Friday, January 1, 2010

Madam McGinnis in the Census - decade by decade

Happy New Year!

With the symbolic roll-over from 2009 to 2010, from the aughts to the teens, and to get ready for the 2010 census, it seemed like a good time to visit the census records for Hattie McGinnis. Like the pioneers before her, she also came west, and her movements recorded at ten year intervals tell a story of mobility and seeking opportunity - and probably also of escaping the past.

Oh, I'd love to have a photo of Madam McGinnis! But we haven't found one yet.

Though the records are not entirely consistent, they mostly agree that she was born in Ohio in the 1840s. She is first visible in the 1880 census, and she and James McGinnis show up in Arkansas. They didn't make an obvious appearance in the 1890 census.

But by 1900, we have a more-or-less complete entry. Hattie had moved to Peppermint Flat in Salem. She was listed without James, and the residents of her brothel at 142 Ferry were all enumerated: Pauline Phillips, age 23; Ida Bunell, 26; and Dora Mason, 27. Down the street, at 122 Ferry, Emma Thomas and Ruth Doe were also listed. (Map shows south side of Ferry between Liberty and High.)

Pauline Phillips killed herself not long after the census. According to the paper, her family, the Reisners, lived in Denver, but they weren't obvious in the census.

In 1910, again only Hattie was listed in the census. Her brothel was larger: Olive Ritchie, age 25; Pearl Vivian, 30; Gladys Hayes, 24; and Madge Kelley, 20. Each of the ladies declined to give their place of birth, and instead just listed the United States. Since they were all likely using pseudonyms, the vagueness is not surprising. In the household were also two servants: Un Toy, age 50, from China; and K. Samoti, 26, from Japan.

In 1910 the Oregon Supreme Court had upheld McGinnis' conviction, and I have not yet determined whether she left town. She disappears from the Polk directories. In any event, by the time that Governor West had "cleansed" the district in 1912, she must have left.

In 1920 Hattie is reunited with James and they appear in San Diego. We'll have to learn more about their activities in San Diego.

Finally, in 1930 there is a James McGinnis in prison in San Diego. No Hattie. More work is necessary to determine if this is the same James McGinnis.

So the census - the staple of genealogical researchers everywhere! - gives us at least an outline of a narrative.

Mission Mill and the Marion County Historical Society today officially merge. Hopefully this will be the start of something "absolutely" wonderful. CT's wish for the new year? That MCHS finds the means to start publishing more and to put their archives online. There's no reason old issues and articles shouldn't be indexed, online, and more easily available! One of our New Year's toasts is to the new, combined entity. Prost!

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