On December 23, right before Christmas in 1922 he married New York native Eva Ethel Myers and it seemed like he was living a charmed life.  Here Blaine was a physician and he was also strikingly handsome. Unlike Ina Kate his sister, Blaine had really dark hair and a really beautiful face for a man – I mean movie-star good looks. There’s a reason you’re in love with him.

Anna: I love Blaine so much.

Erin: And Blaine was in love himself, a newlywed.

Anna: We all know what’s going to happen next. Unfortunately, on February 19, 1923 Blaine Judy died. The newspaper in Pawnee simply reported his death in passing, stating that his mother was on her way to New York for the funeral. Family history relates that his death was the cause of an illness and while we don’t exactly know what that illness was, after the pandemic that had so recently swept the world, it is certainly worth considering that this relatively healthy 30 year old newlywed might have succumbed to the flu. He was buried in Pine Plains, New York in a family plot owned by his wife’s family.

Erin: Again, another crushing blow. Poor Effie Judy – to have two of her children die in the prime of their lives is just unimaginable. Back in Pawnee, the youngest member of the Judy family was starting his married life as well. Albert had recently gone to school to become a pharmacist and he operated a drug store for much of his adult life. On June 29, 1924, Albert married school teacher Hazel White in Prague, OK and they settled in Henryetta until 1945 when they moved back to Pawnee. Hazel and Albert moved in with Effie who was residing in Pawnee Bill’s mansion, keeping it up as an unofficial museum and tribute to her brother’s life.

Anna: Now the house had actually been offered briefly to the Boy Scouts of America but they decided that it would cost too much money for upkeep and they could not accept it. So they gave it back to the Lillie family after that. Effie took control of the mansion after a brief court battle with her brother, Albert, and she invited many children in the surrounding area to come and experience Pawnee Bill’s mansion. She hosted church camps for girls. She loved to have children in the house. They would play croquet on the front lawns and hosting sleep overs in Pawnee Bill’s den. Many children in Pawnee remember helping her polish the silver in the kitchen or cleaning the cut glass collection or playing on the wagons down at the barn.

Erin: By all accounts, Effie was devoutly religious and gave much of her life away in service to the church. It is my assumption that Effie’s faith was the probably the only thing that enabled her to function.  She was pious and generous and from everything we’ve seen, a loving and devoted mother and community member. So having Hazel and Albert live with her was probably a time when she felt happy and contented. Unfortunately, there would be more sadness. Hazel and Albert never had children and Hazel suffered from multiple sclerosis and epilepsy for much of her adult life. It would be that illness that would claim her life on April 2, 1958. Hazel had just returned home from the hospital where she was being treated for her condition, which had taken a sudden turn for the worse. She had been in declining health through much of that year and was confined to a wheelchair. While she was bathing, Hazel had a seizure and drowned. While this event was extremely sudden and tragic, it would be the last incident of that kind of misfortune to fall upon the Judys.

Anna: Effie Judy died on May 15, 1958 at the age of 90. Albert would remain at the mansion briefly and when he married his second wife, Ruth, later in the summer of 1958, they moved into a smaller home on the Ranch property which had been built next to the park entrance. Albert never had children of his own, but he did become a step-father to Ruth’s two children when their marriage occurred. It would be Ruth and Albert that would sell the mansion to the state of Oklahoma in 1962. The sale would mark the first time the Ranch was open to the public as an official museum and it has remained that way ever since. Albert Judy would pass away on November 30, 1975 at the age of 76. And he was the last of the Judy children to still be alive.

Erin: We basically owe the Judys our livelihood Anna, if it weren’t for Effie Judy and her son Albert, we might not have jobs, – and there might not be a Pawnee Bill Ranch. It just makes you wonder if the devastation Effie suffered in her life didn’t make her cling to objects a little more tightly. When our loved ones are gone, all we really have are our memories and objects can serve as tangible connections to the past and to the people we loved.  Perhaps Effie realized the power of place and the power of preservation in creating meaningful ties to history. Whatever her reasoning, we are forever grateful for her forethought and her sense of responsibility to the community and to the future. The Ranch is in a way, a tribute to the Judy’s as well.

Anna: Now before we wrap up this podcast on the Tragic Judys, I think we need to mention one more tragic event that was related to us by a Judy family member. Hazel was a doting aunt to her niece and nephews and her niece remembered a story about her grandmother being killed when the ceiling fell in inside the mansion. That room was supposed to have been the Buffalo Bill Room. As of this recording, we have not been able to authenticate that this event occurred. In our last podcast, we talked about how the paranormal investigators detected negative energy in the room, but the research is ongoing into this subject and if we find anything about it, we will certainly update our listeners in a future podcast. Now, next month we will be talking about a subject that we get a lot of questions about here at the Ranch. On December 17th, 1916, Billy Lillie was born in Kansas City, Missouri. He was born into a rather unique situation and the story of his death has become quite a legend itself. We will be talking about his life, how the Lillies adopted Billy, and we will also answers some of the questions and rumors surrounding his tragic death.

Erin: That’s all for now, thank you. I am Erin Brown, Pawnee Bill Ranch curator.

Anna: And I am Anna Davis, Pawnee Bill Ranch historical interpreter. Thank you for listening and we will see you next time.