Two families came together in Manhattan, New York, on 5 December 1894, to celebrate the marriage of Henry Conrad Brodhead, a wealthy, never-before-married, 46-year-old mining engineer, and the adored and admired Eva Wilder McGlasson, a 24-year-old Kentucky woman widely regarded as one of the most accomplished young literary talents of her era, said to be the youngest magazinist in the country*. She was especially known for her short stories and her use of dialect.
This marriage was mentioned in fleeting in a past post on Henry’s brother William H. Brodhead‘s elopement, which took place on that very same day, Henry’s wedding serving as just the diversion William needed to go off and marry his beloved, and much younger, Mary Van Tassel. (I know the age difference between Mary and William appalled their parents, but the age gap between Henry and Eva was even more vast–granted Eva was 24, but she was still very much old enough to be Henry’s daughter.) The brothers were two of the six sons of Daniel Dingman Brodhead (b. 1818) and Mary Ann Brodrick (b. cir. 1826), and nephews of my second great grandfather, Andrew Jackson Brodhead, and cousins of my great grandfather, Andrew Douglas Brodhead.
From Manhattan, Henry and Eva embarked on a lengthy European honeymoon tour that included a Mediterranean cruise.
Their 21-year journey of marriage was set against the backdrop of Colorado’s mountains, bustling Manhattan, and European cities. How and where did they meet? What led them to each other?
Their relationship must have been the source of tremendous curiosity for Eva’s multitude of fans, and I must admit that even all these years later, I myself am intrigued to know how, where, and when their paths first crossed. At the time of their marriage, they must have been viewed as a sort of “power couple”—one whose movements and activities were traced and actively talked about as much as that would have been possible back then.
Henry was not exactly a spring chicken when he finally took the plunge into marriage, but the wait was likely well worth it—he would have been hard-pressed up to that point to have found a prettier, more intelligent, and more accomplished wife than Eva. Perhaps, his maturity, rich life experience, acquired wisdom, passionate work ethic, and financial security provided Eva with the valued partner she needed personally, as well as the freedom she needed spiritually and artistically, to pursue her talents and career to the fullest.
The 1894 book The Wyoming Valley in the Nineteenth Century. Art Edition offers this about Henry’s pre-marriage years: H. C. Brodhead, born at Mauch Chunk and educated in Philadelphia. Began his mining career at Wanamie in the early 70’s for the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company. Upon their purchase of the Red Ash collieries in Plymouth, he was made engineer in charge and served in such capacity for several years. When the same collieries were absorbed into the Lehigh & Wilkes-Barre Coal Company, he was made a Division Superintendent of said Company, and after a time was transferred to Sugar Notch, at that time the most difficult division in the company’s possession. After several years service there he was in 1883, promoted to the Assistant General Outside Superintendency, which place he held till his resignation in 1888. His large experience obtained in early life he has been able to utilize profitably in the care of his individual interests in several collieries, all of which have been successful. The 1860 and 1870 census records corroborate the Philadelphia location, and 1880 census record confirms Henry’s residence as being located in Sugar Notch, Luzerne Co., PA.
A later publication, the 1906 book Genealogical and Family History of the Wyoming and Lackawanna Valleys, Pennsylvania provides a few more clues about those early years: …Henry was educated in Philadelphia. He graduated at the Philadelphia high school, A. B., and later A. M. He began his business career as civil engineer, later became a mining engineer, and was for several years in the employ of the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company and afterward with the Lehigh and Wilkes-Barre Coal Company. Still later he began operating in his own behalf, developing coal lands and organizing companies for mining operations…
Eva Wilder McGlasson
Henry’s young bride Eva had accomplished much in her 24 years. At the time of her wedding, she was a celebrated young writer and an object of fascination for her adoring readers. Snippets appeared about her in various newspapers and other publications:
In the Montreal Herald on September 8, 1892: Mrs. Eva Wilder McGlasson the author of Diana’s Livery and An Earthly Paragon (which was written in three weeks), is probably the youngest writer before the public who has attained as much reputation and accomplished as remarkable work. Mrs. McGlasson is Kentuckian, and began to write a few years ago, when she was eighteen. Her stories are strong and vivid, and her dialogue is especially dramatic without being untrue. She has devoted herself almost entirely to describing the “life of her native State,” but her friends have advised her broadening her field of observation by going to New York to live, which she will probably do.
In the Patterson Daily Press on May 6, 1893: Mrs. Eva Wilder McGlasson is one of the most remarkable women of the age, Not only is she remarkable for her brilliancy, but on account of her extreme youth and the ease with which she has attained the pinnacle of fame. Mrs. McGlasson is still less than 24, and yet she has written and published two successful books. She is petite and pretty and exhibits the fresh, ingenuous charm of an extremely bright schoolgirl.
In the New York Times on July 30, 1893: Mrs. Eva Wilder McGlasson, whose writings are as delicate and artistic as the frostwork one finds on the Winter window pane, confesses to her impossibility to produce more than six short stories in a year’s time.
The article “Women of the Authors’ Club”, published by the New York Times on January 21, 1894, gave this wonderful description of Eva: Mrs. Eva Wilder McGlasson, who, shy, tiny, and looking very young in a dainty pink gown, with a great cluster of pink roses at her belt, no one would suspect of being one of the most powerful fiction writers now contributing to the magazines.
And, from the April 7, 1895, New York Times article “Woman’s Sense of Humor: It is Frequently Alleged that She Does Not Possess Any. American Facts to Contradict This”: Eva Wilder McGlasson has interwoven much that is delightfully funny with the somberer tints of her stories. A Monument to Corder is likewise a monument to humor.
