If you’re one of the lucky ones who gets to basque in nature’s golden autumn glow, you may enjoy this poem by 19th-century, Kentucky-born writer Eva Wilder (McGlasson) Brodhead, written in her specialty—dialect verse—and published in 1895. She was in her early twenties at the time and already had an enormous following of admirers all across the country. I realize Eva’s verse may be a strange match for some of these Indian-summer-themed paintings, but they’re all gorgeous scenes… Why not put them together and celebrate the beauty of the season?
Posts Tagged With: Eva Wilder McGlasson
Something that’s puzzled me for a long time is the surname “McGlasson”. Eva Wilder McGlasson’s father’s last name was most definitely Wilder, so had Eva been married previously? Or was this just a pen name? I’d seen her referred to in the press as both Mrs. and Miss McGlasson. An answer finally came today in an 1891 journal called Epoch (Vol. X, page 381), under the heading “Highways and By-ways” (the bold is mine):
For two or three years past, readers who keep well abreast of periodical literature, have been delighted with short stories and bits of dialect verse over the name of Eva Wilder McGlasson. Both the stories and the verses have won a wide audience, so it is no wonder that when a manuscript novel came to the Harpers over that signature, but without even the briefest letter of explanation. that great publishing house was not slow to accept it and publish it. The book Diana’s Livery was so successful that its writer has been encouraged to make New York her home. Though barely three and twenty, she is a Mrs. not a Miss. Eva Wilder McGlasson is a small, shy person, with all a child’s appeal in her soft, dark eyes. Like young Lochinvar, she comes from the West and has divided her short life between Ohio and Kentucky. It is of the latter State that she has written for the most part, and its good people are quite as proud of her as though she were to the manner born. No doubt with all New York before her from which to choose, she will ﬁnd a ﬁeld even more inviting for the exercise of the subtle insight and dramatic strength which has already so captivated editors and readers. The lady speaks with the faintest trace of Western accent, and has in full measure the simple, cordial charm of manner characteristic of her bringing-up and former environment. She hears her honors more than meekly, and though critics so competent as the author of Gallagher and The Woman About Town, expect and prophesy great things for her, she looks at you in naive wonderment at the mere suggestion that she is destined to become even the least bit of a celebrity.
I do love this wonderful description of Eva, but now, naturally, I am very curious as to what happened to her first husband! From 1891-1897, the divorce rate was 6%, so while uncommon, it did indeed happen. The thought also crossed my mind that because Eva started writing and presenting her work to publishers at such a young age, perhaps she invented the “Mrs. McGlasson” persona to make herself appear older. In any case, I am really perplexed; I’ve been unable to find any hint that a first husband existed.
Now, I’d planned to do a sequential installment and focus on Eva’s and Henry’s lives during the period from 1900 onwards, but that changed after I decided to check various misspellings of Eva’s and Henry’s surnames. It’s not something one is naturally inclined to do… but it’s well worth making those little intentional deviations, as I’m sure many of you know. I was amazed at all the details I discovered using McGleason, McGlason, and McGlosson, not to mention Broadhead, Brodhed, and Broadhed. And leaving off McGlasson altogether and just searching under Eva Wilder also made a difference on numerous occasions. So this post will offer additional details on the pre-1900 lives of Eva Wilder McGlasson and Henry C. Brodhead, the period on which the two previous posts focused (see June 10 and June 26).
So—what else did I find out? Well, a lot actually. I found many short stories and poems written by Eva, prior to her marriage, in newspapers from Oregon to South Carolina and South Dakota to Texas, many of them published when she was just 18 years old—quite a remarkable accomplishment. I can’t post them all here in one fell swoop, but, perhaps, over time, I will post a few of them separately.
