My great grandaunt, Katherine Emily Hayes (1864 ~ 1899) was a leap-year baby, born on February 29. She had a congenital spinal condition, perhaps Scoliosis or something similar, which caused considerable curvature. She was quite small as an adult, & while she could stand & move about, she spent most of her time in a wheeled chair of some kind. I refer to her condition as ‘congenital’, but there was a family tradition which held that she had been dropped by her nurse when she was a baby. I don’t believe it. I do have a full-length photographic portrait of her as well, in which her unhappy configuration can be seen.
Aunt Kitty was fourteen years younger than her sister, my great grandmother Susan Hobbie, & after the death of their mother in 1897, Kitty lived with Susie & her family. My grandmother was quite close to her, & I inherited through her a couple of dainty little demitasse spoons marked ‘KH Christmas ’90’. I also have a most intriguing item ~ a pin made with woven hair from both Aunt Kitty (blonde) & Susie (darker auburn), in the shape of a bow with a gold heart-shaped charm dangling from it. The young women had it made for their mother Catharine, probably in the 1880s. Woven hair jewelry was often made as a memento mori to be worn during periods of mourning, but it was not restricted to that purpose by any means.
By all accounts, Aunt Kitty was a happy, cheerful child & an interesting lady. I have a few of her letters, mostly written when she was a youngster, in which she shows herself to be bright, observant, & possessed of the ability to write, which was, & is, a family trait.
This photo of Aunt Kitty Hayes was taken in 1889.