Happy Birthday, Aunt Kitty! by artwhiz47

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Happy Birthday, Aunt Kitty! by 

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.


family history, hat, western new york, victorian

A short bio, eh? I am Sheila, & I am short.

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  • joak
    joakover 2 years ago

    aye ye certainly huv the ability tae write pal , she has a lovely wee gentle face, nice wee tribute tae yer aunty well done

  • Hey, Joak! Thanks kindly, sir.

    – artwhiz47

  • deb cole
    deb coleover 2 years ago

    What a wonderful portrait and I must say, your familial genes must be very potent. I see a little of oor Sheila in this picture. She didn’t have a very long life, but I’ll bet she made the most of it.
    Marvellous work, Sheila!

  • Thanks, Deb. Aunt Kitty stayed pretty close to home, but she did have a good life. As I mentioned, I have a full length portrait of her taken when she was just a little older. In that one, she is not wearing a hat, & her blonde hair is definitely her crowning glory! I also have a picture of her taken when she was about 2 years old, & that pretty little face is instantly recognizable! Her sister Susie, my great grandmother, did resent the intrusion on her teenage life by this attention-grabbing little creature. When Susie was 17 & Kitty, or Katy as the family often called her, was about 3, their mother Kate went to Savannah, Georgia, for the winter, taking Kitty & their 7-year old brother Harold (he shows up in the Holiday in Ireland photo) with her. Susie was left to run the household in Elmira & to look after her 15-year old brother Frank, while their busy physician father ran hither & thither tending to patients (including the wealthy & influential Jervis Langdon ~ soon to be Mark Twain’s father-in-law), visiting his wfe & youngest children in Georgia, & relying on his nervous older daughter to keep the home fires burning. I know; I have Susie’s journals, & they tell the tale! One of these days I’ll write a book….

    – artwhiz47

  • RobynLee
    RobynLeeover 2 years ago

  • Many thanks for the honor, Robyn!

    – artwhiz47

  • ╰⊰✿ℒᵒᶹᵉ Bonita✿⊱╮ Lalonde✿⊱╮

    ☻/ღ˚ •。* ♥ ˚ ˚✰˚ ˛★* 。 ღ˛° 。* °♥ ˚ • ★ ˚ .ღ 。
    ˛˚ღ •˚ ˚…just sprinkling a little Love on your page. ~♥~˚ ✰* ★
    / \ ˚. ★ ˛ ˚♥ ✰。˚ ˚ღ。* ˛˚ ♥ 。✰˚* ˚ ★ღ Wonderful capture nice detail nice focus and framing wonderful colour Nicely done and presented hugs She is one pretty woman precious memories wonderful write up.


  • Thanks for that, Bonita… always nice to see the usually morose George applauding!!!!!

    – artwhiz47

  • And thanks for the favorite!!

    – artwhiz47

  • RobynLee
    RobynLeeover 2 years ago

    P.S. I have Scoliosis too;not as severe as your Great-Aunt’s,but it does cause me considerable discomfort @ times. I’m about 5’1 & probably would be a bit taller if I didn’t have it. Lovely Photo!

  • Interesting, Robyn… have known a couple of people with Scoliosis over the years; one barely perceptible, one fairly pronounced.

    – artwhiz47

  • RobynLee
    RobynLeeover 2 years ago

    P.P.S Fascinating story has well;it would make a for great book!

  • And thanks again! ~ Sheila

    – artwhiz47

  • Kay Kempton Raade
    Kay Kempton Raadeover 2 years ago

    Happy 37th birthday, Aunt Kitty! What a great ancestor.

  • You’ve got it! Thanks, Kay, & for the favorite!

    – artwhiz47

  • Knightyan
    Knightyanover 2 years ago


  • Thanks, Anna, & welcome to the Bubble!!

    – artwhiz47

  • Roy  Massicks
    Roy Massicksover 2 years ago

    Poor Aunt Kitty – but so nice to know that she was cheerful and happy despite her disability. She
    looks self-confident and the fact that she could write must have been in her favour ! Lovely Sheila.

  • Thanks, Roy. She did a fair amount of traveling with her parents ~ spent time in New York & had trips to fabulous mountain-top lodges in California & New Hampshire, among other things.

    – artwhiz47

  • lcretyi
    lcretyiover 2 years ago


  • Thanks so much!

    – artwhiz47

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