Of particular interest to me were engagement and wedding announcements I came across. The engagement announcement appeared in the Wilkes Barre Times on November 24, 1894, only 11 days before their wedding date. Perhaps, it was standard back then to leave little time between the proposal/announcement and the actual marriage. A search through the 1893 publication Manners, Culture and Dress of the Best American Society by Richard A. Wells revealed the following words of advice (p. 234): …protracted courtship, or engagements, are, if possible, to be avoided; they are universally embarrassing. Lovers are so apt to find imperfections in each other—to grow exacting, jealous, and morose. Well, I don’t know how to comment on that. Perhaps, indeed that was the thinking back then. Of course, co-habitation outside of marriage would never have been an option, so there were likely other reasons for keeping engagements short. ;-)
If so little time was allowed to prepare for weddings, it must have been quite a scramble to orchestrate the affair, especially if it was to be elaborate, with many guests. Was Eva’s and Henry’s wedding such an event? I had been wondering about that until I came upon a wedding announcement in December 9’s NY Herald. Here I learned that the NYC residence of a Mr. and Mrs. W. S. Moody provided the backdrop for the ceremony, and Rev. Dr. Charles Thompson of the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church officiated, so it seems likely that it was a rather intimate affair involving family and close friends. We know that all of their parents were present as they (Daniel D. Brodhead and Mary Brodrick, and John Wilder and Mary Heidler) are listed on the marriage certificate, albeit with a few misspellings that likely occurred in the transcription process (the original is not available online).
The first post spoke of them sailing off on a European honeymoon. A recent search discovered a New York Times clipping from December 9, giving the name of the ship they departed on the previous day—the Fürst Bismarck, a vessel used to bring immigrants to this country and well-heeled travelers from New York to Europe. (Speaking of “well-heeled,” now here’s something you may not know (I didn’t): many ascribe the expression “well-heeled” to Eva herself. She used the phrase “I ain’t so well-heeled right now” in her 1897 book Bound in Shallows, her last Kentucky-based novel which she dedicated to her husband.)
The New York Times clipping speaks to Eva’s prominent place in the literary world and New York society at that time:
There sailed away from this port yesterday, bound for Europe, health and pleasure, three gifted women, each of whose individual absence will make a distinct and unusual void in her circle of friends and admirers. On the Fürst Bismarck, for Genoa, are Mrs. H. C. Brodhead, late Mrs. Eva Wilder McGlasson, and Miss Lillie Hamilton French, and on La Bourgogne, for Havre, Miss Georgia Gayvan.
When writing the first post on Henry and Eva, I’d wondered how long they were away—I suspected at least a couple of months. Pennsylvania’s Wilkes-Barre Times of April 17, 1895, held the answer—they arrived from Europe on the La Gascogne on April 14, and were now visiting family in Henry’s hometown.
From Wilkes-Barre, it was no doubt on to Denver so that Henry could turn his attention back to his mining interests. (Henry would lose his younger brother William Hall Brodhead of Wilkes-Barre roughly seven weeks later to illness.)
A clipping from the Kentucky Post, dated Friday, July 12, 1895, gives a glimpse into Eva’s post-honeymoon whereabouts. She is described as being “most delightfully located on a ranch in Southern Colorado” and “busy writing.”
In 1896, her novelette One of the Visconti was published by Charles Scribner’s Sons, NY. Her extended honeymoon in Europe or a subsequent trip to Italy likely provided inspiration for the book. Set in Naples, the story focuses on a romance between a young woman from an old and distinguished Italian family and a young man from Kentucky.
So the first year or two of marriage was full of travel and new impressions, especially for Eva. It must have been exciting for her to set up her writing table in late 19th-century southern Colorado and to begin gathering material for all the characters she would subsequently bring to life in the pages of her verse and novels.
I’ve material enough for one last post (maybe, two) on Eva and Henry. Frankly, I’m not sure who “out there” is interested in learning about these distant family members of mine. My Eva and Henry posts have gotten very few views. That’s okay, of course–I’m completely aware that this is a very niche blog. For the sake of upcoming generations who may (fingers crossed) take up the mantle of “family historian” someday, I’ll continue to dig away. At the end of the day, I love piecing together these stories, so maybe that’s all that really matters.
As always, please feel free to chime in anytime if you have any corrections and / or additions to offer. Thanks for dropping by, and have a great day!
Hope all is well with everyone today. Since publishing my post on beloved writer Eva Wilder McGlasson & distinguished mining engineer Henry C. Brodhead (married December 1894), I’ve come upon a few more items related to Eva that fit into the pre-1900 time frame of that post. Three are from before her marriage—could “Conjecture” be about Henry?