You may recall the posts about William E. Woodruff, who as a teenager received Civil War letters from his uncles Uzal and Henry Trowbridge. Well, Bertha Winans Woodruff was the youngest of the six daughters William had with his wife Wealthy A. Angus. Bertha passed away in the early 1970s. I recall visiting her on a number of occasions as a child.
She lived in a big rambling house at 17 Wilder Street in Elizabeth, NJ, that belonged to her eldest sister, Jennie, and Jennie’s husband, successful banker Clarence Coleman. Sadly, the house was torn down (in the mid 1970s) and replaced with a large brick apartment building called Wilder Manor.
I remember the old house had a spiral staircase so we could look down from the third floor all the way to the entry hall below. For a child, the house was quite magical; we enjoyed exploring it and playing hide-and-seek. There was a little fish pond in the backyard garden. I remember admiring the gold fish in it as well as the garden’s beautiful spring- and summertime flowers.
In her younger years, Bertha had a very successful career in Manhattan as a quilt designer (visit this follow-up post), and she enjoyed watercolor painting. Her niece, Jennie Belle Coleman, inherited the bulk of her paintings. I only got a glimpse of them once, at the last house Jennie Belle lived in, which was on Colonia Road in Elizabeth, NJ, with her live-in helper/companion. Once Jennie Belle died, the executor of her estate must have sold/destroyed the paintings. Family was not consulted about them, or anything else for that matter.
From what I heard Bertha very much enjoyed traveling and even ventured on a round-the-world journey. She never married, although she apparently came very close after meeting a nice single gentleman (supposedly a member of the South African Parliament) on her globe-trotting vacation. But, alas, that did not pan out, and she has no descendants to whom she could pass on details about her life. We have some wonderful photos of her as a young woman, so I thought I would post them here. I would not want her to be forgotten.