Born in Covington, Kentucky, to a mother and father hailing from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Nova Scotia, Canada, respectively, Eva was educated in Covington and later in New York. According to the 1914 book Kentucky in American Letters: 1784–1912:
She began to write when but eighteen years of age, and a short time thereafter her first novel appeared, Diana’s Livery (New York, 1891). This was set against a background most alluring: the Shaker settlement at Pleasant Hill, Kentucky, into which a young man of the world enters and falls in love with a pretty Shakeress, Her second story, An Earthly Paragon (New York, 1892), which was written in three weeks, ran through Harper’s Weekly before being published in book form. It was a romance of the Kentucky mountains, laid around Chamoum, the novelist’s name for Yosemite, Kentucky. It was followed by a novelette of love set amidst the salt-sea atmosphere of an eastern watering place, Ministers of Grace (New York, 1894). Hildreth, the scene of this little story, is anywhere along the Jersey coast from Atlantic City to Long Branch. Ministers of Grace also appeared serially in Harper’s Weekly, and when it was issued in book form Col. Henry Watterson called the attention of Richard Mansfield to it as a proper vehicle for him, and the actor promptly secured the dramatic rights, hoping to present it upon the stage; but his untimely death prevented the dramatization of the tale under highly favorable auspices. It was the last to be published under the name of Eva Wilder McGlasson, as this writer was first known to the public, for on December 5, 1894, she was married in New York to Mr. Henry C. Brodhead, a civil and mining engineer of Wilkesbarre, Pennsylvania.
Two years before marrying Eva, Henry’s business interests had shifted from Pennsylvania to Colorado—he and his two younger brothers, Albert Gallatin Brodhead and Robert Sayre Brodhead, had set their sights on the coal riches of that state, ultimately founding the town of Brodhead, Las Animas County, Colorado (today a ghost town), and locating several mines in and around that place. Close to Brodhead is the small town of Aguilar (“Gateway to the Spanish Peaks”); if you look it up on Google maps you will see ‘Brodhead Canyon’ nearby. Aguilar is 178 miles south of Denver.
Genealogical and Family History of the Wyoming and Lackawanna Valleys, Pennsylvania (1906) offers some insight into the brothers’ activities out West: In October of the same year  Albert Gallatin Brodhead and his brothers, Henry C. and Robert S. Brodhead, journeyed through Colorado, making careful investigation of its mineral resources. Having prospected coal lands in Las Animas county, they purchased two large tracts, one of four thousand acres at Brodhead, Colorado, and six hundred acres at Walsenburg, near the foot of the Spanish Peaks, which rise to an altitude of nearly fourteen thousand feet. The Brodheads have leased both their coal tracts, one to the Green Canon Coal Company, and the other to the Las Animas Coal Company. They market their output in South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Indian Territory. Expert authority has passed upon the quality of the coal, and grade it as semi-anthracite. It is distributed in six workable veins, and the quantity capable of being mined is estimated at millions of tons. The Brodhead properties are held by an incorporated company, of which the officers are: Henry C. Brodhead, president; Robert S. Brodhead, vice-president; and Albert G. Brodhead, secretary and general manager, with the principal office in Denver, Colorado.
So, those of you in Colorado today may be curious to pass through Aguilar if you are ever in that area to check out what, if anything, remains of the ghost town of Brodhead, Colorado!
I will continue this post another day. Meanwhile, I will leave you with a poem* by Eva that was published in Harper’s Weekly on May 14, 1892:
hev to hold it sidewise
Fer to make the lightness show,
‘Cuz its sort uh dim an’ shifty
Till you git it right—’bout
An’ then the eyes winks at yeh,
An’ the mouth is cherry ripe
Law! it beats your new-style picters,
This old digerrytype!
Thar’s a blush across the dimples
Thet burrows in the cheeks;
F’om out them clumps o’ ringlets
Two little small ears peeks,
Thet brooch thet jines her neck-gear
Is what they used to wear;
A big gold frame thet sprawled around
A lock of ‘o—some ones hair.
‘Twas took ‘fore we was married,
Thet there—your maw an’ me.
An’ time I study on it,
Why, ‘t fazes me to see
Thet fifty year ‘aint teched her
A lick! She’s jest the same
She was when Susie Scriggens
Took Boone C. Curd’s name.
The hair is mebby white
‘An it was in ’41.
But her cheeks is jest as pinky.
An’ her smiles ‘ain’t slacked up none.
I reckon—love—er somethin’
Yerluminates her face,
Like the crimsont velvet linin’
Warms up the picter-case.
‘S I say, these cyard boa’d portraits,
They make me sort uh tired ,
A-grinnin’ forf upun yeh
Like their very lips was wired!
Give me the old digerrytype,
Whar the face steals on your sight
Like a dream that comes by night-time
When your supper’s actin’ right!
*Mansfield Daily Shield, February 17, 1895
Hayden, Rev. Horace Edwin Hayden, Hon. Alfred Hand, and John W. Jordan, eds. 1906. Genealogical and Family History of the Wyoming and Lackawanna Valleys, Pennsylvania, Vol. I. New York/Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Co. (pp. 202-203).
McGlasson, Eva Wilder. 1892. “The Daguerreotype” Harper’s Weekly: A Journal of Civilization 36(1847): 463.
Smith, S. R. 1894. The Wyoming Valley in the Nineteenth Century. Art edition Vol I. Wilkes-Barre, PA: Wilkes-Barre Leader Print (p. 78).
Townsend, John Wilson. 1913. Kentucky in American Letters: 1784–1912 Vol. II. Cedar Rapids: The Torch Press (pp. 267–69).
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